Cameos in general are always beautiful, each being an individual work of art. During the great Victorian age of travel, many made pilgrimages to Europe, including Italy. While there, they were delighted to find beautiful hand made souvenirs from the Italian artisans. It would have been difficult to resist the lure that a beautifully rendered wearable sculpture emits! Thus they often returned with cameos in their jewelry rolls. Friends were delighted with the small works of art. Cameos were so popular that there were even classes so the amateur "wanna be" carvers could participate.
As cameos became more plentiful, their popularity didn't wane, but the subject matter changed from classical inspiration to portraits, characters in literature and Biblical scenes.
According to our research, scenic cameos are generally more valuable than bust cameo. A popular motif around 1860 was known as "Rebecca at the Well.". There are many variations on this theme, but they usually include a cottage, a bridge and a well. This one includes several cottages and a girl.
Antique cameos were mounted in gold, silver, pinchbeck, gold fill and cut steel. We know this one isn't silver.....but we haven't had it gold tested. We've examined it thoroughly and don't see any wear to indicate gold fill. However, since we are not sure, we are listing it as a gold-filled piece.
The pin clasp (original to this piece) is an early "safety" with an unusual lever to lock the pin into the "C" clasp. Additionally, the pin is longer than the brooch, thus assuring us of the age. Likely 1860 era.
Beautiful condition. No chips or cracks.
1 11/16" x 1 3/8" (4.5 x 3.5cm)
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