"The phrase SCOPUS VITE CHRISTUS can be translated as "Christ is the goal of life" and can be taken to mean that Man should live his life as Christ did.
The maker's mark is unidentified. A copper guild plate which registers newly admitted silversmiths during the period 1591 until 1611 has been preserved in the Museum 'Het Prinsenhof'. Since the maker's mark CA does not appear on this plate, it may be concluded that the maker of the cup was already a guildmember in 1591 or that the cup was made in 1575. In spite of the second half of the sixteenth century being a flourishing time for silversmithing, few works have survived. Following a period of local economic decay in the early years of the seventeenth century, much of Delft silver was melted down for re-use.
The origins of these kinds of cups can undoubtedly be traced to Germany. The economic welfare in the Netherlands during this period would have attracted a large number of artisans and craftsmen, of which a large proportion was probably born in one of the many German kingdoms and could quite possibly have imported the idea. The idea may also have reached Holland through one of the numerous books with engravings of silverworks, which were frequently used by silversmiths as examples. Many of these books were in fact published in towns such as Nuremberg and Augsburg, where silversmithing flourished.
A number of somewhat similar silver-gilt mounted leather cups survive and were presumably presented to shoemakers' guilds of various Dutch and German cities. "The occasions that might lead to such a cup being acquired by the guild were various; it might be presented by a warden of the guild on completion of year of office, by a journeyman on admission as master of his craft or, perhaps, in lieu of a fine, by a guild member who had committed some minor offence against the guild regulation." (see Timothy B. Schroder, The Francis E. Fowler, Jr. Collection of Silver, Los Angeles, 1991, p.79).
In addition to two unmarked early 16th Century examples, one of which is engraved with the arms of Memmingen (Swabia), in the Fowler Collection (see Schroder, op cit, cat. nos. 91 and 92), another is recorded as being in the Nehresheimer Collection (Albert Schröder, Alte Goldschmiedearbeiten, Munich, 1929, pl. 23) A further shoe cup with a similar mount but with dolphin shoe toe and with cover, by Melchior Mager, Nuremberg, circa 1580, was in the Joseph Brummer Collection (Parke Bernet, New York, 21 April 1949, lot 296) and subsequently in the Kramarsky Collection (Christie's New York, 30 October 1991, lot 68). A fifth example of very similar form to the latter is in the Morgan Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (A.E. Jones, Illustrated Catalogue of the Collection of Old Plate of J. Pierpont Morgan, London, 1908, pl LXX).
A sixth shoe-maker's guild cup with copper-gilt mounts was sold by Friedrich Baron von Stumm at Christie's Geneva, 19 May 1997, lot 185.