Rummaging through flea markets, antiques stores and markets, estate sales and online is great fun. In my never-ending quest to find antique wax seals and unique jewelry parts and oddities I often come home with trinkets I didn’t even know I was looking for. Little curiosities I never knew existed or know nothing about suddenly become my next research project.
When you shop this way, these little adornments come without information. There are no descriptions, nothing about the date or period in the past in which it was made or used, ownership or meaning. This is where fun, part 2 begins… research!
~ studious inquiry or examination; especially : investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws
~ the collecting of information about a particular subject
In researching the wax seals there are little treasure maps to follow. One can approximate the date based on the materials used and the handle style. There is a lot of information to be found about family crests, heraldry and armorial symbols. These may not be fully accurate but they do help to put together some pieces of the puzzle.
I’ve recently acquired a trinket that has fully captivated me with hours and hours of research but still no conclusion that satisfies my curiosity. I wish I had kept track of the time invested in research thus far but I can only guess, 30 – 40 hours and I still do not know everything I want to know about it. Just by reading this, you can see the various paths I’ve taken and how much there is to learn!
It’s a watch fob, likely plated brass, with double sided panels with scenes depicting men and women in older dress, some raising a glass, and on each is written a sort of drinking toast. For example, one panel, with a well dressed man raising a martini glass to a woman, reads “Wine and Woman, Mirth and Laughter, Sermons and Soda the day after” which was a line in a satiric poem about the legend of Don Juan written by a very interesting character named George Gordon Byron (1788 – 1824 Scotland, England, Italy).
And what is a watch fob? The pocket watch was invented in the 16th century, small enough to fit in a pocket so a chain was attached to both the pocket watch and a buttonhole, waistband or mans lower chest. This fashionable chain was called a watch chain and often times small decorative items were attached to one end of the chain, sometimes watch winding keys, cigar cutters, small wax seals or medallions that were emblems of private clubs, religious medallions, travel souvenirs, associations and company images and slogans used for advertising. The latter was very popular at various Worlds Fair Exhibitions.
And the research continues…