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Hello, Thank you in advance for any help identifying age, maker, origin, or any other info about this brooch.
Recovered from a rural estate. 1-7/8 inches long by about 1 inch wide.
Marked clearly SD on the back and an illegible stamp is also on the back.
Looks like _UBDOUBLE
Wondering mostly what era it is and approximate value.
Hi Emily, It's very unusual, and a beautiful piece! I've never seen a portrait broach quite like this one. Some observations: You've got some tarnish, and lots of dirt, far as I can tell. This might indicate that your metal here is actually vermeil. (usually a sterling silver, .925 base metal with a coating of gold over it or "rolled" into the silver). The modern ones are typically 14K. and are simple plating. But in a piece with age, like yours, it may be only 10K. Which was a common amount for the late Victorian, to early Edwardian era. (Rolled gold into metals stops around the 1940 mark, if memory serves.) The date I'd guess at here, being between the two era's, perhaps 1900 is correct. You've got two red stones on either side of the photo, with a nice design of sectioned and curved bars with a single center bar resembling a furniture leg, in design, along with the more common Victorian scrolls. It's very possible those are ruby's. Small, but natural rubies are not bright pink, but more of a dull reddish pink as yours look. On the markings; it's very hard to say just what is going on with those. This is absolutely a hand made piece. None of the broach was mass manufactured, all is hand made, and hand done by a jeweler with experience. The C clasp, also confirms the time frame. The SD is prominent, so it might be the owner, the maker, or for another purpose entirely, it's very hard to say. And, because you've got another marking on the top of the back, that might confirm the SD is not a maker marking. I don't see a "double" word here, It looks more like Hubble, or Winkler or something like that. You might try a rubbing, to discover what that says. Use a thin notebook type or even tissue paper, and a pencil to rub over the writing and see if that helps. If we can confirm a makers name, then we will know that the SD is clearly something else. It doesn't have a metal marking either, that I can see. (check carefully on the sides or other odd areas to be sure you don't have one) The little case with photo looks like it can only be opened by (very carefully) prying open the little metal tabs around the case. My guess is that the metal purity marking may be on the inside, like a watchmaker would have done. Also, if there is not a purity marking, it's more likely to be American made, rather than a European piece. Majority of European countries were, and still are very strict with the metal fineness markings, via hallmarks, and those are most often on the outside of any piece made.
I really don't have much knowledge on the clothing styles through the era's, but the gents outfit, may provide other clues to confirm the correct age. Of course he might not be the original photo placed in there, either. So, that's not a for certain thing. Photography on paper, rather than glass, tin or other plates, I think cycled in around the 1860's? Not positive on that though, you can probably goggle around to be sure. I'm pretty confident that a working date of 1900 is a good assumption for now.
If you wish, I would advise a light cleaning, just to remove the tarnish and dirt, found mostly on back. First you could try a light once over with Q-tips and Windex or hand sanitizer. Just so you know "Patina" is a color and a type of tarnish that develops over many years on most all types of metal. However, on silver, the great majority agree that silver tarnish is a destructive process that can and should be removed. So, saying that, you could use a basic metal polish like Maas, which generally only removes the blackness and dirt with a light hand. To completely polish a piece, requires a lot of elbow grease with Maas. If it were mine, that is what I'd do. If the Windex or Sanitizer does the trick, I'd leave it at that. Otherwise, proceed with the polish.
Let me know if your able to discern what the wording is at the top, and I'll try to help you further. Meanwhile, you could have a jeweler do a fineness test on the metal and confirm or tell you for certain what the stones are made of to. (You can purchase a gold/silver metal testing kit for under $20 today on Amazon or similar sites. Also, A good jeweler can take one look with a loop to tell you if the stones are in fact gemstones or not). I would NOT leave the piece with an untested person that you don't know or trust from past business transactions. Or if you have someone that can recommend a good jeweler that they trust, that would be ideal as well, for both the metal and/or gemstone confirmation, if you don't want to do metal testing yourself).
Good Luck and Nice Find! :)