Antique Horse Brasses

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Antique Horse Brasses
Pictured above is part of the wonderful Mark Roberts collection of horse brasses, martingales, bells and decorated horse harness.  Horse brasses originate from the amulets of ancient times.  Images of horse brasses are portrayed in British artwork prior to 1700.  Early types were circular or crescent shaped, later they were followed by geometric designs based on the rays of the sun.  The origin of these ornaments is the ancient belief in the power of the "evil eye".  As evil was associated with darkness, light was regarded as the antidote.  Therefore, early designs were related to sun worship.  Horse brasses have been found that date back to Roman times.  Some believe that it was gypsies who first brought the brasses to England, others that it was an influence brought back from the crusades.  Early brasses were handmade from hammered sheets of brass, cast brasses first appeared in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century.  Stamped brasses which were the most expensive type were produced from around 1880 until the end of the Great War.  Most brasses were produced in Walsall near the city of Birmingham.