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Have an old brooch with an unusual centre, which is approx 1" - any ideas? 

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Suggest you clean your brooch.  Silver will tarnish black. Define white outer rim (material), round silver (?) dots, gold (?) center, black material (plastic, onyx, bakelite*,celluloid???).

Maybe a jeweler can ID the materials.

*Rub black with hot water; if it smells like oil it's bakelite, and there are many collectors of same.

More Info: I discovered what your brooch (or pin) might be. Most BLACK pins or brooches are worn by men and women to honor the passing of a dignitary. They're called "Mourning pins". Most famous honored Queen Victoria, also King Edward, but other famous (or not so famous) people as well.

Also, what I originally thought were "silver dots" could be diamantes (faux). The more elaborate brooches/pins with real stones and metals are worth several thousand (USD).

Hi Jenine, I think you've found an old "Vinegarette" - These date to Victorian era. They were doused in vinegar or other strong scents, so one could sniff the broach, instead of the stench of the streets, when walking out. Most are from London, or England. 

Hi everyone! Long story but I found out what I have - it's rare! I contacted Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster of Atlantic-Cable.com and here's the story: 

'This is a very special and rare piece with a wonderful back-story. It features a slice of  Victorian Trans-Atlantic Cable (to allow communication between The Americas and Europe) produced by Siemens Brothers in Woolwich, London. The construction of the brooch’s cable dates it to the latter part of the 19th century – the key is in the layout of the copper conductors at the centre of the cable. If you count the copper wires, you will see that there are twelve small wires wrapped around a much larger wire at the centre – this is the design used during that period. As well as copper, also used in the process were Russian hemp, Manilla yarns, steel, jute, and India rubber.'

Well, I cannot find another online anywhere so it must be pretty rare! Hope you found it interesting :)

I count 17 small wires "wrapped around much larger center wire..."   Wow, just think the rest of the wire is on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Thanx Jeannine--never would've guessed it.

12 COPPER wires, Tom, around the central copper wire :)

I was counting the outer wires which are made of steel and prevent accidental breaking. There are 17 of them. I can see 12 bumps around the center wire which I believe are cross sections of copper wires that you mentioned.  

Your wire is not the first. The first (original) wire did not have any reinforcement and was accidentally broken by a fisherman shortly after it was laid. Additionally, the cable was for telegraph use.  Over the years there have been many (around 50) different designs for underwater cable.  The newest, laid in the 1990s, is fiber optic.

That is amazing! I've never heard of this before! One more reason to Love our hobby/career choice. :) We can and do learn something new all the time! Thanks for sharing with us!

Hi Vicki - the Victorians went crazy making all kinds of souvenirs when the first cable was produced yet I cannot find a single brooch online! Still searching though - there must be more... :)

Indeed they did! One only need to see the dishes that adorned their tables in the Victorian era to know, they had single "things" for every single "thing" you could imagine - LOL! 

The stranger the better as well! So, I've done a little searching around, and the prices for the "souvenirs" for said "Trans Atlantic Cable" are surprisingly expensive! like WOW! I'll share a few pics I've found, just to give you a staring point. What a find and Lucky you!

A single Section of the "cable" here for $210.00!

Irish Valentia Slate Antique Transatlantic Cable 1800S Waterville Newfoundland

Even Tiffany and Co. Got in on the act! Here's their version at a whopping $1249.99!

Rare 1858 Tiffany & Co American Telegraph Co Trans-Atlantic image 3

And I found this: George Glazer Gallery - He seems to have a nice selection of items from this event also. Maybe you could write to him to learn more on your broach. It's got to be very rare, just by the lack of finding any for sale. My one thought on this lack of having any broaches out there. If one were found in a Grandma's or Great Grandma's jewelry box, who would have known what it was? And, if that was the case, the chances sadly are, most were thrown away or given away thinking it was either broken, or not of any value. It's a shame, but of course rarity usually equals value, so in  your case a blessing! I'm hoping anyways! :) 



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