Mastodon The Writing Desk: Curator's Corner: How to date an Artefact: Dr Rachel King investigates the Gold Tudor Pendant of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon.

31 March 2023

Curator's Corner: How to date an Artefact: Dr Rachel King investigates the Gold Tudor Pendant of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon.

How does one go about dating an artefact that was found in a field in England by a metal detectorist? 

The necklace is made of around 300g of 23 to 25 carat gold, it has a 75-link chain, at the centre of which a gold-and-enamel hand emerging from a cloud would have originally connected it to the central pendant. This latter component is hinged like a locket, and was originally secured using two pins; as well as the decoration described above, both sides bear the inscription ‘tous iors’, from the French toujours, ‘always’.

As part of the Treasure process in the UK, artefacts found by metal detectorists that happen to be of a high percentage precious metal, need to go through a process of identification and classification. Join curator, Rachel King as she investigates the clues found on this spectacular gold pendant to shed some light on when it was made, by whom and for whom. 


00:00 Introduction
02:00 A Quick Aside – Terminus dates
02:45 Investigating the clues on the front
03:48 The clues on the back 
04:39 Dating the materials
05:00 The Gold Standard
06:06 Enamel decoration
07:47 The Tudor Curb chain
09:55 Johann Froben
11:46 Jousting at Greenwich
13:20 Who could afford such an artefact?

About the Presenter

Dr Rachel King works at the British Museum where she is Curator of Renaissance Europe & the Waddesdon Bequest in the department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory. Rachel is responsible for ceramics, glass, metalwork and a number of other collections (i.e.. ivories etc) made in Europe or elsewhere under European influence in the period roughly 1500-1700. Rachel previously worked at a number of other institutions in Britain and Germany, mostly focussing on collections of decorative and applied arts, or world cultures. In recent years, she has become especially interested in English goldsmiths’ work, particularly enamelled pieces. This has grown from my professional curatorial involvement in the Treasure Process administered by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. She is also very interested in text-bearing objects, and speaking objects, as well as materials, objects and the expression of faith. Rachel studied languages (MA Cantab) followed by specialising in design and the decorative arts (MA V&A) and completed a PhD contextualising early-modern objects made of amber. She has published widely ranging from objects in amber and obsidian, to silver drinking vessels, moulded ceramics, and prayer beads. You can find Rachel on Twitter @heartovglass

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