Northern Europe, Viking or Norse culture, ca. 800 to 1100 CE. An impressively long braided/knitted silver chain ending in two cast terminals that are threaded with twisted wire loops that wind around a silver ring with a coiled upper section. Hanging between the terminals from the ring is a fabulous silver and gold Thor's hammer amulet, also known as Mjolnir. The hammer is stamped with a series of tiny circles on the front side of its "blade", with triangles on the handle and a gold circular motif on the lower end of the blade. The upper loop of the handle resolves in a twisted wire coiling around the upper section of the hammer. Size: chain measures 32" L (81.3 cm) + 2.5" L (6.4 cm) with loop and Thor's Hammer; 49.3 grams
The Thor’s hammer is perhaps the most historically important as well as the best-known symbol of Norse mythology. Thor was the powerful god tasked with guarding Asgard, the stronghold of the Aesir, the primary tribe of deities in Norse mythology. Thor tirelessly defended them from the giants attempting to destroy Asgard and kill the Aesir. The hammer was Thor’s trusty weapon. Indeed, the name Thor means “Thunder” and he in a way personified the spirit of a storm whose thunder was experienced as the resounding boom of his hammer crushing his enemies. Interestingly, Mjöllnir is the Old Norse name for Thor’s hammer, and scholars believe that it literally meant “Lightning.
Thor has been portrayed as a superhero in films such as the Avengers which has probably fueled an already existing sense of curiosity and wonder about the Vikings. Of course, when one seriously examines examples of Norse visual culture, it becomes apparent that their immense artistry defies all too common stereotypes of Vikings as dirty, savage looking, animal skin and horned helmet wearing barbarians who went around raping and pillaging whatever cross their path - myths that Hollywood sometimes perpetuates.
Small Thor's hammers were worn as religious amulets throughout the Viking era, usually made of silver and usually suspended from silver chains like this example. Some even appeared in the Christian era; there is a famous example of a Thor's hammer amulet from Fossi, Iceland, that has been turned into a cross. What's more, they continue to be invoked nowadays to describe the power of the surprisingly mighty Icelandic football team.
Silver was the principal currency of the Viking world, which stretched from Russia to northern Canada at the height of their influence. In many places, the Vikings kept silver not as coins, but as jewelry, a wearable currency form that was not subject to the authority of a monarch or mint. One of the most common archaeological finds from the Viking period is a hoard of metal objects, often buried in the earth or deposited in bodies of water, like river beds. These are found in great quantities throughout the British Isles and the Nordic countries. What was the meaning of such hoards? Were they treasures buried for safe keeping, perhaps by people fleeing violence who did not wish to travel with heavy loads and who died or forgot before they could retrieve them? Or does their presence in rivers suggest votive deposits, gifts, and offerings to spirits who lived in the water?
This item has been analyzed using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF). The chain measured 98% silver with the remaining composition comprised mostly of copper. The Thor's hammer measured to 96% silver with the remaining composition comprised mostly of copper. The gold detail on the hammer measured 78% gold (greater than 18K), 20% silver, and the remainder mostly copper.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide to most countries and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.