This is a most unusual piece which was made in England for a French convent. It dates towards 1880-1890.
This particular style of heart was made for the order , Sisters of the Good Shepherd, which was founded in France in 1835. Each Sister was given a heart to wear around their neck. The design is specific to the order. The one side has a repousse design depicting the Virgin holding the Divine Infant between wide festoons of roses and lilies. (The heart represents the Sister, consecrated to The Divine Son. The lilies represent virtues of charity and purity). The reverse side has a repousse design of Jesus gesturing towards His Sacred Heart. The backgrounds of each half have a "pointelle" design which gives a textured field for the raised figures, imparting more depth. The outer edges are raised to frame the motifs. The English silver marks (made in England by a fine silversmith for a French order) are found on the left side: (town, maker, silver guarantee....the lion mark is .925 guarantee). An export stamp is found at the top (indicating that it was made for export...in this case France: the writing on the heart is in French). The duty mark dates this 1838-1900. The clam shell form is interesting, the large hinge closes to form a ring for threading a rope or hanging mount.
The sacred heart is in very good antique condition. It measures 2 1/2" tall and 1 3/4" wide, it sits 1/2" from the tabletop. Please note that the photographic lights reflect yellow....this piece has an entirely silver patina in natural light.
This is a rare find and a very special example of historical interest.