Circa 1900s figural scarf or stick pin in rolled gold plate depicts a coiled snake winding its way up toward a milky glass moonstone, with a peridot rhinestone atop its head, between its eyes.
The popularity of serpentine motifs in Victorian jewelry harks back to the engagement ring given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria, in the form of a snake with emerald-set head; in that context the snake was meant to symbolize eternal love. However, stick pins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries often featured “novelty” figural designs (tons of animals, birds and insects, ranging from the novel and/or whimsical to the purely fantastic, such as griffins and winged dragons), and so the subject of this one was likely chosen primarily for its ornamental appeal.
Photo #5 shows examples of serpent and dragon motifs on scarf pins, from the 1900 Restless & Sleepless Catalog, and the 1903 New York Jeweler catalog. It is unclear in either catalog whether the scarf pins are intended for ladies or gents, and I believe that, with the exception of pronouncedly “masculine” or “feminine” motifs, they were essentially a unisex item. (Of course, the way men and women wore them would differ, with men using them to pin a scarf or teck or to accent a lapel, while ladies pinned them through a lace collar or chemisette).
Measuring 2 1/8” (the snake is approximately 2/3” long from head to tail tip), this stick pin is in very good condition, with minor finish wear to the textured “scales” of the snake and to the topmost third of the stem. .
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