Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1790-1810 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Strips of boxwood, set in a beech block

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Clark and Fenn Ltd.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case WW

Object Type
This mould has been carved to replicate the Greek key motif. The ornament would have been suitable as a border around a room, either at dado (waist height) or at cornice (ceiling) level. The actual plaster ornament was produced by pressing 'composition' into the mould.

Design & Designing
The Greek key or meander pattern was one of the most popular decorative motifs of the 18th and 19th centuries. It derived from ancient Greece and continued to be popular in ancient Rome, especially as a carved architectural embellishment and as a border in floor mosaics.

Materials & Making
The mould was made by a specialist carver for firms making composition ornament. Boxwood is very hard and can take a great deal of detailed carving. Its hardness also makes it robust, necessary for a mould such as this which has been reused countless times.

Composition ('comp' for short) is a type of paste or putty made from glue, rosin (resin), linseed oil and whiting (chalk). It was pressed into the oiled mould and squeezed in a screw press. The pressing was removed from the mould while still flexible and applied to a backing.

Moulds of this kind were used widely from about 1780 until about 1900. The use of moulds to make plaster reproductions reduced the demand for ornamental carvings in wood. After about 1850 the manufacturing process became more mechanised, though moulds continued to be used.

The mould was part of a collection owned by George Jackson & Sons, Ltd, a firm founded by George Jackson (1756-1840).

Place of Origin

England (made)


1790-1810 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Strips of boxwood, set in a beech block

Object history note

Made in England

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The Adam style demanded a large amount of delicate low-relief ornament. These moulds are for the production of such ornament in plaster, or in composition, usually a combination of whiting, glue, rosin and oil. The finished ornament was used on furniture and other objects as well as in the decoration of rooms. [27/03/2003]


Architectural fittings


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.