Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gifts of Grandeur: The Lehigh Valley Railway Brooch, 1948

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Isn’t this wonderful? Here we see a gold brooch in the form of a diesel locomotive, set with diamonds, sapphires and rock crystal. It’s the work of an unknown American jeweler and dates to 1948.

Jewelers often created special to commemorate notable events. This brooch was made to mark the introduction of diesel locomotives to part of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the U.S. as locomotives powered by diesel were beginning to replace older steam locomotives. Such an event was exciting and important, hence the creation of this piece.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad was first constructed in the Nineteenth Century to transport Anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to America’s east coast, earning the nickname “the route of the black diamond,” in honor of its profitable cargo. To commemorate this, a black diamond shape can be seen on the company's logo on the front of this brooch.

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