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Curtain tie backs

Curtain tie backs

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1845 (design registered)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hands, John (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 123, case 7 []

Object Type
In the 19th century, during the day, the long heavy curtains in the drawing room or dining room were tied back in the window cornices to allow as much light as possible into the room. Special ornamental hooks were designed for this purpose.

Registration Marks
In 1842 a new system of registration for patents and inventions was introduced. This gave the holder of the patent for a new design protection for three years. From 1842 to 1883 a diamond-shaped mark was stamped on all registered wares. Various letters and numbers stamped within the mark indicated the material from which it was made (metal or ceramic) and the month and year when the design was registered. A record was kept by the Patent Office showing the design and giving the name and address of the manufacturer who first registered the design. From 1842 to 1867 the letter indicating the year of manufacture was stamped at the top of the diamond; from 1868 to 1883 the year was stamped to the right.

By referring to a table which gives the letter corresponding to a given year, it is possible to find out the date of manufacture, and by looking at the register for that year, the name and address of the manufacturer. This design was registered in August 1845 by John Hands of Prospect Row, Birmingham, who was a brass founder. The objects are described in the register as 'metal ornaments to be fixed on the end of window cornices'. After 1883 a registered number was stamped on the item, corresponding to a year sequence.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)


1845 (design registered)


Hands, John (maker)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 8 cm, Width: 15 cm, Depth: 25.6 cm

Object history note

Design registered, 28/08/1845. Made in Birmingham by the firm of John Hands

Descriptive line

1st of pair of curtain tie-backs, in the form of hand holding leaves

Labels and date

British Galleries:
These decorative household items were fixed to the walls and used to hold the curtains flat when drawn back from the windows. As with cast iron, cast brass could be easily copied by taking moulds. Registering designs allowed the original designer or maker to take legal action against anyone copying their designs. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Made in Birmingham by the firm of John Hands




Metalwork Collection

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