- Museum number
Composite silver-gilt cap-hook hollow-cast in the form of a domed cushion supported by a circular back-plate with cusped and serrated edge. The sides of the cushion are pierced and applied with roped filigree and granular ornament in the form of a band of multiple circlets with four knops at the circumference. The cushion is set in the centre with an oval glass cameo of Jupiter Ammon, probably post-classical in date. The reverse of the cushion is soldered along its width with the lower length of the recurving pin which is broken off at the point where it doubles back towards the body of the fitting.
- Production date
Diameter: 17.80 millimetres
Weight: 0.004 kilograms
- Curator's comments
X-ray fluorescence gives a silver content of 95 per cent.
Compare glass paste (?) inset into another hat jewel, Read 2008 no. 717
Hat ornaments were worn by men in their caps from the end of the fifteenth century and could be either purely decorative or symbolic. Those of the latter type are traditionally termed enseignes, since they either conveyed the personal intent of the wearer or carried a visible message. This type of jewel finds its origins in the medieval pilgrim badge, an object that was mostly mass-produced and often in base metal. It has been suggested that the transition from this type to a fashionable male ornament is attributable to the arrival of the French king, Charles VIII, into Naples in February 1495. On his cap, the king wore a gold circular jewel and his men had similar jewels (though not of gold) on their caps or sleeves. The Italians soon adopted this fashion and it then spread north reaching most of the European courts. The fashion lasted only until the late-sixteenth/early-seventeenth century, when the wearing of aigrettes became more popular.
The hat ornament was usually commissioned of gold, and was enamelled or jewelled, or both. A group of gilt-bronze plaquettes in the British Museum’s collection, with the characteristic loops or pierced holes for attachment to a cap or garment, suggests that this was a fashion that trickled down to lower classes of society. The majority of these plaquettes show scenes from classical mythology, allowing for the meaning to be understood by a larger audience. This category of objects has been mostly cast, which was a much cheaper and quicker mode of production than those that were commissioned. One of these plaquettes (1915,1216.133) has visible traces of enamel. This combined with the gilded decoration and placed at the apex of the body would have deceived any casual passer-by that this was a costly piece.
Gentlemen, in imitation of courtly practice, may have also worn hat ornaments painted with Limoges enamel. Although it is often very hard to determine a definitive use for Limoges enamelled plaques, since they could assume a variety of roles, there are four similar hat ornaments recorded in Hackenbroch, Enseignes (1996), figs. 95-6, 98-9. Bernard Palissy commented on the wearing of Limoges enamel badges in his treatises: "Je m'assure avoir vu donner pur trois sols la douzaine des figures d'enseignes que l'en portoit aux bonnets, lasquelles enseignes estoyent si bieng labourées et leurs esmaux si bien parfondus sur le cuivre, qu'il n'y avoit nulle peinture si plaisante." (cited in Hackenbroch, p.82).
The survival of an object such as this cap-hook, which purports to be grand though is only made of silver-gilt, demonstrates another fashion - that of wearing multiple ornaments in the hat. Evidence of this practice can be seen in contemporary images which show these smaller ornaments worn alongside the emblematic badges on the hat, such as Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait of Simon George, ca.1535 or that of Sir Nicholas Poyntz, after Holbein, ca.1535.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2005-2006 25 Jul-13 Jan, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2005 12 Feb-26 Jun, Newcastle, Hancock Museum, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2004-2005 1 Oct-15 Jan, Manchester Museum, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2004 30 Apr-21 Sep, Cardiff, National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2003-2004 21 Nov-14 Mar, London, BM, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2014 Oct 14 - London, BM, G2, 'Collecting the World'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased with the aid of a donation from Mrs Laurel Beizer, New York, in memory of her late husband.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Treasure/PAS number: T174 (Treasure number)