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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)
    Berlin (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast iron

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sydney Vacher

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 16, shelf A, box 4

This piece of ornamental cast iron reflects both the virtuosity of the foundries and the upper range of their clientele. Only women in the highest level of society would wear such an object of personal adornment. This delicate jewellery, resembling black lace, is known as ‘Berlin iron’ jewellery. It was produced by the Prussian Royal Iron Foundries from about 1806. It became particularly popular during the Prussian wars against the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. At that time, those donating gold jewellery to the war effort were rewarded with iron jewellery in exchange.
As a result of the French occupation of Berlin, the technique spread to Paris, but it remained primarily a Prussian speciality. Production continued there into the second half of the 19th century. Because iron is a very brittle material and also susceptible to rust, comparatively few examples have survived. This splendid piece combines a Neo-classical cameo (also of cast iron) with Gothic Revival ornament.

Physical description

Comb, iron with a cameo of Iris set in the gallery.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)
Berlin (probably, made)


ca. 1820 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cast iron


Height: 15.5 cm, Width: 14.5 cm, Depth: 8.5 cm

Descriptive line

Comb, iron with a cameo of Iris set in the gallery, Germany, about 1820

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

Cast Iron from Central Europe, 1800-1850 Bard Graduate Centre, 1994, p.305



Subjects depicted

Cameos; Deities; Women


Jewellery; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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