Posted 6 years ago
This slide is one of the most amazing pieces of jewelry I own! It is a Stuart Crystal slide, dated 1692, with a ground of royal blue enamel, gold wire and plaited hair, overlaid with a miniature version of the Lord's Prayer, written by hand on a tiny disc of paper less than one centimeter in diameter, all set beneath a cabochon rock crystal. Let me repeat: the paper it is written on is less than one centimeter!
This slide measures 3/4" x 3/4". There is some loss to the blue enamel and there is a 19th brooch fitting to the back with the original slide fittings removed.
Detail of the Lord's Prayer
Designed to demonstrate the astonishing skill of the calligrapher, the writing is barely decipherable without the aid of magnification. A person more expert than I am took the close-up of the writing.
Miniature writing samples of this type showed the characteristic 17th century interest in scientific experiment and technical virtuosity. Masters in the art trained for seven years to develop their calligraphy skills in miniature. Such pieces held more than curiosity value, as religious inscriptions were often held to protect the owner against misfortune.
A similar example, in a ring, is in Case 20, Religion and Ritual, in the Enlightenment Gallery of the British Museum. Evidently considered a remarkable piece early in its history, it was acquired by Sir Hans Sloane, whose collections became the foundation of the British Museum in 1753. It is the only example of this work in the museum.