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Pair of earrings

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1875 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cut steel, polished

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 15, shelf C, box 5 []

These butterfly earrings are typical of the cut steel goods exported from France to much of Europe and America in the second half of the nineteenth century. The flourishing trade was bolstered by the need for jewellery to wear during periods of secondary mourning (an interim period between full and semi-mourning in the Victorian era) as well as by fashionable status. In London in 1882 it was reported that steel butterflies had begun to perch on bonnets.

Physical description

The cut steel earrings are in the form of butterflies with double wings and antennae. The fasceted steel studs cover the entire surface of the back plate. A variety of sizes are used with larger ones for the body and flat-topped ones at the tips of the wings. The earrings are for pierced ears; wire loops are attached to the backplate.

Place of Origin

France (made)


ca. 1875 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cut steel, polished


Height: 2 cm, Width: 2.6 cm

Descriptive line

Cut steel, France, ca.1875

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bury, Shirley Jewellery 1789-1910: The International Era, Woodbridge, The Antique Collectors' Club, 1991 Vol. 2, p.695 ISBN. 18514910X




Cutting; Polishing


Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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