Miniature Masterpieces - Art of the Stickpin
By Arthur Anderson
The sartorially resplendent gentleman of the early 1900s secured his cuffs with elegant cufflinks, his detachable collar with a matching collar button and his tie with a fine stickpin. In a blog post several years ago, I illustrated and discussed the beauty of antique cufflinks. Here I hope to do the same for the wonderful stickpins of the period.
Many of the fine cufflink makers of a hundred years ago also created stickpins. Among these versatile jewelry makers were Carter, Howe & Company (later Carter, Gough), Whiteside & Blank, Hayden W. Wheeler and Krementz & Company. Below is a brief survey of the beautiful and imaginative stickpins these jewelers created. I have kept the commentary to a minimum - the stickpins speak for themselves.
Carter, Howe & Company created a stickpin menagerie teeming with serpents, dragons, griffins and other exotic creatures. This example features entwined serpents with jealous green eyes guarding a regal purple amethyst. A small fresh water pearl is set above the serpents like a distant, full moon. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.
Another example from the Carter, Howe menagerie of exotic and mythical beasts. Here a fierce dragon is either protecting or impaled on a golden sceptre set with a pearl. The dragon watches with a wary dark green eye, a hallmark of the golden chimeras Carter, Howe created. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.
A stylized palmette soars above a luminous pearl framed with flowing geometric scrolls. A dramatic example of the beautiful Egyptian Revival jewels created in the early 1900s. Victorian and later jewelry makers often found inspiration in the jewels and designs of ancient civilizations. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1910.
A striking heliotrope, or bloodstone, set in a distinctive Arts & Crafts stickpin. The early Arts & Crafts movement drew significant inspiration from the craftsmanship and designs of the Middle Ages. The cruciform-shape of the stickpin and bloodstone reflect the Victorian interest in the symbols and spirituality of the earlier period. Created by The Brassler Company in 14kt gold, circa 1910.
Continuing the theme of Gothic or Medieval inspired jewels, this menacing stickpin features a winged serpent warily clutching a small pearl. The charming little fellow is the perfect miniature gargoyle to keep demons and goblins from a lapel or tie. The rich detail of the stickpin is a nice example of the fully modeled, sculpture-like miniature jewels of the period. Beautifully crafted by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.
This stickpin exudes classical elegance with a luminous moonstone surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves. The laurel wreath is exquisitely crafted and finely detailed. The moonstone is complemented by a small white pearl set below. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.
An oak leaf and two acorns grow from a small branch. The oak leaf is beautifully enameled with shimmering shades of green, yellow and pink. The acorns are set with two small pearls. Possibly created by Krementz & Company in 18kt and 14kt gold, circa 1900.
This stickpin illustrates a advantage enjoyed by stickpin makers over cufflink makers. Cufflinks had to be created so that they would easily slip though a button hole. The shape and design of cufflinks - rounded and two dimensional - was constrained by their function.
On the other hand stickpin makers could create designs that were three dimensional with dramatic edges. Stickpins have been described as miniature sculptures set atop shafts of gold. This enamel and gold pin is a wonderful example.
These and other fine stickpins can be found in
Cufflinks by the same makers can be found in
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