Antique 1860s Victorian 10K ambrotype photo brooch and locket

A Victorian swivel brooch with a faded portrait of a handsome fellow on one side and a hidden compartment on the other. The "face" of this brooch has a beautiful engine-turned and hand engraved lid with a central cartouche. The lid lifts up to reveal a roomy interior compartment, suitable for keeping a lock of hair or small memento. When you turn the brooch over you see a framed ambrotype portrait of a man. The portrait would have been worn on the inside, close to the heart, but could be turned around to be shown on the outside as well. The brooch has a twisted frame and coiled wire detail, both typical of photo and hair work brooches from the time period. As was the case with many mass produced pieces in the 19th century, portions of this brooch are gold and portions are gold fill. For example, the case cover is 10K but the locket frame is gold plated. Overall color tone and quality is exquisitely matched.

Mourning jewelry was popular in the 1850s and 1860s. Sentimental jewelry was worn to honor a loved one and literally keep them close to the heart. Daguerrotypes were the first publicly available photography process, first introduced in 1839. Ambrotypes followed. Paintings and drawings were previously the only ways to preserve a person’s likeness, so the ability to capture a person’s photograph was a huge development. A small photo used in mourning jewelry allowed the bereaved person to preserve a true depiction of their loved one.

Measurements: 1 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches, 20.7 grams
Era: Victorian, ca. 1860s
Markings: N/A, tests for 10K in places

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