Copper alloy inlaid with silver wire and niello on
an iron core
Overall: 1 7/8 x 3 13/16 x 7/8 in. (4.7 x 9.7 x 2.3 cm)
Purchase, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, by exchange, 2005
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
This handsome sword pommel is one of the finest surviving fragments of Anglo-Saxon goldsmith work. The pommel's quasi-triangular shell, of cast copper alloy, is decorated with silver panels inlaid with niello patterns and framed with silver strips. The two end terminals are animal heads. Although the "cocked-hat" form and the design of the panels look back to late eighth-century sword pommels (examples of which from Windsor, Chiswick, Eyot, and Saint Ninian's Isle are preserved in London, Edinburgh and Oxford), the silver-wire and niello technique used to create the inlaid running spiral patterns on the curved sides seems to have been a specialty of East Anglian metalworkers in the ninth century, during the reign of King Alfred the Great (r. 849–99). Some of the niello designs are similar to those on the well-known Fuller brooch in the British Museum, London, which was made in the late ninth century, perhaps in Alfred's court workshop.
Peter Finer, London (until 2003); [ Daniel Katz Ltd., London (2003-2005)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2005-2006." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 64, no. 2 (Fall 2006). p. 24.