The cistern chain is a series of linked cups that worked on a gear to bring water up from the cistern. The cups can be separated and used individually or in series. I have seen them planted and, if each were drilled, could be put to work as a rain chain.
The chain is made of galvanized steel which has corroded - this is not a new item. There are seven cups in all. The price below is per cup. Each cup comes with a plastic liner should you wish to use it as displayed - a vase!