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  • Containing precious metals: hallmarking, minting and the materiality of gold and silver in medieval and modern England.

Oakley, Peter, 2013, Book Section, Containing precious metals: hallmarking, minting and the materiality of gold and silver in medieval and modern England. In: Mobility, Meaning and Transformations of Things: shifting contexts of material culture through time and space. Oxbow Books, Oxford. ISBN 9781842175255

Abstract or Description:

This book chapter extends the argument constructed by Oakley in his conference paper ‘Containing gold: Institutional attempts to define and constrict the values of precious metal objects’ presented at ‘Itineraries of the Material’, a conference held at Goethe Universitaet, Frankfurt am Main in 2011.
Oakley’s chapter investigates the social forces that define the identities, social pathways and physical movement of objects made of precious metal. It presents a case study in which constitutive substance rather than the conceptual object is the key driver behind the social trajectories of numerous artefacts and their reception by contemporary audiences. This supports the main contention of the book as a whole: the need to reconsider, and when necessary challenge, the dominance of the social biography of objects in the study of material culture.
Oakley’s research used historical and ethnographic approaches, including three years’ of ethnographic field research in the jewellery industry. This included training as a precious metal assayer at the Birmingham Assay Office and observing the industry and public response to government proposals to abolish the hallmarking legislation. This fieldwork was augmented by archive, library and object collection research on the histories of assaying and goldsmithing. Oakley presents an analysis of the historical development and contemporary social relevance of hallmarking, a technological process that has never previously been subject to ethnographic study, yet is fundamental to one of the UK’s creative industries.

Subjects: Other > Social studies > L600 Anthropology
Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts > W720 Metal Crafts > W721 Silversmithing/Goldsmithing
School or Centre: School of Material
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2013 20:34
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2016 14:36
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1272

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