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HomeWorld CoinsNew Book Published on Fascinating Naseby Cup and the Coins It Contains

New Book Published on Fascinating Naseby Cup and the Coins It Contains

The Naseby Cup. Image: Yale University.
The Naseby Cup. Image: Yale University.

The Naseby Cup is an elaborately crafted silver drinking vessel that stands over two feet tall and is decorated with rare coins and medals from the period of the English Civil War (1642-51). An intriguing object at the intersection of art, numismatics, and history, the Cup is part of the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, the oldest art museum attached to a college or university in the United States.

Now, a new 144-page illustrated book has been published by the Gallery that allows numismatists to explore the Naseby Cup and its coins in fine detail. Distributed by Yale University Press, the book was written by the Gallery’s Head of Numismatics and Jackson-Tomasko Associate Curator of Numismatics, Benjamin D.R. Hellings.

It is available to the general public for $25 USD from the Yale University Art Gallery’s website, but Gallery members receive a $5 discount.

What Is the Naseby Cup?

The Naseby Cup was commissioned by John and Mary Frances Fitzgerald, Lord and Lady of the Manor at Naseby, in Northamptonshire, England. Living next to the battlefield as they did, the Fitzgeralds sought to commemorate the Battle of Naseby, which took place on June 14, 1645. Parliamentary forces led by Oliver Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax fought and defeated the army of the Catholic King Charles I in a field near the village of Naseby, the protracted battle essentially dooming the Royalist cause.

Decorative silverwork like the Naseby Cup was popular in Victorian-era England. Silversmiths Charles Reily and George Storer received Lord and Lady Fitzgerald’s commission and finished the piece in 1839. It features 72 coins, medals, and counting tokens dated to the Civil War era. Some of the more circulated coins may have been sourced from the battlefield, but other specimens are in near-Mint-State condition and were very likely obtained elsewhere.

Additionally, some of the coins are just too rare to have been carried around by a 17th-century army with any likelihood. These include a 1652 New England Shilling from the American colonies and a copy of an original gold 1644 Oxford Crown, which depicts the king on horseback and a city view.

Seemingly assembled with numismatists in mind, the cup is designed so that viewers may see both the obverse and reverse of each piece simply by looking at the outside and the inside of the vessel.

A fascinating example of the silversmith’s craft, this new book on the Naseby Cup expands on Hellings’ previous work on the object and allows world coin collectors a welcome opportunity to learn more about this particular era of coinage.

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The Naseby Cup: Coins and Medals of the English Civil War, first edition
By Benjamin D.R. Hellings
ISBN 9780300275865
Paperback, 8.25 x 9.75 inches
144 pages, with 185 color illustrations
Retail $25.00 U.S.

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