By the beginning of the 17th century the shape of spurs began to change away from those often with straight necks to ones in which the neck arched up and then down, although the rowel was still held comfortably away from the wearer's heel. Riding was an essential everyday activity for many and ordinary working spurs were commonplace, but they also offered opportunities for the display of wealth and fashionable good taste so, as in past centuries, spurs were often made in complex forms and given a variety of natures of decoration.
This fine pair of spurs represents the epitome of style and quality for an English gentleman in the 1630s. Such spurs would have been worn over riding boots, their front leather strap (now lost of course), having a broad additional butterfly-shaped leather panel threaded over it, usually of the same colour as the boots, to cover and protect the front of the wearer's ankle. These spurs have five-pointed rowels on necks of an elegant inverted U-shape, and have large decorative buckles. They are decorated overall with silver encrustation, a technique which became very popular in England by the early years of the 17th century. This involved carefully chiselling shaped recesses into the surface of an iron object, then hammering pieces of silver into these and then shaping the silver so that it stood slightly proud of the iron surface. The contrast of this applied silver decoration on a background of blackened iron was found visually pleasing and the technique was used on a wide variety of domestic and other objects, especially sword and dagger hilts, the handles of cutlery and, as in this case, spurs. As a demonstration of his wealth and taste such spurs would have appealed to a fashionable gentleman of the 1630s, indeed a similar pair can be seen being worn by King Charles I in a portrait of him by Daniel Mytens, painted in 1631 (National Portrait Gallery, London, No.1246).