A Classic Mint Julep Cup
Mint julep cups are passed from generation to generation
Your silver mint julep cup is of classic form and proportion. The mint julep is a cocktail that is believed to have originated in Virginia in the late 18th century. Originally thought to be medicinal, it soon became a popular cocktail and in 1938 it was declared the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Plenty of mint juleps were likely enjoyed during this recent horse racing season — cheering on American Pharaoh as he won the Triple Crown.
There are many different takes on mint julep recipes. The most traditional way is to add a teaspoon of sugar and several mint leaves to the bottom of a silver mint julep cup, muddle, then fill the cup with shaved or cracked iced. Stir in your favorite bourbon and garnish with a sprig of mint. Voila, a mint julep! A silver cup is still used now as it was back in the early 1800s because it is the silver that allows ice to form on the outside of the cup. The proper etiquette for drinking a mint julep is to hold the cup by either the band on the base or top lip so that your hand does not warm the cup.
Your mint julep cup is made of coin silver. Coin silver is a term used for American silver that predates 1870 when the sterling standard for a piece became 925/1000 parts pure silver. Coin silver acquired its name because silversmiths literally melted coinage to use in creating their silver wares. Your cup is hallmarked and made by Luther R. Gibson, who was a silversmith active from 1847 to 1850 in Norfolk, Va.
Silver mint julep cups are particularly coveted in the South. They are passed down from generation to generation and often are given as special gifts and even prizes. Yours has a great patina complete with dings from many celebratory toasts over the years.
Early Southern silver is desirable and I would value your mint julep cup at $750.