This striking ceremonial standing cup and cover was created especially for the Museum by virtuoso silversmith Malcolm Appleby.

Cup and cover fact file



Made by

Peter Musgrove, Danuta Sotowiej, Parker Finishing and Maureen Edgar, and designed and decorated by Malcolm Appleby

Made in


Made from

Silver-gilt, rock crystal, enamel

Museum reference


On display

Making and Creating, Level 3, National Museum of Scotland

Did you know?

In 2014, Malcolm Appleby was awarded an MBE for services to hand engraving.

The simplest and least expensive pieces should have the same inspirational quality as my most valued major works. Works of art should be made for everyone to enjoy
- Malcolm Appleby

About the artist

Malcolm Appleby at work on the Cup and cover in 1990

Above: Malcolm Appleby at work on the Cup and cover in 1990.

Malcolm Appleby was born in 1946 in West Wickham, in London, but has lived and worked in Scotland since the 1960s. He studied at Central School of Art, Sir John Cass and the Royal College of Art in London before establishing his studio in Crathes, Banchory in 1969. He moved to Grandtully, Perthshire in 1996. Among his many prestigious commissions are a condiment set for 10 Downing Street and a sculptural tablepiece for Bute House, the residence of the First Minister for Scotland. In 2014, he was awarded an MBE for services to hand engraving.

Here, Malcolm Appleby discusses his work.

A radical new design

Traditionally, master makers showed off their skills by creating elaborate pieces such as ceremonial standing cups and covers. Inspired by examples from the Museum’s collection of European silver, Appleby proposed a radical new design, incorporating hidden engravings and gems, a cup within a cup and 16 separate detachable pieces. 

The slideshow below shows some more traditional cup and covers from the collection.

Designing the Cup and cover

Malcolm Appleby’s beautiful and intricate drawings for the commission reflect his detailed design process and many of the influences on his work. The drawings include images of fantastical part- human, part-bird creatures, creeping vines and tiny beetles. He also created a wooden model of the cup and cover, to refine the balance and relationship between the separate parts of the piece. 

The film below explores Appleby’s drawings in more detail.

Making the Cup and cover

An expert engraver, silversmith, goldsmith and jeweller, the Cup and cover demonstrates Appleby’s impressive range of skills. Also noted for his collaborations with other makers, Appleby worked with silversmith Peter Musgrove to raise the main body of this piece, the base and inner cup were cast by sculptor Danuta Solowiej and the gilding applied by the London firm Parker Finishing. The foot-nut has hidden red enamelled toenails, applied by Scottish artist Maureen Edgar.

Cup and cover by Malcolm Appleby

Above: Cup and cover by Malcolm Appleby.

A contemporary masterpiece

The Cup and Cover was completed in Spring 1990 and is now part of the Museum’s European Silver collection, together with the design drawings and models for the piece.

The slideshow below shows further details of the Cup and Cover, along with other works by Appleby from the collection, or which have been displayed at the Museum.

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