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Anybody interested in Norse/Viking pendants?


Tejas

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I love Germanic and Norse art. I know its kind of off topic, but I was wondering if there is anybody here who shares my interest in Norse pendants/amulets:

Below is a biting beast pendant from my "collection".

It was found in Ukraine and probably dates to the 9th-10th century. Such pendants will have been worn by Vikings (or better Varangians) from Scandinavia who lived and travelled along the Russian rivers to Constantinople.

 

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Edited by Tejas
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That's absolutely fantastic, @Tejas.  To wallow in the obvious, you nailed it; the design screams Viking.  I have to think you've identified the general style involved, as in Jelling versus the later Ringerike, although I'm not up to speed on those enough to venture an immediate guess.  (And, Yike, I'm on the way to work!)

Viking pendants are completely out of my purview.  But I do really like later, c. 13th-14th c. heraldic harness pendants, predominantly showing up in England.  If both tinctures survive on them (which happens surprisingly often), you can identify the coat of arms, and voila! you have a good idea whose family they came from.  (Edit:) And since they were already 'differencing' arms for cadency, you can be pretty confident about ones that are specific to the senior line.   ...I especially like the aristocratic ones; they're the nearest you get to the Anglo-Norman equivalent of French feudal coins.  This one, or a lion rampant azure, is Percy, earls of Northumberland from the end of the 14th century; but based in Alnwick Castle from most of a century earlier.

image.jpeg.80d9251e22e69550ca7d29128c827eb8.jpeg

 

This one, despite the tinctures having all worn off, is distinctive enough to have a good chance of being Bardolf, from Norfolk.

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This one is Edward I or II.

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Edited by JeandAcre
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Here is another Norse pendant from my little collection. This one is a Thor's hammer amulet in gold. I also have pictures showing it in its find contex when the hammer was very dark to almost black. I think it may have been in a cremation. The amulet was also found in Ukraine. The Vikings/Varangians had very little access to gold and gold pendants like this one are very rare.

The hammer (Mjölnir) is the attribute of the god Thor, but given the Marvel movies, this is probably common knowledge these days.

Screenshot 2024-02-07 at 17.29.28.png

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These look great! As many here know, I collect artifacts, but concentrate on ancient Greco-Roman and Egyptian objects rather than medieval ones, regarding which I have no expertise. I'm particularly wary of finds in Ukraine and Russia labeled by the sellers as "Viking" for purposes of sales appeal, when -- even if genuine -- they often actually emanate from other, and even sometimes older, cultures. Catawiki, Timeline Auctions, and Violity are well-known for "suspicious" artifacts, whether as to their genuineness or as to their proper attribution. See, for example, the attached documents I saved discussing questionable brooches, pendants, etc. offered for sale in 2022. See also this link to a thread on the subject of fake Viking artifacts from Bulgaria at the ancientartifakes.net forum (membership required to view the majority of posts, but it's free):  https://ancientartifakes.net/smf/index.php/topic,1247.0.html . Another link for those interested: https://vikingmetalwork.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-modern-fake-exposed.html . So I hope you have the expertise I lack!

catawiki-11-22.pdf catawiki-10-22.pdf Catawiki 08-09-22.pdf Catawiki 04-22.pdf catawiki-03-22.pdf Timeline Auctions this week (September 2022).pdf Timeline Auctions Yesterday (May 2022).pdf

Edited by DonnaML
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This is a very good point @DonnaML. I was going to say something about the risk of buying forgeries too. Viking (and other) artifact are heavily forged to varying degrees of quality. You mentioned TimelineOriginals. I was hesitant to do so, but it is unfortunately true that their offerings frequently include good quality fakes (and sometimes poor quality fakes). I bought a Germanic fibula from them some years ago, of which they had provided only one picture. When I received the piece I realized immediately that it was a cast fake (of a very important East Germanic fibula from a princely grave). It took me many emails to convince them to take the piece back and reimburse the price. Until the end they insisted that the fibula was genuine and refused to acknowledge that the whole thing was a cast.

They have amazing Viking/Norse objects in their current auction, which I believe to highly questionable. Not that I have seen the objects in person. They are in my opinion too good to be true. For example, their offering includes a Norse silver cross with the depiction of Christ. I have been in Stockholm two weeks ago and visited the Historical Museum, which has a piece that is practically identical. Other pieces are probably copied from the Hiddensee-hoard from Germany. Again, I cannot prove that these objects are forgeries, but would advise anybody interested in buying them to consult a real expert. 

Because of my experience with TimelineOriginals I don’t buy any artifacts from them (not that I’m a great collector to start with). My very few Viking/Norse artifacts are all low value (i.e. bronze, some silver and one gold) from a reliable source. I’m also not adding to this group, since I have no longer access to this source. 

Edited by Tejas
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The other aspect is attribution. Artifacts are regularly misattributed, often to attract interest from buyers and sometimes out of ignorance. For example, objects of Baltic, Finno-Ugric and Slavic origin are often labeled “Viking”. This is a problem, but I think it is far less serious than fakes.

The other more serious problem are undisclosed “repairs” (and disclosed repairs). In eastern Europe they seem to like “repairing” artifact, often by using original and modern components. This is a terrible practice, especially when it isn’t disclosed.

You mentioned Violity above. I think Violity has the problem of misattribution and especially of disclosed and perhaps undisclosed repairs. However, I find that Violity is quite good when it comes to fakes. Violity is not an auction house, but a bidding platform like Ebay. However, the objects are vetted in a sense that there are comments and an attached discussion forum. 

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Very nice! I would like a Viking or Anglo-Saxon artifact, but am wary about the many fakes that are around (as @DonnaMLpointed out). 

I do have one artifact that is somewhat relevant I think, even though it's not Viking. It's a pseud-coin fibula, likely from a local craftsman from the coastal region of the North Sea in the Netherlands. 

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EARLY MEDIEVAL, Anonymous. Denomination: Pewter Pseudo-coin fibula (Pseudo-coin fibula), minted: Frisian / Carolingian; 9th-10th century
Obv: EVO[??]DVS, bust to right
Rev: Incuse of obverse
Weight: 10.53g; Ø:34 mm. Catalogue: NA. Provenance: From Hollandia Numismatics, who bought it from finder. ; acq.: 07-2022
Find location: Zeeland, the Netherlands Published: Numis: 1167868
Derived from a Carolingian Solidus of the MVNVS DIVINVM type, placing the dating to the 9th or 10th century.

image.gif.8d9561be4585a4852fe02bd2edc7ad89.gif

The artifact was discussed in depth, and compared with mould-identical examples here:

 

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In the late 1800’s one can see a curious intellectual school of thought called cultural nationalism become generalized in Europe.  It manifested in art and architecture when artists and craftsmen looked to the past, and sometimes to the romanticized and imagined past, for inspiration.  In Norway, this was called Dragestil, or Dragon-style.  

Using both genuine medieval post-Viking era prototypes, and imagined Viking motifs, the silversmiths of the era in Scandinavia crafted a number of beautiful objects.  Many of these were spoons, often today labeled baptism or christening gifts.  I have no idea if that is what their intended function was, and I would be curious to hear from anyone who has some knowledge of the national customs of the time to corroborate this.  

Most of these spoons were produced between 1880 and the first two decades of the twentieth century, in Norway and Copenhagen.  After that, they must have fallen out of favor, superseded by Art Nouveau styles championed by smiths like George Jensen.  They are not Viking era pendants, but they are an interesting cultural phenomenon of people respecting and recalling that era of their past.  

image.jpeg.9265c52d681a63813f19bc5bdb80a503.jpeg

While there is no scale in this picture, these are large spoons probably averaging 45 grams each.  

Edited by Hrefn
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I'd definitely be interested but would be causious. With roman antiquities im very comfortable and collect it heavily. Also do have some Anglo-saxon strap ends I collect. Where would one get such artifacts without getting burned? Feel like viking stuff gets faked quite heavily.

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Here is a battle axe pendant.

The piece was found in Ukraine. It is not entirely clear if this pendant should be classified as Norse, or whether it is Slavic or Kievan Rus. I'm not aware that these battle axe pendants have been found in Scandinavia. In Russia and Ukraine they seem to be a common occurance. However, I read that the decorations and the type of the axe head has been described as Norse.

 

Measurements: 18.3 gr, 5 cm long

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Edited by Tejas
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The battle axe pendants come in two basic types. Here is a second battle axe pendant of the second type. This type is much rarer than the first type.

Measurements: 10.7 gr. 4 cm length, 5.2 cm height

The blade is decorated with ornaments, which could well be Norse. 

Date: 9th-10th century

The meaning or significance of these pendants is lost today. I read one theory according to which these pendants were worn by the members of a druzhina of a knyas, i.e. the retinue of Kievan Rus princes. I think this is certainly plausible. 

Screenshot 2024-02-07 at 17.32.52.png

Edited by Tejas
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Next comes a pendant that is more directly identifiable as Kievan Rus.

Measurements: 12.97 gr, 5.5 cm

This type of pendant is well known in Kievan Rus culture. It bears the tamga (princely sign) of the Rurik dynasty (the trizub) and may have been worn by the retainers of a Kievan Rus prince.

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Edited by Tejas
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I haven't gotten into the artifacts, as many look dodgy and my budget is typically blown on coins.

Here is probably the most interesting item of that type in my collection-

eadred-pseudo-coin-brooch-1a.jpg.008e8a403d6114ae2325e4eb0c17b911.jpg

 

It's a pseudo-coin lead brooch of Eadred.  The reverse is blank with a broken brooch attachment.  King Eadred is presumed to be king Eadred of England (946-955), the only known monarch of that name.  As far as I know, it is the only coin brooch of Eadred, and one of just a very few pseudo-coin brooches of the Saxon kings known.

The purpose of these brooches is unknown, but I like to imagine that it was owned/worn by someone in King Eadred's retinue, perhaps someone who was on a diplomatic mission, or a pilgrimage.

Interestingly this artifact was found in France, in the Loire valley.  This location is not on the medieval pilgrimage to Rome trail, so what it was doing there is really unknown.  It's almost certainly a British artifact.

Marion Archibald wanted to acquire the artifact for the British Museum, but the seller instead kept it, and it eventually ended up in an auction.  I have her letter to the owner from the late 80s, which was kept with the artifact and came with the item when I bought it.  It's something I'll likely donate to the British Museum in the future.

 

Here is a coin of king Eadred-

eadred-wileberht-1c-ii.jpg.cdd842c9f43b81341b602386188ce8b7.jpg

Edited by Nap
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