Description: Rectangular with two-stepped top; twisted rope edging (top and sides), reused frame moulding at bottom; top centre, stamp formed of a talbot statant guardant upon a wreath between separated date; initials formed of straight twisted rope lengths separated between lower shoulders; a cross below the crest.
Notes: Straight elements in the letters and numbers are formed of short lengths of twisted rope; curved elements appear to have been formed by hand drawing in the casting sand; the talbot crest has been seen on other firebacks indicating a common source, and is associated with firebacks with a stepped shape. Chard Auctions, 16 Mar 2023, lot 206.
Inscription: 16 33 / W + M
Current location: in private hands, England.
Description: A rectangular field with a central circle containing a fouled anchor, the rope gathered in eleven loops around it; in the top spandrels the initials HH, on the left, and IH, on the right; below the circle, the initials IM inset in a square; on each side, a strapwork Ionic pilaster formed of alternate hollow squares, with a pyramidal infill in low relief, and hollow circles; outside each pilaster, a crouching stylised humanoid figure, facing inwards, disgorging a fructed vine; above the figures two opposed volutes, forming part of the edging; above the central field, a semi-circular compartment containing a bird, its wings inverted, and three hollow diamond shapes irregularly arranged; the date above the bird; protruding from the edging above each pilaster is a small, inward-facing scroll. Three vertical plank lines can be discerned, one in front of the right-hand figure, one through the I of the initials IH, and one to the right of the second H of the initials HH. The whole design is in low relief.
Notes: This is a reworking of a design seen on a fireback of 1608 (see Phoenix Firebacks no. 585) though intentionally stylised. The decorative elements have yet to be fully interpreted; on the 1608 version the figures are fauns, the vines disgorged from their mouths being related to the 'green man' tradition associated with woodland spirits and symbolising resurrection, the latter echoed by the bird which, on the earlier version is a phoenix. However, in the form in which they appear on both firebacks they may be purely decorative devices. By contrast, the cabled anchor is the badge of the Lord High Admiral but in 1633 the office was vacant. The initials IM indicate that this is an early work by a prolific fireback pattern-maker more usually associated with the eastern Weald.
Inscription: 1633 / HH IH / IM
Current location: Pound Farm, Common Road, Dunsfold, Surrey, England.
Description: Canted rectangle; inset twisted rope edging (top and sides); stamp formed of a statuette of an standing angel with left hand at the waist, and holding a sceptre in the right hand; date split either side of angel; initials in triad above angel; small face stamp repeated three times, one each side of angel, and one below.
Notes: The identity of those to whom the initials refer is not known; the use of the angel statuette is a rare inclusion of a religious motif on an English fireback. A variant of this fireback is at the Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway, Worcestershire.
Inscription: IHI [triad] / 16 33
Current location: Flaxley Abbey, Flaxley, Gloucestershire, England.
Description: Rectangular joined to pediment by symmetrical scrolls; fillet edging with embattling inside; shield, helm, crest, supporters and mantling of the city of Bristol; date split by bottom of shield; inscription in an oval cartouche below shield.
Notes: Both '3's in the date are a substitution, with another casting suggesting an original date of 1614 or 1624. The pattern-maker was also responsible for carving royal coats of arms in three West Country churches and a small numnber of series of firebacks in the first quarter of the 17th century.
Copies of this fireback are known.
Inscription: 16 33 / [ARMES] BRISTOLL
Arms: City of Bristol
Current location: Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England.
Museum number: 88278827 (part of the English Heritage museum group)
Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2017, 'Church Armorials and Firebacks: Evidence of an Early 17th-Century Woodcarver', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 135, pp. 213-223.