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A Brooch/Necklace by Otto Roland Mellin of Finland, 1874

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Victorian and Edwardian Jewelry310 of 764Antique hair clip. Cameo Portrait of the Young Alexander III of Russia, by Paul Lebas, circa 1867
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (117 items)

    This is another piece with historic interest, and another sleeper. Lazy auctioneers were selling unredeemed pawns for the melt price a few years ago without researching them. Duh - how hard was it to look up the hallmarks? I researched it on my cellphone at the auction and the maker came up straight away.

    Swedish born Roland Mellin (1803-1871) became a master goldsmith in Helsinki in 1833, then founded the firm of Roland Mellin, the preeminent Finnish firm of gold and silversmiths in the 19th Century.

    This piece is hallmarked by his son, Otto Roland Mellin (1834 -1904). He was among the foundation graduates of the Technical Realschule in Helsinki, where classes commenced in 1858. He continued his studies in St Petersburg and Paris, and succeeded his father in their firm in 1868.

    Otto is best known for his Archaeological Revival jewellery based on Nordic artefacts. Among his claims to fame was his position as court jeweller to Finnish born Aurora Karamzina, a long-time member of the inner circle of the Romanovs (the Russian Emperors ruled the Grand Duchy of Finland as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917).

    This brooch is 45mm wide and 60mm high including the drop. It has a removable bale that allows it to convert to necklace, I am not sure whether this is original or a later addition. The stones are almandine garnets.

    My personal conclusion about this piece is that it shows an interest in naturalistic form that is seen in some of the best Mid-Victorian jewelry.

    This interest was possibly influenced by Japanese art, and is now known as the Aesthetic Movement, or the "Cult of Beauty", which was a prelude to Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau. As such, this is quite different to the archaeological revival pieces for which Otto Roland Mellin is most famous.

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    1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 7 years ago
      FABULOUS !!!!!

      A STUNNER !!
    2. DrFluffy DrFluffy, 7 years ago
      This is absolutely super gorgeous. I love everything about it. I want to go shopping with you next time....
    3. critchpics, 7 years ago
      Naturalist absolutely. Looks like the flowers were executed from a plein air sketch. They have the heavy look and feeling of just past prime. I love the way the petals are folded by the frame. Beautiful piece.
    4. kyratango kyratango, 7 years ago
      Hehe, lazy sellers make honey for those who know!
      Except when fine old pieces are melted before id :-/
      You did well, it is beautiful, with this warm patina to the gold!
    5. DrFluffy DrFluffy, 7 years ago
      Sad how many amazing pieces of history have been melted due to stupidity. Let's rescue them all...
    6. Elisabethan Elisabethan, 7 years ago
      Thanks here from Sweden from saving this piece! It is truly beautiful and your post is great!
    7. Elisabethan Elisabethan, 7 years ago
      I dont really know what 'bale' means? If you are talking about the chain it could very well be from the same time as the brooch. It is called "ärtlänk" in my language, meaning the chain looks like peas being linked together.
    8. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      Hi Elizabethan - The "bale" is the loop on a pendant that the chain goes through. This one is fashioned like a spring clip so it can be removed.

      And to Dr Fluffy and Kyratango, yes it's awful how many treasures must have been melted in the last gold boom. When you think about how much jewelry must have been melted in the last 100 years, due to it being "unfashionable" or because of war, or financial disaster, or whatever reason, then you can understand why good pieces are so rare.
    9. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      Hi critchpics - so interesting your comments about a plein air sketch. When I first started researching Mellin jewelry, I got a book from Finland on an exhibition of Mellins' work at the Helsinki City Museum in 1991.

      On pg 43 it shows the original pencil drawing for Otto Roland Mellin's work for admission to the rank of "Master" in 1860. QUOTE: "The piece in question is a gold bracelet ... which has a three leaved wild rose with over-sized stamens ... surrounded by ivy leaves and scrolling motifs"

      I'll post a pic of the sketch above, it is reminiscent of the flower in our brooch.
    10. critchpics, 7 years ago
      Looking forward to seeing the sketch, kiwipaul.
    11. artislove artislove, 7 years ago
      very ...romantic thanks for saving this piece!!
    12. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      Hi critchpics, the drawing from p43 of the museum catalog is now in the top of this article between the pics of the necklace and the hallmarks.
    13. critchpics, 7 years ago
      Lovely drawing. It really does appear that the design becomes the substructure to highlight the flower, as it does in the brooch necklace
    14. Bluboi Bluboi, 7 years ago
      Beautiful, flowing piece. Just wonderful! What a great find and so well researched!

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