Welcome to “WHY THIS?”
Welcome to the first issue of blog “WHY THIS?”
WHY THIS? is a recurring blog exploring the qualities that can make an object from the past, even a modest one, of special interest or worth. It’s also an opportunity to engage in a conversation on why we choose to offer a particular object as part of our curated collections.
Regular visitors to our website know that JLG Arts and Antiques is an online shop offering select objects across a dozen collecting categories at prices ranging from $50 to $7500. Our business philosophy is to discover and present fine items in the best condition possible, across all of our Collections and price range. Most importantly, we only choose objects that appeal to us personally.
A knowledgeable or intuitive attraction to quality, what in this trade is called “having an eye,” is s an invaluable asset. Understanding pricing is a must. But ultimately, the decision to buy, keep or gift an authentic work of art, antique or vintage item should be based on the pleasure it gives.
WHY THIS Antique Art-Glass Costume Jewelry Brooch?
1” x .5”
We found this brooch in an online auction of nice, but generally unexceptional costume jewelry. We were the first to bid on it. By the time the auction closed two weeks later, 18 people had placed bids on it.
Although of modest size, the brooch stood out for several reasons.
Artistry. The brooch centers a lapis lazuli blue slab of art glass flecked with micro-chips of gold with an edge which has been meticulously cut and polished like a gemstone. The organic shape and surface of the glass with its undulations and pore-like depressions has a late 19th century Arts and Crafts movement aesthetic. During the period, leading jewelry designers like Henry Wilson, Arthur and Georgina Gaskin, and Dorrie Nossiter worked to bring beauty into the lives of ordinary people at affordable prices. Art glass became a favorite material because its malleability and chemical reactivity provided almost unlimited creative possibilities in form, surface and color.
Craftsmanship. Pride in craftsmanship is evident in the setting of the piece. The overall impression is of a hand-made work in the Medieval style. Bold and well executed chevron-tipped prongs conspicuously hold the glass “jewel” safely in place. The prongs’ relative prominence, design, number, and placement imitate the careful attention paid to the construction of more important jewelry of the period.
Attention to detail. Despite the brooch’s small size, close examination of the base metal frame reveals a molded bas relief frieze of alternating dentils and arabesques. It is unlikely that anyone other than the maker or the wearer of the brooch would be conscious of the detail, but the designer understood the artistic trends of his day. The Central European Arts and Crafts style (called Secession) was filled with interpreted references to the Classical world.
Our brooch appeared for sale in our March 1, 2023 update. It is unmarked and we shall never really know its history for sure unless a comparable example surfaces with a helpful provenance. However, we believe that it was made circa 1890 - 1910 and originated in Bohemia or Austria, both important glass-making centers during the period. Affordable at the time, it would have most likely been worn by a person of relatively modest means, but with discriminating taste and a sense of the current style.
So, why this piece of jewelry? For all the reasons discussed above … but primarily because we like the way it looks. And, we thought it had tales to tell.