Berlin iron jewelry was produced in Germany by the Berlin Royal Foundry beginning in 1804. Previously, iron jewelry had primarily been worn in periods of mourning due to its dark color. However, it reached a high point of popularity between 1813 and 1819. To fund the War of Liberation against Napolean, citizens were asked to donate their precious gold in exchange for iron jewelry, which was sometimes inscribed with a portrait of Frederick William III of Prussia or the words "Gold gab ich für Eisen" (meaning "I gave gold for iron") or "Für das Wohl des Vaterlands" ("For the welfare of our country/fatherland"). Almost overnight, Berlin iron jewelry became a symbol of patriotism, and its beautiful fabrication and lacy appearance gave it widespread appeal. The popularity of iron jewelry diminished by the mid nineteenth century, however, as it is not widely known, there was a push to promote its popularity again in Germany in the early twentieth century. The revival was contributed to a similar program where individuals would exchange their gold for an iron medallion and used to fund the First World War (ca1914-1918). Authentic Berlin iron jewelry is now very rare, and well-preserved pieces have become very collectible!
This long Edwardian Berlin iron muff chain is from circa 1916 and an original from the First World War. Crafted of cast iron, this well-preserved piece consists of a long, ornate chain and a sliding medallion which would have been given to the original owner in exchange for their gold. The removable iron slide medallion moves easily along the chain and bears the motto "Eiserne Zeit 1916" which translates in German to "Iron Times 1916" (or "Iron Age 1916"). The extra long muff chain carries an alternating pattern of long sections of iron chain and single elongated links and a watch swivel clasp can be found at the end, perfect for attaching a complimentary locket or pendant. The Berlin ironwork has rich, black color which creates a dramatic appearance and the chain would make a wonderful layering piece for modern day wear. It would make a fantastic addition to any collection!
Measurements: The chain necklace measures 65" in total length. The sliding medallion measures a little less than 3/4" wide and long and has a depth of 1/4".
Condition: The overall condition of the piece is excellent. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the ironwork chain and the slide and swivel clasp are secure and in good working condition. There are a few very small rust spots and minor surface wear, mostly found on the slide, however, none of which is noticeable when worn, nor is it unusual for an iron piece of this age.
The iron chain has been paired with our Victorian Gunmetal Coin Holder Locket