Do you love the author Dan Brown?

Not sure who he is? Dan Brown is the author of the famous Robert Langdon book series.

Still stuck? Have you seen Tom Hanks in the Di Vinci Code and Angels and Demons?

Brown’s lead character Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks in the feature films, is an expert in religious iconology and the study of historic symbols. In his role as a professor from Harvard University, his expertise are required around the world, and this is where he seems to get into trouble. As part of my degree, I studied semiotics and iconography, so these novels are a dream to read.

Inspired by the novel, Inferno (2013), I have decided to take a look at the symbols and meanings behind a selection of designs and motifs present within the AC Silver inventory.


Horseshoe brooch

Horseshoe Silverware

Horseshoes are an internationally recognised symbol of good luck and good fortune. They were originally regarded as a protective amulet against the Evil Eye (the Devil). The ends must be kept pointing up to retain the good luck, as upturned horseshoes allow any good luck to pour out. Horseshoes are popular wedding presents, said to protect newly-wed couples and their homes.


Snakes get a lot of bad press, and are often considered a bad omen, particularly with reference to Adam, Eve, and the forbidden fruit. However, several cultures, including the Hopi tribe of North America, the Ancient Cretans, and the Ancient Celts all believed snakes were a symbol or fertility, regeneration, and healing. The shedding of the skin was seen as a transformation, often associated with eternal life. The symbols used by the US Military and the US Public Health Service, the Rod of Asclepius and the Caduceus, depict a snake design.

Snake Jewellery

Silver gilt spoon


silver bamboo

At AC Silver, we often see Chinese Export Silver embellished with eye-catching and intricate bamboo designs. Within Chinese culture, bamboo is seen as a living representation of the Yin and Yang, and is considered a living organism of perfect virtues. The bamboo plant consists of upright integrity, but – with accommodating flexibility – its hollow interior is said to reflect modesty. The bamboo plant is an official symbol of oriental beauty encapsulating moral integrity, as well as resistance, modesty, and loyalty.

All of our examples of silverware or jewellery have a unique quality, whether it be their age, design, or size. It is fascinating to be able to look beyond the aesthetic qualities and explore the meaning behind the designs.

Now, I must return to the day job, before the Vatican get wind of my research and I end up like Robert Langdon, being chased across Europe by a crazed albino monk (That one is for all you fellow Di Vinci Code fans).

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us online or in store.

Written by

Rachel O'Keefe-Coulson

Rachel O’Keefe-Coulson is also known as AC Silver’s ‘Silver Lady’. Rachel spends her days handling antique silverware and processing these items for display on the AC Silver website. Rachel will enlighten our readers with posts of a silver theme.