Coins and medals



Late 14th - first half of the 15th century
Copper gouged and enamelled
5.8 x 5.7 cm
Provenance unknown
MEV 9078

Late mediaeval enamelled pendants were the subject of an active antiques dealers' trade in the middle of the 20th century, which has made it difficult to state their places of origin, which have to be established from examples with an archaeological context, through heraldic information or the inscriptions. Their use cannot be as unitary as was previously thought, as ornaments for horse trappings; and, as in this case, there may be numerous human medals, some of which seem to come from tombs. This medal, although totally bereft of its enamel, presents a very clever composition centred upon a letter M inscribed in a seven-pointed star, which in actual fact are trefoils projected symmetrically on the edge, thus forming medallions in which seven flowers are inscribed. The significance of single letters as a decoration for enamels, ceramics or fabrics is very complex. In this case, the company of the flowers may point to the identification with Mary and – if it really is a human medal – it would be a holy amulet, i.e., an invocation to the Virgin to protect the wearer.

18 Leather
19 Gold, Silver and Metalworking Arts
20 Forge Work
21 Ceramics
22 Study Galleries