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Kaiser Wilhelm II Imperial German Presentation Stickpin
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Kaiser Wilhelm II Imperial German Presentation Stickpin

Circa 1900

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Gold, diamonds and emeralds. A personal gift of the Kaiser in the form of a stylised ‘W’ for Kaiser Wilhelm II, wrought as oak branches, entwined with acorns applied with pearl, the leaves also formed of gold set with emerald, the whole beneath the German State Crown set with diamonds and red enamel. 26mm x 16mm. Contained in its original maroon velvet box, the lid embossed with the state crown in gilt and the case silk bearing the details of the court jeweller Johan Wagner of Berlin.

The oak as a symbol of German national sentiment harked back to the destruction of three Roman legions at the Battle of Teutoborg Forest. It was here that the Roman commander Publius Quinctilius Varus committed suicide while others less fortunate had their skulls nailed to the trees by victorious German tribesmen. Sacred trees and groves were central to the ritual of pagan Germanic peoples. With the arrival of Christianity, Thor’s Oak was felled by St Boniface and used to build a church. German pagans chopped the head off the oak malefactor. The oak was rediscovered in the Renaissance as a symbol of the German empire. An epigram likened Charles V, solid and unconquerable, to the oak in his struggle against the Turk. 18th century German Romantics embraced oak legends in poetry that reflected nascent German nationalism that later flourished under the Napoleonic occupation.
 

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