Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Old Brooch


Some years ago my mother inherited the contents of a farmhouse in England.  She found the antique brooch in the photo below in the old Devonshire house and, much to my delight, she gave it to me.

The brooch when we first saw it
Abigail, my geocaching character whom I wrote about in a previous blog, informed me that she'd love to have the brooch. I don't know if other writers have this problem, but sometimes my characters can be very demanding! However, after some thought, I agreed to give it to her. I'd recently read a blog post by C.S. Lakin about using symbols and motifs in a book, and the brooch would be the perfect symbol for Abigail's quest to find God.

I followed a set of instructions I found on Google and cleaned the brooch. I presented it to Abigail, who grinned her thanks as she pinned it to the backpack she used for geocaching. I know, don't ask, that's Abigail for you.  Did I really expect her to wear it on her clothes?

Clean brooch

We wanted to know more about the brooch, so we brainstormed a list of questions. Here are some of them:

How old is the brooch?

Who made it?

Where was it made?

Who was the original owner of the brooch?

Who gave it to her? Her beau? Her father? Her friend? Her employer?

Why did that person give it to her? A Valentine's present (Abigail vetoed that one as too obvious) To reward an achievement? A farewell present by a soldier going off to fight in a war and if so, which war? And did he return from the war? And if he did, was she waiting for him or did she go off with another?

Or did she pick it up in a country lane, and if so, who lost it? How did that person lose it?

Or maybe she stole it? Then why did she steal it?

Was she covering for a servant who stole it?

Did a magpie drop it down the chimney?

Did she find it in a highwayman's secret hollow tree?

Did she catch a fish and . . .

"STOP!" said Abigail. "This is getting way out of hand. Let's find out the facts before we speculate any more. Why don't you write a blog post about the brooch? Put some photos online too. Maybe someone knowledgeable about antique brooches will see it and tell you more about it."

"Good idea, Abigail."

So here's the blog post with photos as suggested by my bossy character. If anyone knows anything about it, we'd really appreciate it if you would tell us about the brooch in the comment section below. Many thanks.

By the way, the brooch is about 5 cms (2.75 ins) across and appears to be silver plated or made of silver. There are 4 sets of markings on the back, the first RJW, the second could be a lion with a raised paw, the third two parallel vertical marks and the fourth looks like an anchor lying on its side. They are very difficult to see properly even with a magnifying glass.

23 comments:

  1. Don't know anything about your brooch, Ruth Ann, but I love it. Also love the idea that it fell into your hands through an inheritance. Amazing how it cleaned up! Good luck with the story and with discovering the real provenance of your brooch.

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  2. I don't know anything about the brooch either, except that it is beautiful and what a neat story behind it. Would be interested in knowing more as well!

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  3. Don't know about the brooch except it cleaned up beautifully! I hope Abigail is able to help you find our more about it. Be sure to share it here if she does.

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  4. Thank you Alice, Lisa and Shirl for taking the time to leave a comment.

    I'm going to put a request out to ACFW over the weekend for any experts on antique jewelry to visit the blog in the hopes that someone will be able to identify it and give me some information.

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    1. And request on Twitter and FaceBook! That's the way to increase traffic to the blog as well as just maybe get an answer! I've tweeted and FB'd.

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    2. Thanks Shirl. I appreciate your help.

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  5. Sorry, can't help . Know nothing about old jewellery but it made for a great blog, Ruth Ann. Sure cleaned up well.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the blog! Thank you for stopping by

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  6. Ruth Ann, the brooch is beautiful and I'm sure it has a fascinating history. I watch the British TV show 'Antique Roadshow' and it's interesting to hear about the history of the items people bring in to get valued :)

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    1. Yes, it's beautiful. "Antique Roadshow" makes for good watching. Thank you for popping in and leaving a comment.

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  7. I have a little information:
    Lion with raised paw indicates Sterling Silver - .925 percent pure silver

    Anchor represents the city of Birmingham –

    RJW are the initials of the silversmith – I’m not sure who that is

    And the parallel lines are an indication of year of manufacture to the best of my knowledge

    Hope this helps a little. I'll keep searching for answers.

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    1. Thank you, Judith, I appreciate your help.

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  8. I love the brooch. What an interesting design. If only it could talk! Does your mother have any recollections regarding it? I look forward to seeing how this develops!

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    1. Unfortunately my mother doesn't have any information about the brooch. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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  9. You might check out this link. It looks much like your brooch.

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/82282726/birmingham-antique-silver-sweetheart

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    1. Thank you, that's a lovely brooch and as you say, similar to mine.

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  10. It would appear that your maker is Richard John Wakefield - active at Tenby Street North in Birmingham from 1887 through at least 1921.

    Here is a link to the information - you'll have to scroll down quite a bit, but things are in alpha order.

    http://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/Makers/Birmingham-R.html

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  11. The maker seems to have been Richard John Wakefield of Tenby Street North in Birmingham. He worked from 1887 to at least 1921. Check out this link:

    http://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/Makers/Birmingham-R.html

    It's been a lot of fun chasing this down.

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    1. Wow you're star! This is exactly the type of response to my blog that I was hoping for. Thank you so much.

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    2. You are very welcome. I love the thrill of the chase.

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  12. Well, I'm sure this jewelry was given as a love gift. What would the five hearts represent? Her five children? With the buckles on each side representing the father of the children on one side and the mother of the children on the other. Could those end pieces be fleur-de-lis representing the trinity holding the family together?

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  13. Good to hear someone else has demanding characters, too - and pleased you've managed to discover more about your ... er ... Abigail's broach :)

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