Turkey Cup

Silver cup and cover presented to Nelson after the Battle of the Nile of August 1798, called by Nelson his 'Turkey Cup'.

Urn-shaped two-handled cup, the handles modelled as winged Egyptian female figures. The tall lid has a large central pedestal with two rectangular panels depicting a Nile crocodile, the whole surmounted by a fully modelled figure of Neptune seated on a throne, with dolphins and holding a trident. One side of the cup is engraved with Nelson's coat of arms as a baron, with the latest Nile augmentations of a palm tree, disabled ship and ruined battery, and above it the chelengk crest, also granted after the Battle of the Nile.

On the other side is the presentation inscription, surmounted by the arms of the Levant Company: 'Presented to the Right Honble Rear Admiral Horatio, Baron Nelson of the Nile, by the Governor and Company of the Merchants trading into the Levant Seas, in commemoration of the glorious victory obtained by his Lordship at the mouth of the Nile on the1st August 1798, on which ever memorable day by the defeat and capture of a French squadron, superior to his own he restored to his Majesty's Arms the dominion of the Mediterranean, and to the British Merchants, the Free enjoyment of their ancient and valuable trade to Turkey'.

Ten laurel wreaths around the top of the cup are inscribed with the names of the captured French ships: L'Orient; Le Timoleon; L'Heureux; Le Souverain Peuple; Le Guerrier; Le Spartiate; Le Franklin; Le Tonant; L'Aquilon; Le Conquerant; Le Mercure.

From Nelson's correspondence it is clear that Nelson took this cup to sea, and the original shaped wooden carrying case still exists in the collection at Greenwich. On 3 February 1801 he wrote to his wife from the 'San Josef': 'Mr D has sent only three keys, of the small table and chest of drawers not of the wardrobe, trunk, case of the Turkey cup &c &c By the by the trident is bent double from ill package.' Nelson particularly mentions the Turkey Cup in his will, bequeathing it to his sister Susannah Bolton, whose son Thomas later became 2nd Earl Nelson.

Object Details

ID: PLT0095
Collection: Decorative art
Type: Cup and cover, with original wooden case
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Storr, Paul
Events: French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of the Nile, 1798
Date made: 1799; 1799-1800
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Caird Fund.
Measurements: 610 x 368 mm
Parts: Turkey Cup

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