My Jewelry Box, Part 1 – The 19th Century

Mourning brooch doves rococo revival victorian jewellery

Hey! Welcome to a new type of post on my blog! This is part 1 of the tour through my little collection of antique and vintage jewelry. And before you ask, YES, I would like to be part of the Antiques Roadshow. I think I would fit right in and also bring some sass to a program that sometimes tend to lean towards being a bit of a snooze fest. History is fun – and that should be conveyed (more) through that show! Uh, yeah, so please hire me or something. Please… I am so tired of being a sad little cleaning lady…

Ok, here goes, I hope you enjoy this.

Mourning Brooch, unidentified material, circa 1880. (pictured at the top of the post)
Wearing black at a funeral is not an absolute necessity today. Back in the day (and you don’t have to go back very far – even in the 1970’s it was still common to wear dark clothing for a while following a persons death) it was a must, and in the late 19th century mourning was at an all time high when black accessories to accompany a sombre ensemble became very popular.
Mourning took part in different stages over a long period of time. Jewelry was not worn in the earliest stages, but as time past you could add some bling and other accessories.
Some of the most expensive types of mourning jewelry was made from Whitby Jet. Jet is a fossilized material excavated from the coast of Whitby in England. Whitby is also known for being in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I find that quite fitting since jet jewelery is all dark, gothic and spooky looking too!
My brooch, however, is made from a material imitating jet. Cheaper versions of jet jewelry was made from materials such as different woods, glass and vulcanite. Even though my brooch is made from a cheaper material it doesn’t lack in quality. I absolutely love how detailed it is!
As you can see, the brooch has been made into a necklace at some point. Perhaps the pin broke and it was made into a necklace – which is more wearable than a brooch. It could also have been remade to fit current fashion, and even though I generally am against remaking old jewelry for that purpose, I find this remake to be pretty neat. The brooch comes from my mom’s family and I know that my great-great grandmother wore this as well as my great grandmother and my grandmother! I love when an item has a history beyond it’s heyday! It is a timeless piece.
I have also worn it a few times, but now it is in a desperate need of a restringing.

If you want to know more about mourning jewelry I recommend that you take a look at Artofmourning.com. It’s amazing and one of the best sources out there for antique jewelry.

Ring Brooch, Silver, 1870-1880
My grandmother gave me this to wear when I get married. Which means I will never wear it. Then again, last week on youtube I watched a documentary about a woman that married the Eiffel Tower and had affairs on the side with the Golden Gate Bridge and some fences. So I guess there is something out there for everyone. You just have to keep looking and you might even find some sexy construction that likes you back.

swedish norse medieval revival jewelry national folk costume historicism circle pin sterling silver
The brooch is a mix of medieval design, historicism and maybe there is even some Viking-ish stuff in there too. You see, in the 1800’s it was all the rage to look back in time for inspiration. This often resulted in a slightly misguided take on history. People tended to only look back at the prouder moments and take those to the skies while the not-so-good times of the past were completely forgotten. This brooch is not a perfect example of this, but is still part of the particular movement in art at the time.
This brooch is probably made for a folk costume (many folk costumes of Sweden are a result of 19th century historicism as well). According to the Victoria & Albert museum in London, jewelry like this was available for purchase through mail order as “typical traditional jewelry”. This leads me to believe that the pin was never actually worn with traditional dress – it was worn as a fashion accessory.

Mother of Pearl Thimble Holder, Mother of Pearl and Brass (?), mid 1800’s
Yes. Someone in the 1800’s thought it was necessary to make this fancy holder for thimbles. This may seem a little over the top today, but I can totally see this being the Iphone of the 1860’s!

Mother of pearl thimble holder brass gold

Just imagine you are a 19th century lady going over to your friends house to meet the girls to gossip and drink some tea. Since you are not so interested in hearing about a shopkeeper’s supposed mistress and their late night rendezvous under the bridge, you decide to bring out the embroidery you’ve been working on.
You soon realise you need your thimble to protect those delicate 19th century lady hands.
The eager chatter from the other ladies immediately goes quiet as you produce the MOTHER OF PEARL THIMBLE HOLDER (the name only is like a slap in the face) from your frocks. The air is thick with awe and all eyes are on the little trinket in your hand. You feel immensely proud and in vogue.

Truly an accessory to show off your status!

Mother of pearl thimble holder brass gold

Coin Necklace, Silver, 1872, and, Rococo Style Oval Brooch, Silver, 1870-80’s
Last I have two silver items.
The necklace is actually a coin that has been made into a necklace. It features Swedish King Karl XV and was given out to commemorate his death in 1872. I have a terrible aficionado with old Swedish Kings, but I have to say that the one on the coin is one of the least likeable and memorable of them all. The only thing I know about him is that he was a notorious cheater and had many lovers. And one of my ancestors took the effort to make a necklace out of this coin. At least he had one fan in my family!

karl xv coin mynt jubileum 1860 halsband necklace
The brooch is made of sterling silver and is in a rococo revival style with acanthus leaves and volutes in it’s design. It reminds me of the chair I am currently trying to renovate.

End of part 1! :D


Leave a Reply