About this object

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 Tuthmosis 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).

Object specifics

  • Type
    Personal Ornament
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date made
    1830 about
  • Materials
    Copper Alloy; Gold
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer
  • Collector
    Joseph Sams
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date collected
    1850 before
  • Measurements
    19 mm x 199 mm x 204 mm
  • Note
    Joseph Sam’s catalogue read: 265. Diadem, a very remarkable and highly interesting one of supposed gold. This is a very beautiful object. It is about 71/2 inches in diameter and about 7/8 of an inch in breadth., and perhaps nearly an 1/8 of an inch in thickness. In the centre is a small pyramid towards which are approaching six scaraboi, on each side by reverse routes. Each six of the scaraboi vary in size, no doubt typifying the twelve months of the year and the increase and decrease of the length of the days. In the inside of the diadem is impressed or engraved the Zodiac one in the beautiful temple at Dendera in Egypt. The outside also between the scaraboi, is engraved or impressed with astronomical subjects., This valuable object contains two or more cartouches. Very rare.
  • Related people
    Joseph Mayer ( Previous owner); Joseph Sams ( Collector, previous owner)
  • Related documents/media

Explore related


  • Art Treasures in Manchester: 150 years on

    Hunt, Tristram; Whitfield, Victoria

    Author: Hunt, Tristram; Whitfield, Victoria
    Publisher: Philip Wilson Publishers; Manchester Art Gallery
    Date: 2007
    Description: Published on the occasion of the exhibiiton 'Art Treasures In Manchester: 150 years on', held at Manchester Art Gallery from 6 October 2007 to 27 January 2008.

  • Catalogue of the Egyptian Museum, No. VII, Colquitt Street, Liverpool

    Mayer, Joseph

    Author: Mayer, Joseph
    Publisher: Joseph Mayer
    Date: 1852
    Description: Joseph Mayer published a catalogue of his collection in 1852, whilst it was at his Egyptian Museum in Colquitt Street. This is before he donated his collection to the Liverpool Free Public Museums in 1867 so his entries do not include the accession numbers that the objects now bear.


  • Art Treasures in Manchester: 150 years on

    Start date: 2007-10-06
    End date: 2007-10-06
    Description: Held in 1857 in Manchester, art Treasures of the United Kingdom' featured over 16,000 exhibits of the most important historic and modern art ever displayed. 150 years on, Manchester Art Gallery celebrated this extraordinary achievement in an anniversary exhibition.


Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: 1850
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Joseph Sams

    Owned from: 1839
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1850
    Disposal method: Sold
Object view = Humanities
Found media!
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