Some of my finds and the history behind them


Mouches box silver
Amsterdam 1746

In the Mid and late 18th century, wealthy ladies and gentlemen, decorated their appearance with so-called mouches: striking and mostly black colour spots on their faces and bosom.
The French Revolution was such a major event that the use of mouches there stopped rather suddenly.
In Holland, the wealthy people liked to follow the French fashion, which made the mouches also popular in Holland, a couple of years longer than in France.

The Dutch people kept their mouches in specific small boxes before going to bed. These boxes were mostly in silver.
The fake moles, known already in the 17th century, truly became a sign of wealth at the end of the 18th century .
Cut out of taffeta or black velvet, these ”mouches” went as far as frivolity and had their own language according to the place they occupied on the face. Examples: “passionate” on the top of the cheekbone, “coquette” at the upper corner of the lip, “galante” in the middle of the cheek etc. In high society, the ”mouches” box was part of the wedding basket. It was one of the jewels that were distributed at court on certain occasions.

This mouches box is still one of my most favourite finds ever, don’t think I will find anything quite like it ever again.

Early medieval clay dice

The game dice we use today are as fair as we can design them – but that wasn’t always the case. And now researchers have analysed the history of dice to work out when things changed, and why people didn’t care about these probabilities until a certain turning point in civilisation.
People like Galileo and Blaise Pascal were developing ideas about chance and probability, and we know from written records in some cases they were actually consulting with gamblers.

Roman-era dice, the researchers found, were a mess when it came to shape. They were made from a variety of materials, such as metal, bone and clay, and no two were shaped entirely alike. Many were visibly lumpy and lopsided, with the 1 and 6 on opposite sides that were more likely to roll up.
It’s difficult to know why this was the case, but the researchers suggested that Roman-era dice-rollers either didn’t care, or believed providence was determining the outcome of the roll – so the shape of the dice didn’t matter.
In the 15th century – around 1450 – dice started to change to what the researchers call the “sevens” configuration. In this configuration, the pips on opposite sides add up to the number 7; so 1 is opposite 6, 2 is opposite 5, and 3 is opposite 4.
This is the configuration still in standard use today.

I was lucky enough to find this beauty next to a horseshoe in the hole, it was heavy, not very interesting, but it did bring me luck!


cley dice

Claddagh ring from 1754 Amsterdam & modern claddagh ring made around 1900.

The claddagh ring was first made around 4 centuries ago, it is related to the tiny fishing village in Ireland that we mentioned above. A humble fisherman named Robert Joyce lived in the village, the young man was in love with a wonderful lady from the same village. Robert would leave each morning along with his fellow fishermen to sail the rough and dangerous seas. On one eventful day, the boat in which the fishermen were sailing was attacked by pirates. The intruders plundered the ship and captured the occupants. Those were the days when slavery was common, the captives were sold as slaves by the pirates. Young Robert Joyce was sold to a wealthy goldsmith and forced to learn the trade from his master.

The above narration is important as it is relevant to the significance and meaning of the claddagh ring. Robert kept learning the techniques of making jewelry from his master, this without ever forgetting his beloved who lived in the claddagh village. As the days went by, the young man started to become depressed and this was something that could affect his work. He kept telling himself that he would soon be free and decided to make, something for the love in his life. 
Robert Joyce decided to use his newly learned skills and craft a ring for her. He wished for the ring to express his true feelings for his beloved. His dreams of being a free man came true in a couple of years, the young man was overjoyed and rushed back to his village – securely clutching the precious ring in his hand. He was thrilled to see that his beloved was still waiting for him after all these years. He gave her the ring and the couple walked home with applause from well wishers and neighbors. The story goes that the couple were soon married and lived happily together. 

Permission token V.O.C.

This beautiful lead token turns out to be a permission token, intended for sailors of the V.O.C. (Dutch East India Company)

The paymaster only allowed them to leave their ship if they had a permission token.
Once disembarked, it was possible to check whether someone with permission had left his ship.
Unauthorized disembarkation risked corporal punishment.
After returning to the ship, the medal had to be returned.
I found it in the middle of a small town, far from the harbour of Amsterdam, how did it get there?
Maybe it was lost, which would have given the keeper a serious problem, or it belonged to a deserted sailor..we will never know, but it is great fun just thinking about it.

Golden ducat 1737

From 4 August 1586 onwards Golden Ducats are registered in the Dutch Mint Act as trade coins. The Golden Ducat finds its origin in the Republic of Venice and was later also minted in the Netherlands. The Golden Ducat has always been strong currency; for centuries these coins were important tender in international trade.

Their reputation was strong because of their dependable content and weight. In Scandinavia, Poland and Russia the coin was gladly accepted and also in Asia the coin was used often in trades. The Dutch Golden Ducat therefore became one of the most important trade coins in the world. 
The richly decorated Golden Ducat has remained the same for almost 400 years, except for some small changes in its sublime details. In the course of the centuries small changes have been made to the knight’s armour and the decorations on the reverse that were subjected to “fashion”.

The reverse of a Golden Ducat always has the same inscription in Latin: Mo. Aur. Reg. Belgii Ad Legem Imperii: “Gold coin of the Kingdom of the Netherlands by law of the Empire”. The lettering on the obverse reads Concordia Res Parvae Crescunt: “Small things florish by concord”, also translated as “Unity makes Strength”.

Golden Ducat 1737

Dutch trade beads

African glass “Trade Beads” of European origin came into existence when European Traders along the route between Europe and Africa were pressed for an acceptable currency form to exchange on African soil. Brightly colored glass beads with exotic shapes and intricate patterns fit extremely well as the most desirable trade material due to the popular demand that African Cultures had for luxurious and unusual adornment. 

The classic traditions of African Adornment were finely crafted of gold, iron, ivory, and bone and other organic materials. Gorgeous exotic stone beads of Indus Valley origin were actively traded in the Empire of Mali at this time. However, glass working technology outside of Egypt and the Ancient trade in Northern Africa was mostly unknown in Sub Saharan Africa at this time. Therefore, the exquisite glass beads that the European traders had to offer were widely and rapidly received.

The Dutch and Portuguese were among the first Europeans actively trading along the African Coasts dating back to the 16th century. “Trade Beads” manufactured in Europe readily fit into a barter currency system used for African goods and already actively traded commodities such as ivory, gold, copper, spices and palm oil. Sadly, slaves were also an actively existing trade, and certain beads were also accepted in this heinous practice as well. European trade beads took on such importance and cachet that they became a status symbol of wealth and power in African communities. Certain types deemed the most valuable were reserved for use only by Kings and their Royal Courts.

Almost all cultures in this time period viewed these exotic “foreign” glass beads a symbol of wealth and social standing. The beads entered into the realm of Heirloom Beads and Dowry Currency, and were passed down from generations of families as highly treasured possessions.


Dutch trade Beads
Dutch trade Beads-1


Commemorative medal taking oath of the new government regulations by the militia on the Neude in Utrecht 1786.

At the end of the 18th century, there was a large group of citizens in the Dutch Republic who wanted to encourage democratisation and curb the power of the failing stadholder William V, prince of Orange-Nassau. They demanded reforms in the administration, started to take up arms and over the years in more and more cities pushed for democratic elections of the city council.

In 1786 and 1787 the conflict between the Patriots and Orangists (supporters of the stadholder Prince of Orange) escalated to such an extent that fighting broke out and a brief civil war raged. The print shows the situation on 2 September 1787, with the line-up and procession of Patriot militias, including Amsterdam citizens and the Ulans (lightly armed mounted soldiers).

In the centre of the square, the Rhenish Count Frederik van Salm, who was in charge of the Patriot command of the defence of the city of Utrecht, is saluted. Two weeks later the Prussian army invaded the Republic and came to the aid of the Orangists. Van Salm gave up the city of Utrecht and the Patriot militias fled the city. This was followed by the Orangist restoration and the stadholder system continued for seven more years.

Devotion ring virgin Mary ,1700

The main significance of this piece of jewelry is the belief that wearing it will bring special graces from the Virgin Mary.

It is often worn to help strengthen the faith of a person in the Catholic tradition, but can be worn by anyone with a Christian affiliation and a respect for the Blessed Mother.

The ring is also worn by those looking to draw closer to their faith or those experiencing hard times in their personal life.

Devotion ring virgin Mary ,1700

1646 – 1794 – Dutch India
Paliakate – VOC Kas Copper Dumps
II Kas.

VOC Kas copper coins issued by the Dutch Mint in Paliakate (Pulicat) (Northern Latitude 13°.2) in Coromandel (south-east Indian coast).
They are found in Sri-Lanka.

Paliakate was the VOC head office of the Coromandel since its establishment in 1610 to 1690 when it was superseded by Negapatnam.
From 1781 to 1784 all the settlements on the coast were in British hands and in 1784 Negapatnam having been ceded to the British, Paliakate again became the head office until occupied again in 1795. Fort Gelria established in 1615 was the first VOC mint in India.

Initialy copper coins with VOC monogram and a Sanskrit legend were struck.
In 1646 the Dutch received permission from the Golconda Sultan Abd Allah Qutb Shah (AH 1035-1083 / CE 1626-1673) to strike coins at Paliakate “with the stamp of the King of Golconda”
The small copper coins were current only within the limited area of the Company.

VOC Kas Copper Dumps II Kas.

Spanish cob coin.

As additional silver deposits were discovered in the colonial territories there was a pressing demand to export it to Spain as quickly as possible. To do this, starting in the reign of Philip II, the mints produced irregular coinage called cobs.

A bar of silver was simply cut into chunks of the appropriate weight. These small sliver clumps were then treated as if they were finished planchets and were hammer struck between crude dies. In fact, the Spanish word “cabo” (from which the English “cob” is derived) refers to the end; in this instance, the clump of silver clipped off the end of the bar.

The size, shape and impression of these cobs was highly irregular but they were the proper weight. Many cobs were quite thick and disfigured with large cracks. Also, these uneven clumps made poor planchets so that frequently only a small portion of the image on the die was impressed on the silver. If a cob was overweight the minter simply clipped a piece off, further disfiguring the coin.

Roman child’s fibula brooch.
75-150 AD

A Fibula is an ancient brooch. (Plural: fibulae).
Technically, the latin term fibulae meant Roman brooches, but the term is widely used for brooches from the entire ancient and early medieval world. Unlike modern brooches, fibulae were not only decorative, they originally served a practical function: to fasten clothes, including cloaks.
Fibulae replaced straight pins that were used to fasten clothing in the Neolithic period and Bronze Age.

In turn, fibulae were replaced as clothing fasteners in the Middle Ages by buttons. Their descendent, the modern safety-pin, remains in use today.
There are hundreds of different types and variations of fibulae.
They are usually divided into families or groups based on historical period, geography and/or cultural grouping. Fibulae are also divided into classes based on their general forms.

Although most are not rare, this child’s fibulae is extremely rare, and makes it one of my most interesting finds ever.

Roman child's fibula 75-150 AD

Silver shoe buckle

Buckled shoes began to replace tied shoes in the mid-17th century. 
Samuel Pepys wrote in his Diary for 22 January 1660 “This day I began to put on buckles to my shoes, which I have bought yesterday of Mr. Wotton.”

The fashion at first remained uncommon enough though that even in 1693 a writer to a newspaper complained of the new fashion of buckles replacing ribbons for fastening shoes and knee bands.
Separate buckles remained fashionable until they were abandoned along with high-heeled footwear and other aristocratic fashions in the years after the French Revolution, although they were retained as part of ceremonial and court dress until well into the 20th century.

In Britain in 1791 an attempt was made by buckle manufactures to stop change in fashion by appealing to the then Prince of Wales Prince George.
While the prince did start to require them for his court this didn’t stop the decline of the shoe buckle.
It has been suggested that the decline drove the manufacturers of steel buckles to diversify into producing a range of cut steel jewellery.

Silver shoe buckle