Vintage early 1940s Mexican silver brooch depicts a turbanned wizard, swami or fortune teller sitting crosslegged with a large amber glass marble, or "crystal ball", in his lap. Four tiny, collet-set turquoise cabochons add (mismatched) color to the piece, two in the turban and two in the chest. The brooch closes in back with a safety catch pin stem, and is marked "Silver Mexico", the hallmark used on Mexican silver jewelry from the 1920s through the mid-1940s.
A charming piece in its own right, the brooch is also a fascinating example of a period copy, in this case of Rice-Weiner's circa 1940 "Crystal Gazer" brooch.. The "Crystal Gazer" (in goldtone cast metal with a green lucite "crystal ball") was part of the licensed line of jewelry linked to Alexander Korda's 1940 film, "The Thief of Bagdad". Possibly a Mexican artisan sought to capitalize on the popularity of the movie, a surefire hit with any American tourists, or perhaps s/he intended to improve on the artistry of the brooch by making it by hand, from the silver and turquoise materials of his/her trade.
The brooch measures 2" tall and 1 ½" across the "knees"; the "crystal ball" is approximately ¾" in diameter. Very good condition with original patina; issues are that one of the turquoise cabochons, as mentioned above, is mismatched in color, and that the glass ball feels a little loose in the seated figure's arms. The new owner may wish to have a jeweler bend the arms around it more securely.
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Antique through Vintage Fashion & Jewelry