Monday, March 18, 2013

The Home Beautiful: The Faerie Queen Casket, 1906

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This hexagonal casket (in this sense, a decorative box) with a hinged lid is crafted in silver and adorned with enamel plaques with subjects from the “The Faerie Queen.” Further decoration comes in the form of armorial bearings in enamel, seed pearls, small opals and silver gilt wire. The base is inscribed “The Faerie Queen.” An emerald adorns the silver knob used to open the casket.

A case set into the inside is covered in parchment and adorned with colorful, stylized foliate decoration. The front of the case bears a silver plaque with repoussé decoration depicting a crowned lion with the British national emblems of a rose, shamrock and thistle. This lovely little box was made in Birmingham between 1906-7.

The illustrated scenes on the enamel plaques are from Edmund Spenser's “The Faerie Queene” which was written in 1590. This prize was designed by the Head of the Newcastle Guild and made by its members whose named are all inscribed on its base. It was made for presentation to Queen Alexandra when Edward VII opened the King's Hall of Armstrong College (University of Durham).

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