Berlin Iron Brooch Rare Early 19th c Snowflake
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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Jewelry: Continental: Pre 1900: Item # 479343
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Berlin iron jewelry, now rare and highly prized, was first made in support of the Prussian War of Liberation against Napoleon. Those who donated valuables to the cause received these in return and wore them with great pride. Cast of iron from models of silver or brass, then polished and lacquered to a matte black finish, most examples have very precise outlines joined together by wire links for an airy, intricate look. A snowflake shape such as this was perfect for the technique.
After hostilities ended, the style caught on elsewhere in Europe and iron jewels were crafted in Austria and France, as well as Germany, from Late Georgian/Regency times into the Victorian era. Accordingly, itís impossible to be certain of Prussian origin, unless an item bears the inscription "Gold gab ich fur Eisen 1813" (meaning ďI gave gold for ironĒ) or a foundry mark. Not many do, and the design of this brooch left no room for markings. We can be sure, though, that itís of this timeframe and of iron; the metal exerts magnetic force (mildly, given its delicacy).
Despite its openwork form and great age, the brooch is in lovely condition, showing only minor losses of black lacquer and no rust I can find even under high magnification. Itís been beautifully cared for, as it deserves. A very special treasure for the serious collector, it measures about one and a half inches round and reached us from a New England estate.
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