A suitable subtitle for this paper would have been “The rise and fall of a family”. What is usually called the Cyphellaceae is an instructive example of a situation not uncommonly encountered in the current systematics of mycology: a family retained in a traditional sense by some mycologists and considered by them as good a family as any, while others are convinced that it is nothing but a handy bin from which part of the contents has already been taken out and disposed of by scattering it over various groups, but which is still needed for keeping what remains. We do not yet know what to do with this considerable remainder, mainly because the published accounts are inadequate and the species have not yet been scrutinized anew in the light of present-day taxonomic requirements. In order to understand the basic idea of the Cyphellaceae the type species may be briefly introduced. The fact that Cyphella digitalis was originally described as Peziza digitalis is telling, and one could not do better than characterize it as a ‘discomycete’ with basidia, viz. a cup-shaped fruit-body with the hymenium lining the smooth inside or ‘disk’. If one were pressed to form an opinion about its taxonomic position from a dried, not annotated collection and without the aid of the microscope, one would even now, very likely, dispose of it as a discomycete. However, there is little doubt that in nature the cup is directed downward at least when mature, in contradistinction to the average discomycete in which the hymenium containing the asci is directed upward. This difference is a reflection of the two modes of violent spore discharge inherent in the hymenomycetous basidium and ascus; it has been explained through Buller’s well-known researches. The cups in the various species are not always typically cup-shaped; in a number they are more or less tubular or else more flattened and even disk-like.