Viking Gilt Box Brooch with Masks and Interlace - Lot No. 0571

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Viking Gilt Box Brooch with Masks and Interlace

Antiquities - Viking

LOT 0571

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 8,970 - 11,210
USD ($) 10,220 - 12,780

Opening Bid: £7,200 (EUR 8,070; USD 9,201)
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9th-10th century AD

A hollow-cast drum-shaped brooch with central disc; the outer sidewall with panels of regularly spaced knotwork, four rectangular dividing panels with knotwork detailing; the upper face with cruciform bands each with a knotted serpent motif, the quadrants filled with a knot and a facing male mask to each angle; a separate baseplate with basketwork detailing, four attachment rivets, with a hinged pin and catchplate. 40 grams, 45mm (1 3/4").

Very fine condition. Extremely rare.

From a London W1, UK, collection; acquired on the German art market before 2000.

See MacGregor, A. et al. A Summary Catalogue of the Continental Archaeological Collections (Roman Iron Age, Migration Period, Early Medieval), Oxford, 1997, item 1.8; and Rydh, H. Dosformiga Spännen från Vikingatifden, Stockholm, 1919.

Drum brooches (also called ‘box brooches’, Swedish Dosspännen) were a Scandinavian fashion of the Viking period, beginning in the late 8th century AD and featuring Oseberg style gripping-beast motifs. They remained popular throughout the period into the 11th century AD. They are especially associated with the island of Gotland, the crossroads of trade and traffic in the Baltic where a variety of cultural influences were felt. Occasional examples occur elsewhere in the area of Scandinavian power, plausibly associated with the movement of brides from Gotland to foreign homelands. The earliest (8th century) examples are high-quality multi-part castings with lavish use of gold, parcel-gilding and silver; by the later Viking age they appear in bronze and gilt bronze. The original artistic motifs also evolve into more geometric forms with increased use of knotwork. As a type, they are characterised by their discoid upper face divided into symmetrical quadrants often with openwork detail; cords and faux-ropework to the edges are a consistent feature of the design. Some feature a separate cast upper plate, and on others it is the baseplate which is separate, as on the present example; occasionally the central knop is also a separate casting. It has been suggested that drum brooches were used to hold small valuables, although this seems improbable – these were normally suspended from the girdle or necklace for display. They were most probably used to fasten the triangular shawl or mantle which covered the upper body, in the dress fashion which included the heavy hängerok dress which was worn outside the undershift; the hängerok was often of rich fabric with embroidered borders, and the metal jewellery and glass beads were used to add richness to the costume. It may be this type of brooch (or the tortoise form) which was referred to by the Arab traveller Ibn Fadlan when he mentioned that Rus women wore on their chests drum-shaped brooches of iron, copper, silver or gold, whose decoration indicated the wealth of their husbands.

Tuesday 4th September 2018 to Monday 10th September 2018: Ancient Art, Antiquities & Coins

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Auction Catalogue

Auction Venue:
Stratton Street
Mayfair London, W1J 8LT

Viewing from noon Monday 3rd Sept. 2018
Champagne Reception: 6pm - 9pm

Tuesday 4th Sept. 2018 (Day 1)
10am : Lots 1 - 651

Auction Venue:
The Court House
363 Main Road
Harwich, CO12 4DN

Auctions start 10am BST (Lunch 1.30 - 2pm)
Wednesday 5th Sept. 2018 (Day 2)
Lots 700 - 1361
Thursday 6th Sept. 2018 (Day 3)
Lots 1362 - 2023
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Lots 2024 - 2641
Saturday 8th Sept. 2018 (Day 5)
Lots 2642 - 3239
Sunday 9th Sept. 2018 (Day 6)
Lots 3240 - 3552
Lots 3700 - 4050
Monday 10th Sept. 2018 (Day 7)
Lots 4051 - 4877

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