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 fabulous and Niello piece from the Victorian (ca1880) era! Probably once worn as an addition on a chatelaine, this wonderful and unusual piece is comprised of a silver and Niello slide mirror locket and a matching encased button hook. The mirror locket is rectangular in shape and is hinged at the top bail where it slides open. When opened, it reveals a small, shallow compartment on one side and the original mirror on the other side. Also dangling from the bail is a silver button hook that swings out of a case with a Niello surface. Each piece is detailed with a wonderful matching checkerboard Niello design that covers the entire surface. The piece would look fabulous hanging from a long Niello chain. The inside of the locket is stamped "800" along with a makers mark. It's a stunning and unusual piece and would make a great addition to any Niello collection!
Measurements: The slide mirror locket hangs approximately 2 1/4" long, a little less than 1 1/4" at the widest point, and is 1/4" deep. When closed, the button hook case hangs 1 3/4" long, is a little less than 1/2" at the widest and is a little less than 1/4" deep.
Condition: The overall condition of the Niello piece is excellent. There is no apparent damage to the silver and besides normal minor surface wear, the Niello detail is in excellent condition. The slide locket and button hook both open easily and close securely. The mirror has aged because it is original, however this is not unusual for a piece from this era.