Earring thumbnail 1
Earring thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Earring

ca.1815-ca.1820 (designed), ca.1815-1851 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

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
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Earring
  • Earring
Materials and techniques
Cast iron with polished steel
Brief description
Pair of earrings, Berlin iron, openwork butterflies with drops set over polished steel, probably made by Siméon Pierre Devaranne in Germany (Berlin), early 19th century
Physical description
Pair of earrings, Berlin iron, openwork butterflies with drops set over polished steel.
Dimensions
  • Including hook height: 7.8cm
  • Width: 2.6cm
  • Depth: 1cm
Object history
The design about 1815-20; this example probably shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 by S.P. Devaranne of Berlin.
Production
Prussian
Subjects depicted
Summary
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
922&A-1852

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Record createdJanuary 9, 2003
Record URL
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