Tortoise Shell and Pique Brooch, about 1865


Tortoise shell was a much used material in small decorative accessories for many years.It is quite malleable when heated, and carefully chosen, the stock can have interesting color and mottling.In addition, it is easily carved and fine patterns can be created from it.Pique work infuses gold into the soft tortoiseshell, very much like inlay.Pique pose lays strips of gold in the surface and pique point, which this piece includes, has fine rods of gold embedded in it.Fine pique work was created in Europe and was popular in the nineteenth century; however, by the 1860s cheaper examples were made in America and in the 1870s Britain.This piece appears to date from the 1860s or early 1870s and, while nice, is not of the quality of some fine earlier pieces in the collection.The presence of the ancient's face on a carved amphora, and its central medallion shape, indicates an 1860's piece.

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