RARE Antique Victorian Aluminum Pin/Brooch - Engraved with Initial "R"
Welcome to ROBINS NEST MIDWEST! May I offer….
AGE: C.1890 or so
ITEM: Did you know that when aluminum was first discovered it was deemed "so rare" that its value was actually HIGHER than that of gold? And that, because she had to own "something" of every new find during her reign, Queen Victoria ordered a tea set of the new material? Yep - it's true! Aluminum was considered such a high priced commodity that those ever-loving-evertyhing Victorians made jewelry from the metal creating everything from high end items embellished with gold that the very rich could afford to very plain pieces (such as the one I offer here) for the lower closses. A piece of aluminum jewelry is definitely hard to find! May I offer a large oval pin/brooch of aluminum that has a nice engraved border and, at the center, an engraved initial "R". Back closure mechanism is a simple c-catch for the pin.
CONDITION: Very nice front - very clean. Back is a bit dull with some surface markings and perhaps a bit of dirt - the pin is as I fund - I have not cleaned or polished.
METAL CONTENT: Aluminum
SIZE: 3" x 2"
FINAL COMMENTS: Oh, and what happened after aluminum was discovered to be as common as copper? Why the Victorians quickly discarded their aluminum jewelry and went back to gold and silver. And because of this, Victorian era aluminum jewelry is something that is still hard to find to this day!
REFERENCE: "Jewellery, the International Era 1789-1910, Volume 1" by Shirley Bury, pg 351-353
The existence of aluminum oxide was postulated by Sir Humphrey Davy in the early 19th century, but it took until 1854 for Henri Sainte Clair Deville to successfully produce a commercial grade material. He caused a sensation at the Paris Exhibition of 1857 with a few aluminum articles.
Aluminum was classed as a precious metal for several years, even though derived from clay. The first kilogram made by Deville in 1854 was priced at 3000 francs. Thereafter the cost fell dramatically -- 1500 francs in 1856, 400 francs in 1859 and by 1891 it had dropped to 20 francs.
The metal is extremely light and doesn't tarnish, could be worked by casting but was resistant to soldering. Initially pieces were riveted, but by the 1860s, aluminum was mounted in gilt metal.
It is hard to find aluminum jewelry from the 1860s-1870s when it was more popular than gold.
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