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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, decorated with granulation

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 5

Object Type
This silver collar is made up of repeated S-shaped links, united by rings. Chains worn around the neck or shoulders were a common form of courtly jewellery in the 15th and 16th centuries. A similar 15th-century collar composed of 41 cast letters 'S' was found on the banks of the Thames in London in 1983 and is now in the Museum of London.

Ownership & Use
Livery collars composed of S-shaped links became popular at the English court after their introduction by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399). They ranged from the jewelled gold collars sported by royalty and the nobility to the ribbon or leather collars with silver or copper letters attached that were worn by lesser officials. Pendants could be hung from the chain as symbols of office or to indicate allegiance to a particular group.

It has been suggested that this chain is of Nordic rather than English origin. It was purchased from Iceland with a 19th-century pendant attached and it is possible that the chain is also 19th century. In 1986 a similar chain was analysed by the Assay Office of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Impurities in the metal corresponded to those found in mid-19th-century silver. This has cast some doubt on the authenticity of the present example.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1500 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver, decorated with granulation


Length: 37.8 cm fastened, Width: 1.3 cm, Diameter: 25.5 cm fastened

Descriptive line

Jewellery, England

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This type of collar, made up of the repeated letters SS, was first worn by John of Gaunt (1340-1399), who was Duke of Lancaster and ancestor of Henry VII. Later it became popular at the Lancastrian and Tudor courts. Gold, jewelled collars were worn by royalty and the nobility, while silver collars like this belonged to lesser officials. Pendant badges could be hung from the chain as symbols of allegiance. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

About 1500 with later elements


Metalwork Collection

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