Thanks for the excellent photos, what an amazing piece of silver!
It's so rare to see a genuine example of Elizabethan liturgical silver and with clear and unambiguous hallmarks, too, still perfectly legible after 443 years of sipping, handling and polishing. Also rare to have the original paten cover to the cup, so often these get separated or lost, and with perfect en suite hallmarks which you have quite correctly interpreted: date letter O for 1571, lion passant for English royal sterling, leopard's head crowned for London. The maker's mark, a crescent below three mullets (stars) in a shield, first recorded in London in 1560, so far remains unattributed, but bears a resemblance to the Murray family or Earls of Sunderland coat of arms shield, to which there may be a connection. Also similar to an ancient Warsaw maker by the name of Hempel.
The cup of slightly flared form on a knopped and stepped domed foot, the knop and step with what looks like dental bead molding which is unusual. The stem may possibly have been shortened at one time as its form is atypical. The cup with traditional & classic Renaissance ornament of a single band of intersecting strap-work enclosing foliate scrolling. Inscribed '1571' on the spool button finial/stand of the cover.
Apparently Communion cups and cover inscribed with the year 1571 were at one time quite common in parish churches. The following excellent excerpt from http://www.redmarley.org.uk/history/miscellaneous/
by ***** ***** explains why:
....in February 1570 Pope Pius V issued the papal bull “Regnans in excelsis” by which he excommunicated Elizabeth I and for good measure called upon all Catholics to oppose her and bring about her downfall – by assassination if need be. This souring of relations had been brewing for many years. Elizabeth had always been regarded as illegitimate and a usurper of the throne; the Papacy favoring the claims of Mary Queen of Scots. More particularly, Elizabeth’s continued persistence in promoting Protestantism was seen by the Pope as a personal affront, and worse, as an act of flagrant heresy.
When the papal bull reached London in April, Elizabeth was equally affronted. Her furious response was to increase her persecution of the many recusants still practicing their Catholic faith, despite the stipulations of the Act of Uniformity of 1559. Up until now she had “turned a blind eye” to many of these irregularities. This leniency was now at an end. Elizabeth was goaded into still more action; articles of church plate attracted her attention as being in need of drastic “reform”. She decreed that every church should surrender all the silver chalices and other artifacts which had been used in celebrating Mass during the brief reign of her Catholic predecessor Mary I (“Bloody Mary“). The articles were to be melted down by local silversmiths and recast into larger Communion cups deemed more appropriate for Protestant worship, in which the laity as well as the clergy were to receive the wine. The diocesan bishops were made responsible for this “exchange“.
And so in 1570 and particularly 1571 the Communion cup and cover replaced the old Roman Catholic chalices.
Valuation: Elizabethan I Communion cup and paten cover, both hallmarked for London 1571 and the cover inscribed "1571".
(Interestingly, a similar aged Elizabeth I communion cup sold at Christie's London just today for the tidy sum of £7,500. However it had no cover.)
I would say that yours would sell at one of the top auction houses in the range of
£9000 - £13,000. It therefore has an insurance value of at least £25,000.
I do hope this helps!
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance with this, I would be glad to.