Brooch – Victorian Lace Brooch
An antique gold-coloured lace¹ brooch designed as a horizontal pin decorated with a graduated grain-set half pearl barn swallow². Secured with a pin and hook. Circa 1880-1900.
Measuring: 35.61mm x 12.10mm.
Unhallmarked and no other marks observed: tested and valued as 9ct gold.
Assessment of the Pearls (16).
Graduated: 1.20mm to 3.00mm.
Colours (mixed): light cream to greyish white.
¹. The (trade catalogues of London based jewellers of 1900) show page after page of small brooches which were functional as well as decorative. A woman’s dress or blouse front was often trimmed with deep falls of lace and little brooches of this kind were intended to keep it in order (Peter Hinks, ‘Victorian Jewellery’, 1991). Such was the nature of these garments that several brooches were sometimes called for, and when described for sale the jeweller would list the price as being ‘per dozen’, though they could be purchased singularly. This Victorian method of wearing these small brooches stems from ‘lace pins’; brooches intended to secure the folds of a fichu (flimsy lace scarf), which originated in 18th century England. Lace pins usually operate with a clasp that employs a circular twist at the bend to act as a spring and hold it in place.
². The barn swallow, which has long enjoyed a positive cultural association with humans, was in particular admired by Victorian society for its annual migration and how it carefully built its delicate cup-shaped nests along the eves of our houses. Such a dedicated bird was a clear symbol for commitment and it is used extensively in jewellery made throughout the era.