A rare pair of amber handled marriage cutlery.
Northern Germany, late 17th century.
The knife measures 17 cm long and the fork measures 14.2 cm long.
Given as a marriage gift to the couple who’s images surmount both pieces of cutlery on their wedding day.
The handles represent a fashionably dressed newlywed couple, carved from translucent baltic amber, whilst the faces and hands are carved from opaque amber.
The man is depicted with long hair resting upon his shoulders, a sash tied around his body, his frilled cuffs exposed. The woman is shown with her hair partly tied back and holding a feather in her left hand, her dress is extensively decorated with flowers.
Each with silver ferules and silver caps upon their heads, securing the amber handles to the metalwork within. The knife blade is marked with an unidentified cutlers mark.
There is a consolidated fracture to the handle of the knife. Both handles have crazing and internal fractures, typical of amber of this period.
This fragile fossil resin requires great ability to sculpt and the refinement of its different shades allowed the realisation of objects like these to fascinate with its exotic nature and variety of colours.
Due to the rarity and allure of the material and the objects made from it, amber curiosities were a mainstay in Noble European art collections throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
T. Schroder, British and Continental Gold and Silver in the Ashmolean (2009); Handles such as these were apparently made for export and fitted with blades elsewhere. Amber was found in East Prussia and along the Baltic coast and first exploited on a commercial scale by Duke Albrecht of Prussia (1490-1569).
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