Sunday, 31 May 2015

Oops! (and bonus tiaras)

My, hasn't May gone by quickly? Which is my none-too-subtle way of saying that my entry for this month's Historical Sew Monthly challenge, Practicality, isn't yet complete.

So instead, here are some pictures of my finds in Cheltenham (Gina, I know that you'll love these!)

Cheltenham Museum has a renowned collection of Arts and Crafts items, which was the main reason for my visit. You can see the online collection here. However while looking round the rest of the museum I came across this display case.

The accompanying notes stated that most of the pieces are made from pinchbeck; an alloy of copper and zinc invented by Charles Pinchbeck in about 1720, to imitate gold. Around the same time Georges-Frédéric Strass invented paste; a hard durable glass which when cut like a gemstone could come close to sparkling like a diamond. It could also be coloured to imitate other gemstones. All of the tiaras in the case are set with paste stones.

Pinchbeck and paste haircomb, about 1800, probably French

However the item which really caught my eye was this one.

Frontlet, faceted coral beads in a pinchbeck setting, about 1800-20, probably Italian

It looks remarkably like the one which Caroline of Dressed in Time blogged about here. Two hairpieces, almost identical, separated by 5,000 miles!

If you'd like to see more, much of the museum's jewellery and clothing collection is now online. Happy browsing.

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