Buttons

As is usual over Christmas I have gained quite a few pounds and as is usual for January I am dieting. Things, however, are not going as well as in previous years and I have had to resort to moving the button which fastens my work trousers by a number of centimetres. This in addition to causing me heartache has made me ponder the button.

Buttons have always been used for fastening and decoration. They have been discovered in Egyptian tombs and over 15,000 have been found on a Court costume belonging to Henry VIII. However button making took on a new dimension in the 18th century with Dandies sporting ornamental buttons up to 4cm in diameter and handmade buttons produced in anything even fine porcelain.

The 19th century saw the growth of mechanisation and Birmingham became the centre of the industry and exported buttons all over the globe. Metal buttons were popular for uniforms and servants’ liveries while better buttons like silver and enamelled examples were enjoyed by the upper classes. These better buttons were often detachable for laundry purposes and some came in handsome cases.

Victorian and Edwardian fashions stimulated button demand leading to special examples being made for boots, gloves and even underwear. Queen Victoria’s grief at the death of her beloved Albert stimulated the demand for mourning dress and black buttons.

The development of colourful plastic buttons happened in the 20th century.Those produced were often large with strong colours and geometric shapes common in Art Deco design. Sadly for the button producers the introduction of the zip and other boring but effective fasteners saw a decline in the demand for the button. Hold this space though as I am reliably informed by the large and vocal female side of my family that once again the button is the height of fashion. What better time to start a collection.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Rings

I am in the fortunate position to be happily married to someone who does not crave her fingers jewelled with rings. Now I love a jewelled finger, but financially the bare finger does win by more than a short head. We must all agree however that the history of the ring a fascinating one.

Rings have been worn since ancient Egyptian times. Signet rings engraved with a personal seal are associated with power and status, while plain gold wedding rings are tokens of betrothal. Wedding rings have been given or exchanged since Roman times and from the 16th century it has been customary to use a plain gold band.

Before the discovery of large deposits of gold in the USA in the 1840s and diamonds in South Africa in the 1870s, jewellery that was no longer fashionable was often dismantled, melted and the stones refashioned to follow changing tastes. This makes rings before 1800 reasonably rare.

In the early 19th century half hoop and cluster rings were introduced and they remained fashionable throughout the century. Snakes, symbolising wisdom and eternity, were a particularly common motif in the mid 19th century, especially after Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with an emerald set snake engagement ring in 1839. Serpent rings consist of one, two, or three bands with single or double serpent heads, often set with diamond or ruby eyes.

New patterns introduced in the 1890s reflected the late Victorian and Edwardian revival of interest in 18th century court styles and jewellery of this period is characterised by the use of delicate settings.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Dazzle in December with Sheffield Auction Gallery (and it won’t cost as much as you think!)

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s forthcoming Fine Art Auction on Friday 1st December includes over 200 lots of diamond and gem set jewellery.

Pretty in pink, gorgeous in green, beautiful in blue, there is something to match every outfit.

With estimates ranging from as little as £50 there is also something to suit every budget.

Whether a sumptuous Tanzanite for a December birthday, an engagement or just because, there is something on offer for everyone.

Antique & Fine Art Auction including Silver, Jewellery & Watches and Fine Wines Friday 1st December at 10am.

Viewing – Thursday 30th November 9am-4.45pm and Saleday from 8.30am.

For further information or to consign entries in to future auctions, please contact specialist valuer Sarah Clark by emailing sclark@sheffieldauctiongallery.com or by calling 0114 281 6161.

Say Everything Without Saying A Word

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s forthcoming Fine Art Auction on Friday 1st December includes a sumptuous selection of single and multi-stone diamond rings.

A Christmas engagement, special gift or just because, there is something to suit every taste – antique, vintage or modern.

Antique & Fine Art Auction including Silver, Jewellery & Watches and Fine Wines Friday 1st December at 10am. Viewing – Thursday 30th November 9am-4.45pm and Saleday from 8.30am.

For further information or to consign entries in to this sale, please contact specialist valuer Sarah Clark by emailing sclark@sheffieldauctiongallery.com or by calling 0114 281 6161.

Vesta Cases

Smoking is very bad for your health and it is many many years since I last had the unbelievable joy of smoking my pipe. The inconsolable heartbreak of dispatching my beloved briar to the bin is still a wound as raw today as the day of the ceremony. I console myself however by counting the money saved on matches or, as they are sometimes called, vestas.

Vesta cases are a very collectable item. In the 1830’s the awkward and inconvenient tinder box was finally replaced when a new method was invented for producing flames. Vesta matches, named after the Roman goddess Vesta, were slightly smaller than modern matches and were tipped with red phosphorus which ignited when rubbed against a rough surface.

A 9ct Aspray Gold Vesta Case SOLD £340 APRIL 2011 at Sheffield Auction Gallery
A 9ct Aspray Gold Vesta Case SOLD £340 APRIL 2011 at Sheffield Auction Gallery

This new invention in turn developed a need for the vesta box. Originally the vesta box was an adaptation of the traditional snuff box made by adding a striker. The striker was usually a small plate of silver or iron added to the side, base or even interior of the snuff box. Iron strikers remain rare though because laws in the production of silver prohibited the soldering of any base metal to the silver. Other developments included moving the hinged cover to the base to prevent the chance of a stray spark turning the vesta box into a bomb. So, slowly vesta box design grew separately from the snuff box.

Essentially there are three types of vesta case. Those made in the provinces, those made in London and the novelty cases. Collectors can collect single makers, specific Assay offices, all varieties, have themed collections or specialise in novelty. The most valuable are often the novelty cases. These come in a variety of guises. Examples are the dog, the pig, the dog kennel, the violin, the snake and the corseted female form.

Smoking tobacco is definitely not a popular activity any longer, but collecting smoking memorabilia is a growing passion amongst collectors and the vesta case is part of that passion.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!

Specialising in Jewellery, I am very fortunate to see many stunning and exquisite pieces. They can range from something handed down from generation to generation, or a costume piece purchased a few years ago. Fashions and taste play a large part in the open market valuation of jewellery as well as the overall condition.

With the current trend for precious pieces to be set in white gold and platinum, it seems the market for good quality costume jewellery has increased too. Diamante necklaces, earrings and dress rings (with a little mix and match) can look as good as the real thing for a fraction of the cost.

Nevertheless, we all know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend and ‘that’ special ring has got to be special.

Whether you are looking for a timeless classic or something modern and a little different – auction is the place to go. New, second hand or antique, our Specialist Jewellery auctions offer amazing examples to suit every budget – at significantly reduced prices than the high street equivalent.

An example I have seen of this recently was a very good colour and clarity,  2 carat diamond ring in a local retail environment, priced at over £14,000; something which you would expect to see at auction in the region of £3,000 to £4,000 (plus 21% buyers premium), there are real savings to be had!

Quality New & Modern Secondhand Diamond Set Rings
Quality New & Modern Secondhand Diamond Set Rings

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.