Skip to main content Accessibility help

Tudor Silver-Gilt Dress-hooks: A New Class of Treasure Find in England

  • David Gaimster, Maria Hayward, David Mitchell and Karen Parker


This paper combines a study of the typological, technological and constructional attributes of a sample of fifteen dress-hooks and cap-hooks, reported between 1998 and 2000 under the terms of the Treasure Act (1996), with a survey of contemporary pictorial sources, probate inventories and associated wills along with a trawl of ‘small wares’ in the records of the Goldsmiths' Company in order to assess the role of these accessories in vernacular dress of sixteenth-century England.

Of particular interest are questions of manufacture and design, followed by the questions of how these objects functioned in relation to the closure and decoration of dress, their noteworthiness in contemporary accounts, their social status, their ranking in the output of contemporary goldsmiths and whether there was a gender bias in terms of their ownership. This cross-examination of excavated finds with contemporary iconographie and documentary sources represents an interdisciplinary case study in historical archaeology.



Hide All
Arnold, J 1975. ‘Decorative features: pinking, snipping and slashing’, Costume., 9, 22–6
Arnold, J 1980. ‘Lost from Her Majesties Back’, Costume Society Extra Series, 7
Arnold, J 1983. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, c 1560–1620, London
Ashelford, J 1983. The Sixteenth Century, A Visual History of Costume, London
Ashelford, J 1996. The Art of Dress. Clothes and Society 1500–1914, London
Baart, Jet al 1977. Opravingen in Amsterdam. 20 jaar stadskernonderzoek, Amsterdam
Bolton and District Family History Society (ed) 1987. ‘Of Good and Perfect Remembrance’ Bolton Wills and Inventories 1545–1600: surnames A to M, Bolton
Brewer, J S, Gairdner, J and Brodie, R H 18621932. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, 1509–47, 2, London
Buck, A 1990. ‘The clothes of Thomasine Petre, 1555–9’, Costume., 24, 1533
Buck, A 2000. ‘Clothing and textiles in Bedfordshire inventories, 1617–20’, Costume., 34, 2538
Camp, A J 1974. Wills and their Whereabouts, London
Campbell, M 1998. ‘Medieval metalworking and Bury St Edmunds’, in Bury St Edmunds. Medieval Art, Architecture, Archaeology and Economy (ed Gransden, A), Brit Archaeol Ass Conference Trans, 20, 6980, Leeds
Cherry, J 1997. ‘The Farnham pin’, Antiq J., 77, 388–93
Cobb, H S 1990. ‘The overseas trade of London Exchequer Customs Accounts, 1480–1’, London Ree Soc, 27
Crowfoot, E, Pritchard, F and Staniland, K 1992. Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 4: Textiles and Clothing c 1150–c 1450, London
DCMS 2000. Treasure Annual Report 1998–9, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, London
DCMS 2002. Treasure Annual Report 2000, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, London
Egan, G and Forsyth, H 1997. ‘Wound wire and silver gilt: changing fashions in dress accessories c 1400–1600’, in The Age of Transition. The Archaeology of English Culture 1400–1600 (eds Gaimster, D and Stamper, P), Soc Medieval Archaeol Monogr Ser 15, Oxbow Monogr 98, 215–38, Oxford
Egan, G and Pritchard, F 1991. Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 3: Dress Accessories, London
Elwes, M 1998. ‘Hooked tag clothing fasteners of the 16th and 17th centuries’, The Searcher (October), 1314
Elwes, M 1999. ‘Regarding those dresshooks’, The Searcher (June), 17
Gaimster, D and Goodall, J A 1999. ‘A Tudor parcel–gilt livery badge from Chelsham, Surrey’, Antiq J., 79, 392–9
Gaimster, D and Rudoe, J 2001. ‘Metal-detector finds acquired through the Treasure Act’, British Museum Magazine (summer), 41
Ganz, P 1939. Drawings by Holbein II, vol III. Compositions and Studies, Geneva
Goodall, I 1983. ‘Non-ferrous metal objects’, in Sandal Castle Excavations 1964–1973. A Detailed Archaeological Report (eds Mayes, P and Butler, L), Wakefield Historical Publications, 331–9, Wakefield
Groeneweg, G (ed) 1987. Schatten uit de Schelde. Gebruiks – en siervoorwerpen uit de verdronken plaatsen in de Oosterschelde, Markiezenhof, Gemeente-Museum, Bergen op Zoom
Hackenbroch, Y 1996. Enseignes, Florence
Harbottle, B and Ellison, M 1981. ‘An excavation in the Castle ditch, Newcastle upon Tyne’, Archaeol Aeliana., fifth series, IX, 75250
Havinden, M A (ed) 1965. Household and Farm Inventories in Oxfordshire, 1550–90, Oxfordshire Ree Soc, 44, and Historical Manuscripts Comm, 10, joint publication, London
Hayward, M A 2002. ‘“The sign of some degree?”: the financial, social and sartorial significance of male headwear at the courts of Henry VIII and Edward VI’, Costume., 36, 117
Hearn, K (ed) 1995. Dynasties. Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530–1630, London
Hepburn, F 1995. ‘The portraiture of Arthur, Prince of Wales’, J Brit Archaeol Ass., 148, 148–68
Howard, M 1995. The Tudor Image, London
Huggett, J E 1999. ‘Rural costume in Elizabethan Essex: a study based on the evidence from wills’, Costume., 33, 7487
Kent, T A 1989. ‘The South West’, in Pickford 1989, 280325
Leach, A F 1899. A History of Winchester College, London
Margeson, S 1993. Norwich Households: Medieval and Post-Medieval Finds from Norwich Survey Excavations 1971–78, E Anglian Archaeol Rep 58, Norwich
Mitchell, D M 1994. ‘“Mr Fowle pray pay the washwoman”: the trade of a London goldsmith–banker, 1660–92’, Business and Economic History., 23 (pt 1), 2738
Müller, C 1996. Katalog der Zeichnungen des 15. und 16. Jahrhundeis. Teil 2A. Die Zeichnungen von Hans Holbein dem Jüngeren und Ambrosius Holbein, Basel
Munby, L 1996. How Much is That Worth?, Chichester
Murdoch, T (ed) 1991. Treasures and Trinkets. Jewellery in London from Pre–Roman Times to the 1930s, London
Nevinson, J L 1977. ‘Buttons and buttonholes in the fourteenth century’, Costume., 11, 3844
Pickford, I (ed) 1989. Jackson's Silver and Gold Marks, Woodbridge
Prideaux, W 1896. Memorials of the Goldsmiths' Company, I, London
Reddaway, T F and Walker, L E M 1975. The Early History of the Goldsmiths' Company, 1327–1509, London
Reed, M (ed) 1981. The Ipswich Probate Inventories 1583–1631, Suffolk Ree Soc, XXII, Bury St Edmunds
Roberts, E and Parker, K (eds) 1992. Southampton Probate Inventories 1447–1575, Southampton Records Series, xxxiv–xxxv, Southampton
Roberts, J 1993. Holbein and the Court of Henry VIII. Drawings and Miniatures from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, Edinburgh
Rodriguez-Salgado, M J (ed) 1988. Armada 1588–1988, London
Rowlands, J 1993. Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German–speaking Regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. The Fifteenth Century, and the Sixteenth Century by Artists born before 1530. Volume 1: Catalogue, London
Scarisbrick, D 1995. Tudor and Jacobean Jewellery, London
Staniland, K 1997. ‘Thomas Deane's shop in the Royal Exchange’, in The Royal Exchange, London Topogr Soc Pubi (ed Saunders, A), 152, 5967
Starkey, D R (ed) 1998. The Inventory of King Henry VIII, Rep Res Comm Soc Antiq London No. 56, London
Sutherland, T 2000. ‘The archaeological investigation of the Towton Battlefield’, in Blood Red Roses. The Archaeology of a Mass Grave from the Battle of Towton AD 1461 (eds Fiorato, V, Boylston, A and Knüssel, C), 155–68, Oxford
Touching Gold and Silver, 500 Years of Hallmarks 1978. Goldsmiths' Hall exhibition catalogue, London
Uglas, C A af 1939. ‘Personhistoria och Medeltida Silversmide’, Svenska Kulturbilder., Ny Följd, Sjätte Bandet, del XI, 127–88, Stockholm
Willan, T S 1962. A Tudor Book of Rates, Manchester

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Tudor Silver-Gilt Dress-hooks: A New Class of Treasure Find in England

  • David Gaimster, Maria Hayward, David Mitchell and Karen Parker


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.