Inlaid white-metal gilt buckle and plate
online resourceposted on 2021-10-26, 15:07 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Silver-gilt, gold and garnet cloisonné buckle and buckle plate, total length 8.8cm. The silver-gilt buckle loop, notched at top front so tongue tip can rest secure, has a panel at front of deeply carved and well- executed guilloche pattern, the strands grooved at top and filled with niello. The sections at either side of tongue back decorated with incised niello-filled frame and 2 stepped motifs imitating cloisons. The tongue has large straight-backed shield-on-back filled with garnet cloisonné work and surrounded beaded gold wire frame. This hinges on a stout silver hook behind, which passes through prepared slot in attachment for plate. The plate is a rectangular hollow-backed silver-gilt piece, with sloped sides, and flanges at either end in lower plane. At buckle end, the flange is broad, and has been bent around the straight bar of the buckle, after piece cut out to accommodate loop of tongue back. At the back the ends of this attachment are masked by the sheet silver backplate which secured the whole to the belt and covers the entire back of the plate. At this buckle end it is riveted at either corner with dome-headed silver rivets, which, on the front appear filed off on the flange, when in use they would be hidden by the buckle tongue. At the other end the backplate was secured to belt and front by three rivets, whose domed heads, ornamental and gilded and surrounded by beaded gold wire, appear on the short flange at the front. The top of the buckle plate is decorated with a large panel of cloisonné and filigree work, which is recessed into its top so it is flush with edges of plate. These edges are finished off at top by a border of pseudo-plait-work in filigree, which consists of 6 pairs of fine gold wires, each pair twisted together very regularly, and then laid parallel with the others and soldered on. The whole very beautifully done and incredibly fine. The cloisons are probably gold, but show green so may be silver(?gilt), and all contain flat garnets, thin, set on chequered gold foil. One garnet lost on tongue back exposing foil. The cloisonné cells on tongue regular: semicircle at centre top and bottom, then rough scale shaped cells shape dictated by space. On plate, a panel along long sides filled with stepped cloisons linked by diagonal straight ones. At either end, a short rectangular panel with semicircle at centre. In middle two rectangular panels with semicircles making ellipse. Remaining spaces have semicircles at sides. This leaves a curious pair of cells to be filled in with filigree work. Identical, sheet gold backplate with die-stamped relief and loop motifs made of 3 beaded wires; single beaded wire border. The whole buckle is beautifully made by a highly skilled craftsman, and shows no sign of wear at all!