A people in iron

Antique, expressive belt buckle made of Berlin iron, around 1825

At the time of the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the 19th century, the Prussian Princess Marianne initiated an action under the slogan "Gold I gave for iron" to help defend the homeland threatened by France: In a grand procession on the boulevard Unter den Linden in Berlin, the ladies of the society offered their gold jewelry as a gift to the king. The gold collected in this way was to be used to finance the fight against Napoleon and his troops; in return, the donors received pieces of jewellery made of cast iron in exchange for their golden valuables, which they wore with pride from then on. The great age of iron jewellery thus began in the years of the Napoleonic occupation of Prussia, from 1806 onwards. This new demand for iron jewellery led to the founding of the Berlin Iron Foundry, which was headed by the goldsmith Conrad Geiss. The Berlin iron jewellery, the "Fer de Berlin" with its clear contours and its restrained, dark colour corresponded to the spirit of classicism. With it, the lavish diamond pomp of the 18th century was countered by an alternative that gave expression to bourgeois virtues such as modesty, restraint and education. But it was not only in Berlin that jewellery was made of iron during these years; jewellery was also made of this material in Silesia, in neutral Switzerland and later even in France: Blackened iron had become fashionable and respectable. The belt buckle presented here, dating from around 1825, is a piece of jewellery typically made in the Berlin iron foundry under Conrad Geiss, who had numerous designs of classicism executed. The large form is composed of antique acanthus leaf motifs and round bars ending in palmettes. The original receptacle for the belt with the teeth to hold the fabric is preserved. An unusually beautiful piece of jewellery from the years after the wars of liberation around 1825. Cf. Elisabeth Schmuttermeier: Schmuck aus Eisen, in: Berliner Eisen. Die königliche Eisengießerei Berlin. Zur Geschichte eines preussischen Unternehmens, ed. by Charlotte Schreiter / Albrecht Pyritz, Berlin 2007, pp. 227-240.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.