This goblet is believed to have been presented at an official reception, hosted by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, to Juan Valera y Alcalá-Galiano (1824–1905), a Spanish diplomat, traveler, politician, and writer. The czars were accustomed to giving glasses decorated with imperial monograms and the double-headed eagle (the center of the Russian state seal) to such guests as foreign diplomats and government staff members. Valera, who was stationed in Russia from 1854 to 1857, served as secretary of the special mission in St. Petersburg. Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until his abdication on March 15, 1917, so the goblet, which also bears a double-headed eagle, was probably presented to Valera while he was ambassador to Vienna between 1893 and 1895. The glass remained in his family until the late 20th century. Objects like this one, embellished with a ruler’s monogram, were produced and distributed in considerable numbers. Personal crests were originally used during the medieval period to identify prominent individuals, and their followers adopted the marks to declare their support and submission. The use of these marks was later extended to include goblets and table services. Here, however, the Russian goblet is one of many commemorative pieces that were bestowed as souvenirs of important events or as reminders of a leader’s achievements and generosity. Recipients of these gifts took them home, and the heraldic devices survived as the objects were handed down from generation to generation. For more information on Russian glass, see Karen L. Kettering, Russian Glass at Hillwood, Washington D.C.: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 2001, esp. pp. 80–82; and Nina Asharina, Tamara Malinina, and Liudmila Kazakova, Russian Glass of the 17th–20th Centuries, Corning: The Corning Museum of Glass, 1990.