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Home > Auctions > 25th February 2020 > Merovingian Frankish Gilt Silver Bird Headed Brooch

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LOT 0572

GBP (£) 800 - 1,000
EUR (€) 940 - 1,170
USD ($) 1,040 - 1,300

Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £720

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Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £720

Merovingian Frankish Gilt Silver Bird Headed Brooch

5th-6th century AD

A silver-gilt bird brooch with chip-carved bands, inset hatched foil backed garnet cloisons to the eyes and body, catch and sprung pin to the reverse. 6.3 grams, 28mm (1"). Very fine condition.

From an important private family collection; acquired on the European art market in the 1980s, and thence by descent.

Cf. Beck, H. et al. Fibel und Fibeltracht, Berlin, 2000, item 468; similar brooches from the Frankish cemetery at Monceau-le-Neuf-et-Faucouzy, deptn Aisne, France in Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period. Europe Without Borders, item VII.23.2; and the S-fibula from Schwarz-Rheindorf, Westphalia, in Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period. Europe Without Borders, item VII.48.27.

During the mid-sixth century the S-brooch, along with the disc brooch, became popular. These were made primarily of gilded silver embellished with garnet inlays or in garnet cloisonné. Early forms of S-shaped brooches appear in graves in Scandinavia throughout the fifth century and in Europe during the first decades of the sixth century, and reached the height of their popularity during the latter half of that time. They have a wide spread across Europe and are found in central and western Europe, Italy, Scandinavia and Anglo-Saxon England. They generally take the form of an S-shaped body with heads at either end facing in opposite directions. The heads are generally depicted as birds but examples are known of unidentified animals with splayed open jaws, possibly dragons or wolves. The use of the head imagery is consistent with the aesthetic tendencies associated with the northern, Pagan Germanic world.