This necklace's four lovely picture buttons are inspired by two Victorian passions - opera and Asian culture.
Motif picture buttons were the most internationally famous style of Victorian-era buttons. Their themes were copied from every possible source, including contemporary illustrations and popular operas and novels, with their subject matter reflecting affluent Victorians' divergent fascinations and obsessions.
We adore the button depicting an Asian wedding with a cut steel moon and balcony depicted in a single piece of stamped and pierced brass. In 1853 Commodore Perry opened up trade with Japan, sparking a societal interest in Japanese culture that persisted throughout the late 19th century.
You’ll also find two picture buttons inspired by Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and two more portraying characters in Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1885 comic operetta, The Mikado.
In this piece:
Picture button with steel back and brass escutcheon depicting Madame Butterfly, circa 1905
Brass picture button depicting Yum Yum from The Mikado, circa 1885-1890
Brass picture button depicting KoKo, the Lord High Executioner from The Mikado, circa 1885-1890
Brass and cut steel button called the Asian Wedding, circa 1880-1890
Six carnelian glass pieces hand-pressed in Czechoslovakia circa 1930
Carnelian bead at the end of the extender chain
Four brass-plated pewter settings cast today in the USA
Square brass filigree stamped today in the USA in vintage dies