I’ve long had a thing for granulation in silver jewellery, and I love orbs, balls, spheres, domes, bobbles and bubbles in all their forms. So it’s no surprise that I have a few bobbly rings in my Etsy shop right now:
NE From Danish sterling silver bypass bobble ring. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
Modernist Finnish sterling silver bobble bypass ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
Swedish modernist ring, imported to London in 1970. This one has a little silver ball inside that tinkles around. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
1970 brutalist Finnish 930 silver ring by Valon Kulta & Hopea of Turku, Finland. Love the granulation on this! For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD.)
Bengt Hallberg (Sweden) sterling silver bypass ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.
Modernist sterling silver ring in a Georg Jensen style. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
1960s sterling silver jester ring by Anna Greta Eker. Eker was Finnish but worked in Norway, and is regarded as one of the greats of Scandinavian/Nordic silver design.
NE From sterling silver ring. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
1950s sterling silver ring by John Lauritzen of Copenhagen. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photos for details.
Here’s an earlier post with a few more granulated pieces I’ve since sold, plus an interesting video showing how the bobbles are made.
UPDATE May 2017: For Scandinavian silver pieces currently in my Etsy shop, please click here.
I seem to be sourcing more and more pieces of 20th century Scandinavian silver jewellery for my shop. I started off with the idea of stocking early 20th century pieces – English Arts and Crafts, Germanic Jugendstil and Nordic Skønvirke jewellery, but gradually my eye was drawn towards the sleek, minimalist lines of mid century Scandinavian modernist jewellery as well.
A few of the pieces of Scandinavian jewellery for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo to see my current selection of Scandinavian jewellery and silver objects.
At the moment I have 40 pieces of Scandinavian silver for sale in my Etsy shop, and more to come that I haven’t got round to listing yet!
Every now and then I hear a piece of music that is so distinctive that whenever I hear it subsequently I know it immediately. One of these earworms for me for a Norwegian folk song called ‘Den Bortkomne Sauen’—‘The Lost Sheep’.
I first heard this melody while watching the marvellous Coen Brothers film Fargo, which was released in 1996. The main theme of the film is an adaptation by Carter Burwell of ‘Den Bortkomne Sauen’.
Such a distinctive melody, which seemed to echo so well the icy landscapes of northern Minnesota—a wintery land populated by people of Scandinavian extraction where horrible murders happen, wood chippers optional, and heavily-pregnant police chiefs doggedly pursue their man. The music stuck with me, a lovely earworm I didn’t expect to hear again.
Fast forward a few years. I listen to a lot of BBC Radio 4 while I work, and I particularly enjoy the afternoon dramas. One set of plays that grabbed me right from the start was the Pilgrim series by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, the first episode broadcast in 2008 and now five series in. The stories involve William Palmer, a 12th century immortal cursed to wander the modern British countryside, encountering faeries and demons as well as hoodies and housewives. And lo! Used in Pilgrim was ‘Den Bortkomne Sauen’, a version played by Norwegian musician Annbjørg Lien on her Hardanger fiddle, accompanied by a church organ:
The later Fargo version, with its syrupy harp at first and rather overblown orchestration after the fiddle part, has wonderfully slow tempo, full of foreboding. Annbjørg’s 1994 version is plaintive and stripped-down, but at a slightly faster tempo, and I could really sense the lost sheep in the icy Nordic snowdrifts as she played. It also fitted perfectly with the theme of Pilgrim, with Palmer the lost soul condemned to wander forever.
A Hardanger fiddle, made by Knut Gunnarsson Helland. Photo by Frode Inge Helland.
Annbjørg’s version is available on her album Felefeber (‘Fiddle fever’), released in 1994, and available on Amazon. Series 3 of Pilgrimwas awarded the Silver Medal for the Best European Radio Drama of the Year at the Prix Europa in Berlin, and nominated for the Prix Italia Best Original Radio Drama award. It’s a great listen if you get the chance. As one other listener described it so well: ‘I love the way one world settles seamlessly in-between the cracks of another’, and in that same post Sebastian has confirmed that Series 6 and 7 have been commissioned, hurrah!
And then earlier this year, I was delighted to see/hear that the title track of the 2014 television series adaptation of Fargo, which I hugely enjoyed, had nods to ‘Den Bortkomne Sauen’ and its use in the original film:
I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently ‘Den Bortkomne Sauen’ also crops up in the Norwegian tv series Lilyhammer (and no, that’s not a typo). I am definitely going to catch up on this one as it is a Norway-set mash-up of The Sopranos (my all-time favourite tv series) and Scandinoir, with a good dash of comedy thrown in, and stars Steven Van Zandt as Frank, an Italian-American mafioso relocated by the Federal Witness Protection Program to Lillehammer. Frank even picks up a lost sheep in the very first episode, so I read.
Update 22 December 2014: A new series of Pilgrim has just started this afternoon on Radio 4. The Beeb hasn’t exactly gone overboard with publicising it, as the first I heard about it was when I was listening to the radio and it started! But hurrah, more, new Pilgrim!
December 2016 update: I always seem to have Viking ship jewellery in my shop. Click here to see the current selection.
More by accident than design—and a very happy accident at that—I have three Viking ship brooches in my Etsy shop at the moment. I think they show longships, as opposed to the other kinds of Viking sea-going vessels.
Fabulous David-Andersen Viking ship brooch, dated to between 1924 and 1939. For sale in my Etsy shop: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
The jewel in the crown is an exquisite silver and enamel brooch by the renowned Norwegian firm of David-Andersen. The craftsmanship in this piece is stunning, and shows why David-Andersen enamelwork is so highly thought of.
The brooch can be dated quite closely to between 1924 and 1939, as the combination of 925 (sterling) silver and a particular form of the maker’s mark for the company was only used in this period. This brooch design is rarely seen and so is highly collectable.
The second Viking ship brooch dates from 1946 and was made by the Birmingham firm of Shipton and Co. It is solid sterling silver and was hallmarked in Chester (I wonder why a Birmingham firm didn’t send their silver to the Birmingham Assay Office to be hallmarked, rather than the Chester one?). It is very reminiscent of the popular Iona silver Celtic-style jewellery, made famous by designer Alexander Ritchie:
Sold sterling silver Viking ship brooch, made by Shipton & Co of Birmingham and hallmarked 1946 in Chester. For sale in my Etsy shop: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
The third brooch is also the youngest one: it was made by famous silversmith Malcolm Gray of the Ortak silversmithing firm on the Orkney Islands, and hallmarked at the Edinburgh Assay Office in 1981:
Sterling silver Viking longship brooch by Malcolm Gray of Ortak, hallmarked Edinburgh 1981. For sale in my Etsy shop: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD). September 2015 update: I have another of these for sale, also from 1981. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
This brooch is also solid sterling silver. The hallmarks and Gray’s maker’s mark are tiny, and barely visible among the textured dimples on the back of the brooch. The choice of subject matter is a fitting one, for the Vikings were an integral part of the history of these islands. The people of the Shetland Islands, north of the Orkneys, remember their Viking heritage every year with the Up Helly Aa festivals, and one day Chap and I are going to make it up there to see the festivities.
Update 22 June 2015: I have a new Viking ship brooch, by Aksel Holmsen of Norway, and dating from the 1930s:
Viking ship brooch in 830 silver, by Aksel Holmsen of Norway. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
Malcolm Gray Ortak sterling silver Viking ship brooch, 1975. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
September 2015 update. A couple more Viking ship brooches:
A Shetland Silvercraft brooch from 1968:
Sterling silver Viking ship brooch by Shetland Silvercraft, 1968. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).
and a tiny mystery:
Tiny enamel and sterling silver Viking brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).
And finally, I just had to end with a clip from a great Saturday tea-time favourite film of mine when I was a kid: The Vikings (1958), starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Ernest Borgnine.