The royal orb and sceptre

Let’s talk about other items that are a part of the coronation jewels and are an example of excellent goldsmith work of the Renaissance period – the orb and sceptre. They were probably made during 1532-34 in the workshop of the famous goldsmith Hans Haller of Augsburg.

The precious stones and pearls on the orb and sceptre complement those on the crown and cross very well, even though they are in the Renaissance style. The original purpose of both these items is very interesting: they were listed as Roman gold insignia in Emperor Matthias I’s inheritance list from1619. We know for sure that they are the same items that later on became the Czech coronation orb and sceptre thanks to the description and number of precious stones – they are exactly the same.

The royal orb and sceptre are adorned with pearls, precious stones and colored enamel. The orb is made of 18-carat gold, is 22 centimeters high and weighs 780 grams. Both its hemispheres are adorned with enchased reliefs depicting scenes from the Old Testament. The upper hemisphere shows the victory of David over Goliath and the anointment of King David. The lower hemisphere depicts the creation of Adam, Adam naming the animals and the forbidding to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. The orb is topped with a cross adorned with pearls, enamel ornaments and inscriptions.

The royal sceptre is made of 18-carat gold, is 67 centimeters long and weighs 1,013 grams. The sceptre head is designed as a flower in bloom. The gold surface is delicately enchased, creating beautiful effects that enhance even more the grandeur of the sceptre: a grainy shine, opaque areas and veining. Both the royal sceptre and orb are goldsmith masterpieces; we will find the enchasing of the biblical stories on the orb particularly amazing, especially when it is enlarged.

Let’s also mention that the original gilded silver sceptre and gold orb that used to be a part of Charles IV’s Gothic coronation jewels are nowadays in the treasury in Vienna. They were taken there together with the St. Wenceslas Crown in 1637. They were replaced at the time when the Czech coronation jewels used to be brought to the Prague Castle for coronations only. It is obvious why the Hapsburgs exchanged them: the simple shape and the absence of precious stones on the original insignia did not meet the requirements for representation and were thus replaced with more spectacular ones.

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