Sunday, 30 March 2014

ironclad patriotism

Collectors' Weekly features a fascinating little show-and-tell of the nineteenth century phenomena of sweetheart pendants, when aristocratic families of Prussia exchanged their gold and silver jewelry for austere and gothic-looking iron brooches, blackened with a flaxen coating to prevent rust, to help fund the Napoleonic Wars. These so-called intricate Berlin Iron pieces often bore patriotic (and shaming) slogans like “Gold gab ich für Eisen” (I gave gold for iron)—which was something en vogue for later conflicts, too, though not restricted to the upper-classes, like the saying that goes round the edge of this skillet from the Great War that I found: In World War 1916, the German Housewives shared in the spirit of sacrifice by giving up their copper for iron (it rhymes in German).