Friday, July 15, 2016

Wheat Covered in Bullion

Wheat Sheaf, Royal Collection RCIN 37353
Wheat... this is the most often found item made in this technique so far.  There is one at Holyrood Castle in Edinburg in the Mary Queen of Scotts Cabinet, laying near a casket in fact.

Museum of London Ornament 37.12/7
Then there is the one in the Museum of London collection
with the snake wrapped around it.

Another resides in a private collection with a rust colored squirrel on it as part of the assembly.  The squirel is also made from the same technique with an assume wire armature and padding/silk wrapping and then a gilt bullion pulled around it.  I like this pieces because the long gold thread strands that emanate from the wheat have spangles on the ends.
Close up of Wheat Sheaf

A fourth sheaf is in another private collection and came with two lacet flower posies, a silk purl rosemary stem, and some accessories like in the Martha Edlin collection as well.  This one is just glorious and can give you just a peak into what they all must have looked like originally.

Then there is the fifth!  Yes - five of these that I have found described or have seen.  This one is also drawn in the Seligman and Hughes book and was once in the collection of Sir William Lawrence, Bart. It shows a sheaf of wheat that has a bird in what looks like the same technique standing on it.  It is listed as a hair ornament.  Next to it is a separate bird - to be discussed in a later blog).  I bet the bird was just stunning!

So why wheat?  Wheat is a symbol of Ceres, the grain goddess and is often shown with allegories of virtue and vice.  Certainly the snake wrapped around the sheaf could stand for that!  And the glittering presentation is something that runs through jewelry design for centuries, wheat sheafs have been made as part of diamond tiaras, pins and other accessories in diamonds.
Plate from Seligman and Hughes, Domestic Needlework (owned by Sir William Lawrence, Bart.)

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