Going ‘Game of Thrones’ with Viking jewelry, relics

This article originally appeared on Auction Central News (LiveAuctioneers.com

NEW YORK – “Winter is coming.” That prospect might not be of primary concern in soaring summer temperatures. It will be on the minds of millions of Game of Thrones fans on Sunday, July 16. For that marks the start of the 7th season of the wildly popular epic Viking fantasy on HBO.

Game of Thrones Viewership Far Reaching

Game of Thrones has captured an international following since its debut in 2011. It averages a staggering 23 million viewers per episode, counting streaming, DVR and repeat showings. The show’s appeal taps into virtually all demographics. Among its devotees are such heads of state as President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The Game of Thrones phenomenon has wielded an impact on many aspects of pop culture, including collecting trends. Throughout the show’s mythical Seven Kingdoms, there are hints of antique treasures to which today’s collectors can relate. The continent of Westeros, where most of the action takes place in Game of Thrones, looks like medieval Europe, with its massive stone castles, jousting knights and warring noble families. The seafaring Ironborn – inhabitants of the Iron Islands off the coast of Westeros – display the same appearance and penchant for piracy as the real-life Vikings.

Enjoy a sneak peek of Season 7 of Game of Thrones…..

Viking Interest and Influence Visible in Auction Searches

Searches for “Viking” or “medieval” items have risen by 65% annually at LiveAuctioneers since Game of Thrones’ 2011 first-season premiere. During that same period, gross sales for such merchandise has increased by 636%.

“The Game of Thrones influence has been unmistakable over the past six years. In 2017, we’re already pacing for 1700% year-over-year growth in sales of Viking items on LiveAuctioneers,” said the company’s Senior VP Product and Marketing, Phil Michaelson.

Michaelson isn’t referring to replicas, either; he’s talking about authentic, handmade Viking jewelry, battle relics and implements of the medieval era.

Ancient Meanings Behind Viking Jewelry

Viking twisted silver ring

Viking twisted silver ring, circa 1000 AD, with a presale estimate of $400-$600. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and Artemis Gallery.

A leading US auction house in the sale of Viking artifacts and jewelry is Artemis Gallery of Boulder County, Colorado. Co-founder Bob Dodge explained that the quality, weight and materials used in Viking jewelry reflected the wearer’s status. “The wealthiest could have necklaces made of silver chain exceeding the size of modern tire chains. At the other end of the spectrum, a common soldier, tradesman or other working-class person might own a simple wedding band of twisted bronze of a bracelet of bent bronze wire. Probably 75% of Viking jewelry available today is silver. It was the metal of choice.”

Viking artifacts have turned up in several European regions where the clans lived – in the ground, in riverbeds, in locales where settlements once existed. Design styles vary, based on what the Vikings observed in their travels. “Viking jewelry design and workmanship is rated among the finest in medieval-period Europe,” said Tanja Maijala, a Viking jewelry expert and department head with UK-based TimeLine Auctions. “Knowing specific design traits, we can identify if a piece was influenced by Scandinavian, eastern European, Baltic or British decorative styles. In general, we can say that the biggest influence on Viking art came from the Slavic tribes, the Byzantine Empire, the Baltic area, and partially Arabic countries. Many items, notably brooches, were made of bronze and gilded for a luxurious look, but gemstones are extremely rare [in Viking jewelry] and would have been acquired only through trade in other parts of Europe, or looted.”

Affordable Appeal

It isn’t necessary to spend a fortune to acquire authentic Viking jewelry, Bob Dodge said. “A simple Viking twisted silver ring can be found for under $200, and a bronze example for half of that. A nice bracelet would sell for perhaps $500, and a stunning silver torc for under $1,500. But if there’s one object that seems be on every collector’s wish list, it’s a classic silver Thor’s hammer amulet. If we had a hundred, we could sell them all in a very short period of time.”

A newer auctioneer, Jasper52, is fast becoming a favorite source for collectors. Its monthly auctions of authentic Viking material often have starting prices of around $100 for a ring or pendant.

Research and Review to Avoid Fakes

It pays to buy Viking relics or jewelry only from companies with bona-fide experts on staff to avoid

Viking box brooch

Viking gilt-bronze box brooch with entwined-animal motif, 8th-9th century AD, auctioned by TimeLine Auctions for $50,240 + buyer’s premium on Dec. 3, 2014. (Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and TimeLine Auctions)

fakes. This includes provide metal testing reports whenever possible are a place to start. As are sources that guarantee the authenticity of what they sell. Fortunately for collectors, there are reputable companies that do these things. Artemis Gallery, TimeLine Auctions and Jasper52 are among those that do. Detailed descriptions and documentation regarding current and archived online auction catalogs for these companies are available at LiveAuctioneers.

“The catalog descriptions are extremely valuable resources for anyone wanting to learn more about Viking objects,” said Michaelson. “They’re written by professionals and are illustrated by enlargeable images showing multiple angles and markings. That’s the next-best thing to actually holding a piece in your hand. As for learning what items are worth, it’s hard to beat LiveAuctioneers’ price-results database, which contains thousands of Viking and medieval listings. It’s a virtual online reference library and free to access.”

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