Castellani Gem-Set Paper Knife

Castellani dagger paper knifeA gold, aluminium and gem-set paperknife by Castellani, in the form of a Roman dagger, the hilt of coiled gold set with a large lobed baroque pearl and cabochon rubies, the aluminium blade decorated with inlaid gold. Circa 1850. Length 32.8 cm

Castellani’s use of aluminium in the production of this piece indicates how prized the metal was at the time.  It was discovered in 1827 but extraction was incredibly expensive, until H. Saint-Claire Deville developed a process for producing aluminium industrially in 1854.  This had a swift effect on the metal’s cost,  falling from 3,000 francs per kilogramme in 1855 to 375 francs per kilogramme a year later.

{image & text via Wartski, London}


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