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  • Place of origin:

    Spain (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1699 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass chain, gilt and enamelled in black, white and pale blue

  • Credit Line:

    Dr W.L. Hildburgh Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This chain, with its decorative symbolic links, was originally part of a much longer chain demonstrating the owner's order or office. The link showing two columns with a ribbon wrapped around them represents the Pillars of Hercules, which was the classical name for the mountains which guarded the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. In the 16th century the King of Spain adopted this symbol as part of the Royal Coat of Arms. It featured on coinage throughout the Spanish Empire, particularly in Latin America, and is believed to be the origin of the modern sign for a dollar: $.

Physical description

Short length of gilt and enamelled brass chain with decorative links, of three different designs, joined by pairs of rings. Each link is enamelled on both sides. The designs are: a Gothic letter 'S', on its side; a stylised knot or bow with a rosette in the centre; and the Pillars of Hercules, on their side.

Place of Origin

Spain (made)


1600-1699 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brass chain, gilt and enamelled in black, white and pale blue


Length: 39 cm, Width: 1.1 cm, Depth: 0.6 cm

Descriptive line

Part of an enamelled gilt bronze chain, Spain, 1600-1699.

Subjects depicted



Jewellery; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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