The three rare and unusual antique Victorian-era picture buttons featured in this bracelet are united by their depiction of prominent European monarchs.
Motifs for Victorian-era picture buttons were taken from every possible source, including contemporary illustrations, photographs, and advertising. Their subject matter reflects the divergent obsessions of affluent Victorians.
The first button in this piece depicts the Russian empress Catherine the Great dressed as Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and justice. Catherine seized her crown with a coup in 1762 and reigned for thirty-four years, more than any other woman in Russian history then or now. She's famous for modernizing Russia and aligning its political and cultural life with Europe.
The middle button depicts Charles V, the King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, between 1519 and 1556. He was one of the most influential European monarchs of all time, ruling over what today encompasses Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and parts of Italy and central Europe. He was known for trying to reform the Roman Catholic Church while defending his empire against Islam and Protestantism.
The third button depicts Charles I of England, whose leadership sparked the English Civil War and led to his execution in 1649.
In this piece:
Antique button with cut steel of Catherine the Great, circa 1880-1890
Stamped brass button depicting Emperor Charles V, circa 1880-1890
Brass and cut steel button of Charles I of England, circa 1880-1890
Three brass-plated pewter castings made today in the USA
Two stamped brass connectors made today in the USA in vintage dies