This metal purse frame was a luxury personal accessory made in the Renaissance period (about 1450-1500). It is decorated with niello.

In this technique the metalworker engraved a pattern or design onto highly polished metal and filled the incised lines with a hard black alloy. The alloy was formed of silver, copper, lead and powdered sulphur. The cold powdered alloy was spread over the design and the metal object was then heated. The alloy fused and filled the engraved lines and spaces. When the piece cooled, the metalworker scraped the alloy off the surface leaving only what had sunk into the incised pattern. The surface was then polished to show the black niello design in dramatic contrast.


  • Title: Purse frame
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1450/1500
  • Location: England
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 6.625 in, Width: 8.125 in
  • Provenance: Given by Mrs Phyllis M. Legge
  • Medium: Latten inlaid with niello

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