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Brass rubbing

Brass rubbing

  • Place of origin:

    Norwich (Rubbing would have been made on site at the Church of St John de Sepulchre. Original brass probably made elsewhere., made)

  • Date:

    1460 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wax rubbing of monumental brass on paper

  • Museum number:

    E.2356-1929

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Monumental brasses are commemorative plaques that served as effigies and were most commonly found in churches. The earliest examples come from the thirteenth century but they were popular up until the seventeenth century and then again in the Victorian Gothic Revival. Surviving brasses from the medieval period are limited due to the turbulent history of the Church but they do survive in considerable numbers in the East of England, Germany and Flanders. Made from an alloy of copper and zinc, a material known as latten, they were laid into church floors and walls. Monumental brasses are historically and stylistically significant because they record dress, architecture, armoury, heraldry (coats of arms and insignia) and palaeography (handwriting) in a dated object. In addition they tell the story of memorial and patronage.

The practice of recording brasses through a process of rubbing originates from the Victorian Gothic Revival. An early method of pouring printer’s ink into engraved lines and then placing damp tissue paper over the brass was replaced around the mid-nineteenth century with the more effective technique of using black shoemaker’s wax, known as heel ball. Brass rubbing continued to be a popular hobby into the twentieth century before the process was understood to cause damage to the brasses.

Physical description

Rubbing from a brass inscription commemorating Joan Cok, who died in around 1460.

Place of Origin

Norwich (Rubbing would have been made on site at the Church of St John de Sepulchre. Original brass probably made elsewhere., made)

Date

1460 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Wax rubbing of monumental brass on paper

Dimensions

Height: 25.4 mm, Width: 180.975 mm

Object history note

Rubbing taken at the Church of St John de Sepulchre, Norwich.

Descriptive line

Rubbing of an inscription from the brass of Joan Cok, dated ca. 1460, from the Church of St John de Sepulchre, Norwich

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1929, London: Board of Education, 1930.
Stephenson, Mill. A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles. London: Headley Brothers, 1926, and supplement, 1956.

Materials

Paper; Wax

Techniques

Rubbing

Categories

Rubbings; Commemoration; Death; Inscriptions; Metalwork

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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