Brooch thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Brooch

ca. 1820 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The vine leaf motif , part of the decoration on this brooch, was originally designed by Johnn Conrad Geiss. He was also the first designer to use both classical and gothic motifs on the same piece.
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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Iron
Brief Description
Brooch, iron decorated with vine leaf motifs and with a central rosette, probably by Johann Conrad Geiss, Germany (Berlin), about 1820
Physical Description
Brooch, iron decorated with vine leaf motifs and with a central rosette.
Dimensions
  • Height: 6.8cm
  • Width: 7.1cm
  • Depth: 1.3cm
Credit line
Given by Mrs Lintorn-Orman
Subjects depicted
Summary
The vine leaf motif , part of the decoration on this brooch, was originally designed by Johnn Conrad Geiss. He was also the first designer to use both classical and gothic motifs on the same piece.

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.
Bibliographic Reference
Cast Iron from Central Europe, 1800-1850 The Bard Graduate Centre, 1994
Collection
Accession Number
M.40-1921

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record createdAugust 8, 2005
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