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Ancient Jewelers


Greetings, for any one interested in the craft of ancient jewelers I
would like to recommend Jack Ogden’s book on the subject “Ancient
Jewelry” (ISBN 0-520-08030-0) a well thumbed trough copy is on my
book shelf. I can also recommend “Birka V: The Filigree &
Granulation Work of the Viking Period” by Wladyslaw Duczko (ISBN
91-7402-162-1). There is also a really great site on the web by an
experimental archeologist named Anders S�derberg about the clay mold
casting techniques he has recreated at:

Mr. Ogden is there any way we can convince you to do another book,
this time on Jewelry of the Northern European Middle Ages? Thanks, Jim
Revells who is known in the Society for Creative Anachronism as: Olaf
of Trollhiemsfjord Baron of the Court of the East Member of the Order
of the Maunche Member of the Order of the Burdened Tyger Member of the
Order of the Millstone (All that means I have been playing this game
for a long


Thanks for the plug for my book ‘Ancient Jewelry’ - where do I send
the $5 (only joking… But thanks).

I am in negotiations with a publisher about a book that would cover
jewelry technology from earliest times up to recent times but heaven
knows when it will be done. There is some stuff on Medieval European
goldworking in a longish article I did for the Getty a few years ago

  • ‘The Technology of Medieval Jewellery’, eds. D. A. Scott, J. Podany
    and B. B. Considine, Ancient and Historic metals: Conservation and
    Scientific Research, Getty Conservation Institute Malibu 1994. For
    those interested (either of you) there is a bibliography of some of
    my stuff

Recently my research has been more on 18th - 19th century jewellery
materials and technology and a book was just about complete.
However, decided not to publish because it has recently become clear
to me that forgers are deliberately reading up on such stuff and
improving their offerings. The catalogue for the Greek Gold
Exhibition a few years ago included a lot of technical stuff. This
was all translated innto Russian when the show was exhibited in St
Petersburg and now I’m having fun tracking the numerous v. good fakes
of Greek jewellery made in Russia and popping up over Europe and in
USA. I also think some of the frequent (too frequent) fakes of 19th
century jewellery now originate in Russia.

Jack Ogden


You can apply the $5 on my purchase of your new book when it comes
out <;^). Any idea how soon & how much? The problem with most books
that have the breadth & depth of the subject matter covered to be of
use to re-enactors trying to reproduce artifacts in an authentic
manner is they are usual done as scholarly reference books,with price
tags that reflect the limited market. For an example there was a
recently translated book on Mongol cooking “A Soup for the Quan”.
The book was widely discussed on many historic cooks list in eager
anticipation, because the pre-publication price was quoted as being
only about $85. When the publisher announced the price they lost
half their market because they priced it at $200.

Since I have your & many other people’s ear on the subject, I’ll let
you know the kind of books many of us in the living
history/re-enactor/re-creationist community (I am a member of both
Regia Anglorum & the Society for Creative Anachronism) are seeking.
First as a modern jeweler I have access to most of the modern
processes-I don’t want to use them. My goal is to be able to do
living history shows for the public creating jewelry & metal items
for my selected culture & time period. What I am attempting to do is
to produce metal items in the same style, using the same
tools/processes as the smiths from Birka (a city in Sweden) during
the year 831 (others do different locations & time frames this is
just my area of interest). Since there is no written descriptions of
how the smiths accomplished such amazing work we have to ask the
experimental archeologist & scholars to explain how they did it.
What I would like is a book describing the tools, materials (silver,
copper alloys, pewter, iron & gold), processes, decorative motifs &
methods used in specific metal objects from various significant times
& locations that has footnotes referenced to why the author believes
the process was used. Your description on this list of how the
Scythians stamped gold was one of the most detailed I had seen. With
your permission I would like to cross post it to a Yahoo list for
East Kingdom metalsmiths (you are invited to join if you have the
time to & are willing to answer a lot of strange questions. subscribe
to this group, send an email to: Still you might be able to
use us to explore some theories with groups of passionate armature
experimental archaeologist. For an example last October I ran a
weekend long event where a variety of classes were taught on metal
smithing. A woodworker friend of mine made me a set of double single
lung bellows based on a rock carving from pre-Viking times & a wood
carving from a door from post-Viking times. While doing the job he
discovered a problem with the depictions vs. reality. In the
pictures the bellows is opened to a 90 degree angle, if you do that
with a single chamber bellows you won’t get any air out-the leather
expands to the sides. To correct the problem he noticed that there
were a series of lines on the wood carving that indicated to him that
there were a series of thin boards that divide the single lung into
4 usable areas that accordion in the bellows & increase the air
supply dramatically. This is only one example of things he
discovered when he built the bellows. Using that set of bellows I
plan to do an experiment in August at the SCA’s international
convention where I will attempt to do fine silver granulation using a
variation on the charcoal fired bronze smelting forge that is shown
on Anders’ web site. I will also be teaching a class on doing bronze
casting using the clay mold methods Anders has researched.

I have a college professor friend at Vassar who owes me a favor so I
will see if she can get me copies of your articles. Thanks for your
scholarship, Jim Revells