In Japan the ginkgo has been an enduring symbol of longevity, given the extremely long lives of ginkgo trees (more than a 1,000 years). Long a popular symbol in Japan, during the Aesthetic movement western Europe developed a fascination for all things Asian and there was a great explosion of art with different Asian motifs. Here is a lovely crossbreed that came as a result. Though Whitby jet was used before and after the Victorian era, it is a material rightly identified with that era, both for mourning jewelry and as a fashion statement. The Victorians were fascinated with it, the lightness of it, which let them wear increasingly large pieces (popular with Victorians), and how well it took to carving, so it could be finely detailed in beads, brooches, etc. (also appealing to Victorians). And so we have a mixed marriage, of Victorian materials and scale but Aesthetic Movement sensibility and symbolism. The result is simply stunning.
Condition: Good antique condition. There is a line at the top of the leaf towards the left which does continue to the back, but the piece is not in danger of chipping off, it’s only a surface flaw, NOT damage through and through. There is a similar line about the same size, on the right side of the brooch, not visible from the front. Otherwise there is some minor pitting, as can be seen in the photos. The trombone pin and c-clasp are original and in good working order when worn, even if it seems the clasp is a little loose when not actually being worn. The brooch measures 3 1/8” across by 3” long and 3/8” at its thickest. Circa 1880.
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