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  • Place of origin:

    Ireland (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1860 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bog oak and silver-gilt, moulded

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Hull Grundy

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125b, case 1

Object Type
This brooch features two Celtic crosses and is an example of Irish bog oak jewellery, one of the many kinds of black jewellery popular at this date. Black jewellery met the need to observe mourning but also became fashionable in its own right.

Materials & Making
Bog oak is a generic term for oak, fir, pine and yew turned black with age and by long burial in peat bogs. In 1852 Joseph Johnson obtained a patent for moulding bog-oak under pressure in heated steel dies, a process that enabled minute decoration of the kind seen on this brooch to be applied economically. In the 1860s he had a turnover of goods worth œ4,000-5,000 a year.

Subjects Depicted
Popular subjects for bog oak jewellery included Irish harps, shamrocks, and, as in this example, Celtic crosses - an Irish expression of the widespread interest in jewellery inspired by the past.

There was another angle to appreciation of Irish work: an awareness of the suffering in Ireland caused by the potato famine of the 1840s. In 1856 the Art Journal recommended the wares of one retailer, which it considered of limited artistic success, because their sale 'is very serviceable to poor workmen and workwomen...Every purchaser is, therefore, to some extent a benefactor to Ireland...'

Physical description

Brooch of moulded bog oak mounted in silver-gilt. Three semi-circular lobes of beaded bog oak frame a triangle with a relief carved Celtic cross, another Celtic cross forms the pendant suspended beneath.

Place of Origin

Ireland (made)


ca. 1860 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Bog oak and silver-gilt, moulded


Height: 7 cm

Object history note

Made in Ireland

Descriptive line

Brooch in the form of a Celtic cross from which hangs another Celtic cross, bog oak and gilt metal, Ireland, ca.1860.

Labels and date

British Galleries:

The strict observance of mourning during the reign of Queen Victoria led to an increased demand for black jewellery. The most expensive items were made of onyx or enamelled gold, but there was also a large market for cheaper jewellery made of jet, bog oak and glass. Lockets or brooches often contained hair from the deceased. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Mourning; Trefoils; Crosses (motifs); Death; Celtic crosses


Images Online; Jewellery; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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