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Goldsmith’s Art

Beaker with cover formerly owned by Erasmus

Key data

Basle(?), ca. 1490, with later additions

Silver, cast, embossed, gilded

height 14 cm



The particular interest of this simple vessel made from hammered and gilt silver lies in its early ownership by three men who played significant roles in the history of Basle. The drinking vessel was a gift from the publisher Johannes Froben to Erasmus; after his death it was inherited by the jurist Bonifacius Amerbach, and from him it passed to Froben's widow. During the later part of the C16 the elegant object underwent a number of changes. Three winged angel heads of cast silver were soldered under the lower rim to form supports. The engraved coat of arms of the Mellinger family of Basle, who had probably been the original owners of the piece in the late C15, was moved from its original position on the knob of the lid to the bottom of the beaker and was replaced by a scaled down reproduction of the Erasmus medal of 1531, in commemoration of its famous previous owner. The reverse with the bust of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries, Erasmus's emblem, is the side shown.

Selection of similar objects


Basel Historical Museum
Management & administration
Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00

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