This weekend hubby and I set up a booth at the fantastic West Bend Antique Show. It was held in West Bend, Wisconsin, and had over 50 top quality dealers. It was truly a wonderful event, another one from N. L. Promotions. They have been holding the Elkhorn (WI) Antique Market for over 30 years and have a highly regarded reputation.
Part of the benefit of selling at a show like this is that you get to look for bargains for yourself, even before the crowds rush in! This was no exception. If you have been reading my articles, you are well aware of my love for jewelry. My lucky find was not in a booth that specialized in jewelry, but rather one that had a good mix of glass, pottery and ephemera. Back in a small case is where I discovered my treasure. It was a late-Victorian period bracelet called a “hinged bangle”, and it was quite popular to make them shaped like belts. This one has an exceptionally elaborate design with a raised “buckle” and fancy work on the entire band. A small button is pushed in to open or close it. Many times you will find that these are no longer working but this one is just fine. Although not marked with gold content, it is most likely plated or filled and it has kept it warmth and glow for all these years.
I am a rather nostalgic person and when I opened it up and found the engraving, teared up a bit. It reads “Nellie. July 12 ’80.” (That would be 1880, not 1980, of course.) I can just picture Nellie seated in a garden chair, wearing a long gown, perhaps holding a parasol to keep her lovely skin out of the sun. A handsome gent comes to see her and offers her this wonderful bracelet, perhaps for a birthday or a promise of things to come. Now I am smiling. I can only hope that dear Nellie enjoyed it for many years, then perhaps left it to a daughter who also wore it. I often wish things would stay in their respective families, but alas, that is not always the case.
The maker’s mark is on the clasp and it was the “H&B” company, a name I’ve found on watch chains and other jewelry. They patented this design in July of 1874.
I could not find an exact replica of this bracelet in my Warman’s jewelry book, but they defined the date this bracelet was from as the “Late Victorian – Aesthetic Period c. 1880-1901.”
While I will never know who Nellie was, or why her gift wound up at an antique show in Wisconsin, I do know it is a lovely piece and one that will be enjoyed for years to come.