Superb Georgian Maltese Cross Pendant
The Maltese cross first appeared around the 1500s. It was known as the Cross of the Knights of St. John and was given to those individuals who had demonstrated acts of “valour and rescue”. Around the later part of the 18th century, this symbol of heroism incited a fashion craze.
This superb example of a Georgian era Maltese cross brooch pendant is crafted from silver-topped 9k rose gold. All original, each faceted rock crystal has been foiled and set closed back. The rock crystal gems have a gleam and glitter which is even finer than paste. The use of rock crystal in this manner has all but disappeared today.
Many earlier Georgian pieces have a rounded bulbous shaped back. Around 1800 or so the configuration of reverse shifted to very flat backed plane with touches of a rounded surface. This reverse reveals that flat surface with the original tube hinge and C clasp. Please note that the original bale has an additional fitting at the back to suspend from a chain or a strand of pearls.
Date: Circa 1810.
Chain is not included; please contact us for details on purchasing.
Measurements: 2 inches (5.1 cm) in length including bale by 1-1/2 of an inch (3.8 cm) in width. Weight of 16.1 grams (10.4 dwt).
Condition: Excellent; slight variation in foiling but all crystals are bright and sparkling; one minute touch of silver solder to pin stem.
Origin: Possibly English.
Historical Notes: What appears to be a rather odd coupling is in actually a testament to charitable works rendered by a woman who was viewed by British society as somewhat less than heroic.
That fallen angel was the glamorous Lady Emma Hamilton who was ensconced as the mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson. The English were fascinated by this imbroglio and hungered for every salacious detail. Lady Hamilton was awarded the cross of the Knights of St John or the Maltese cross by Emperor Paul I of Russia for sending food and money to the starving people of the island of Malta. Consequently she became a Dame of the Order of Malta, frequently wore her decoration to society balls and events and thus began a fashion trend among the less “infamous” of the time.
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