Victorian Niello Silver/Gold-Filled Striped Cigar Cutter
Niello is a blackened substance, which is comprised of metallic alloys (such as copper, silver, and lead) mixed with sulphur. Like enamel, it serves as a decorative overlay applied to etched metals, but was primarily used in silver, and was characterized by its black color and oxidized appearance. It originated in ancient Egypt and Rome, and later spread throughout Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. During the Victorian era, it experienced a revival, and by the early 20th century, the majority of Niello work was produced in the Russian town of Tula (sometimes referred to as "Tula silver" or "Tula work"). Although Niello work has now been replaced by more modern techniques, it still is used in Thailand. However, the original antique Niello pieces have now become very collectible!
A unusual cigar cutter pendant from the Victorian (ca1880) era! The piece is a lovely example of the Niello craft, which has a functioning cigar cutter design crafted in silver. A striped Niello motif decorates both sides of the handle, incorporating gold-filled stripes for a lovely mixed metals effect. Originally, the cigar cutter would have been worn as a fob hanging from a gentleman's watch chain. It carries the traditional shape of a cigar cutter, with a hinged mechanism at the side that reveals the blade. Two openings at the side and bottom would have been used to clip the tip of a cigar and discard the shavings. A small gunmetal knob at the side is used to pull the blade out from the side of the handle. The piece hangs from a gold-filled ring at the top, and would look wonderful paired with a favorite chain!
Measurements: The cigar cutter hangs 2" long (including the ring at the top), and measures 1/2" wide and thick at the base.
Condition: The overall condition of the cigar cutter is excellent. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the striped Niello motif or silver base. The cigar cutter mechanism is intact and in working condition. There is a natural patina on the surface of the setting that gives it a slightly darkened appearance, which is normal for antique jewelry and adds to its unique character.