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The chalice was made in a Roman workshop around 1360. It is set on a ten-leaved foot base with a pedestal, decorated with a geometric decoration strip. The chalice foot is covered with a smooth coat, with an applied medallion containing an engraved coat of arms surrounded by laurel leaves in the field and on the opposite side of the coat with an enamelled cameo showing a Crucifixion Group. The upper base is finished with a ring with a strip of geometric decoration analogous to the base.

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The chalice was made in a Roman workshop around 1360. It is set on a ten-leaved foot base with a pedestal, decorated with a geometric decoration strip. The chalice foot is covered with a smooth coat, with an applied medallion containing an engraved coat of arms surrounded by laurel leaves in the field and on the opposite side of the coat with an enamelled cameo showing a Crucifixion Group. The upper base is finished with a ring with a strip of geometric decoration analogous to the base. The stem is smooth. The node is in the shape of a flattened sphere taking the form of swirling laurel leaves with ten medallion-shaped bumps with enamelled busts of Christ and the Apostles. The node is bordered by one textured ring at the bottom four textured rings over it. The bowl is smooth and expands upwards. On the outer side, near the edge, a half-gilded mark is visible, which is repeated on one of the leaves on the chalice base. On the inside of the chalice foot there is a medal with the papal coat of arms.
The chalice is complete with a paten, which on the outside of the mirror is decorated with a medallion depicting the Risen Christ sitting on a rainbow and standing on a globe, surrounded by Arma Christi.


Elaborated by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła Archdiocesan Museum in Kraków, © all rights reserved

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Jeweller’s code

Objects derived from noble metals were usually marked with signs, so-called features. Their appearance on goldsmith’s products, their number and significance were related to regulations issued by craftsmen’s guilds, then also by city and state authorities. These small marks with numbers and symbols in various shapes, which often remind us of cavities, are an extremely valuable source of information about the artwork. It is possible to specify several types of symbols when recognizing their elements and functions.

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Objects derived from noble metals were usually marked with signs, so-called features. Their appearance on goldsmith’s products, their number and significance were related to regulations issued by craftsmen’s guilds, then also by city and state authorities. These small marks with numbers and symbols in various shapes, which often remind us of cavities, are an extremely valuable source of information about the artwork. It is possible to specify several types of symbols when recognizing their elements and functions. However, we should remember that their form has changed over the course of history, differing according to location, which makes things difficult because of their quantity.
The first group of features is formed by the individual marks of particular masters as well as workshops. These could include the full name of the master; however, they often appeared in the forms of the majuscule initials. In this case, there was a risk of repeating the monograms, hence — to make a distinction — they were placed in various fields, sometimes with a very fanciful form. In some cases, the mark of the workshop or the later company was also a house mark (in stonemasonry, the signature of the author in a form of a symbol on the stone’s surface).
However, the most common were hallmarks that indicated the percentage of silver contained in the material used for a given goldsmith product. There were many marking schemes, depending on the time, territory, and ruling power, and they were governed by strict regulations. Thanks to this, however, it is possible to determine the approximate time and place of the creation of the work by properly recognizing the features. Hallmarks began to use digital symbols from approximately the nineteenth century (the unit of weight was Lot, hence the lot system), whereas earlier, the town mark itself indicated that the then applicable amount of silver had been used in the alloy.
Town marks support combining products with specific centres. As a sign, they took the form of the coat of arms of the city (or its fragment), sometimes also the entire name of the city, or its first letter.
To check the quality of the products, the works were also marked in state hallmarking centres, hence their name. The hallmark features, made according to the given pattern, contained information about the silver's purity, and sometimes also the date and the letter of the city. At the end of the 18th century, they appeared on the territories of the former Republic of Poland, initially introduced in the Austrian partition.
Furthermore, the contribution features are an interesting example. They marked works which — according to the Austrian contribution (1806) — had been confiscated, and which were then bought up and given back to the owners. That’s why they could be found even on very old products. Such features primarily had a letter indicating the hallmarking centre of a given territory.
Among many additional markings and types of features (there are also customs or reserve features, hallmarks or pawnbroker’s marks, and even marks indicating the dates); the above-mentioned ones constitute their basis.
It should, first of all, be realized that goldsmith marks are a very functional tool thanks to which we are able to — sometimes even with high accuracy — date the work, determine the place of its creation, its author, and trace its history. The goldsmith features — just like any cipher — have their own codification. Catalogues of marks are the best source to learn how to recognize them; nevertheless, they are still not fully drafted.

Elaborated by Paulina Kluz (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Bibliography:
Michał Gradowski, Dawne złotnictwo: technika i terminologia, Warszawa 1980;
Michał Gradowski, Znaki probiercze na zabytkowych srebrach w Polsce, Warszawa 1988;
Michał Gradowski, Znaki na srebrze: znaki miejskie i państwowe używane na terenie Polski w obecnych jej granicach, Warszawa 1994.

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