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Marcus & Co. Handwrought Arts & Crafts 18 Karat Gold 2-handled Cup, New York City, NY, c. 1917

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With its sweeping arms and boldly hammered surface to its body, this gold cup is an American Arts & Crafts masterpiece - and so much more. It was made by Marcus & Co. to exhibit at the first Metropolitan Museum of Art's seminal Exhibitions of Work by Manufacturers and Designers in 1917. 

As admirers of items produced by Marcus & Co., as is evident with their famous 1- and 2-handled cups we've sold (as you can see in our archives), we are delighted to offer the first piece of their gold work we've had. Their production of gold holloware was minimal. (1)

Just like the other items we've seen by Marcus & Company, this cup exhibits magnificent design and stunning beauty. Each of the handles attaches to the body with large leaves. The stems of the leaves protrude gracefully outward and upward, curving inward and joining to form bird-like profiles. The polished handles create a wonderful contrast to the bold hammering of the cup and pedestal base.

In 1917, the Met began an annual series of exhibitions titled Exhibition of Work by Manufacturers and Designers,later renamed American Industrial Art.Created specifically to encourage designers to use objects in the Met's collection to inform their designs, these exhibits produced some works that looked boldly forward, using the past as a guide, as does this cup. Other designers created works that exactly copied pieces in the collection.

The handles of this cup are based on a Greek bronze kylix from the third to fourth century BCE in the Met's collection. See below.

The Met's Greek Bronze Kylix (07.286.97) 3rd-4th Century BCE, courtesy
The Met's Greek Bronze Kylix (07.286.97) 3rd-4th Century BCE, courtesy

While both sets of handles have clear similarities, Marcus has used the Met's kylix to inspire a clearly 20th-century design. It is interesting to note that Tiffany & Co., the only other silver exhibitor, chose to use this opportunity to display colonial reproduction pieces, exactingly copied from the collection, that we see so often on the market today.

Marcus & Co. opened a small silver department in 1899, which made beautiful arts & crafts pieces, some clearly inspired by the designs of Charles Robert Ashbee and his Guild of the Handicraft. In March of 1917, simultaneous to this exhibition, Marcus & Co. announced the closing of their silver department to make room for a more extensive jewelry department. (2) This masterpiece was one of the last creations of their silver department.

Exhibition of Work by Manufacturers and Designers, 1917

"Exhibit for Designers" in the Jewelers' Circular - Weekly, March 28, 1917, p. 105
"The Designer and the Museum: an Exhibition in Class Room B"  in the Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 1917, p. 94

By descent in the family of Charles S. Arms, Youngstown, OH, and Marion, MA

This fantastic cup is marked with Marcus & Co's 'm' trademark, "MARCUS & Co./ NEW YORK/ 18 KT" and bears the following scratch marks: "17718," a numeric stock code used by Marcus, and "FTS" and "FS," as yet unknown, but possibly the initials of the maker at Marcus. It measures just over 7.25 inches across the handles by 3 inches high, weighs 281 grams (9.05 troy ounces), and is in excellent antique condition.


  1. Examination of extant Marcus & Co. design books at the Rauner Library at Dartmouth shows only a couple of pieces of gold-colored holloware, and they may be silver-gilt rather than gold.
  2. Email correspondence with Beth Carver Wees and Sheila Smithie.

Many thanks to Beth Carver Wees and Sheila Smithie for their research assistance.