17th Century Continental Silver Pomander

Date: Circa 1680

Country: Netherlands


A fascinating piece of history contained in a small silver globe. This antique silver pomander of spherical form has all-over chased decoration of flowers & leaf-scrolls in low relief. The screw top unturns to release the six numbered, hinged segments with sliding covers, the interior with hand engraved flowers. The foot unscrews to reveal a secret hollow compartment.

Weight 89 grams, 2.8 troy ounces.

Height 6.5cm. Spread 9cm fully extended.

The pomander is made of unmarked silver It is quite usual for a small article of this date to be unmarked.

Probably Dutch.

Circa 1680.

Literature. A Pomander is a perforated container of aromatic substances, often scents infused in wax. The term pomander first arose during the Middle Ages from the French pomme d’ambre and referred to an aromatic ball made of ambergris, civet, musk, dried flowers, spices and scented oils. It was thought that by inhaling specific aromas or simply carrying them on your person, would cure or prevent serious illness.
The Pomander scent carrier was popular in England and the continent during the 16th and 17th centuries. Usually orb-shaped, with chambers for the herbs and spices, it was designed to be worn around the waist on a rope by wealthy aristocrats. Many paintings of Queen Elizabeth I, notably the famous Darnley Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery in London, depict her wearing finely crafted examples.

Provenance. From the estate of the late Stephen Powys Marks, notable architect, planning officer and keen historical conservationist.

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