An innovative Victorian-era printing process called chromolithography rose in popularity between 1840 and the early 20th century.
It involved a skilled lithographic artist creating a series of unique limestone plates, each depicting a different aspect of an image. Sometimes as many as fifteen plates were used to create a single image resulting in unprecedented depth and luminescence. Victorians were dazzled by this process, so it's not surprising that chromolithographs found their way onto buttons.
Chromolithograph buttons were commonly sealed with a thin sheet of protective celluloid.
Read more: Celluloid, When Plastic was Fantastic, Buttonology Blog.
Victorian lithograph buttons most commonly depicted pre-revolutionary French aristocrats and royals. An era of sentimentality about pre-revolutionary society swept France in the late 19th century fostering romanticized and forgiving views of the executed king and queen.
The beautiful, rare, and collectible button we are showcasing in this stunning necklace was misidentified for decades as depicting Swedish Count Axel von Fersen, rumored to have been Marie Antoinette's lover. It is actually a portrait of the doomed King Louis XVI as a young man.
In this piece:
- Rare button with lithograph of a young Louis XVI covered with celluloid, circa 1880-1900
- Two brass stampings made today in vintage dies the USA
- Hand-wrapped Czech glass beads
- Antiqued brass chain
- Length is 19” with a 4” extender
Shop Collection: Limited Edition