Current Lecture Programme
Tuesdays at 6:00pm. Members and Guests.
Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BE
All lectures from March - June 2020 were postponed due to the corona virus lockdown. From September 2020 - June 2021 lectures were resumed but were only available live online via zoom, and posted subsequently on the
SJH website for members unable to view on the night.
Since September 2021 we have resumed live lectures at Burlington House, which will be made available online simultaneously. We aim to add as many lectures as possible to the website, but some lectures will not be available after delivery because of copyright restrictions on images or because they contain fresh and evolving research which lecturers are sharing at an early stage. We will let you know here when this is the case. All members are sent an email with details of how to login in advance of each lecture. Please let the Membership Secretary know if you would like to be added to the list at
If you missed a lecture, you can access past lectures
here (members only).
Lectures are restricted to members and their guests. It is not normally necessary to inform the Society that you will be atttending, but if attendance is expected to be exceptionally high the Society will inform members well in advance if booking a seat is a
requirement of attendance at a particular lecture.
If you are not a member, and would like to attend a lecture as a guest of the Society, click here to send your name, contact details, and the subject of the lecture you would like to attend. We will confirm your attendance by email. The Society welcomes new members. If you are interested in joining the Society further details can be given to you when you attend the lecture.
Minakari: Where Flowers Bloom. The History & Art of Enamelling in India
Online lecture only. This lecture will not be available on the website afterwards
Enamelling, in the context of jewellery, is a method of decorating the surface of gold, silver and even copper with powdered glass that is then fired, so that it melts and adheres to the metal. This art entered India from Europe in the sixteenth century, as a consequence of the establishment of direct contact with the Europeans, coterminous with the arrival of the Portuguese, and the conquest of Goa in 1510. However, it was neither a single one-time entry, nor was it from a single point of origin. From Spain and Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands, Italy, Paris and London, the enamel road led to centres in the Deccan and to ateliers in North India. The Indian craftsman then married technique and colour in his own inimitable style and interpreted the art form in distinctive idioms.
Drawing upon surviving examples, the transfer of the art of enamelling across cultural boundaries and its reinterpretation in the local idiom, is the focus of this talk.
postponed from 22 March 2022
Jewels captured in perpetuity: the jewellery book of Anne of Bavaria.
In 1843, the Bavarian king Ludwig I (r.1825-1848) gifted the Bavarian State Library an illuminated manuscript – the Kleinodienbuch der Herzogin Anna von Bayern. Beautifully executed and remarkable for its contents, this work is a pictorial inventory of the jewels that belonged to Albrecht V (1528-1579), Duke of Bavaria, and his wife Anna (1528-1590). Among the 108 illuminations painted by the court painter Hans Mielich (1516-1573) are depictions of 71 items of jewellery owned by the Duke and Duchess. Only one object of this corpus survives – a collar of the Order of St George – but the importance of this manuscript is undeniable. It securely dates a variety of jewels, ranging from hat ornaments and pendants to bracelets and even a fan holder, to the middle of the sixteenth century and links them to their elite owners. The inventory reveals much more than written inventories or portraits alone can. This paper presents the Mielich inventory and situates some of the jewels in their social and historical context, to highlight how important these small-scale objects were to the men and women who owned and wore them
‘My beautiful sapphires’: Queen Victoria’s sapphire coronet commissioned from Kitching and Abud, 1840-42
In the early summer of 1842 Franz Xaver Winterhalter completed a portrait of Queen Victoria wearing around her chignon a sapphire and diamond coronet designed by Prince Albert and supplied by Kitching and Abud of Conduit Street, London. The portrait was an immediate success. Later that year a version, much reproduced, in which Victoria wore the insignia of the Order of the Garter with the coronet, was presented to Louis Philippe, King of the French. In 1866, as a widow, Victoria wore the coronet on the first occasion on which she undertook the ordeal of attending the Opening of Parliament after Albert’s death. In 1922, King George V presented the coronet, adapted by Garrard to be wearable as either bandeau or coronet, to his daughter, Princess Mary, on her marriage. The lecture will offer a brief history of the coronet and explore the background of Joseph Kitching and Richard Abud, who grasped the opportunity to furnish jewels to the young queen and her consort.
History of Hatton Garden
The ‘Garden’, as it is known by those who have worked there in the past or work there today, is a unique area of London. It has been associated with the diamond and gem trade, and the jewellery manufacturing industry, for generations.
Originally the site of the garden of Ely Palace, Hatton Garden became known throughout the world as the ‘go-to’ place for all aspects of the jewellery trade. In a similar way to other London industrial hubs such as Billingsgate for fish, Covent Garden for fruit and vegetables, Smithfield for meat, and Fleet Street for the Press, Hatton Garden was something of a marketplace, but was also an arena where you could learn about what was going on in the world of diamonds and gems. Unlike the food markets though, with their sights, sounds and smells assaulting the visitor, the true Hatton Garden is a secret world. At a time before mobile phones and modern technology, it was essential to be in close proximity with others, both for trade and for information.
In compiling an accurate history of the jewellery and diamond trade in Hatton Garden, one is faced with the reality that in many cases there is very little by way of a paper trail. Transactions were effected by word of mouth.
‘My word is my bond’ might well have been written for the diamond trade as much as ‘Dictum Meum Pactum’ was for the London Stock Exchange. Many deals were done in secrecy. Many were done illegally. Only inside knowledge can capture some of the remarkable stories of those who have in some way left their footprint in Hatton Garden.
Insight into early medieval elite jewellery from Bohemia
Contemporary maker talking about his own work
Greek and Latin inscriptions on Antique Engraved Gems and Rings (Greek, Etruscan, Roman)
Lecture prevented from delivery at the SJH 'Texts' conference by traffic close-down
Inscriptions first appeared on Archaic Greek seals in the middle of the 6th century BC, and later found echo on Etruscan scarabs. Classical and Hellenistic Greek gems, as well as Italic and especially Roman intaglios, inherited from this double epigraphical lineage but diversified the forms and types.
On Graeco-Roman engraved gems and rings, there is a rather wide variety of Greek and Latin inscriptions, which present different configurations (formula, term, abbreviation, initial letter) and epigraphical particularities (crasis, monogram, abbreviation by contraction or suspension, nexus, letters switched, reversed – boustrophedon – or written into each other as so-called ligature). Even more noteworthy, these inscriptions can be classified between very many types of different natures : name of the bearer (duo or tria nomina, diacritic name or ὄνομα, designation referring to some slave or freedman, partial indication of the cursus honorum), dedication, acclamation, commemorative inscription, eulogy, invocation, prayer, addition to the engraved iconographic theme (didascalie), salutation, wish of good omen, prophylactic or apotropaic formula, confirmation of votive gift (ex-voto), loving or friendly motto, marriage and religious symbolism, numeral, trade mark or signature of the engraver, intrinsic function of the gem (seal, gift), legal norm and, finally, combination of ideographic and linguistic elements.
Presenting an overview as exhaustive as possible, the lecture shall bear witness to the wealth of inscriptions on Graeco-Roman gems and rings.
Jewellery from Anglesey Abbey
Links to previous Lecture Programmes