Jewelry

A Tank Brooch to Mark 100 Years Since WWI

By Sotheby's

I n 2018, the world celebrates the centenary of the end of the First World War and the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918 that brought the war to a close.

The years 1914-1918 witnessed unprecedented developments in military tactics and technology, including the invention of the vehicle that would come to be known as the ‘tank’.

RUBY AND SYNTHETIC RUBY BROOCH . ESTIMATE £3,500–4,500.

Marking this anniversary, the upcoming Fine Jewels auction (20 March, London) includes an unusual ruby brooch shaped like a tank, which transforms a symbol of military might into a playful piece of jewellery.

The idea that would eventually lead to the invention of the tank was not new in 1914 as prototypes of tank-like vehicles had existed since the very beginning of the century. It was technological advancements in armour plating, continuous tracks and the internal combustion engine, combined with the new challenge of trench warfare that led to tanks first being deployed in combat.

ENGLISH TANK, WORLD WAR I © GETTY IMAGES

The name 'tank' came from the British attempt to keep these new weapons secret by referring to them as water tanks. The military worked with engineers and industrialists to develop a prototype and the tank was first used in combat during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September 1916. Tanks revolutionised warfare, and by the Second World War were deployed in a variety of forms across the world, replacing the horse as the primary image of martial strength.

The tank brooch offered in London's Fine Jewels sale casts the tank in a new light, with the mechanical pop-up commander lending an air of levity to the piece. The skill of the maker can be seen in both the detailed construction of the mechanism, but also the foreshortening that brings the tank to life.

Fine Jewels will take place in London on 20 March with and exhibition of the sale on view from 16-19 March.

MAIN IMAGE: BRITISH TANK ON THE FRENCH FRONT © GETTY IMAGES

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