Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: The Pasfield Jewel, Sixteenth Century

The Pasfield Jewel
Gold, Enamel, Emeralds
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This odd, sparkly little thing dates to the Sixteenth Century and comes from England. Gold, enamel and table-cut emeralds, it takes the form of a pistol. When seen in profile, the ball-shaped end closest to the suspension ring and turned muzzle mimics the looks of pistols made around 1590. Instead of being a pistol, the stock is hinged with three personal instruments: a hooked tongue scraper, a straight spike for picking teeth and a small spoon for removing ear wax. Yummy. 

The first mention of the jewel is in the will of George Pasfield from November 8, 1660. Mr. Pasfield was a merchant in south London , who traded extensively with Barbados. 

Sadly, the jewel is not in the best of shape though still, as stated by the V&A, “dramatic, beautiful and rare.” It was badly damaged in a house fire in 1817. While the goldwork survived, the enamels, were melted and discolored.

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