Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Grundy Butterfly Pin, c. 1800

Click on image to enlarge.
Hair Pin
England, 1800
The British Museum

I really like this pin which dates to around 1800. It was likely made in England, but we’ll examine that more closely in a second. Originally, the piece was made as a hairpin. It’s crafted of silver with a closed-back and set with diamonds with ruby eyes and antennae of gold wire.

Two hinged arms with loops at the end were added to the back at a later date. This addition allowed the jewel to be worn as a pendant hung from a ribbon or chain. Butterfly hairpins such as this one were fashionable between1800-30. The pins were usually worn with fresh flower wreaths.

The piece was once part of the collection of Hull Grundy. The curators of the British Museum believe that this pin might be one which was described in the records of the Royal Goldsmiths at Rundells. The piece therein described was supplied to Princess Amelia. The records state: 

“’An elegant Butterfly for the hair' for £142.15s for Princess Amelia.”

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