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This brooch is part of a six piece set, or parure, of jewelry made from steel set with iron pyrite. The central motif is an Irish harp, surrounded by a circle of triangles to form a sunburst. Pendants hang from three of the sunburst points. The first is a small flower that hangs from two of the points. A small tassel shape hands from the third point to balance the weight.
The central harp design in this bracelet represents the instrument of Brian Borhomie, the High King of Ireland reputed to have unified regional leaders in the eleventh century. A powerful symbol of Ireland after its exhibition in 1851 at the Crystal Palace, the harp was frequently reproduced in jewelry sets such as this as tourist souvenirs made from the locally-produced iron pyrite crystals often called "Irish diamonds." Other popular Irish motifs included in this set are trefoil shamrock leaves. For more on this type of jewelry and to see a similar set in the Birmingham (UK) Museum of Art, see Charlotte Gere and Judy Rudoe, Jewellery in the Age of Victoria (2011), 496.
Original to Castle Tucker (Wiscasset, Me.),
2.5 x 1.75 (HxW) (inches)
Gift of Miss Jane S. Tucker
Ireland (British Isles, Europe) [island]