University Collections of Art and History

Object Record

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Catalog Number 2008.9.231
Object Name Cup, Coffee
Description This cup displays the coat of arms of a man and wife when the wife is an heraldic heiress, meaning that she has no brothers and that she will inherit her father's arms.

The cup is from a service made for James West (1703-1772) and his wife Sarah Steavens. James was a barrister, becoming a bencher (or member) of the Inner Temple in 1761. In addition to his legal profession, he was also passionately interested in science and history, and formed a large and important collection of books, manuscripts, and antiquities. He also served as a member of Parliament.

Sarah Steavens was the daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Steavens, a wealthy timber merchant in London. She and James married on August 15, 1738. West was already a wealthy man through his work and inheritance from his father, but his marriage to Sarah brought him a fortune of £100,000. This allowed the couple to live in luxury in Covent Garden, a wealthy area in London, and for him to indulge even more in his passion for collecting; his book collection was worth nearly £3,000.

Though they married in 1738, this cup could not have been made until after 1759, when Sarah's only brother died, which meant that Sarah would inherit her father's arms and estate. Had this cup been made before Sarah's brother's death, her arms would have been impaled.
Year Range from 1760
Year Range to 1765
Material Hard Paste Porcelain
Place of Origin Made in Jingdezhen, Decorated in Guangzhou (Canton), China
Collection The Reeves Center
Credit line Gift of H.F. Lenfest and Beverly M. DuBose III
On View Reeves Center, Chinese Armorial Gallery
Gallery ID Number 2236