- Green and Purple Stones on Metal
Quarantine Diversion #132. I have an antique/vintage butterfly pin collection of about 40 pieces dating from the late 1800s to the 1960s, from many countries. Unfortunately, I did not record all the info when I got them so I’m unsure of some without markings now, such as this one. The early suffragettes in Britain used the colors Green, White, and Violet (GWV) to represent “Give Women the Vote.” 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in the U.S., giving women the right to vote. So I am appropriating this pin to that cause…Stay tuned for 30-some other vintage pins as this quarantine and heat go on and on…
2. Turquoise, Coral, Marcasite on Sterling
This is the first butterfly pin I purchased, thereby starting my collection. I was already interested in vintage jewelry (all jewelry really) so I decided to make this collection more specific…not just buying any old thing but to limit it specifically to butterfly pins, thereby making it easier to find them online and have a more cohesive grouping. Most of the ones I bought were on eBay but probably at least half of them were gifts from several other people. I’m not collecting anymore but I do like this collection. This is turquoise, coral, marcasite in sterling silver with a gold wash. It is marked “Sterling Germany,” and was dated to the 1930s. I like to imagine Lilli Marlene wearing it in dark, smoky Berlin bars pre-World War II. Of course, Lilli Marlene is a fictional character so…
This is vintage butterfly pin #3. This would probably be dated to the 1950s. My collection is not overly valuable (mostly silver and other metals with a few gemstones and rhinestones); however, this is probably the most valuable one. My husband gave it to me, from an antique mall in town. It is marked “Schreiner New York,” which is still very collectible costume jewelry. Schreiner (in business from 1939-1971) used quality art glass and specialty stones mounted differently than other designers. This one is a “trembler.” The mounting is on the lower wing and the top wing moves when the wearer moves (you can see the springs). One of my old bosses, who considered herself a maven of high society, told me you always wear a butterfly pin on your shoulder as though it could fly away so this one does give that impression.
4. Through 8. Filigree
These filigree beauties date from late 19th to early 20th century. I like to think some are from the 1890s or earlier. All are stamped “800” on the back, meaning they are 80% silver. That particular stamp was only used on jewelry from the European mainland so they have traveled farther than I have. The 4 that look gold are gold-washed and two are enameled (specifically cloisonné). For some reason, I think the one that is not gold-washed is the oldest. I didn’t purchase any of these; they were all gifts. Three or 4 were from my friend, Jere, and the other remaining 1 or 2 were from my cousin, Deborah. Pretty little critters…
9. Norway Holmsen
This butterfly pin is one of the very few I have with a maker’s mark which makes it fun to learn a little about the artist. It was made by Aksel Holmsen. It is stamped “Norway Sterling 925S” with his mark of crossed jeweler’s tools. It is most likely from the 1950s. The wings, body, and eyes are Guilloché enamel. You can see the fine detail in the veins on the wings. I’ve seen Holmsen’s small butterflies (1 3/8″ x 5/8″) in several different colors online, which is how I purchased it. Holmsen was from Sandefjord, Norway and worked for the well-known silversmithing company David-Andersen before starting his own studio.
10. Through 12. Mexico
Frida says all these butterfly pins are from Mexico. Good thing we’re quarantined because of the pandemic plus the heat here in AZ as I just spent hours poring through books on Mexican silver trying to find out more about these pins. I have all those books because I also have a collection of vintage Mexican silver (jewelry and non-jewelry), most of which is identifiable other than these 3 that were already in my butterfly collection before I started with Mexican silver. So I refreshed my memory on Mexican silver but to no avail for these pieces. They’re all marked “Mexico,” they’re all sterling, and the 2 small ones with abalone have maker’s marks on them. However, the marks are really worn and I can’t make them out even with a loupe. Grrrr. So I’m going to say they’re from somewhere between the 1930s and 1950s. Pretty non-specific.
13. Through 17. Lucite
Some people believe butterflies are fairies in disguise. My cousin, Deborah, gave me this quirky fairy during my butterfly collecting period so she is part of my collection. She’s quite striking. In fact, I think most or even all of these pins pictured here may have been from my cousin, too. I figured all 5 were either bakelite, celluloid, or lucite…so I did a simple test on them that I’ll put in the first comment if you have any old plastics you would like to test. Now I think they all must be lucite, developed in 1937 by Dupont, and widely used in costume jewelry in the 1940s and 1950s. None of these have any sort of markings on them so I’ll go with those dates. The upper large butterfly and the lower golden butterfly both have imbedded glitter which would make them “confetti lucite.” The butterfly on the far right is mostly metal but has a little circle of lucite below the eyes. They’re a whimsical bunch.
18. Through 20. Sparklers
I might be part corvid because I’m attracted to shiny, sparkly objects like these. The only one of these 3 pins that is marked is the one with green rhinestones. It was made by Apex Art Novelty Company and they had their heyday in the 1930s. Looks 1930-ish to me. The one on the right seems unusual to me and looks like it could be from that era, as well…but, sadly, I have no clue about it or the other one.
21. Through 23. Ladies of Spain
Two of these pins are from Spain and are marked as such on their backs. The lower left one has no markings but the colors and backing are similar and, really, if I don’t group these pins, I’ll never be done showing them. The one on the right side is also a “trembler.” The wings move when the wearer moves. Unlike a previous trembler I showed, there are no springs, there are just hinges that allow the movement. I honestly have no idea what period these would be from…
24. Through 27. Two Sets of Twins
So…I purchased 2 of these pins, one was from my cousin, and one my mother had from somewhere or other. But I’m not sure which is which. I think I purchased the larger of the jade and coral pins on the left but, other than that, I don’t know. Once again, I wish I had kept records of the descriptions of the ones I bought, at least. Of the jade and coral ones, I’m not certain that they are truly jade and coral. I think the larger one might be but maybe they both are or maybe neither are. Pins that look like these are sold often online and they are always described as “jade and coral” but who knows? Not I. The other 2 look similar to each other but none of these 4 have any markings. I did used to wear both of the jade and coral ones on a very “jungle-looking” blazer I had…made me feel “earthy.”
28. Czechoslovakian Beauty
Either my mother or my cousin gave me this colorful beauty. Czechoslovakia is known for its beautiful rhinestones…Czechoslovakia was the source of several types of costume jewelry and, during the period between the 2 World Wars, quantities of glass beads, faceted and molded glass stones and stamped metalwork were produced and exported. Stamped gilt metal filigree jewelry resulted in an ornate look reminiscent of the Victorian Revival period. I’m going to date this to the 1920s-30s. I also have a beautiful floral pin that belonged to one of my grandmothers from there with enameled foliate and rhinestones. I’ve worn this pin several times. I’m partial to rubies, my birthstone, even when they’re fake.
29. Amethyst and Pill Box
My mother gave me this pin that she purchased at an antique store in northern Indiana/southern Michigan, an area bizarrely (imho) called “Michiana.” Stamped “925,” it is sterling silver, amethyst, and marcasite and has 2 loops on the back so it can also be worn as a pendant. I have no idea of the date (definitely after 1940). Maybe ’50s, I dunno. I think it’s very pretty, though.
The other piece is a Judith Lieber for Neiman Marcus pill box that I bought during my butterfly collecting period for some strange reason. Actually, I know the reason but it’s embarrassing but I’ll confess…I worked for a woman who could easily have been the subject of “The Devil Wears Prada” at the time and she was always heading over to “Neiman” to get her latest Louis Vuitton bag or David Yurman chunk of jewelry. I guess I was wrapped up in $$ very briefly. I actually hate Neiman Marcus, though, and this is the only thing I ever got from there but I got it used online (dated before 1998 when Judith Lieber retired). These are still all over eBay and Etsy for more than I paid, though, so I should sell it and buy something I care about now. There, one of my dirty secrets exposed.
30. Through 32. Metalmarks
Do you ever get bored with some little project you’re doing? I’m getting tired of these butterfly pins but it’s drawing to a close very soon. You’re probably relieved, too, if you’re still looking. So there is a family of butterflies called Metalmarks and these are all marked metals! None of these have any maker’s marks on them but the gold one, in particular, looks very old on the back, solder marks, etc. The copper colored one I purchased because I wanted to round out my collection with something different. I believe it was described as copper and Native American. I don’t think it’s either, really. I think it’s more likely fake Native American made for the tourist trade. None of these thrill me too much other than I like diversity in my collection.
33. And 34. Hints of Black
These 2 butterflies are grouped by color only. They’re pretty, aren’t they? The one on the left with the sparkling green eye must have been a gift as it’s not ringing any bells for me. The one on the right I definitely bought online. It’s a tiny thing but really lovely. The technique that is supposedly used on it is called “jappaning.” This is a heavy black lacquer with gold designs and pictorials that contrast with the black base color. It often imitates Asian art and I think the delicate floral pattern looks Asian. I wore this quite a few times. The little blue head sets it off nicely.
35. Through 37. More Sparkles
The only one of these that is marked is the upper right one. It’s marked 1/20 12KGF, which is a mid-20th century mark, and some other things I can’t read. So it’s gold-filled but the most unique thing about it is that if you pinch the two wings together, it opens these 4 little claw-like things on the back that grip onto what you’re wearing. You would not want to wear anything delicate and clip this pin onto it but it’s okay with a heavy fabric. The one on the upper left has an iridescent stone and one of its little rhinestones is missing. That happened when I wore it once. Iridescent rhinestones were invented in 1956 by Daniel Swarovski’s grandson and Christian Dior so I’m going to date it around then. And the bottom one, I have no clue other than it’s quite pretty with those grayish stones. Maybe it’s around the same time as the others.
I’m done showing you my butterfly pins! I actually have more but they were given to me by people who knew I had a collection and just saw them somewhere not realizing I was looking for older ones. They’re not really vintage other than I’ve had them for 15 years now so one of these days they’ll qualify.