Because it is one of the rare "natural plastics" gutta percha is an ecologically sound early plastic. The story of where it comes from and how it was discovered by Western civilization and how it came to be made into jewelry is below. As you can see in the photo from the book the butterfly brooch is not as detailed as this one I have found and it is an incredible find! This rare Victorian mourning jewelry gutta percha butterfly measures 3 " x 1 3/4" . The piercing on this piece is what makes it a candidate for museum piece. The pin is in working order . Collect, wear and invest all with jewelry therapy!
"In 1843 Dr. Mongomerie, a Malayian surgeon found Malayian natives using the vegetable material gutta percha a gum elastic, to make knife handles and other articles. It is a hard material that was scraped by hand from the Palaquium trees in Malaya, Borneo and Sumatra. Gutta percha was first softened in hot water and then pressed by hand into the desired shape. Dr. Montgomerie's studies provided the impetus for the founding of the Gutta percha Company in 1845, which remained in business until 1930. Gutta percha jewelry can be found as bracelets, pins and earrings. " This is quoted from Plastic Jewelry by Lyngerda Kelly and Nancy Schiffer. On page 5 there is a picture of a molded black gutta percha pin exactly like this one except this one is a bit more intricate with its cut out pattern. It is a collector's museum quality item.
Note: This piece was photographed and appears in a new book by Jen Townsend and Renee Zettle-Sterling , called Cast: Art and Objects Made Using Humanity’s Most Transformational Process that came out in 2017.
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