10 March 2013

Scandinavian jewellery collection seeks good home

The Whitworth Art Gallery has a very good collection of Scandinavian folk jewellery available for transfer to an Accredited museum. The jewellery dates mainly from the 19th century and includes a number of very fine silver ring brooches, clasps, pendants and other miscellaneous items. The majority of the jewellery is of Swedish or Norwegian origin but there are also two Amager bodice clasps in the collection.

A full list of objects and images is available on request.

For further information please contact Sarah Fellows at sarah.fellows@manchester.ac.uk or 0161 2757479

Jane Perry, author of Traditional Jewellery of Nineteenth-Century Europe, London: V & A Publishing (2013) writes:

This is probably the largest and best collection of Norwegian traditional jewellery in Britain, and is certainly the best that I am aware of.  It would be quite impossible to put together such a collection today, as pieces of this age and quality rarely come onto the market, either in Scandinavia or the UK.  Their condition is also generally good; it is rare to find complete sets of bodice fasteners, or objects with all their little pendants intact.  The group mainly consists of Norwegian jewellery, but there are two important Danish Amager pieces, two north German buttons, and a dozen pieces from Sweden.  All the pieces are silver or silver-gilt, as far as can be seen. 

Although the objects were received at the Museum at two different times, according to their accession numbers, the two separate groups are not easily distinguishable by eye, and it is possible that they were originally part of the same collection.  It appears to have been put together at the end of the 19th century, when traditional jewellery was popular in Britain not only academically but also among fashionable women.  Most of the objects date from the first half of the 19th century, and none from later than around 1900. All of the small group of late 19th century pieces which are marked were made by Marius Hammer of Bergen, and it is possible that the whole collection was put together by him for a foreign customer; all the leading Norwegian traditional jewellers of the time, including Jacob Tostrup and David Andersen of Oslo as well as Marius Hammer, sold antique traditional jewellery to foreign collectors.  The pieces marked by Marius Hammer are not typical of his usual output, and are more representative of traditional jewellery from other districts of  Norway.  Several of the pieces have been adapted for modern use by the addition of brooch fittings, and this also suggests a late 19th-century Scandinavian origin for the collection.  The additional brooch fittings all appear to be 19th-century in date, and one (MWI 7966) has had a petal added which carries the same maker’s mark as the original object.  This must have been done either by the original maker himself, or by cannibalising another piece by him.  This would have been unlikely outside Norway.

The general distribution of the Norwegian pieces also suggests a collection which was acquired at one time, or in a small number of groups, rather than accumulated slowly over time.  There are fewer makers represented than would be expected in a collection put together piecemeal.  Another striking, and unusual, aspect of the collection is the number of pieces (5 ring brooches and 6 clasps) which appear to come from the area around Heddal in northeast Telemark.  Jewellery from this small area is scarce, and there are very few examples published.  This would imply a single acquisition. 

1 comment:

  1. Indian Traditional Jewellery holds paramount importance in Indian history and today when time has evolved, trends have changed and technology has taken over the fashion, jewellery still forms an integral part of women's lifestyle!!