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Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch

Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch



DATE: Edwardian, 1914

An outstanding antique brooch modelled as the caduceus ☤ (aka staff of Hermes). In Greek mythology the staff was given to Hermes by his half brother Apollo as a gift in return for the tortoise shell lyre, although its origins can be traced back as far as ancient Mesopotania - circa 3500 BC - and the Sumerian god Ningishzida who carried a wingless version of the double snaked staff.

It's a particularly potent symbol that to this day represents, by extension of Hermes and Mercury, the traits associated with those gods: trades and occupations broadly speaking, but more specifically as a symbol of wealth, wisdom, commerce, eloquence, thieving, and negotiation. To the ancient Greeks, the staff was also said to possess the power to make people fall asleep or wake up, and to also make peace between quarreling parties.

In modern usage, the caduceus is sometimes (incorrectly) adopted as a symbol for medicine, having been confused with the Rod of Asclepius (which features only one snake and no wings) carried by the Greek god of medicine. It's thought that the confusion arose when in 1902 the US Army Medical Corps chose it as its insignia. on the insistence of a single officer. Although it's usage as a medical symbol is now in decline, there's a certain irony there, as outlined in Luke Van Orden's book 'Where Have All The Healers Gone?':

"Well, so much for the caduceus. Somebody obviously got the wrong symbol for modern medicine–or did they? The caduceus seems to be an appropriate symbol for modern commercial medicine. Of particular relevance are the functions of escorting souls of the dead, wisdom, fertility, commerce, luck, eloquence, cheating and thieving. These have become symbolic of how medicine evolved in the late Twentieth Century."

The brooch is crafted in 9 karat gold and especially finely detailed, with clear London hallmarks dating it to 1914 and CW maker's mark for Charles Weeden.


3.9 x 2.7cm




English hallmarks for 9k gold, London 1914

Charles Weeden maker's mark



Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch Edwardian Gold Caduceus Brooch