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  • Bracelet
    Geiss, Johann Conrad, born 1771 - died 1846
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Berlin (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1820- ca.1830 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Geiss, Johann Conrad, born 1771 - died 1846 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 16, shelf B, box 3

Johann Conrad Geiss ( 1771-1846 ) who made this bracelet was a pioneer of many innovative techniques in casting and his ideas were widely copied.

Cast-iron jewellery was an inexpensive but fashionable novelty for consumers in Europe and America from around 1800 to 1860. Developed in Germany in 1806–7 and often worn during mourning, it became the symbol of Prussian patriotism and resistance to Napoleon I in the Prussian War of Liberation fought from 1813-15. Women donated gold jewellery to their country in exchange for iron inscribed ‘I gave gold for iron’.

The transformation of cast iron, a dark metal of little value, into a fashionable product was an important Prussian manufacturing success. Factories became adept at casting small, delicate parts which could be assembled to create the jewellery. A renewed interest in the Medieval past throughout Europe brought stylistic change. After 1815, the Neo-classical designs of earlier Berlin ironwork were replaced by Gothic motifs such as the trefoil, quatrefoil, and fine pointed arches. The jewellery quickly gained an international profile. Demand peaked in the 1830s, when Berlin alone had 27 foundries and manufacture spread to France and Austria.

Physical description

Bracelet, iron with gothic tracery and classical acanthus foliage. central link of foliage springing from an oval rosette of openwork and links alternately formed of two trefoils conjoined and of an oblong panel of gothic tracery with foliage sprouting from either end. It is marked with inscription 'GEISS BERLIN'.

Place of Origin

Berlin (made)


ca.1820- ca.1830 (made)


Geiss, Johann Conrad, born 1771 - died 1846 (maker)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions



Height: 6.8 cm, Width: 19.5 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm

Descriptive line

Bracelet, iron with gothic tracery and classical acanthus foliage, signed 'Geiss', Germany (Berlin), ca.1820-1830.

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

Cast Iron from Central Europe, 1800-1850, The Bard Graduate Centre, 1994

Labels and date

11. BRACELET, cast iron, Germany; c. 1820-30
Museum No. 96b-1906 [07/1994]



Subjects depicted

Tracery; Acanthus


Jewellery; Metalwork; Ironwork; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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