Mounted nautilus shell drinking cup

On display

Nautilus shell, polished and engraved with a woman with flowers overlooking a harbour scene; on the other side the angel encourages Tobias accompanied by his dog and the angel Rafael, captures a fish from a river; on the opposite a female figure with flowers. Beneath the back mount, now concealed (but visible in M. Wellby photograph) is the signature: 'MERIAN 1632', identified by M. Wellby as for Mattheus Merian the Elder. The stem is of elephant-ivory, carved with a male figure (Atlas?), astride a dolphin, holding up the shell. The mounts are silver-gilt, embossed and chased, with a dragon on top, a grotesque mask on the front, the foot embossed with scrolls and shells.


  • Title

    Mounted nautilus shell drinking cup

  • Artist/maker

    probably Matthäus I Merian, the Elder (1593 - 1650) (goldsmith)
  • Associated place

    Frankfurt (probable) (probable place of creation)
  • Date

  • Material and technique

    silver-gilt, nautilus-shell, elephant-ivory; carved

  • Object type

  • Dimensions

    32.7 cm (height)
  • No. of items


  • Credit line

    Bequeathed by Michael Wellby, 2012.

  • Museum location

    Second floor | Gallery 53 | European Goldsmiths' Work
  • Museum department

    Western Art

  • Accession no.


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Further reading

Wilson, Timothy, Winterbottom, Matthew, Treasures of the Goldsmith's Art: The Michael Wellby Bequest to the Ashmolean Museum (Ashmolean Museum University of Oxford, 2015), illus. p. 66 no. 102

Reference URL

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