Mid Victorian Brooch: How Damage Affects Price But Not Sentimentality

October 8, 2010

On the face of it, this Pinchbeck brooch shows a significant amount of damage and its physical price would not be very great (I don’t really like talking about prices as they are transient and mostly in the eye of the beholder). We have the oxidisation to the top of the piece, a layer of high gloss enamel that shows signs of very rudimentary repair and water damage to the hair inside the memento. The piece is light and hollow, with the damage to the exterior frame showing being knocked and bent, with even one of the flourishes missing from the bottom of the frame itself and enamelled over.

On the face of it, a collector would look the other way, but underneath it all, one must wonder why they are collectors. Is it to buy every/any piece that comes along in order to expand a collection and does that provide gratification?

For me, I find infinite delight in this for many reasons, its age and damage tell a story – the person who wore it did so with love. One can only assume that from the damage, other than a century of careless or apathetic behaviour from future generations, the piece was worn for the sentiment it was designed for. It was worn, rather than kept hidden from site and displayed the love token with intent.

It is a wonderful little time capsule for that reason, but also I just love the artistic and design of it.

The Neo-Rococo Victorian design that frames the piece is bold and marries together the earlier tight floral style that surrounds the hair itself, showing a transition of the old to the new. It really is a transitional piece, the large size (around 6cm across), shows the growth of brooches from the 1840s to the 1860s, as their prominence around the neck became larger for the latter stages of mourning and rings became smaller. So, it tells a story, this piece. It tells a story of its history and any further than that is merely subjective, but the fact is there.

So, did I buy it to take space? No, I bought it because it’s a link in a chain and one that will continue on for long after I’m gone.

And you, dear reader, do you collect for sentimental reasons or for quality reasons? Post in the comments or discuss over in the Facebook group!

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