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  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1600-1610 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Raised, engraved, hatched, and pierced gilded silver (silver-gilt) with black wax.

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.578:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 70, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 1, shelf 3 []

The name Pomander is derived from the French pomme ambre or pomme d’embre, meaning “amber apple”. This referred to a fruit infused with vinegar and other aromatic substances. Pomanders were personal items of jewellery usually hung at the waist or worn around the neck. The hinged compartments, which open like segments of an orange, contained different scents and were often engraved with the names of the substances inside. The interior of this pomander is engraved with floral decoration, perhaps to evoke its contents.

This piece is an example of 16th century domestic silver. Such silver was both functional and ornamental. Objects for dining and drinking took elegant forms and were decorated in the latest styles. Beautifully crafted items intended only for display often adopted functional forms such as cups and dishes. Domestic silver was not confined to the most wealthy. Many people owned silver spoons or mounted vessels, items which often became treasured possessions.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Silver-gilt and engraved pomander of spherical shape composed of six segments, each a numbered compartment with sliding top, the finial pierced and with a suspension ring, the outside enhanced with black wax

Place of Origin

England (probably, made)


ca. 1600-1610 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Raised, engraved, hatched, and pierced gilded silver (silver-gilt) with black wax.

Marks and inscriptions

No marks


Height: 7 cm, Depth: 6.5 cm, Diameter: 4 cm, Weight: 100 g, Width: 8.1 cm open

Object history note

Provenance: Baron Wharton. Purchased from Asprey and Company, London, 1984.
Sterckshof Exhibition RF.2010/400.

Descriptive line

Silver-gilt and black wax, England, ca.1600-10

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

Tait, Hugh. 'An Anonymous Loan to the British Museum, 2: Eighteenth Century Gold Boxes'. The Connoisseur, vol. 154, Dec. 1963, pp. 152-3.
Clayton, Michael. The Collector's dictionary of the silver and gold of Great Britain and North America. London: Country Life Books/Hamlyn Publishing Group, 1971, p. 201, no. 410 (upper right).
Clayton, Michael. 1985. The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America. 2nd ed. London: Antique Collectors' Club, p. 279, no. 410 (upper right)
Schroder, Timothy. The Gilbert collection of gold and silver. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1988, cat. no. 12, pp. 70-72. ISBN.0875871445
Schroder, Timothy, ed. The Gilbert Collection at the V&A. London (V&A Publishing) 2009, p. 30, plate 14. ISBN9781851775934

Labels and date

(Gallery 70, case1)
21. Pomander for scent
Probably England
Gilded silver and black wax
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.578-2008 [16/11/2016]


Silver-gilt; Wax


Raising; Engraving (incising); Tooling; Piercing


Metalwork; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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