Niello is the art of ornamenting metal surfaces that is thought to have originated with the Egyptians and spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. It is enamel-like substance made alloys of sulfur, copper, silver and lead and used as an inlay on engraved metal.
A fob is an adornment or a seal that hangs from the ribbon or chain of a pocket watch. Its purpose is to decorate or add weight to the watch chain itself making it easier for the watch to be withdrawn from a pocket. The fob would have been used to seal the wax of a letter or envelope.
This fantastic piece is an excellent example of the Niello art form! A gorgeous and very unusual fob from the Victorian period (ca1880). This fabulous piece is made of silver and has an open center with 2 intertwined rings on the outside. Each ring is covered in a beautiful striped Niello pattern which is inlaid into the surface of the silver. Four 9kt rose gold rings rest horizontally on each rounded bar and a matching niello ring rests at the top of the fob. A single 9kt rose gold ball lies at the center base of the fob pendant. The thin, flat stamp bottom has an engraved musical staff stamp with the words "Jch lie be dich" and "L.v.Beeth.". The top of the fob plaque is marked "900", "xx" along with a silver makers mark. It hangs from a simple silver bail. This beautiful piece would make a wonderful addition to any collection!
Measurements: The fob hangs 1 1/4" at the tallest point, is 3/4" at the widest and 3/4" thick.
Condition: The overall condition of the fob pendant is excellent. There is no apparent damage to the niello design or to the gold accents. There is only minor surface wear to the silver, which is not uncommon for a Victorian piece.