Lot 1055: Pre-Viking Gold Beast-Head Necklace Pendant
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 8th century AD. A hollow fabricated pendant comprising: transverse tubular suspension bar with beaded wire collars, granule and beaded wire detailing; waisted D-shaped plaque with granule and beaded wire bands, scooped eyelids and tubular eye sockets with black glass insets; old collector's accession number to the reverse. Cf. similar gold beast-head finial on the Alfred Jewel in Webster, L. & Backhouse, J. The Making of England. Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900, London, 1991, item 260. Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate. 4.61 grams, 29mm (1 1/4"). From the Maurice Braham collection 1997; formerly in the collection of Lord Alastair McAlpine in the early 1980s. Accompanied by a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. The pendant is one of a series of Middle Saxon type prestige items bearing fierce dragon-head imagery, of which the Alfred Jewel is the most notable example. Similar heads, facing and in profile, appear on the Anglian 'Coppergate' helmet from York where they form terminals to the nasal and to the decorative raised border of the ocular. The design reflects the Insular Style of ornament, with raised bands to the brow and roundels for the eyes. Similar animal heads are incorporated in the decorative schemes of contemporary manuscripts such as the Book of Kells.
Condition Report: Extremely fine condition. Excessively rare.