This spectacular antique Suffragette bar brooch can also be worn as a necklace, by attaching a chain or ribbon to one or both ends. It features an ornately painted and gilded porcelain cabochon in an intricate openwork setting that appears to be 14k gold-filled. Gold-filled jewels being far more durable than gold-plated, they essentially never wear out and little surface wear can be seen here, even under magnification.
The central medallion features the classic Suffragette color combo: green, white and violet, the first letters of which stood for "Give Women (the) Vote". Green also represented hope; white signified the purity of their intentions; and violet was a reference to dignity ("the royal purple"). It may well have been painted by its original owner, since it doesn't have a "factory" look and china-painting was a popular passtime in this era. If it were merely a representational depiction of a purple flower with green leaves, the Suffragette message might not apply; however, this is a highly stylized motif that makes free use of the Suffragette hues, so its meaning is clear.
Fresh from a Philadelphia estate, the brooch measures 2.5 inches long. An excellent early safety clasp is present. That it appears original dates the jewel firmly to the 1895-1910 period, which was the latter part of the bar pin era. Brooches of this form were popularized by Princess (later Queen) Alexandra, who favored high collars to conceal a scar on her neck. They look just as lovely on today's lapels.
To the Suffragettes' efforts through many decades in the U.K. and U.S., we modern women owe our right to vote. That right was finally extended to all American women in 1920 and to all in Great Britain in 1928. Although forgotten for many years, these jewels have been rapidly gaining value since the star-studded TV movie "Iron Jawed Angels" appeared in 2004, revealing what the gals went through (including hunger strikes and beatings). Wearing Suffragette jewels is a great way to show your pride and appreciation and, now that the genre has been rediscovered, they're getting much harder to find. This is a piece with great investment potential.
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