St Columba's Bay, Iona

Very unusual and scarce silver plated brass cross by Alexander Ritchie, from the 1930s. Marked ICA AR and IONA. About 5" high and with Iona marble base. The cross is a replica of MacKinnon's cross shaft in the Abbey Museum, and the top portion as far as I can see is an inspired reconstruction of what the entire cross might have looked like. As far back as 1881 there are no records of the head of MacKinnon's cross in any of the comprehensive books on Iona stones, so preumably this is AR's inspired version, based on similar crosses of the period.

Large silver equi-armed cross with knotwork panels and central boss with spirals design. Approx 5.5 x 5.5cms. From Ritchie's 'unhallmarked' period, the reverse just marked AR and IONA. Late 1910s/early 1920s. Believed to be the original chain. A fine piece.

This isn’t an Alexander Ritchie cross but I feel it deserves to be added here. It was made by Gilmore and Watson, who I understand did occasional outworking for the Ritchies in their early days. The design is taken from a carved stone on Iona, and has similarities with the Alexander Ritchie cross shown as the first example on this section. The reverse of the cross has a Glasgow hallmark for 1914 (pre-thistle scrolled date letter ‘R’), and is also stamped G&W at the bottom. At the top it is stamped ‘IONA’. An unusual and early Iona cross.

Here is a further example of Oban silversmiths Gilmore and Watson's work, in the form of a silver Iona St Martin's Cross, hallmarked for Glasgow 1923 and stamped 'IONA'. Height approx 3". Although an attractive piece and not often seen, it is worth comparing this one with the Alexander Ritchie St Martin's cross shown earlier in this section, which has superior detail and finish.

Beautiful small silver Alexander Ritchie pendant/charm, 4cms, depicting St Columba's Pillow cross. This design is from a 6th/7th century stone carving which can still be seen today in Iona Abbey museum. The reverse of the pendant has impressed marks near the edges of AR IONA, and ICA with Birmingham hallmark for 1938. It is covered with a Gaelic inscription dedicated to St Columba, which includes the date of his death in 597AD, and includes the word 'manaich', Gaelic for 'monk'. (If any Alexander Ritchie/Iona devotee knows the full translation of the inscription I'd be pleased to hear from you.).

Thanks to Rick for kindly pointing out that the text is the Gaelic version of St Columba's prophecy. This translates as the well-know passage:-

'Iona of my heart
Iona of my love
Instead of monks' voices
Shall be the lowing of cattle;
But ere the world come to an end
Iona shall be as it was'

Thanks, Rick

Beautiful Alexander Ritchie silver cross pendant, in my eyes one of the finest designs he ever made for a pendant cross. Possibly the least-encountered of any of his crosses. This particular one has AR IONA stamped on the side as shown in the picture, and on the base is a registered number 68xxxx which dates it to 1923. A really lovely and intricate cross with its foliate patterning taken from medieval stone carvings on Iona. Overall height approx 3".

Rare sterling silver MacLean's Cross pendant by Alexander Ritchie, with Glasgow hallmarks for 1927. A delightful and complex example of Ritchie's meticulous craftsmanship. Hallmarks are AR IONA and a second AR with Glasgow hallmark along the edge.


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