|Silver Gilt Cup Mimicking Ornamental Nautilus Cups|
Paul Aettinger, 1590
The Victoria & Albert Museum
During the second half of the Sixteenth and at the dawn of the Seventeenth Century, ornamental stemmed cups made of Nautilus Shells were popular, luxurious novelties for display in the homes of wealthy gentlemen. The bowls of the cups were made from the shells of sea snails, the Nautilus pompilius—an exotic and rare material which was often fashionably set in silver. Such cups were adorned with a marine motif, typically with figures of sea monsters, mermaids and, often with a finial shaped like Neptune.