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Antique Brooch

2006 Nov 24

I found this brooch at Charley Hafen's, a Salt Lake City jewelry store and art gallery. I had been looking for presentation quality Dolphins and FBM Strategic Deterrent Patrol pins for a Polaris tartan kilt I am going to have made. Unable to find any that appealed to me on the internet, I hit upon the idea of having a jeweler make sterling duplicates of the dolphins and patrol pin that I wore while in the Navy. I chose Charley Hafen because one of the students in Gordon Newby's wood carving class now regularly works with Charley, having translated his wood carving skills to engraving; also because Charley was once one of Gordon's students at Highland High School.

When I mentioned to Charley that the dolphins and patrol pin were to be used as kilt pins, he told me that I had to see this pin. An elderly German lady brought the pin - along with an odd assortment of other baubles - to Charlie because she wanted to sell them. Now. So, I saw this pin and while it was interesting, this isn't me. I don't do sparklies. Charley and I concluded our business and I went back to work. But I kept thinking about it. The next day I went back to Charley's and bought it.

Glad I did. It turns out that I like it. The appraisal that Charley commissioned from O.C. Tanner says that it comes from the Arts and Crafts period circa 1900, contains a 17.3mm amethyst, four colors of enamel, and values it for insurance purposes. Shortly after I purchased the brooch, I posted a query on the X Marks the Scot forum asking the members if they might know anything about this sort of bauble. Most didn't, but there is one who did know how to interpret the hallmarks on the back. The interpretation of the hallmarks shows that the silver is 0.925 Sterling; the brooch was made in Birmingham, England; and if we can place more store in the date letter than in the shape of the cartouche it's in; then the brooch was made in 1885. One-hundred-eleven years old and in virtually perfect condition. Don't yet know who the maker is though there is a maker's mark.

My camera can't get close enough to take a usable picture of the hallmarks but I know someone who has a camera that can.

In the photo below, the brooch is shown against the Polaris Tartan. Colors aren't quite right. The purple in the brooch is really blue. There is no purple in the tartan either.

Antique Brooch / kilt pin on Polaris Tartan

And here is a detail from the back showing the hallmarks

Antique Brooch / kilt pin hallmarks

What I know (or at least think I know about the hallmarks came from discussion on the 925-1000.com forum. Left to right: Robinson Brothers maker's mark; a peculiar date mark - might be 1885 but the cartouche outline for that date should be oval not a rectangle with chamfered corners; a peculiar Birmingham city mark with two "chips" out of the stamp; and a less than perfect standard mark indicating that the piece is 0.925 Sterling. 925-1000.com has a chart of date letters that shows the gothic 'L' in an oval cartouche.

Googling around the internet I found a couple of pieces at Daniel Bexfield Antiques - a fob and a bookmark both made by Robinson Brothers in the latter half of the 1880s with the same lazy city mark (though without the chips) and chamfered rectangular cartouches around the date letters. Neither of these pieces have a duty mark and on the fob, the maker's mark looks to be made from the same stamp that was used on the brooch.

Update 2k8 Oct 12

Checking my web site to make sure that external links haven't rotted away. Went back to the date letters page on 925-1000.com and on a lark checked the maker's marks section for initials J through S. Robinson Brothers isn't in the list BUT, Rolason Brothers is. And, the image of the Rolason Brothers mark seems to match the mark on my brooch quite well. Just like the Robinson Brothers mark as described above.

Rolason? / Robinson? maker's mark

Interestingly, this image is named RobinsonBros_B3q19.jpg, not Rolason. Googling Rolason Brothers I found several web sites with images of Rolason Brothers maker's marks that are similar to these two images. Others show the Rolason Brothers mark without the dot between the R and B. One of those sites is a Daniel Bexfield page for an Edwardian Silver Napkin Clip


Last modified: 2011 Mar 12 1517:10 UTC