While most of us know the discovery of King Tut's tomb in the 1920s led to a craze for Egyptian-inspired jewelry, fewer are aware there were earlier Egyptian crazes - circa 1800, prompted by Napoleon's campaign in Egypt; again during the 1860s, when the Suez Canal opened to great pomp and ceremony; and to a lesser extent in the closing decades of the 19th century, sparked by various archeological discoveries.
This particular jewel, based on its style and details of fabrication (such as the tube hinge and safety pin clasp), has to be from the Late Victorian era, likely circa 1880. It's a rare example of a decidedly Egyptian motif on a bar pin. Quite heavy for its size (about 2" x 3/8"), it seems to be of bronze rather than brass and has a japanned (blackened) background and reverse. Upraised in relief and brightly polished, the serpentine motif is as trendy now as when the Victorians fell in love with it. To them, the snake signified eternity and worn often in sentimental contexts; Queen Victoria's wedding ring, for instance, was of serpent form. The use of black suggests this could have been a mourning jewel.
Given its stylized simplicity of design and indications of hand-craftsmanship, Arts and Crafts influence on this brooch is strong. It was probably made in Europe - England would be my best guess - but reached us from a Florida estate. Condition is lovely, all original except that the pinstem was at some point snipped (not a bad idea, since those extra-long ones could easily draw blood). The pinstem shows a slight crimp, too, indicating that someone tried first to shorten it by this means.
There's no charge for insured U.S. shipping, with an equivalent discount on international delivery, and gift-wrap is always free when desired. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. Thanks for looking!