fragments, metalwork, objects, partial, broken, display, detail
Coffin lace, About 1850. Museum no. M.233-1984. Given by Julian Litten
Tin, stamped and painted black
Museum no. M.233-1984
Given by Julian Litten
This delicate tin 'lace' was made to decorate a coffin. Before 1800 coffins were usually adorned with brass and pewter ornament, sometimes quite expensively. The development of industrial rolling and stamping machinery enabled tin lace to be produced more cheaply and for a wider market. Manufacturers competed to create the most elaborate designs.
Panel from a clock, 1592, Museum no. 853:3-1898
Panel from a clock
Gilt brass, engraved
Museum no. 853:3-1898
As a soft metal, brass is ideal for engraving the dials and ornament on precision instruments. Engravers were the most highly paid members of a workshop. This panel from the side of a clock has been engraved with the figure of Time holding a scythe and hourglass. The Latin inscription placed below him reads 'Adapt to the times'.
Buffe, about 1585. Museum no. M.111-1921. Bequeathed by D.M. Currie
Buffe (face guard for a helmet)
Probably from the workshop of Lucio Piccinino (born around 1535, active around 1570-1589)
Steel, embossed, chased and damascened with gold and silver
Probably presented to the future King Philip III of Spain in 1585 by Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy as part of a series of richly decorated parade suits
Museum no. M.111-1921
Bequeathed by D.M. Currie
Steel is a strong metal alloy, yet this piece of armour would have been used on parade rather than in battle. The Museum acquired it as a work of art. It shows enormous skill in metalworking. The careful relief decoration has been created by embossing, using tools to raise the surface of the metal from the reverse side. The intricate silver and gold decoration is called damascening. This technique was imported into Europe from the Middle East.
Crown, about 1620. Museum no. M.108-1953. Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh FSA
Copper gilt and enamel with rock crystals and green pastes (glass), pierced and soldered
Museum no. M.108-1953
Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh FSA
Once this crown would have adorned a sculpture in a Catholic church. Now it is displayed as a stand-alone example of the Herreran style of design (named after the architect Juan Herrera) particular to Spain in the early 17th century. The pierced bars resembling strips of leather recall the strapwork that features in Spanish architecture.
The Museum received the crown from Walter Leo Hildburgh, an avid collector of metalwork, who gave over 500 objects to the V&A.
Firedog, about 1720. Museum no. 3553A-1856
Bronze and ormolu, cast
Italy, possibly Venice
Museum no. 3553A-1856
This firedog and its identical pair once stood guard over a fireplace to prevent the logs from falling out. With its asymmetrical form it is an excellent example of Rococo bronze work.
Ormolu is a form of gold-coated bronze, giving a highly reflective surface to firedogs, mirror frames, lighting and furniture. Powdered gold is mixed into a paste with mercury and painted onto the surface. The mercury is then burned off.
Wheel-lock mechanism, C. Öfner, 1700-1730. Museum no. M.540-1924. Given by Mr S.J. Whawell
Signed by the gunsmith C. Öfner
Museum no. M.540-1924
Given by Mr S.J. Whawell
This is the mechanism that once enabled a gun to fire. Often finely decorated, wheel-locks were collected by aristocrats as both works of art and technical devices that could be taken apart. This example has been delicately chiselled with scenes of hunters in contemporary clothing. The illustration is an adaptation of hunting prints produced over the preceding 150 years.
Bell fragment, 1600-1700. Museum no. M.39-1950. Given by The Worshipful Company of Founders
Museum no. M.39-1950
Given by The Worshipful Company of Founders
This is all that is left of a large bronze bell. Bells are extremely heavy and not easily portable, so it was common for them to be broken up when no longer used. This Museum has many bell fragments, illustrating founders' marks or particular inscriptions. This one shows the letters 'TH', an unknown founder's mark.
Plaque, about 1900. Museum no. M.120C-1929
Museum no. M.120C-1929
This plaque imitates those once used to form the sides of a casket or box. It was made in around 1900 and was decorated by etching, a technique popular in Germany during the 16th century for decorating steel locks and armour. With etching, the craftsman covers a piece of metal with an acid-resisting substance such as wax, then scrapes a design with a sharp tool and immerses the metal sheet in acid. The exposed metal corrodes, revealing the design.
Plaque, about 1300-1350. Museum no. M.392-1956. Bequeathed by Dr W.L. Hildburgh FSA
Copper gilt and champlevé enamel
Museum no. M.392-1956
Bequeathed by Dr W.L. Hildburgh FSA
This plaque was probably one of many originally made to decorate a cross. Separated and without context, it later became a collector's item. It shows a winged ox, the symbol of St Luke. The colouring was produced by champlevé, or 'raised field', enamelling. The sections that were to be coloured were carefully gouged out of the copper plaque, then filled with enamel powder and fired to create the hard, shiny surface.