Military doctor's belt buckle, French, 1830-1890.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The buckle consists of two discs with an embosed caduceus and foliage, linked by a serpent made of ormolu. It is in the style worn by medical officers in the French Army. Ormolu is a form of gilding applied to bras or bronze goods. Literally 'Or moulu' means ground gold. The term is frequently used wrongly for gilt bronze and recent research has shown that most ormolu objects are of bras rather than bronze. The finest examples of ormolu were made in France in the second half of the 18th century. Some fine ormolu was also produced in Birmingham by Mathew Boulton between 1768 and 1782.