The following description was prepared by William Gross:
The earliest Torah ornaments are the Torah crown and the finials mounted on the Torah case or on the staves of the Torah scroll. We first hear of a Torah crown in the 11th century, in a responsum of Hai Gaon concerning the use of a crown for a Torah scroll on Simḥat Torah. The use of the Torah crown is linked in this responsum to the custom of crowning the so-called "*Bridegrooms of the Law," i.e., the persons called up on Simḥat Torah to complete the annual cycle of the Torah reading and to initiate the new cycle. At the time, the Torah crown was an ad hoc object made from various decorative items, such as plants and jewelry. About a hundred years later, fixed crowns, made of silver and used regularly to decorate Torah scrolls in the synagogue, are mentioned in a document from the Cairo *Genizah. Their earliest depiction is in the 14th-century Spanish Sarajevo Haggadah.
Torah crowns are used in almost all communities (the exceptions are Morocco and Yemen), their design being influenced in each locality by local tradition. The onion-shaped or conical crown of the Iraqi-Persian Torah case follows the tradition of the crowns of the Sassanid kings, the last Persian dynasty prior to the Muslim conquest. In Cochin, India, and in Aden, the independent port of Yemen, a tapering dome-like crown developed through which protrude finials mounted on the staves on which the Torah scroll is wound; the crown is not fixed to the case. By the 20th century, the Torah crown in Cochin showed distinct European features. In Eastern Iran, where the Torah had a small crown, the outer sides of the crown lost their spherical shape and became flat dedicatory plaques. Today this crown looks like a pair of flat finials, and only their designation as "crowns" hints at their origin in the Torah crown. The circlet or coronet on the Mediterranean case, which became an integral part of the case, was based on a local medieval crown tradition typified by floral patterns. The European crown is shaped like a floral coronet with arms closing over it. In Eastern Europe a two- or three-tiered crown developed, inspired by the crown motif on the Torah Ark in this region. In Italy, on the other hand, the Torah crown was a coronet, known in Hebrew as the atarah.
The custom of shmirot was a Hassidic one in the area of Galicia. Coins, which had been blessed by a Rebbe, were melted down and the silver used in the crafting of ritual objects. Usually used in the making of Kiddush cups, the custom was sometimes utilized in other objects. The use in a crown is highly unusual, especially when accompanied by several of the images found on other Hassidic material objects of the area. These include the unicorn, the lion, the griffon, a deer standing next to a tower and the eagle. The front panel, with a medallion between two rampant lions, is marked "made from the holy shekel", an expression which appears on a number of the shmirot cups for Kiddush. The staves which would have formed an upper part of the crown as in the normal crown in the area are missing in this example.
Inscription: This is the Crown of the Torah which is made from the holy (blessed?) Shekel (coin?)
H | Heraldic composition | Central element | Medallion with inscription (central element of heraldic composition )
C | Crown
B | Bird
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
G | Griffin
T | Tree | Broken tree
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
B | Bird | Bird pecking flowers
D | Deer
F | Fortress
L | Lion
U | Unicorn