Nuestra Señora de Atocha, part of the Spanish treasure fleet sunk off the Florida Keys in September 1622, was carrying a wealth of wrought silver objects as well as silver and gold bullion. Some pieces are marked with a crowned pomegranate, which has now been ascribed to Santa Fe de Bogota in present-day Colombia, and it is reasonable to assume that most of the silver articles on the ship were made in New Granada. Many of the pieces recovered are now in the Museo de America in Madrid.
The precise function of this type of bowl is somewhat unclear. Called tembladeras in Spanish, they are the most common form of drinking cup to survive from the 17th century. Often thought to be for wine and described as a catavinos, a clue to their use is provided by the presence of one in a still life attributed to Zurbaran in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon. Traditionally entitled Still Life with Chocolate Service, it depicts objects associated with the service of chocolate, including a chocolate pot, swizzle stick and Chinese porcelain cups. The two-handled bowl placed carefully on the center of the salver, practically identical to the present example, appears to contain chocolate. For a discussion of these cups see José Manuel Cruz Valdovinos, Cincos Siglos de Platera Sevillana, ex. cat., 1992, no. 79 and C. Hartop, "New Light on Spanish Seventeenth Century Silver" in Silver Society Journal, no. 1, 1990.