Culvertons Antiques

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The Adler Cup

04/06/2012 2:43 PM

Housed in the silver department, within the Victoria & Albert Museum, you may be forgiven - taken into consideration some of the monumental trophies sitting adjacent, if you left without noticing a 9 ½ “ gold cup.

This Kiddush Cup is formed of 18 carat gold, and was crafted by the firm of Charles Frederick Hancock -one of the most distinguished European goldsmiths, working in London in the mid 19th century. Hallmarked London 1853/4, this presentation piece joins a small select group of artefacts worked from this precious metal during the period.

Amongst other things the inscription states ‘This cup made from the produce of the mines of Victoria’, with the recipient as ‘Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi of the British Jews’ and reveals it was given ‘as a token of the high esteem which he is held by his brethren in this colony. You only have to take note of the ornamentation surrounding the base to ascertain that the cups’ benefactors were from Victoria in Southern Australia.

Now Culvertons are asked to value numerous presentation pieces from the 19th century, nearly all inscribed with poignant words to worthy recipients, and in many cases it is the inscription that reduces the commercial appeal of the piece as history has long forgotten the recipient. The ‘Adler Cup’ however is a unique, beautifully crafted 19thcentury Kiddush Cup, an important artefact to the Jewish faith and ‘Jonathan Marcus Adler’: described in his life time as the “highest religious authority not only of London Jews but of all Orthodox Jews”, went on to become probably the most prominent 19th century rabbi in the English - speaking world.

Whilst he was a Rabbi in Hanover - his birth place in 1803, he became acquainted with Prince Adolphus Duke of Cambridge, regent of the province, who is thought to have recommended him for the post of Chief Rabbi in Britain. Eventually out of 13 candidates, he made the shortlist of four for the post of Chief Rabbi of the British Empire. On the 1st December 1844 the results showed the overwhelming support for his election, out of 135 communities, 121 voted for him. Nathan Adler kept the post till his death in 1890.

He was the first University educated Rabbi - this scholary background, together with the support from the Jewish communities enabled him to make important changes and reforms during his period in office

·     First Rabbi to undertake pastoral tours within the United Kingdom.

·     Founded the National Society and Better Protection of Children.

·     Within his lifetime saw the emancipation of Jews in the United Kingdom.

·     Witnessed Lionel de Rothschild become the first Jewish Member of Parliament.

·     He supported Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s ascent to The House of Lords (1855).

·     Saw Sir David Salomon’s become the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London (1855).

·     Instrumental in bringing together the United Synagogue.

Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler accomplished so much during his life-time - for the benefit of the Jewish communities throughout the world - and for the United Kingdom as a whole.

The Adler cup is one of the most historically important artefacts Culvertons has been asked to appraise and can be seen amongst the many thousands of other amazing exhibits on display within the museum.