Remarkable Gold Cup

17th April 2019 — 27 Comments

Rag and Bone Man’s Special Find – Steptoe’s Gold!

Some finds I write about are quite unique and lodge themselves in a special part of my memory labelled Don’t Forget!  The story of the small metal cup I first published in 2008 is a good example.

For overseas readers (who may not be aware of the significance of my title}, it is enough to know that it refers to the BBC comedy Steptoe and Son, about two men who dealt in selling used items. Here’s my report:

The grandson of a man who acquired a small metal cup is in line for a windfall after discovering it is a pure gold vessel dating back to before Christ. The unique ancient treasure could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. The 5.5ins cup, believed to be from the Achaemenid Empire, has two female faces looking in opposite directions, their foreheads decorated with a snake motif. Experts were baffled by the piece, but laboratory analysis of the gold put it in the third or fourth century BC. The Achaemenid empire was based around Persia, but at its height stretched from Iran to Libya. It was wiped out by Alexander the Great in 330 BC.   From the Telegraph, May 2008

The gold cup was acquired in the late 1930s or early 1940s by William Sparks in Taunton, Somerset. He was a scrap metal dealer and before his death in the late 1940s he gave it to his young grandson John Webber. Believing it to be brass or bronze, Mr Webber put the cup, along with other gifts, in a box and forgot about it until last year when he moved house. The other items include a beautiful gold spoon which might have come from Roman North Africa, and a ‘Hellenistic’ gold mount, with a figure thought to be Ajax. Laboratory tests have confirmed the age of the cup and that it had been painstakingly crafted from just one piece of gold.

Mr Webber, 70, said: “My grandfather was originally a proper rag and bone ban from Romany stock and lived in a caravan. My father died in the war and afterwards my grandfather gave me some things shortly before he died. One of the things was the cup which I remember playing with. Because he mainly dealt in brass and bronze, I thought that was what it was made from. I put it in a box and forgot about it. Then last year I moved house and took it out to have a look and I realised it wasn’t bronze or brass. I sent it to the British Museum and the experts there hadn’t seen anything like it before and recommended I had it tested at a laboratory.” Gleaned from various sources.


Courtesy Ben Miller

Double-headed bowls were common in Roman times and depicted Janus, the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. But in Roman mythology, Janus (John) was usually depicted as a man with a beard, not a beautiful female as in Mr Webber’s bowl that was eventually sold at Duke’s auction house in Dorchester, Dorset on June 5 and realised the sum of …




Image result for Achaemenid Empire gold cup


This blogpost was first published in 2013


Saxon sword mount declared ‘treasure’


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27 responses to Remarkable Gold Cup

  1. Good to hear from you John

  2. Hi John,

    Nice to be reading one of your posts again.

    Kindest Regards and keep swinging that pen.


  3. Good to hear from you!!!!!!!What a tale.

    Hope you are well and kicking


  4. CURSOR on you, Jerry. Not a pen. Needed POINTING out!
    Thanks for the reply.

  5. stephen robinson 17th April 2019 at 8:09 PM

    Nice to see you active.

    Sorry I missed your call (FaceTime)

    Speak soon


  6. Now that’s a breath of fresh air!!!! Great to hear from you John.
    Another great scribbling, I’m delighted to read it.
    I hope you and Mrs John are well?

    Thank you John,


  7. Nice to se that your memory is still intact John. A good story that I missed the first time round. I wouldn’t mind having a cup like that to plink at with my new rifle in my newfound hobby.

    I hope the Lynda and yourself are both doing well.

    Best wishes

  8. Missed your posts, John – great to hear from you!
    That’s a terrific story, is that – and he used it for target practice too!

    Keep cursoring!

    Best to you both,

  9. great to see your back john

  10. Well it is great to read your scribblings again John another mind jogging story about that gold cup.
    I hope that your situation is showing improvements and you and Linda are coping OK.
    Don’t forget you can call me anytime when it is appropriate with you.
    Always in my thoughts.

  11. Good to see you back, John.
    “laboratory analysis of the gold put it in the third or fourth century BC.” what kind of “analysis” was that? How do you date gold?

  12. Thank you, Paul.

    That quote was from a Telegraph report!

  13. So good to hear your ‘voice’ again .. as usual an interesting story … Hope you are well and happy x

  14. Many thanks for all your kind comments!

  15. Keep talking

    (Pissed in benidorm )

  16. I am so pleased that you are ‘back’, John.. I hope it is for a good long time now.

    You have been missed my friend


  17. Missed that first time around. Good to see you’re still about and typing.

  18. Nice to hear from you again John!

  19. A great read as always John, good to see you back.

  20. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 18th April 2019 at 5:19 AM

    For a minute there I thought my inbox was playing tricks on me, but no it wasn’t, it was an actual update!! Woooot Woooot!!

    How does one go about forgetting something like that in a box for 50+ years? I’m pretty happy when I find spare change in one of my old pockets, imagine finding hundreds of thousands of pounds??

    Thanks for taking the time John, another fascinating read.

  21. Welcome back John.

  22. I remember when it was first publicised. Nice to have an update and you never know what will turn up next.

  23. Great to see you back, John.

  24. Bruce D Campbell 18th April 2019 at 7:55 PM

    John, I was more than happy to see your update in my inbox today.
    Bravo my friend for persevering through your present difficulties and coming back with a bang.

  25. Missed that one first time, what a great story and object. Nice to see you posting again John.

  26. wonderful to have you back – and thanks for the great gold cup tale.

  27. Wonderful to see your post pop up once more in my inbox. I really missed them. Great story too. I live in hope that I might find a box containing something like that in the attic or garden shed, but I only seem to find boxes of rusty nails and dead spiders.

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