My Recent Buy: A New Piece to Enhance Linda’s Victorian Jewelry Type Collection

“My Recent Buy” will be a regular feature in The Insider. What did you buy recently that brings a smile to your face? Share the object and your story with our readers. Send the story of your buy and two to four images to insider@worthpoint.com. Your recent buy might appear in a future issue. This week we bring you a recent buy made by our very own expert, Harry Rinker.

 

Pietra Dura is a jewelry type involving the cutting and fitting of polished colored stones to created decorative images, most commonly a floral motif. This gorgeous set sold for over $1000 in 2012.

A type collection consists of a broad representation of objects from subcategories within a general collecting category.  For example, Victorian jewelry is a general collecting category.  It breaks down into dozens of subcategories such as cameos, micro-mosaics, tussy mussy holders, or skirt lifters.  A type collection includes one or more examples from each subcategory.

Type collections differ from collections.  Collections are comprehensive.  The collector selects a subcategory of a general collecting category and attempts to acquire as many examples of the object-type as possible.  When I collected Hopalong Cassidy memorabilia, I acquired as much licensed product, movie and television program material, Bill Boyd personal memorabilia, and Mulford books as I could afford.  My jigsaw puzzle collection exceeded 5,000 puzzles, as well as a wide range of paper ephemera.

Given their size and scope, many large collections may appear to have type collections within them.  Appearances are deceiving.  Weekly jigsaw puzzles issued during the 1932-1933 jigsaw puzzle craze was one of the subdivisions within my jigsaw puzzle collection.  My goal was to collect every known example I could find, not assemble a representative set of these weekly puzzles.

The era of the generalist collector, a person who collects objects from a large number of general collecting categories, or the collector who focusing on collecting objects from one of the major collecting categories is over.  In the digital age, collectors specialize.  There are a number of reasons – affordability, availability, and space.

Linda and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary on November 29, 2018.  When I met her, Linda still was reeling from the theft of her jewelry, among which were several family pieces.  It was clear something had to be done.  The thought of Linda without wonderful jewelry to wear was unthinkable.   I decided to build a jewelry collection for her.

            [Author’s Aside #1:  I take a very simple approach to jewelry.  It is meant to be worn.  It serves no purpose residing in a safety deposit box, jewelry cabinet, or dresser drawer.  I buy jewelry for Linda to wear.  The day she does not wear one or more pieces is the last day she will receive a piece of jewelry from me.]

After careful consideration, I decided to create a Victorian type jewelry collection for Linda.   After studying a number of books on the subject and consulting with Lenore Dailey, a Victorian jewelry dealer, I developed several Victorian jewelry type lists and began acquiring examples.

            [Author’s Aside #2:  Historically, many great collections were assembled by a collector working closely with one or more dealers.  Over the years, I built several collections using this method.  Shortly after starting Linda’s Victorian jewelry type collection, Lenore came aboard as my principle consultant.  When Linda’s interests expanded to include the work of contemporary jewelry artisans, Karen Lorene of Facere Jewelry Art in Seattle became the consultant for this portion of Linda’s collection.]

I took a variety of approaches to Linda’s Victorian jewelry type collection.  I developed chronological, form, material, and regional lists.  In addition to focusing on high-end pieces, I also included mass-produced and costume jewelry.  Victoria ruled from 1837 to 1901, a time span that ranged from the end of the Georgian era to Arts and Crafts.  Further, I chose not to limit the collection to pieces made in Great Britain.   The collection includes pieces made during the British Raj in India to Grand Tour pieces made in France, Germany, and Italy.

Pietra Dura is a jewelry type involving the cutting and fitting of polished colored stones to created decorative images, most commonly a floral motif.  The stones are cut to shape and then glued together.  In high quality pieces, the fit is so tight it almost is impossible to see the lines.  This is achieved by grooving the underside of the stones so that they lock together.  A wide variety of stones such as marble, precious, and semi-precious gems were used.

Pieta Dura jewelry dates back to Roman times.  Pietra Dura jewelry became popular during the Italian Renaissance, especially in Florence.  When Victorians traveled to Italy in the middle of the 19th century, they brought back Pietra Dura pieces.

From a distance, it is difficult to distinguish a painted  Pietra Dura-style piece from an actual piece made from fitted stones.  Here we have a painted costume piece from the Rinker collection.

Pietra Dura pieces were expensive because of the workmanship required.  An inexpensive alternative was to paint a floral design on a smooth flat surface of a black stone or glass.  From a distance, it was difficult to distinguish the costume piece from an actual piece made from fitted stones.  Linda’s type collection includes a Pietra Dura brooch and a painted Pietra Dura-style costume brooch.

During our whirlwind, early December 2018 trip to visit Christmas markets in Germany, we took a December 10 day trip to Prague during our stay in Seiffen in the Erzgebirge.  As we walked through Prague, Linda noticed the antique garnet jewelry in the windows of several antiques shops.  Garnet jewelry is a favorite among Czech and other Slavic peoples.  Unfortunately for Linda and perhaps fortunately for me, we were on a guided walking tour of the city and did not have time to go inside to examine the pieces.

During a visit to Freiburg, Germany, on December 13, Linda and I did have time to visit several antiques and paper ephemera shops.  Walking along Gerberau street, we stopped to admire the window of Freiburger Münzkabinett (Coin Cabinet) Henning Volle.   German coin dealers often offer antique jewelry and toys.  An enamel painted Victorian brooch in a Pietra Dura-style was among the jewelry in the window.  Linda and I went inside and asked to see the piece.  I wanted to make certain it was period.  The brooch was gorgeous.  I recognized immediately its potential to enhance the Pietra Dura portion of Linda’s Victorian type collection.  In addition, it would be a knockout when she wore it.

This gorgeous enamel painted Victorian brooch in a Pietra Dura-style was purchased by the Rinkers in Germany this past December.

The pin was marked 70 Euros.   Mentally, I had expected it to be double that amount.  In spite of my rule not to negotiate when I consider a price to be underpriced, I could not resist asking if the dealer could do better.  The dealer and I settled on 65 Euros (approx. $75.00) cash.

Linda’s Victorian jewelry type collection is almost complete.  Adding a piece that does not duplicate an example already in her collection has become difficult.  Some of the types are becoming miniature collections in their own right.   Although 15 seems like a small number, it is not when it refers to your Georgian and Victorian lover’s eyes.  I had resolved to stop buying lover’s eyes when the collection reached 10.  There is only one problem.  I find them hard to resist but that is a story for another time.


Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out Harry’s Web site.  You can listen and participate in Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?” on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.  “Sell, Keep Or Toss? How To Downsize A Home, Settle An Estate, And Appraise Personal Property” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site.

Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Pond Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.

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