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Victorian Whitby Jet 19 th Century Name Pin - FLORENCE (Sold)

This Victorian name brooch is made of carved Whitby Jet and dates from circa 1880's.  It has the name Florence hand-carved upon it.  It is very hard to see from the photo but the piece is in excellent condition with the name in Bold upper case letters.

Jet is a natural material, the fossilized remains of the monkey puzzle tree.  Seams of Jet occur around the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby and Jet has been used to make jewellery for as long as man has existed.  Stone age man made amulets from it and the Romans prized its lightness and lustre and used it in their jewellery.  In the medieval times it was used to make religious and ecclesiastical jewels such as rosaries and crosses . 

The heyday for Jet  is the  mid-Victorian age.  After Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria was in mourning and jet jewellery was the only adornment permitted at court.  The etiquette of Victorian mourning dictated black clothing, the crinoline was in fashion and Jet with its natural lightness was ideal for the big and bold type of jewellery popular at that time. The rise of the jet industry was also helped by the advent of the railway and the seaside day tripper or holiday maker who wanted to take home a souvenir.  By the 1870s there were 200 workshops employing 1500 men, women and children in the small town of Whitby producing jet jewellery and artifacts. 

During the peak years Whitby hadn't enough Jet to meet demand, so cheaper ,inferior, jet was brought in from abroad.  Mainly used to make beads, this jet had a habit of cracking easily. At the same time Victorian invention made jet substitutes like French jet (which was actually just black glass), vulcanite, other compositions and pressed horn. Whilst bog oak and cannel coal were natural substitutes. All these were cheaper and inferior to jet and are someway to blame for the decline of the industry.  The final straw was Victoria coming out of her long period of mourning and the fashions for lighter and brighter clothes that didn't need the huge bold black jewels that looked so good with crinolines.  By 1884 there were only 300 people left employed in the  Whitby Jet industry.

It is easy to see why collectors love to own genuine Whitby Jet jewellery and this name pin would make a lovely addition to a collection or a great gift for FLORENCE.

Victorian Whitby Jet 19 th Century  Name Pin - FLORENCE (Sold)

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