Queen Mary's Jewel Casket thumbnail 1
Queen Mary's Jewel Casket thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 54a

Queen Mary's Jewel Casket

Jewel Casket
ca. 1688-ca.1694 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This strong-box was used to carry jewellery and valuables when travelling, hence the handles at each end. Its very ornate decoration also meant that it could be used as an item of furniture when fitted with a stand. It combines very fine ornament with sophisticated security.

People
By tradition this jewel casket belonged to Queen Mary (1662-1695) and was made to hold the dowry paid on her marriage to William of Orange (1650-1702), later William III, in 1677. Their crowned cipher appears on the lock plate. On the lid is a defaced wax seal that originally bore the arms of England as used by the Hanoverian dynasty. In the 18th century this casket belonged to Sophia Dorothea, the sister of George II (reigned 1727-1760) and wife of Frederick William, King of Prussia. He took it to Berlin, where it was purchased by the V&A in 1937.

The Maker
Although the jewel casket is not signed anywhere, the openwork decoration is blued steel and the chiselled and engraved brass ornament are very close to the locks made by the Royal locksmiths Walter and Charles Bickford. The Bickfords supplied locks to the English royal palaces and also made strong-boxes. There is a signed lock from their workshop in the V&A. Another, smaller version of this jewel casket has been recorded.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Steel, pierced and engraved, covered with velvet, and overlaid with gilt-brass studs and blued steel
Brief Description
Queen Mary's Jewel Casket, steel covered with velvet, probably made by the Bickford family, royal locksmiths, England, ca. 1688-94
Physical Description
Casket, steel, covered with velvet, overlaid with gilt-brass studs and openwork quatrefoils of blued steel, 24.5 x 47.5 x 32 cm. Elaborate jewel casket, with a complicated locking system of four bolts, openwork ornament in blued steel, and finely engraved gilt-brass.
Dimensions
  • Closed height: 24.5cm
  • Width: 47.5cm
  • Depth: 32cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This casket for jewels is both practical and impressive. It is made of steel and fitted with handles and sophisticated locks for travelling. The decoration, using red velvet and pierced metalwork, is particularly rich and includes the cipher of William and Mary. It is thought to have contained Mary's dowry on her marriage to William III in 1677.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Purchased with funds from the Murray Bequest
Object history
Probably made in England by Walter or Charles Bickford, Royal Locksmiths
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This strong-box was used to carry jewellery and valuables when travelling, hence the handles at each end. Its very ornate decoration also meant that it could be used as an item of furniture when fitted with a stand. It combines very fine ornament with sophisticated security.

People
By tradition this jewel casket belonged to Queen Mary (1662-1695) and was made to hold the dowry paid on her marriage to William of Orange (1650-1702), later William III, in 1677. Their crowned cipher appears on the lock plate. On the lid is a defaced wax seal that originally bore the arms of England as used by the Hanoverian dynasty. In the 18th century this casket belonged to Sophia Dorothea, the sister of George II (reigned 1727-1760) and wife of Frederick William, King of Prussia. He took it to Berlin, where it was purchased by the V&A in 1937.

The Maker
Although the jewel casket is not signed anywhere, the openwork decoration is blued steel and the chiselled and engraved brass ornament are very close to the locks made by the Royal locksmiths Walter and Charles Bickford. The Bickfords supplied locks to the English royal palaces and also made strong-boxes. There is a signed lock from their workshop in the V&A. Another, smaller version of this jewel casket has been recorded.
Bibliographic Reference
Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
Collection
Accession Number
M.19-1937

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL