Featured Signed Cameo- let's learn together!

Discussion in 'Jewelry' started by Simona Buhus, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Simona Buhus

    Simona Buhus Member

    As promised, I will try posting one pice of my jewellery every week, so this week is Cameo. As I am a novice, but learn fast, I had the pleasure to read few lines posted by our member @Bronwen - learn from the master - in less then a month, I made this purchase. So, following the criteria below, it was very easy to take a decision.

    • Quality of carving - prehaps not visible, but very detailed, beautiful curly hair, laurel leafs, lovely nose and lips and eyes. Looks good to me. What do you think?
    • Signed or not - signed Dol or Del or Dal and a 3 like letter mirrored, perhaps letter E, as well as a further signature not really visible. I could only find with this initials Diego D' Estrada. Should I be so lucky? Can anyone help with identifying it?
    • Subject - portrait of perhaps graduate or solicitor waring laureate leaves, and a scroll like image. To me looks Roman style, what about you? What do you think?
    • Material - I know is shell, but don't know which shell. Can you help?
    • Condition - not that good, but I think it has few good years on it, and silver metal has worn off a bit, this is the only downside
    • Setting - I bought it as set in sterling silver, but is not hallmarked, and can't go to check in current conditions either. It looks a bit tarnished, what do you think? Can it be silver or white gold?
    • Size- it's a good size, aprox 4 centimetres and 8 grams in weight.
    It also has a C clutch and a neddle set in a T bar style , I looked at similar brooches back and this type of clutch is from around 1850's. What is your opinion on the age?
    Thank you.
    Kind regards,
    20210113_123233.jpg 20210113_181102.jpg 20210113_123544.jpg 20210113_181017.jpg 20210113_181003.jpg 20210113_123544.jpg
    @Bronwen please let me know if you are publishing a book on Cameos
    @Any Jewelry

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  2. fridolina

    fridolina Well-Known Member

    • Calliope: Muse of heroic or epic poetry (often holding a writing tablet).
    • Clio: Muse of history (often holding a scroll).
    • Erato: Muse of lyric and love poetry (often playing a lyre).
    • Euterpe: Muse of music or flutes (often playing flutes).
    • Melpomene: Muse of tragedy (often holding a tragic mask).
    • Polymnia: Muse of sacred poetry or of the mimic art (often shown with a pensive look).
    • Terpsichore: Muse of dancing and choral song (often shown dancing and holding a lyre).
    • Thalia: Muse of comedy (often holding a comic mask).
    • Urania: Muse of astronomy (often holding a globe)
  3. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Fridolina is hot on the trail. To date I have seen only 2 versions of this cameo. Ones like Simona's (this one is mine):

    Apollo w scroll.jpg

    And ones like this, from my files:


    As Fridolina picked up, the laurel wreath is an attribute of the Muses, among other figures, & the scroll is the attribute of the Muse Clio. The second version has a double flute in place of the scroll, the attribute of Euterpe, Muse of Music. (Presumably secular music since Polyhymnia is Muse of Sacred Music.)

    However, there are 2 other features to consider: the robe & the hairstyle. If you imagine the continuation of the figure below the truncation, you can see that the robe/stole would leave one side of the chest bare. This might work for Venus, but most of the time it indicates a male figure. The hairstyle is one you'll also see on Diana/Artemis. Putting it all together, it adds up to Apollo, brother of Diana, in his role as leader of the Muses.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  4. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    @Simona Buhus Other points:

    Material is helmet shell. It has a nice feature in that the white layer has been polished to a gloss, making it look more like hardstone. Most often the white layer is left its natural matte. Care was taken with this piece.

    The setting is probably silver. If the mount is British or American it should be sterling. If it's Italian it would be 800 silver. These twisted ribbon mounts are common, but I do not know where they are likely to have been made. It will not be white gold.

    Age I would put to the late Victorian, based on the sturdiness of the findings & the braces keeping the cameo in place.

    What is scratched on the back is more likely to be an inventory number or a price code than a signature of any type.

    Nice piece; makes a change from Ponytail & Headband Girls.

    No, I do not plan to write a book, but I do have a web site: https://cameotimes.com
  5. Simona Buhus

    Simona Buhus Member

    @Bronwen thank you so much for your time and description.
    I have created an account on your website and tried to send some photos of the Cameo for your reference and if you like to use it in your website, I am ok with that as well :)
    I also left a private message for you :)
    Thank you again, really happy to look at Cameos in a diffrent light now.
    Kind regards,
    Bronwen likes this.
  6. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    I have a cameo like these, and never knew who it was. Thank you, @Bronwen ! I'm terrible at getting clear shots, but will try to get pics of mine later today. It is not signed. It has a very strange-looking replacement pin as well.
    Bronwen likes this.
  7. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    Here are a few shots of mine, some taken with a flash and some without. The pin on the back looks like a replacement, but old. It is thick and square, and jabs large holes into clothing.

    Apollo Muse resized.jpg

    Apollo Muse2 resized.jpg

    Here are two pics of the back. The pin swivels downward. and does not fit securely into the catch.

    Apollo Muse back resized.jpg

    Apollo Muse back2 resized.jpg

    Looks like my new phone takes much better photos!
  8. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Simona, I very pleased if the cameo threads have led you to a new appreciation of these little art works. :)
    Darkwing Manor and fridolina like this.
  9. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    I have one photo in my files of a similar one (although probably without that wonky pin; what a repair job):


    Your photos are great. :)
  10. Simona Buhus

    Simona Buhus Member

    I feel a bit more confident now, and made two more purchases today, please see below. I have a feeling that I am attracted to the mythological side of the Cameos.
    The first one has some leads, but di not look laurel, to me they look oak tree. After searching your website, I could see that the oak tree are an attribute to Zeus, and when I looked at Zeus, he is a man with beard whereas mine did not have a beard. So, I carried on and look at the robe, and it seems to me that it may be a woman because her body is covered and her hair is tied up. Also the leaves could be vine leafs an attribute to Bachus. What do you think?
    The seller could not tell anything except that the metal is neither silver or gold, but is gold plated and said to Google Victorian cameos. I have a feeling they are brass .
    The second cameo is also someone with something that resembles windpipe which may be an nymph if I read it right . What do you think?
    Again, in this one as well the seller had the same answer and I think it is brass.
    I did not pay allot for them, they are a good learning material - I am getting hot on the subject:)
    The third Cameo is one that I would like to purchase, it's a bit above my budget, but I like it. It looks like it is Hebe , daughter if Zeus, giving something to drink to a mythical bird, Phoenix prehaps, which from what I understand it may be Zeus transformed into a Phoenix. I don't understand the clouds meaning, and just love her dress and scarf. The right hand looks slightly misplaced, don't know if this was done by purpose.
    The setting is in silver, not hallmarked.
    What do you think?
    Thank you.
    Kind regards,
    Simona Buhus

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  11. fridolina

    fridolina Well-Known Member

    @Simona Buhus
    If you, as you said, are attracted to the mythological side of the Cameos than reading about mythology is the best way to understand the images and subjects on cameos.

    Ambrosia and Nectar in Greek Mythology

    The bird is Zeus’s eagle not Phoenix.
    The image is shown above clouds to suggest being high up, in this case Mount Olympus.

    About the first of your cameos, I agree with you in thinking they are vine leaves and the image connected with Bachus, possibly a Bacchante.

    The second one is more mysterious. The object on the left, with a stretch of imagination, could be seen as Pan flute/pipes. But I could be wrong.
    @Bronwen might be able to shed more light on the subject.
    Bronwen and Simona Buhus like this.
  12. fridolina

    fridolina Well-Known Member

    I keep thinking that, all those cameos depicting the muses, at the time when it was fashionable to wear a cameo, were a sophisticated way to show what the person wearing them was interested into, for example history or music, and a great way to strike a conversation about the subject.

    I think, this is the longest sentence I’ve ever written and I do apologise about that. :hilarious::hilarious:
  13. ritzyvintage

    ritzyvintage Well-Known Member

    The ancient Romans are generally considered to be the first to introduce cameo decorative items. The Portland Vase, produced from glass is a splendid ancient example, and it was this piece that influenced Joshua Wedgewood to create "Jasperware" items using ceramic. Emile Galle, and also Daum, were leading exponents of cameo glass during the Art Nouveau period, however the works by Thomas Webb are perhaps the most accomplished pieces ever produced by any maker.

    When you consider how these items were produced entirely by hand and before any electrical drills etc., were available, the skills needed to create such items are exceptional. The vases pictured here are just 2 examples created and carved entirely by hand during the late 1800s by Thomas Webb, England.[​IMG]...
  14. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    In the order the photos are presented:

    Fridolina has already explained the elements of the Hebe cameo perfectly.

    The second figure is a bacchante/maenad wreathed in grape vine.

    It is likely enough that they were each set in brass/pinchbeck, which may have been gold washed.

    The third has a pretty frame that looks like brass to me too. I don't think the cameo came out quite as the cutter would have liked & it's rather scrambled. I believe the instrument intended was a little harp, & that the figure was meant to be an Erato type of composition. I have no idea what is going on on the top of the head. Hair, wings, roses? As you have noticed, the garment is suited to a male figure. Could be meant as Apollo with his kithara, the hair in a knot as on the Apollo Belvedere.

    Apollo 41 Belvedere front facing excellent.jpg (not mine)
    fridolina likes this.
  15. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    It would be interesting to know if there was a social language of cameos. I'm not sure how much women chose the subjects as personal statements, what with all the cameos there are of Dionysus, some of them with a photo of a loved one or a woven hair memento on the back. A locket I have that has a cameo of Nero on the front has a photo of a baby inside. I do think cameos with an allegorical figure of Hope that include the North Star were meant to indicate the wearer had someone away at sea & was perhaps a way for an unescorted woman to signal that she was not fair game.
    Figtree3 and fridolina like this.
  16. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    @ritzyvintage Maybe you would start a new thread for cameo glass. There is so much beautiful stuff, it really deserves a home of its own. BTW, I'm of the very minority opinion that the Portland vase is a Renaissance fraud.

    Portland vase brooch 3A.jpg
    fridolina likes this.
  17. fridolina

    fridolina Well-Known Member

    Then, like now, there must have been women who knew and women who didn’t what the subjects on their cameos are. Knowledge of the “classics” was considered an important part of ones education. But education at the time was a privilege not a right and only a certain part of the population could afford it.
    Bronwen likes this.
  18. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Unsurprisingly, three of the most common cameo subjects are Hera/Juno, the (rather refractory) wife, Demeter/Ceres, the devoted mother, and Hebe, the dutiful daughter, nice lady-like choices. Just as common are cameos of bacchantes/maenads. Did this indicate a more sophisticated wearer, or one who wanted to be seen that way? It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall listening to women making their selection for a cameo purchase. How much consideration did they give to 'What does this say about me?'
    Figtree3 and fridolina like this.
  19. fridolina

    fridolina Well-Known Member

    @Bronwen, do you know what is the subject on this glass cameo? It looks very interesting. It’s not Adam and Eve, is it?
    Bronwen likes this.
  20. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    I, like the dealer who brought the vase to William Hamilton's attention, believe the scene is Orpheus arriving just as Eurydice has been struck down by the serpent, with Hades patiently waiting on the other side, knowing Orpheus cannot save her & she will be his. Cupid is in the scene to indicate the two are a loving couple & seems to be sounding the alarm, leading Orpheus to the site.

    This is not how the traditional story goes, Orpheus does not try to rescue her from the Underworld until she has been taken down & is not there to help when she is wounded, but it accounts for all the elements in a way that none of the many other proposed interpretations does. The question has never been settled.

    You've opened a whole can of worms with this question. Josiah Wedgwood had a monograph printed with the many interpretations of this scene and of the one on the other side (about which I haven't a clue). Many hypotheses revolve around the idea that the bearded serpent is a ketos, a sea serpent, & that therefore the figures must have a link to the ocean. In these scenarios the lady is the nymph Thetis. Raphael used similar serpents to draw the chariot of Saturn/Cronos:


    I have only seen cameos like the one in question in that same brown. I surmise they were souvenirs of the British Museum or perhaps the Wedgwood factory, if they gave tours.
    fridolina likes this.
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