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Happy Early New Year. Looking for info on this lead hippocampus. A mythological Greek/Phoenician sea horse. 
It looks to be carved out of lead and is about 10 X 4 X 1/2 inches. I am certain it is lead and I am pretty certain I see chisel marks.





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Hippocampus, no, not a higher education institution for Hippos:

That is exactly why I asked for more information...

Just adding a bit of neurology-wish I was more of an ancient authority as it fascinating.


I'm mostly interested in help figuring out when this was made, where it is from, whether it is a stamp, molded from something or chiseled (how it was made).

general reference on the hippocampus seen in the pics:

general reference mythological hybrid creatures:


Most likely a mould of a carved item.  Back in unfinished, which suggests this is not the finished product but cannot see any registration keys present on your piece.

Also, due to perspective and lighting I cannot tell if the Hippocampus is protruding or inset.

Qi shows a good example of this optical illusion if you're interested.

Does it appear the carving is standing out from the backing like a mound, or carved into it like a bowl?  Like a mound implies your item could be used like a stamp to impress the image into something else, as a footprint would in wet cement.  Like a bowl suggests something could then be poured into it thereby creating new stand-alone Hippocampus objects.

As to dating the mould, that may prove quite difficult without identifying marks on your piece.  If you are able to locate something  which exactly matches the design in your item, you at least then have a link to explore further in trying to identify the original designer.

This image might provide somemore insight. It is protruding. It does appear carved, I think I see chisel marks outlining the image. I find no marking (numbers, letters, etc.) anywhere on the item.


It's not a very large protrusion, which means any impression this mould makes would likewise be quite shallow.  Perhaps if this is a stamp of sorts for decorating a sidewalk or tree surrounding in cement, then such a shallow impression would make sense.  We have similar such impressions in some of our sidewalks around the Gold Coast here in Australia.

The chisel marks are present because the original item would have been carved or sculpted, then the lead was poured into it creating your item.  I'd hope someone did not spend time carving directly into a block of lead, the stuff is quite toxic and to be honest, I still don't see why it had to be made from lead.  Lead's low melting point and heavy weight would have made this an inexpensive choice and would make creating impressions much easier, but surely other metals would be used in preference today.  I'd say your item is probably quite old given its current state, as well as it being lead in the first place.

It appears to be in relief to the background, correct?  And what about those light brown marks?  Perhaps it is a stamp for pottery and such?

John showed an image earlier that it is indeed in relief.  I kind of think a pottery stamp would be lighter than a 10" x 4" x ½" slab of solid lead.

As to the coloured patches, it could be oxidation of the lead, but only John could answer that, being able to see the object under normal lighting conditions.

If I colour correct the image and compare it to another image of oxidised lead, they appear very similar.  As with all colour adjusting in Photoshop however, I am biased as to what I feel is a 'normalised' looking colour balance.

What do you think...?

Your correction looks closer to what it looks like than my photo. It does appear to my eyes a little more light gray but it could be because I've only seen it indoors. I will look at it outside tomorrow.

i just did a quick test on the back.  There is a weird minor depression that had some of the brown stuff in it, hypothesized to be clay or oxidation. The first photo is picture of part of the back note the color variation: gray, lighter gray, Browns, reds. The second photo shows score marks and the depression filled with brown stuff (possibly clay or oxidation). I used a small paint brush with water to clean out the depression. The brown stuff immediately dissolved in the water.  Lead oxides do easily dissolve in water so this is t a definitive test but it looked to me more like dirt dissolving. Picture three shows afterwards. 

I also tried to clean the lighter gray areas and the red areas with the water and brush to no effect.


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