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Berlin Iron Seal Ring

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An extraordinary and rare seal which was made in Berlin circa 1815. It has a moor’s head, which is most unusual and decorated sides.

The roots of Berlin Iron Jewellery can be traced back to the establishment of the Königliche Eisengiesserei bei Berlin or Royal Berlin Foundry in 1804. The Royal Berlin Foundry started with the production of iron goods such as vases, knife stands, candelabra, bowls, plaques and medallions, as well as more commercial articles such as fences, bridges and garden furniture. The first jewellery items, such as long chains with cast links, were produced in 1806. Later, necklaces consisting of medallions and joined with links and wirework mesh were manufactured. The production of iron jewellery reached its peak between 1813 and 1815, when the Prussian royal family urged all citizens to contribute their gold and silver jewellery towards funding the uprising against Napoleon during the War of Liberation. In return the people were given iron jewellery such as brooches and finger rings, often with the inscription Gold gab ich für Eisen (I gave gold for iron), or Für das Wohl des Vaterlands (For the welfare of our country / fatherland), or with a portrait of Frederick William III of Prussia on the back. Until then iron jewellery had only been worn as a symbol of mourning (because of its black colour acquired by treating the castings with linseed cakes) and was worth too little to be alluring, but suddenly it became a symbol of patriotism and loyalty and with its obvious aesthetic appeal, became popular overnight.

Today it is highly collectable as it is rare. A lot of pieces have perished as it rusts easily. This example may have been a special commission.

Written by Olly Gerrish
Date & OriginGeorgian (1714-1830), German
ConditionVery good
ProvenanceGerman