An Early Important Pair of German Circumcision Cups

An Early Important Pair of German Circumcision Cups

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These cups were made in Augsburg, Germany between 1707 and 1711, as that span of years, as well as the maker himself, Phillip Stenglin, are revealed to us by the hallmarks (see our photos). At some point in the 18th century, almost certainly before 1760, these cups, produced for the general public originally, were adapted for Jewish use and were engraved with Hebrew wording relating to the Brit Milah ceremony and read “Cup of Metzitzah”, “Cup of Blessing”. The “Metzitzah” cup is used during the circumcision itself, by the mohel, the person trained in this delicate procedure that dates back to ancient times. At the conclusion of the circumcision, it is the time to name the baby. There is a second sandek (a man representing the father of the baby), who holds the infant as the mohel recites the blessings and names the child. The blessings are recited over wine in the “Cup of Blessing”, and twice during the naming, the mohel will dip his pinky into the cup of wine, and place tiny drops in the baby’s mouth. The Hebrew engraving on the cups is extremely high in quality, with appropriate 250+ year old wear, done with dense “cross-hatching” in each Hebrew letter itself, which is typical of 17th and early 18th century Judaica hailing from Germany, most often found on Kiddush Cups and the removable plaques on Torah Shields. The lettering is flanked by engraved tulips and scrolling flowers. Both the rims and the lower halves of the cups were gold-washed (“gilt”), giving a sense of luxuriousness to the cups. The lower half of each cup was hand-chased is a pattern known as “gadroon” or “gadrooning”, a type of workmanship found on the highest quality silver objects of Western Europe. As you can see from the photos, these cups were pictured in a German newspaper article in 1929, which described our cups, along with other Judaica being displayed in the Jewish Museum of Breslau, which featured

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