Portrait miniatures are a rare connection to those that came before us. These small works of art are not only significant in the artistic ability required to create them, but hold a historical significance in the documenting of people in a time predating photography. Miniature portraits were commissioned for a number of reasons; to commemorate loved ones, significant figures or to document occasions such as marriage. They could also be used as a means of identification and introduction, in instances such as diplomatic meetings or in the arrangement of marriages. The world of portrait miniatures puts us face-to-face with people of the past and gives us insight into the lives, fashion and customs during the times of which they were created.Â Â
The creation of portrait miniatures was a crossroads between the popularity of illuminated manuscripts and commemorative medals. âArising from a fusion of the separate traditions of the illuminated manuscript and the medal, miniature painting flourished from the beginning of the 16th century down to the mid-19th centuryâ (Kuiper, 2022). Illuminated manuscripts were highly prized from the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance. The connection to the art of portrait miniature can be observed through the use of the word miniature deprived from the Latin word âminiareâ.Â
âThe term âminiatureâ derives from the Latin word âminiareâ, meaning âto colour with red leadâ, and points to the origins of miniature painting in medieval illuminated manuscripts, which were illustrated using the pigment, also known as miniumâ(Wall, 2020).
Another connection can be drawn from the materials used in the early forms of portrait miniature. Vellum is a form of parchment used in illuminated manuscripts and was also used for early portrait miniature works. The portability and petite size of medals influenced the size of portrait miniatures and progressed them from small paintings to items that would adorn the body. Originally Portrait miniatures would be carried in specialized cases or boxes prior to their adaptation into items of jewellery. Â Portrait miniature art has a long history beginning in the 16th century and remaining popular through to the 18th century.Â The most notable production of portrait miniatures begun in the 1520âs for the courts in France and England by artists Jean Clouet and Lucas Horenbout. âPortrait miniatures were employed by European monarchs as diplomatic gifts or to reward faithful courtiers but also in marriage negotiationsâ (Wall, 2020).Â Queen Elizabeth I had portrait miniatures encased in precious metals and many members of elite society wore them to display loyalty to the queen. From there they were adopted as a fashionable way for people to commemorate their loved ones, or as tokens of love and friendship.Â Â Â
As portrait miniatures increased in popularity and in turn demand, various adaptations were made in the materials used to create these pieces of art. Early miniaturists used watercolour and gouache on vellum, a form of parchment created out of calfskin, to create their artworks. Across Italy, the Netherlands and Germany oil painting on copper became a popular medium, which later lead to enamel on copper. During the 18th century miniaturists reverted back to the use of gouache and watercolour but on the preferred surface of ivory (Lang Antiques, 2022). The invention of photography with the development of the daguerreotype in 1839 saw the demand for portrait miniature painting decrease. As photography become widely accessible, in regards to affordability and also with technological advancements, the need for portrait miniature painting eventually faded into obscurity.Â Â
Kuiper, K (2022). “Miniature painting”, Britannica; https://www.britannica.com/art/miniature-painting
Lang Antiques (2022). “Antique jewellery university: miniature”‘; https://www.langantiques.com/university/miniature/
The Cleveland Museum of Art (2022). “European art 1775-1825: portrait miniatures”; https://www.clevelandart.org/sites/default/files/documents/gallery-card/Portrait%20Miniatures_complete_final_032113.pdf
Wall, R (2020). “Media in focus: portrait miniatures”, Art Web; https://blog.artweb.com/how-to/portrait-miniatures/
If youâve had the chance to visit Kalmar Antiques recently you may have noticed some interesting developments happening in the retail space next door. The signage is up and the secret is out that after many months of careful planning, not to mention the uncertainty of a city lockdown, the wheels are in motion for the next exciting chapter at Kalmar Antiques.Â The long-standing QVB residents have plans to renovate the store, acquiring an additional retail space and expanding their extensive offering of antique jewellery and timepieces.Â Â
The new store will feature an incredible front window display spanning over 13 metres that will house antique jewellery and object Dâart items from as early as the Georgian era. A specialised showcase will feature historical items that have never been available for public display before. Kalmar Antiques will also be increasing their offering of vintage watches and timepieces, and in addition to this, will be expanding their watch repair services with the addition of a state of the art watchmaking workshop to be built on site.Â
Professional valuers and gemologists will continue to be available for consultations if you have items you are wishing to have valued or are looking to sell. This expansion will make Kalmar Antiques the largest antique jewellery store in the Queen Victoria Building and a must-see for collectors. Â
The Kalmar family have been in business for over 30 years with Charles and Marlene Kalmar commencing trade at the Hyde Park Antique Centre in 1986. After three years they opened a store-front in the Imperial Arcade in 1989 where they traded for nineteen years before moving into the Queen Victoria Building. Their expertise and experience in the antiques trade puts them at the forefront of antique dealing in Sydney.Â Â
Like so many small businesses in Australia the Kalmarâs have faced two difficult years of Covid restrictions and lockdowns. Despite these challenges the Kalmarâs passion for the antiques trade has shone through. The store expansion is the next chapter for the Kalmar family and is fantastic for the future of the antiques industry in Sydney. Â
For the latest updates be sure to subscribe to the monthly newsletter or follow Kalmar Antiques via Instagram or Facebook.
Antique jewellery is a window into the past lives of those who came before. This piece from the personal collection of the Kalmarâs is a perfect encapsulation of how these jewels connect us to a different time, place and person.Â This item is a vinaigrette case and is layered in both sentiment and purpose. Through the existence of this item, we meet Miss Miriam Isherwood and her aristocratic family whose lives unfolded in the quaint town of Marple, Cheshire.Â
Upon first glance, you would be forgiven for mistaking this piece as an item of mourning jewellery, created to mark the bereavement of a loved one. The lock of woven hair and the inscription on the reverse side of the locket are common aesthetic elements of mourning jewels. However, upon further inspection it is evident that this item was gifted with another sentiment in mind for the recipient. Â
The inscription upon the inside lid gifts us insight into the intended sentiment of the piece. The cursive font is so decorative and neatly done that it is hard to believe that it was engraved by hand. Undoubtedly the work of a master engraver, the length and consistency of the message that has been inscribed upon the lid is truly remarkable. With careful inspection we can read the inscription as follows;Â
Mifs Miriam IsherwoodÂ
By the female monitors of theÂ
Marple Church Sunday SchoolÂ
A token of respect for herÂ
Unwearied exertions inÂ Â
Promoting the spiritualsÂ
Temporal welfare of newÂ
Scholars 17 June 1839âÂ
After deciphering the inscription, we begin to understand the circumstance surrounding this jewel and its intended recipient. The beneficiary of the piece was Miriam Isherwood as a token of respect for her work as a Monitor at the Marple Sunday School gifted to her by her colleagues. Â
Another element that adds to the sentiment of the piece is the inclusion of plaited hair in the locket compartment. During the Victorian era, of which this piece originates, âhair compartments are to be seen on every kind of jewel from this timeâ (Hinks, 1975). Hair was a common token to be gifted as a token of friendship and love. Â
Â âThereâs different kinds of hair art and there are different purposes; one is for mourning, and then one is for family trees, or friendship keepsakes, so thereâs different imagery youâll see in those thingsâ (Burgess, 2018).Â
When we consider the circumstances in which this piece was gifted, it is unlikely that the hair contained in the piece is that of Miriam Isherwood.Â This is a fair assumption as the piece is dated 1839 and records show that Miss Miriam Isherwood passed away in 1870.Â It is therefore, very unlikely that the gift givers would have had access to Miss Isherwoodâs own hair. We can speculate that the hair within the piece was that of the gift givers, the female monitors of Marple Church Sunday School, or perhaps even that of the students which Miriam Isherwood offered spiritual guidance. Although we cannot know for sure, a locket containing the hair of her peers or her students as a sentiment of thanks for her service is likely to fit the occasion for which the piece was gifted. Â
The style of hairwork featured in the piece was created using a palette work technique. âPalette work tends to be for jewellery and larger works, and is a technique where youâll see woven hair in patterns. Clean, flattened hair was woven or mixed with a sap-like material to create a sheet, which was then crafted into shapes that usually goes under glass, or it goes on top of ivory, in jewelleryâ (Burgess, 2018). Considering the technique, it is possible that the hair enclosed in this piece was that of multiple people that had been worked together in this way. Â
Jewellery in the Victorian era was renowned for being deeply sentimental but another important aspect of design was utilitarian function. This piece serves as an example of this with the reverse side of the locket being utilised as a vinaigrette. Vinaigrette cases were used to house a perfume-soaked sponge or piece of cotton that could be brought to the nose to mask unpleasant odours. âDuring the 19th century, vinaigrettes were a fashionable indication of social ranking, as those who were able to afford perfume or concern themselves with their outward appearance at all, were among the elite. Sanitisation standards were low for all including the highest classes, but they were able to compensate with perfume which would distinguish them from the working classâ (AC Silver, 2022). Therefore, through this piece we can begin to understand the social ranking of the Isherwood family.Â A piece such as this would likely have been worn suspended from a chatelaine at Miss Isherwoodâs waist, a truly thoughtful and useful gift. Â
This piece not only provides us with Miss Isherwoodâs name but it connects us to the church in Marple, Cheshire where she received this gift some 183 years ago. Miriam Isherwood was the daughter of John Bradshaw-Isherwood and Elizabeth Bradshaw-Isherwood born in 1816. She was one of seven daughters and one brother who made up the Isherwood clan, a highly respectable family from the quaint town of Marple. The Bradshaw-Isherwood family were one of the most notable families within this region and the lavish Marple Hall has been the ancestral estate to the family for many generations. The Bradshaw-Isherwood family are widely documented for making substantial contributions to the Marple Church and community. As such, it comes as no surprise that a piece such as this, would be gifted to a member of the Isherwood family. Â
Further research reveals the impact which the aristocratic Isherwood-Bradshaw family have had on the region of Marple and to English history. When tracing the ownership of Marple Hall (pictured right) we see that the family of Miss Miriam Isherwood were descendants of Lord President John Bradshaw, whose father Henry Bradshaw II and older brother Henry Bradshaw III were both noted as Landlords of Marple Hall. John Bradshaw made a significant impact to the history of England with his close political connections to Oliver Cromwell and his appointment as the Lord President of the Council of State. His legacy would be one shrouded in controversy for his role in issuing the warrant for the execution of King Charles I in 1649. When the crown was restored to King Charles II, he condemned the actions of regicide and therefore John Bradshaw can be considered a divisive figure when reviewing English history. Centuries on from their ancestorâs tribulations, the Bradshaw family lived in relative obscurity with no other notable endeavours into political life. They appeared by all counts to have lived a life of quiet privilege within the town of Marple and surrounds. Â
This item, a token of gratitude, connects us to the life of Ms. Miriam Isherwood and her distinguished family ties in Marple, Cheshire. With this tangible connection to the parish of the Marple Church community, we are able to greater understand the local history of this area and also the Bradshaw-Isherwood family.Â Unfortunately, Miss Isherwoodâs family home, Marple Hall, is no longer standing with only minor ruins remaining. The Marple Church is still in operation, as is the Sunday School of which Miss Isherwood pioneered. Â
- AC Silver (2022). âHistory of a vinaigretteâ, AC Silver UK; https://www.acsilver.co.uk/shop/pc/vinaigrette-history-what-is-a-vinaigrette-d138.htmÂ
- Â Ancestry (2022). âJohn Bradshawe Isherwood 1776-1839′; https://www.ancestry.com.au/genealogy/records/john-bradshawe-isherwood-24-12fkkg2Â
- Â Burgess, Anika (2018). âThe intricate craft of using human hair for jewelry, art and decorationâ, Atlas Obscura; https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/intricate-craft-art-human-hair-jewelry-mourning-braid-mutter-museumÂ
- Â Burke, John (1875). âBurkeâs genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry; volume 1â, H.Colburn, page 639; https://books.google.com.au/books?id=YdIKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA639&lpg=PA639&dq=John+Bradshaw+1659+family+tree+to+john+isherwood&source=bl&ots=qGxqqX9d5J&sig=ACfU3U2Y_0Hwvig3MW2b0GvZu2DfOGy5wQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwit6fuH_dX2AhV-xzgGHTQMCWkQ6AF6BAgZEAM#v=onepage&q=John%20Bradshaw%201659%20family%20tree%20to%20john%20isherwood&f=falseÂ
- Dean & Chapter of Westminster Abbey (2022). âJohn Bradshaw; politician and lawyerâ, Westminster Abbey; https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-commemorations/commemorations/john-bradshawÂ
- Hinks, Peter (1975). âNineteenth century jewelleryâ, Faber and Faber; London. Â
- Â The Marple Website (2020). âOwnership of Marple Hallâ; https://www.marple.website/local-history/marple-hall.htmlÂ
Objects are important as they tell our human history by connecting us to past places and people. These tangible bonds offer us the rare opportunity to touch history. Never has this sentiment rung truer than in the instance of this imperial half pint measuring cup. One of the humbler items in the Kalmarâs collection, although it may not be crafted from the highest carat gold or covered with the finest jewels, the unique instrument offers us a direct lineage to our local history. From this measuring cup, the redemption tale of James Blanch, a convict, instrument maker and perhaps Australiaâs first metrologist unfolds.Â
A Convictâs Tale
James Blanch was born in England in 1784 and at the age of fourteen it is surmised that he was apprenticed in the trade of mathematical instrument making. By the end of the 18th century, London had become the worldâs leading centre for scientific instrument making with numerous piece-makers and wholesalers specialising in the manufacture of optical, mathematical and philosophical instruments (Holland, 2000). Despite this training, the first recorded occupation of James Blanch was from 1814 as a Customs House Officer working on the London docks. It was during his time working on the docks that opportunity mixed with poor judgement would lead Blanch to commit an act of petty theft. Together with a fellow official, Blanch stole ten yards of Russia Duck, a heavy linen fabric, worth 30 shillings from the ship, âLord Harlingtonâ. This misdemeanour would see the pair sentenced and bound for Botany Bay aboard the convict ship âFannyâ which landed on Sydney shores in 1816.Â Â
Having served his time in the colony, Blanch gained his Ticket of Leave in 1821 and just one year later, his wife Sarah sailed out on the âBrixtonâ to join him. Now open to start his life as a free member of society, Blanch set up his professional trade and established the Sydney Foundry and Engineering Works. âBlanch set up business in Pitt Street as a mathematical and philosophical instrument maker, brass founder, brazier, plater and general worker in silver and brassâ (Holland, 2000). He would later move his business to the central location of George Street where he would also acquire further properties. Accompanied by other convicts and an apprentice of his own, Blanch would achieve reasonable success with his business whilst supporting his growing family. However, it would be the âBill for preventing the use of false and deficient Weights and Measuresâ passed in August 1832 that would forever weave the work of James Blanch into our countryâs history.Â Â
The Measure of a Man
It was accountant and mathematician, Patrick Kelly, who first recorded the term of âmetrologyâ in an 1816 text in which he proposed universal standards, a central remit of discipline, aimed at the development of agreed standards for weights and measures in science and industry (MAAS, 2022). As it stood, âVictorian England and Colonial Australia were awash with interpretations about reliable and agreed standards, and the construction of artefacts to accurately measure themâ (MAAS, 2022). It was therefore decided, that with the passing of the new bill the infant colony of New South Wales would develop a uniformed approach to measurement and weight based upon the imperial system of England.
The provision of these items was awarded to James Blanch with the task of creating seven sets of instruments accurately determining weights, volume measurements and a standard yard. The sets were to include the below;Â
Series of weights: 1, 2, 4, and 8 drams, 1, 2, 4, and 8 ounces, 1, 2, 4, 7, 14, 28, and 56 pounds.Â
Series of volume measures: half gill, gill, half pint, pint, quart, half gallon, gallon, peck, half bushel and bushelÂ Â
An instrument the length of one standard yard, better known as a yard stick.Â Â
The seven sets were âdistributed to police offices in various regional towns – Parramatta, Windsor, Bong-Bong, Goulburn, Bathurst, Maitland – as well as one to the police office in Sydneyâ (Holland, 2000).Â These instrument sets would be the foundations of accurate and cohesive measurement units across the colony of New South Wales.Â Â
Embossed in the metal of the measuring cup is the maker’s mark ‘J.Blanch’ and the date ‘1833’. There is another symbol etched into the side of the measuring cup that resembles an arrow. This mark is described as the ‘broad arrow’ and was used across England and colonial Australia. “Every item made or used by government convicts had to be marked or stamped with a broad arrow, the mark of government property, to prevent theft and the selling-on of government goods and tools. The broad arrow was so widely used to mark objects used by convicts, that it became associated with the convict system itself, rather than just a symbol of government property” (Sydney Living Museums, 2022). At the time of this item being commissioned by the government James Blanch was a free member of society. Therefore, a distinction can be made that this mark was associated with the sets belonging to government property as opposed to being included due to Blanch’s prior convict status.
An Instrumental Legacy
From convict to successful businessman and pioneer of engineering practices within Australia, the tale of James Blanch is a true under-dog story. James Blanch passed away in 1841 with multiple properties to his name and is listed at number 182 of all âtime richest Australians (Past Lives, 2012). His foundry was taken over after his death by Peter Nicol Russell who continued its operation with his two brothers under the company P.N Russell and Company. Peter Nicol Russell would live on to become a pioneering figure of the engineering industry within Australia and was a significant benefactor to the University of Sydney.Â Â
Workers photographed in front of the Sydney Foundry & Engineering Works operated by PN Russell & Co circa 1870-1875
Image source: The State Library of New South Wales Collections
The legacy of James Blanch and his contributions to engineering and instrument making within Australia live on, although they are far less noted than that of his successor. It is through objects such as this imperial half pint measuring cup, which bears his name, that the tale of James Blanch endures.Â Undoubtedly, there are many objects crafted by the hands of Blanch that would remain scattered across the state of New South Wales and afar, the imperial half pint measuring cup in the private collection of the Kalmarâs is but one example of his work. Another is an Imperial half bushel which can be viewed at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Â
Â Image source: Powerhouse Museum Collections
Australian Government National Measurement Institute (2010), ‘History of Measurement in Australia’; ‘History of Metric Conversion’,Â www.measurement.gov.au/measurementsystem/Pages/HistoryofMeasuremtin
Holland, Julia (2000), ‘James Blanch – Australia’s first meterologist?’; The Australian Metrologist, http://members.optusnet.com.au/jph8524/JHjames_blanch.htm
Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (2022), Imperial half bushel measure; Powerhouse Museum Collection, https://collection.maas.museum/object/550907
Past Lives (2012), ‘James Blanch (1784 â 1841): custom house officer, convict, and mathematical instrument maker’, https://mprobb.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/james-blanch-1754-1841-custom-house-officer-convict-and-mathematical-instrument-maker/
State Library of New South Wales (2022), ‘Fanny voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1815 with 175 passengers’; Convict Records, https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/fanny/1815
Sydney Living Museums (2022), ‘Branding iron early to mid 19th century’; Objects Records, https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/taxonomy/term/18636#object-107796
Are you ready to pop the big question but just need the perfect ring? Here is our 2022 engagement ring guide to help you find the one. Antique engagement rings are expertly crafted, unique in design and are important pieces of history. Whether you are looking for timeless designs or something completely one of a kind antique engagement rings offer it all. We have a wide range of engagement rings to suit every budget and style. Here are just some of our incredible pieces waiting for their next great love story!
Art Deco Diamond Ring
If you’re looking for a show stopper then this ring could be the one! Featuring such a unique and striking design this ring stands out for all the right reasons. Crafted in France during the 1940’s this ring perfectly encapsulates the elegance and glamour synonymous with the Art Deco period. A 1.30ct round brilliant cut diamond sits in the centre of the piece with a further 62 single cut diamonds set into the intricate halo design. The ring is created in platinum and features such exquisite craftsmanship. This ring is truly one of a kind in design and is such a beautiful piece of history from such a glamorous era.
Antique Diamond Platinum Ring
If your dream ring is one that delivers on carat weight and is full of antique charm then look no further! This beautiful ring was hand made by our master jeweller to replicate the popular settings of the Art Deco era and features exquisite detail from every angle.Â The diamond in the centre is an incredible 3.21ct genuine antique mine cut diamond that was cut by hand over 150 years ago. This ring is simply breath taking and is the perfect blend of old and new.
TrilogyÂ Ring With Antique Diamonds
Another beautiful example of old meeting new is this exceptional trilogy diamond ring. This ring has such fantastic presence on the hand and the diamonds sparkle so brilliantly. This ring is a modern setting with exquisite detailing and a finely tapered band. The diamonds featured in the ring are antique European cut diamonds that equal 2.29cts and have exceptional scintillation. The trilogy design is said to represent the couple’s past, present and future together making it such a romantic engagement piece!
Toi et Moi Diamond Ring
This gorgeous Toi et Moi ring has so much charm and is an exceptional antique piece. Featuring two European cut diamonds that are nestled together so beautifully! Toi et Moi is French for ‘you and me’ and is represented by two gemstones set in this style. It is such a romantic notion that was popularized by Napoleon Bonaparte when he gifted Princess Josephine with a Toi et Moi style ring for their engagement. This ring was made in the 1920’s era and is a perfect engagement piece.
Burmese Ruby with Diamond Halo Ring
Rubies have been regarded as powerful gemstones since ancient times. Their vivid red hues are associated with emotions of love and passion. The ruby set into this ring is a 2.10ct Burmese ruby and features a magnificent red colour. The setting is crafted in 18ct white gold and features a halo of 14 round brilliant cut diamonds. The white gold setting and diamond halo perfectly contrast the intense hue of this incredible ruby!
Art Deco Blue Sapphire and Diamond Ring
This is an exceptional blue sapphire and diamond ring that is simply exquisite in its design. The blue sapphire is an amazing 2.5ct Ceylonese sapphire and has the most outstanding hue. The setting is crafted in platinum and features the most striking geometric design set with diamonds. This is a truly exquisite antique ring that is one ofÂ a kind.
Art Deco Diamond Ring
If you’re looking for something truly unique then this could be the ring for you! This ring has such a beautiful design with three European cut diamonds featured in a bypass style setting. Made in the 1920’s this ring is crafted is 18ct yellow gold and platinum. This is such an unusual Art Deco era ring that will always be admired.
Blue Sapphire with Diamond Halo Ring
This incredible blue sapphire and diamond ring is sure to take their breath away. Set in the centre is an exquisite 2ct unheated natural Ceylonese sapphire perfectly framed by a 10 European cut diamonds. This ring is an exceptional piece of history that dates back to the 1900’s. A truly rare piece – antique sapphire rings don’t get much better than this one!
Antique Diamond Engagement Ring
This ring is another fantastic example of old meeting new. This gorgeous diamond solitaire ring features an incredible 1.75ct antique European cut diamond. The setting has been crafted by our master jeweller to perfectly compliment the antique charm of the diamond. Crafted in platinum with single cut diamonds set along the band this ring is a one of a kind piece. This ring has such amazing presence on the hand and there is no doubt that it would be met with a big YES!
As we celebrate the month of love it seems only appropriate to take a look into some of the most romantic jewels in our collection. Although the gifting of jewellery has been a symbol of love and affection since ancient times, it was in the Victorian era that sentimental jewellery surged in popularity. Jewellery of this time was all about expressing your deepest affections to those you loved the most. Packed with layers of meaning, secret messages of love and personal mementos jewellery of this era was deeply personal and achingly sentimental.Â
This trend of sentimentalism can be traced from the societal shifts in France following the French Revolution.Â The revolution challenged established monarchy and religious institutions within France and a new value system for its society emerged. The ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity became the basis of the value system for the French population.Â These shared ideals of a society based in freedom, equality and companionship saw an emphasis placed on personal relationships and affection between individuals. The development of these ideals saw a greater focus on sentimentality and this concept was soon being depicted across all creative pursuits including; art, literature, music, architecture, fashion and jewellery. British fashion was heavily influenced by French culture and these values of sentimentality resonated with Queen Victoria.Â It was the British monarchâs affinity for sentimental jewels that resulted in them becoming highly popularized across the Victorian era.Â
A mixture of French and English sayings became widely popular across jewellery design and were exchanged as tokens of love between couples and friends.Â The French term âsouvenirâ which translates to âmemoryâ became a popular sentiment displayed on jewellery pieces. Other popular sentiments of deep affection included âregardâ, âloveâ, âdearestâ, âmizpahâ and âAEIâ which stood for âamity, eternity and infinityâ.Â These sentiments were available across a range of different jewels including rings, lockets, brooches, bracelets and pendants.
One of the most creative ways that such sentiments were incorporated into jewellery design was through acrostic jewellery. Coloured gemstones would be ordered so that their first letters would spell out a word.Â âThe Napoleonic taste for the symbolism of gemstones, and for names and mottoes spelt out with the initial letter of appropriate gemstones, quickly spreadâ (Bennett & Mascetti, 1989). The above brooch features a lock of hair in the centre with coloured gemstones set into the border. The first letters of each gemstone spell out the word âRegardâ – ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond. The hidden sentiment accompanied by the personal relic of a lock of hair shows how deeply personal this piece of jewellery was to the wearer.Â Read more about acrostic jewellery here.
Lockets were another highly popular keepsake to be exchanged between couples and family.Â Lockets during this time would be used to store mementos of their loved one, most commonly being a lock of hair or a photograph.Â
âWomen of the 19th century would swap locks of hair as a love token the way young girls today might wear friendship braceletsâ (Little, 2016).Â
Itâs not surprising then, that so many Victorian Era rings and pendants feature lockets on the reverse to house these personal relics. âLocks of hair were still concealed in small compartments at the back of jewels. Veiled and unveiled messages of love, rebuses and mottoes, were inscribed at the back of brooches and pendants or inside ring shanksâ (Bennett & Mascett, 1989).Â
Floriography, also known as the language of flowers, was another popular past time of the Victorian era. The attributing of particular meanings and sentiments to flowers and their arrangements created a whole world of cryptic communications.
The language of flowers was used as a secret code and the flowers that most often appeared in romantic jewels were those able to convey sentiments of love, friendship and affection, such as ivy leaves and forget-me-nots” (Bennett & Mascetti, 1989).
This adaptation of floriography into jewellery design calls for close consideration of all design elements. What could appear as a floral motif for decorative purposes could have layered meanings of affection intended for the wearer.
The change in societal values after the French Revolution saw the emergence of sentimentality throughout the Victorian era. The jewellery from the time reflects these cultural shifts and their influence on art and fashion within France and abroad. Love token jewellery from this era so strongly evokes the kinship between the gift-giver and recipient. The sentiments that rose in popularity are bold and deeply romantic. The exchange of personal relics in the form of hair, although no longer fashionable, creates a tangible connection to the wearers of these jewels and their connections to their loved ones. The creation of acrostic jewellery and the Victorian language of flowers causes us to read deeper into the design of these jewels and search for the hidden sentiments. These jewels are just a few examples of how meaning was incorporated into jewellery design during the Victorian era, though there are plenty more examples that have not been discussed here. These incredible pieces tell us the story of our human history and the connections of those who came before us. Â
Victorian Locket Designs Image: Hinks, Peter (1975) ‘Nineteenth Century Jewelry’
To kickstart The Kalmar Vault series we begin with two significant pieces of Australian jewellery history. From the Kalmarâs private collection comes a fantastic pocket watch and Albert chain from acclaimed jeweller and watchmaker, Mr. Henry F Hutton. “The business founded by Henry Hutton around 1880 became one of the premier retail jewellery establishments in Ballarat, Victoria.â (Cavill, Cocks & Grace: 1992).Â The town of Ballarat in Victoria was one of Australiaâs most significant gold mining towns during the mid-19th century. The gold rush saw prospectors migrate to towns such as Bathurst, Buninyong and Ballarat. This brought an influx of many Colonial jewellers who settled and set up businesses in the towns. Hutton worked out of his shopfront on Stuart Street in the second half of the 19th century between the 1880s to late 1950s. It was there that Hutton gained notoriety for his quality jewellery and skilled watchmaking.Â Â
Although the Kalmarâs have owned other pieces of Huttonâs work this exceptional Albert chain and pocket watch is a piece which remains in their private collection. âBecause of its great rarity, Australian jewellery of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is now eagerly sought after by collectors and museums alikeâ (Schofield, A & Fahy, K: 1990). The pieces are not only of exceptional quality but have fantastic significance to Australiaâs history.Â
The Albert Chain:Â Albert chains were originally created for the purpose of fastening a pocket-watch to a menâs waistcoat.Â Â Named after the style of watch chain worn by Prince Albert the chain traditionally comprised of a T-bar at one end that would affix to a button hole and a swivel hook at the other to attach to the pocket watch.Â This Albert chain is of this traditional design but with exceptionally ornate detailing.Â
âOne thing which distinguishes Australian jewellery of the mid-nineteenth century is its generous use of gold which was so abundant. Australian gold watch chains, based closely on the type made popular in England by Prince Albert, are usually much heavier than the English ones: the same principle applies to Australian gold fob seals and broochesâ (Schofield, A & Fahy, K: 1990).
Crafted in 18ct yellow gold the piece features two twisted chains held in place with two sliding mechanisms. At the end of the chain hangs the traditional T-Bar and ornate chain tassel. Each surface of the gold has incredible hand-engraved details which feature beautiful floral patterns. A âHuttonâ makerâs mark can be found embossed on the bottom bail of the chain.Â
The Pocket Watch:Â The pocket watch case, also crafted in 18ct yellow gold, features exceptional detailing on either side. On one side, a shield with an ornate wreath of floral and filigree engraving surrounding it. The other side, features the same wreath pattern but with a bouquet of flowers in the center. The watch-face is also decorated with floral designs and roman numerals upon the dial. Sitting underneath the centre twelve are the words âHenry F. Hutton Ballaaratâ, this is interesting as it not only depicts the makerâs name but also the traditional spelling of the city, which later dropped the additional âaâ from its title.Â Â
These two incredible pieces of Australian history are such fantastic examples of the quality of work being produced by Australian jewellers throughout the 19th century. Many pieces of jewellery from this era tell the history of our country, from the gold rush, colonization, societal changes and the appreciation of native flora and fauna. To find out more about other significant Australian jewellers read a brief history of Australian jewellery.Â
This year has been a difficult one for many but throughout these challenges we must always find something to look forward to. For the jewellery and watch lovers out there, The Kalmar Antiques annual catalogue may just be that something! This curated selection of antique offerings is an exciting snapshot into these incredible items from bygone eras. We sat down with Gemmologist, Diamond Grader, Valuer and Director of Kalmar Antiques, Damien Kalmar, to discuss highlights from this yearâs catalogue.Â
After another challenging year in New South Wales you must be excited to be re-opened and presenting Kalmar Antiquesâ annual catalogue. What can people expect to find in the yearâs offering?
Â Besides the traditional range of antiques that we carry, we also purchased quite a substantial amount of antique pocket watch keys. These pieces are full of charm and also make fabulous pendants!Â
We have also expanded our range of vintage enamel butterfly brooches from the 1930s. These pieces have such fantastic vibrant colours and are so versatile to wear.Â Our collection includes pieces from many different European jewellers including, most notably, Danish jeweller David Andersen.Â
On top of this, we also acquired two truly amazing early Australian antique sterling silver pieces from the 1870âsâ one, a centrepiece and the other an inkwell which features real emu eggs. The detail in these pieces fantastically capture Australian history and are just incredibly unique items that you couldnât find anywhere else in the world.Â Â Â
The front cover features an extraordinary antique demi parure, what can you tell us about this piece?Â Â
Yes, it really is amazing! It dates from the 1870âs and really takes you back to a time of high society. Unlike other sets that we have had in the past, both the earrings and brooch are quite substantial in size and highlighted with enamel and pearls.
In terms of jewellery, there are so many highlights in this catalogue. Which are some of your favourite pieces?Â Â
Easily, any and all of the early Australian jewellery I always adore, especially the two silver art pieces I mentioned previously. They really are a must-see!
Â My affinity for Australian jewellery means I just canât go past this magnificent brooch attributed to Sydney jeweller, Alfred Lorking. This piece has so much incredible detail and depicts a fantastic naturalistic design. The natural pearls used to form the image of a bunch of grapes is incredibly delicate but also adds such an amazing tactile component to the piece. The border of the brooch, crafted in 15ct gold, has been created to simulate wooden branches. The level of detail captured in this piece is a true testament to the skill and talent that Alfred Lorking had.
Another fantastic piece of Australian history is the vintage brooch by Rhoda Wager. Wager was a prominent Australian jeweller throughout the 1920âs to 1940âs. Most of her jewellery was made in silver, so it is exciting to have this fantastic piece made in both silver and gold.Â
And finally, the serpent necklace on page 33 is by far the finest that I have ever seen, let alone had the privilege of selling. The graduation of the chain links is so impressive when we consider the hand-made nature of the piece all those years ago. Whatâs more extraordinary is the detail of the serpentâs head and heart pendant that is set with a large cabochon cut garnet.Â
Another fantastic jewellery piece is the lava cameo bracelet that is featured on page 33. The six carved panels are a testament to the skills of these experienced carvers. The lava itself has beautiful soft, muted tones and depicts six cherubs.
Kalmar Antiques offers a fantastic range of vintage watches and timepieces. What are a few key pieces that we can expect to find in the catalogue? Â
This year has uncovered some exciting timepieces, with the two standout pieces being the Omega Constellation watch designed by the great Andrew Grima. This piece features an incredibly detailed, 18ct yellow gold bracelet and a glass and crown that isÂ made from faceted citrine.
Then there is the vintage Patek Philippe from 1952, that comes with not only its original box and papers, but an extensive 50+ pages of service history and communication between the original owner and Patek Philippe. This timepiece really is an exceptional piece of history that is highly sort after by any watch collector.
To shop the latest catalogue and see these, and many more, incredible pieces for yourself shop online here or pick up a copy in-store.Â Â
Here is a brief article on Kalmar Antiques’ very own and very beautiful 16 carat rose gold.
The story of how we came about 16 carat gold actually goes back to a lovely young couple who purchased an antique snake ring from us that was made in Birmingham in the late 1800’s in what was hallmarked as 15 carat gold.