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The Pasfield Jewel

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled gold, set with table-cut emeralds

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 5

Object Type
The gold enamelled jewel is in the form of a pistol. In profile, the ball-shaped butt (the part next to the suspension ring) and turned muzzle (the open end of the barrel) copies that of pistols made around 1590. There are three settings for jewels, of which one is empty and two are mounted with emeralds. Hinged into the stock (the support that holds the barrel) are three toilet instruments: a hooked tongue scraper, a straight spike for picking teeth and a small spoon for removing ear wax.

The first mention of the jewel is in the will of George Pasfield, dated 8 November 1660. Pasfield was a merchant from Rotherhithe in south London (then in Surrey), who is known to have traded extensively with Barbados from about 1647 onwards. He commanded his own ship, the Barbados Merchant, and had a share in a plantation in Barbados.

The jewel is dramatic, beautiful and rare, but it suffered badly in a house fire in 1817. The goldwork survived well, but the enamels, which had a lower melting point, were heavily damaged and discoloured.

Physical description

Pendant, in the shape of a wheel-lock pistol, forming a whistle, with toilet implements.

Place of Origin

England (made)


late 16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Enamelled gold, set with table-cut emeralds


Height: 5 cm estimated, maximum, Width: 7.9 cm estimated, tools extended, Depth: 1 cm estimated

Object history note

A family jewel of the Pasfields of Rotherhide and Barbados; it was damaged in a fire in 1817.
Made in England. Purchased from the descendants of George Pasfield.

Descriptive line

Pendant in the form of wheel lock pistol, English, late 16th century

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This, like the gold whistle pendant alongside, is an example of an expensive jewel worn by courtiers. In 1660 it was mentioned in the will of the wealthy merchant George Pasfield who traded with Barbados and the West Indies. It was damaged by fire in 1817. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Probably 1590-1600





Subjects depicted



ELISE; Metalwork; Arms & Armour; Jewellery; Personal accessories; British Galleries; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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