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.
Victorian lithograph buttons most commonly depicted pre-revolutionary French aristocrats and royals. An era of sentimentality regarding pre-revolutionary society swept France in the late 19th century fostering romanticized and forgiving views of the executed king and queen.
The rare and collectible button in this stunning necklace features an 18th-century woman with upswept powdered hair, likely representing a member of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's court.
In this piece:
Deluxe Victorian lithograph under celluloid button, circa 1890
Czech glass pearl beads
Brass setting stamped today in the USA in vintage dies