Exquisite Antique Gilt and Celluloid Coral Bracelet
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Directory: Archives: Estate Jewelry: Gold: Victorian: Pre 1900: Item # 721540
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Besides being simply gorgeous, this antique bracelet is rare and fascinating, both for its composition and its miraculous condition. The three roses that look like carved angelskin coral are actually of a very early plastic -- most likely Zylonite (sometimes spelled Xylonite), a form of what we came to call celluloid. Technically all the variants are cellulose nitrate, a notably delicate substance, and yet these intricately formed flowers remain perfect after more than a century! The gilt brass metalwork -- stunningly engraved, adorned with applied foliate details and rich with time's patina -- is in superlative shape, too. This bracelet must not only have worn very little, but also stored with the utmost care.
Based on indications like the type of catch, the slightly oval shape and the Victorian style, this bracelet could have been made as early as the 1870s and almost certainly is no younger than the 1880s.
Its origin is most likely English, since the firm known to be producing this lovely faux-coral from around 1870 was the British Xylonite Company. They did have a licensee in Massachusetts, The American Zylonite Company, but only in the 1880s.
The only flaw I can find is that there was probably a safety chain, since two tiny triangular loops are positioned to hold one. The catch is quite secure, but you or your jeweler can easily add a bit of chain, if you want to.
Hinged, the bracelet opens wide and it's sized for an average wrist, up to about 7 inches. (If it weren't too big for me, I'd keep it.) Provenance is a West Coast estate.
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