“How much for that pin?” I pointed to a small silver and gold snail, shoved way in the back of a tray of jewelry.
The dealer at the antique show sized me up as she walked over to answer my question. “That’s a unique brooch,” she said. She unlocked the tray and gently untangled the pin from the necklaces and earrings around it.
“Absolutely. It’s one of a kind. It was handmade in Spain.”
My eyes widened.
She handed me the snail. “See the beautiful luster of the gold? That gold was taken from Peru to Spain by Pizarro when he visited there in the 1500’s.”
(Pizarro’s “visit” to Peru took the form of a conquest that kept Peru under Spain’s rule for roughly 300 years, but why quibble over semantics?)
“The jewelry experts in Toledo fashioned the gold into spectacular pieces of jewelry like this one. Then they used a process called damascening to apply the silver over the gold.”
I waited patiently, all ears.
“This particular silver was mined in California during the gold rush of 1849. It’s said that John Jacob Astor took that lump of silver with him when he went to Spain. He gave it to a jeweler in Toledo to use as an overlay in this very brooch, which he had personally designed as a gift for his wife.”
“He and his wife were on the Titanic, you know. She survived, and it was fortunate for us that she was wearing this brooch when she got into the life boat. Otherwise it would be at the bottom of the ocean right now, along with Mr. Astor.”
“What an interesting…provenance for this little pin,” I answered.
My antiquing buddy Dawn whistled as the dealer divulged the price of this one-of-a-kind brooch.
“Darn, girl, you do have good taste.”
“Yes, I do,” I graciously admitted.
The antique dealer solemnly nodded in agreement.
“Thanks for your time.” I smiled as I handed the pin back to the antique dealer. Dawn and I didn’t look at each other until we were on the other side of the room.
“I hope that woman gets every penny she wants for that pin,” I laughed. “The story alone was worth that much.”
Dawn chuckled; she teaches social studies. “I thought the part about the Astors’ on the Titanic was pushing it.”
“What’s really funny is that I have that exact pin at home in my jewelry box. I just asked the price so I could find out how much it’s worth.”
“Where did you get it?” she asked.
“Avon catalog, circa 1972.”One look at her face had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to wet my pants. I love antiquing. It’s a trip around the world.
If you like attending antique shows, check out Jimbo's blog for the latest calendar of shows in your area. http://etruscanmajolica.blogspot.com/2010/07/summerfall-2010-antique-show-calendar.html