Two Dutch gold bible clasps
Mark of Andreas Suyk, Amsterdam, 1780
The centrepieces chased with Moses and Aaron, the hinged parts chased with the evangelists Luke and John, the two other loose parts chased with Mark and Matthew, marked on bases
11.8 cm. long
88 gr. (4)
In exeptional cases Bibles were decorated with golden clasps. Generally they were cast and chiselled. A collection of 18th Century brass and pewter models for such clasps is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which by tradition stems from the Amsterdam family of silversmiths Roever.
On the present clasps are depicted, the four apostles Matthew (depicted together with his symbol: angel), Mark (lion), Luke (ox) and John (eagle). On the centrepieces Moses and Aaron are depicted. The first can be identified by the tables with the ten commandments and the rays of light that sprout like horns from his head. This tradition, James Hall explains, "derived from the use of the word cornutam "horned" in the Vulgate, to describe Moses' face when he descended from Mount Sinai with the tablets of the Law. In the Latin of this period the word also meant "flashing with rays of light" or "haloed". Aaron is depicted in the priestly garment with tiny golden bells that fringe the robe and the breastplate with twelve stones, as described in the book Exodus (28). This decorative program is quite common on golden as well as silver Bible clasps from the second half of the 18th Century. We find the same iconography on some of the above mentioned models. Examples of golden clasps can be found in: Nederlands Goud, Nederlands Goud en Zilvermuseum, Utrecht, 1963 en Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, 1964.
Hall, James, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, London, 1975, pp. 1, 213-217.
Kuile, O. ter, 'Koperen modellen voor gietvormen van boeksloten en chatelaines', Antiek 15, 1980/81, p. 469.
Kuile, O. ter, 'Modellen van tin voor een stel boeksloten, een gouden horlogekast en hun getekende ontwerpen', Antiek 15, 1980/81, p. 585-588.
Kuile, O. ter, Koper & Brons, Catalogus Rijksmuseum, 1986, pp. 295-305.