April 27, 2015

History of Julep Cups

SCKY09 B 300x300 Handcrafted Pewter Julep Cups are Ideal for Southern Soirees
Kentucky Julep Cup Style

Julep cups are very popular at Derby time ...
And there is a an interesting story of silver design behind the antique designs.

Whether you have sterling silver cups passed down through the family, more recent pewter versions, or the easily collectible silver plate versions this is the time of year to bring them out of storage and use them.

In the early colonial days silversmiths crafted beautiful sterling silver items for well to do families up and down the eastern seaboard, and even as far west as Kentucky (Remember...Kentucky used to be a county in Virginia.) 

Antique sterling silver items fetch a huge price! I love to stalk antique silver...knowing that it is most likely above my pay grade. ha! I think I should have lived in the 1800s as design, architecture, silver, etc. from that period is so interesting to me.

The Speed Museum in Louisville used to have a Kentucky room with old silver, furniture, paintings, and such on display. As a grad student I would visit from time to time, as the museum is located on the edge of the U of L campus. I never tired of looking at the old artifacts...chairs, sugarchests, early KY silver, etc.

If you google silversmiths of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds there are certain names that rank high in the craft, depending on the state and city/town. 

I once read that families would melt down their silver from time to time for a silversmith to create a new design. (I wonder if that was something the wife wanted to do...when she tired of their silver design.)  :-)

Currently if you want to purchase julep cups you can find them made in sterling silver and polished pewter.  Get ready to spend some big cash if you want to collect sterling silver julep cups. I have seen some selling for $700.00.+ The polished pewter versions are considerably less...ranging in the $75.00 range, more or less depending on the manufacturer. My mother gave me a few for Christmas over the years...and with my monogram. Those will be passed down as they are part of our family history.

As I was researching Jefferson cups once...
                                    Salisbury Monticello Jefferson Cup
I discovered that julep cups come in various designs... based on states. Who knew? I was fascinated to look at all of the cups to see the difference between say a Kentucky julep cup vs a Louisiana julep cup. (Also...note that different silversmiths then tweaked their designs.)

Most of you probably know what a Kentucky julep cup looks like...as it is used in lots of Derby advertising and such. If you want to see others...it is as close as your computer mouse. I tried to borrow pics...but some were not able to be used. You will just have to click the link.

The differences are slight, but when you put the cups side by side you can see the differences in style. I think that all of them are beautiful. But since I am a Kentuckian...I will have to lean that direction.

Handcrafted Pewter Julep Cups are Ideal for Southern Soirees (I borrowed images from Silver Pewter and Gifts to illustrate the differences in cups.) silverandpewtergifts.com

SCKY09 B 300x300 Handcrafted Pewter Julep Cups are Ideal for Southern Soirees
The Kentucky Julep Cup

Louisiana Julep Cup
Modeled after the works of Bavarian-born silversmith Anthony Rasch von Tauffkirchen.
Louisiana julep cup
Alabama Julep Cup
Carolina Julep Cup Collection...in various ounce sizes.
Georgia Julep Cup Collection

Tennessee Julep Cup Collection

Mississippi Julep Cup (image could not be saved or used)
Those who prefer the timeless work of silversmith George Macpherson may want to gravitate towards the Mississippi Julep Cups.
Many companies also make a silverplate versions of julep cups...which usually costs less than the pewter ones. I would stick with a well known silver company so that you get quality silverplate. Julep cups make great graduation gifts, wedding gifts, anniversary or birthday gifts. Also...remember them for hostess gifts too. I imagine that any hostess would love to receive a nice julep cup for her collection. :-)

Look at the beautiful silver from Reed & Barton. (Drool.)
See the Reed & Barton website. 
They offer fifteen uses for julep cups.

And here is a Mint Julep Recipe From 
What's Cooking in America

The wonderful refreshing Mint Julep drink is very popular in Kentucky. 

Derby Day in Kentucky! To the people of other states and the uninitiated, this phrase has little meaning. But lovers of horse racing all over the country thrill at the mention of these words. For the Kentucky Derby is the most important horse race of the world. Thousand of visitors come to Louisville just for the event on the first Saturday of May.

Traditionally Mint Julep is served at the Kentucky Derby and served in silver or pewter mugs, although it is by no means essential. If you are lucky enough to own such heirlooms, chill the cups thoroughly before mixing your mint juleps. Glass tumblers may be substituted for silver cups if necessary - they will not frost, however.  According to some Southerners, a Mint Julep is the not the product of a formula, but a ceremony. The drink as we know it today is an American invention.

Click the link below to see the pdf.
Kentucky Derby Party Planning Guide
Thanks for visiting...and Happy Derby! 

My Kentucky Living
My Kentucky Living

Hello, I'm Sheila and my house is a giant art project! I enjoy creating an environment where my family can feel safe, secure, and loved. We are empty nesters learning to slow down and enjoy life.

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