Star Brooch

    The model for my replica is a Hungarian metal-detector find with no provenance. It is 4.8cm in diameter and 1.2mm thick. The pin is missing. It has been chiseled out of sheet copper-alloy, and decorated with punchwork.

      Similar star-shaped brooches have been published in Helig and  Profaan 1 and 2, with dates from 1325 to 1450. There is a very high-end version in Verona (see  Lightbown), dated 1325-1350. The closest match is in the Haedeke collection , which the author dates to the  13th century. It has similar punchwork and terminals, and is similar to the brooch on a statue of Synagogue in Bamberg Cathedral.

star brooch originalstar brooch replica
Original                                                            Replica

haedeke 195csyanagogue bremen cathedral
Haedeke 195c                                                Synagogue


    Careful observation revealed flanges on some of the edges of the brooch, a product of chisel cutting without complete finish filing. I measured the edges, and determined that two chisel sizes had been used.  I did some test cutting, and learned that a soft backing was needed. I used lead sheet.
    I traced the original, and transferred the design to brass sheet of a similar thickness to my model. Taking a stout hammer, I spent some time cutting. It took me less than 45 minutes for this, my first attempt. I'm sure that I would get faster with practice.

lead padback

roughed out brooch

    After removing the star from the sheet brass, I hammered it flat and did a quick clean-up with files. I then applied the decoration, punching circles over the body of the brooch with a nail-set, as per Theopilus' directions:
    "A tool  is also shaped in the same way but is slender at the end. A hole is impressed in the end by another more slender tool and it is filed all around , so that a very delicate circle appears when it is stuck on gold or silver or gilded copper. "
    I used one of the chisels to cut lines in the star tips. Finally, I polished the brooch with modern tools, drilled a hole, and added a sharpened brass wire pin.

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