NEW YORK – Vikings get a bad rap. Of course, some of that is deserved; there’s no nice, polite way to raid a village. But the long-ago, long-vanished people who called themselves Vikings – the Scandinavians who reside in what is now Denmark, Sweden, and Norway – behaved in ways that might seem surprising. Archaeologists now believe Vikings bathed as often as once a week, in contrast to their southern European counterparts. It makes sense, then, that Vikings liked to adorn their bodies with alluring jewelry. Jasper52‘s Viking, Ancient, & Medieval Jewelry sale, which begins at 2 pm Eastern time on May 12, provides ample evidence of this last fact. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Consider, for example, the powerful simplicity of a 24K Viking coil ring, which dates to sometime between 850 and 1050. Vikings were fond of this spiral form, and apparently invested it with supernatural significance. Jewelry designers born centuries later would render this shape as a snake, and sometimes, an unnervingly realistic snake. This Viking coil ring reduces the shape to its essence, and retains practicality to boot. The coil gives the ring flexibility, allowing it to fit fingers with diameters ranging from size 10 3/4 to 11 1/4. The ring is estimated at $400-$500.
Equally fascinating is a remnant of a Viking warrior’s bracelet, which has been transformed into a pendant necklace. Vikings were superlative metalsmiths, and regarded the jewelry and objects they made from metal as more than mere things. When a Viking died, their metal possessions were often broken and buried along with them. The pendant shown here is part of a broken bracelet, which dates to the 10th or 11th century. It has since been professionally refurbished with a 24K gold overlay and mounted on a chain, and is estimated at $400-$500.
The 127-lot sale does not exclusively focus on Viking jewelry, however. Also of note is a large gilt bronze Eastern European cross necklace with a pendant that dates to the 17th or 18th centuries. Modeled in high relief, it is strictly a so-called “stick” cross, or one that does not depict the crucified body of Jesus. Like the Viking bracelet-cum-necklace, it, too, has been professionally refurbished with a 24k gold surface, and is estimated at $400-$500.
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