Diadem (Forgery)

Diadem of gold alloy foil possibly fused/soldered to a copper alloy substrate. In the centre is a pyramid with three cartouches and some royal titulary, poorly produced with mistakes. Two of the cartouches contain the name Menkheperre, one of the names of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III, a popular cartouche in the archaeological record and frequently repeated on modern works such as this. On either side of the pyramid are affixed six detailed scarabs, progressing in size towards the centre. In between the scarabs are embossed figures, mainly standing on boats. The inside is embossed with signs of the zodiac. It is very similar in style to some other modern pieces Joseph Mayer acquired from Joseph Sams. It is unknown if Sams acquired these pieces in Egypt, UK or Europe. It is not ancient, and is not included in Charles T Gatty's catalogue of the Egyptian, Babylonian and Assyrian antiquities (second and revised edition published in 1879). Nor was it recorded by Percy Newberry or Eric Peet, professors of Egyptology who at the University of Liverpool who catalogued the collection in the early 20th century. It possibly belongs to the class of esoteric mock-Egyptian objects without pretence to antiquity, which had a certain vogue in the early part of the nineteenth century. However, its previous owner, the goldsmith Joseph Mayer, considered it to have been "taken from the head of a mummy" (1852, p. 18). Samuel Birch of the British Museum saw the object in 1875 and wrote, "This object is I feel sure fake and one of the forgeries which have been made. No such signs of the zodiac are known in Egyptian art". Joseph Mayer’s catalogue for the object reads: “206. A Diadem of gold. It is about 7 inches in diameter, about 7/8ths of an inch wide and 1/8th of an inch in thickness; in the centre is a pyramid with a double cartouche on one side and a single one on the other, the third having figures, but the fourth has been damaged; towards which each way, are approaching six scarabei, as typifying the increase and decrease of the twelve months of the year and length of the days, between which is a procession of boats, in which are deities and figures. In the inner sides of the diadem is imprlessed the signs of the Zodiac, Taurus, Gemini, Aries, Pisces, Sagitarius, Cancer, Libra, and Leo, with a boat in which is represented Aries and figures on one side, and on the other figures walking. This was taken from the head of a mummy.” (1852 p. 18).