Dating to c.1860, this beautiful pair of girandole hair and high-karat gold earrings are a rare example of American sentimental jewelry with an important family connection!
These are the last of the jewels which I acquired from the estate of Robert Waldo Moffat, Jr., third cousin to the famed American author Ralph Waldo Emerson! In 2009, Robert Waldo Moffat. Jr., IBM executive, was indicted for the largest insider trading scheme in American history. Many items from his estate, including hair jewelry dating from 1820-1860 from the Emerson/Bispham family, were auctioned off in order to pay his court costs. I was fortunate enough to acquire five items from the San Diego auction house which held this auction early in 2011. This is the last (and most beautifully-preserved) of these rare items!
Measuring 2" long with their original ear wires x 1" at their widest point, these beautifully-wrought earrings are woven from the hair of a near-relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it is not unthinkable that it might actually be the hair of the great author himself! These exquisitely-made jewels are American in origin, and boast hinged tops with deeply engraved 14k oak leaves, signifying fidelity (all gold unmarked but tested). The middle element swings gracefully, and takes the form of a crescent moon, with tightly-woven dark brown hair front and back. The earrings terminate in three elongated drops of woven hair, with golden caps top and bottom! SO IMPRESSIVE!
These earrings have survived over 150+ years in all-original, untouched condition, and were in the Moffat family up until the sale of the estate. Likely made just before the Civil War, these jewels were clearly cherished, and appear to have rarely ben worn. Some collectors mistakenly believe that all hair jewelry was made for mourning purposes, but this could not be further from the truth; sentimental hair jewelry was a cottage industry in mid-19th century America, and were usually made and bestowed as tokens of affection between family members and loved ones.
Simply the best-preserved hair jewels I have ever come across, this pair of earrings also represents the history of the Bispham/Emerson family, and are oh-so-wearable today! These earrings really dance on the ear, and are suitable for day or evening wear. Weighing in at 4.52 grams for the pair, they are feather-light, yet have a substantial look, and WHAT a history!
If you collect the ultimate in historic jewelry, this pair of earrings belongs in your collection! It would also make a stellar holiday gift for any lady fond of fine American-made Victorian jewelry or fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and will be shipped in a git box suitable for storing or giving. Do not miss these important sentimental jewels; they are irreplaceable, up to 45-day layaway is available, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
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