This drinking cup is an example of Calenian ware, a type of black–glazed pottery that takes its name from the town of Cales (Calenus) in southern Italy. This type of pottery, however, was popular across South Italy during the Hellenistic period. Although made from ceramic, the form of this cup owes a debt to contemporary metalworking traditions, most obviously in the angular shape of the handles and the central medallion with its stamped relief pattern and raised boss. A comparable boss and engraved pattern can be seen on the Silver Libation Bowl.
The metallic sheen of the surface, which evokes tarnished silver, was most likely achieved through the firing process. While the cup clearly imitates contemporary silverwares, it nevertheless subtly acknowledges the ceramic material from which it is made: reddish bands of unpainted clay run around the foot of the vessel and are visible on the underside of the foot. When tipped up for drinking or hung on the wall (a common way of storing drinking vessels), the color of the fired clay would have been clearly visible. The acknowledgement of the ceramic fabric of the cup may have been intended to highlight the potter’s skillful imitation of metallic forms in a very different medium.