Friday, December 04, 2009

A 'New Age Fake Mystic Cash Cow' Design

I will get requests like this one about objects that claim to be 'Viking Age' :
Someone on an SCA list noted the following design of buckle and said that he seen provenance in an article but that he had forgotten where the article was.

I have never seen such a design and if he hadn't seen he saw in an article, I would assume that it was another fantasy fabrication like the ring belt. I've never seen this design before, but it may be a new discovery. Are you familiar with this design?

First - I have not seen anything like this specifically tagged as a 'belt buckle'

Second - No, I don't think its likely for a Norse context (many reasons given below)

Third - I think this is actually (yet another) New Age Fake Mystic Cash Cow Design

Why this is NOT Norse:

- Period samples I am most familiar with are 'D with tongue', or maybe 'D loop through and knot', some plate with peg types (The buckles from Sutton Hoo). I can't remember ever seeing this kind of mortise and tendon type.

- The shape is identical to a decorative terminal often seen in forged iron objects - a specific dish fry pan comes to mind. One of the standard things a smith can do to finish a long bar - split and forge a pair of reversal spirals. So I can see a fragment that would appear this shape - but not this application.

- The one place I think I may have seen something that looks like this general form (WAG!) is as a linch pin for holding waggon wheels on to an axle. But only in forged iron, and for that application, the long tapered pin needs to be considerably longer to correctly function.Link
- The material of this 'buckle' is just plain wrong. Hammered copper?? I'm not aware of any Norse hammered copper objects. The web site selling these also offers them in 'iron', 'silver', and (get this) 128 layer damascus!

- The copper replica is made of maybe 1/2 x 3/16 flat stock. It looks to me (for various reasons) to be cold hammered. It has been over pounded with a ball peen for effect. This looks way too much like the modern 'fuzzy barbarian' effect - not at all what a real Norse metalsmith would have done in the first place.

As a side note, the asking price is an insult: In 'iron' - $51 US / copper - $72 US / silver $139 US
Maybe $15 - 20 worth of labour, in copper best plus $2 for the material. Asking $51 /$75 (US) is at least 3x too much!

Readers might also be interested in an earlier post, debunking the popular 'Viking Knife' design.

Note: for obvious (legal) reasons, I have chosen not to include the direct link to the Amazon store page selling these objects.

(Addition 12/6/09)
I had run this object, with my initial comments, past a couple of other people I know that have good experience with Viking Age artifacts. This came back from one:
"...I would impose the "Bronze Buddha" rule- no more than one really
weird/exotic/semi-improbable item in the camp at an event; with a logical,
historical explanation.*

" * Such as: "This odd statue came from my uncle who traded for it in
Miklagard" not "When I ventured through China and Japan after being
kidnapped by Gypsy pirates, I became a Buddhist.""

(Uncle Atli)


Ny Björn Gustafsson said...

I'd say that someone have saw an early Iron-Age belt hook (before ~100 AD buckles weren't used to any greater extent in Scandiland) and got creative...

Here's a page displaying 2 (admittedly quite corroded) hooks from south-west Sweden:

Ny Björn said...

minus a "have"...
-Preview mode is a good thing :-D


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