Victorian Niello Watch Fob Spinning Ball Pendant with Star Motif
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 Its purpose is to decorate or add weight to the watch chain itself, making it easier for the watch to be withdrawn from a pocket.
This unusual watch fob from the Victorian era (ca1880) is a wonderful example of the Niello craft! The silver pendant consists of a ball-shaped fob, which has a unique spinning feature. When turned, the ball rotates to reveal a small round watch face on one side of the pendant. The entire exterior of the piece is enameled in a traditional Niello fashion, with a darkened background that has the oxidized appearance of gunmetal. A pattern of engraved silver stars decorates the spinning ball and the cap, creating the illusion of a starry night sky. The watch face is white with gold hands and ticks, and is rests behind its original glass frame. The watch winder can be found at one side, and the watch fob hangs from a large watch swivel clasp enameled with a striped Niello motif. Although the watch component is no longer functional, this collectible piece would look wonderful worn on a long Niello chain as a unique everyday accessory!
Measurements: The entire piece hangs 2" long, including the large watch swivel clasp at the top. The ball fob itself has a 1" diameter.
Condition: As a decorative piece, the fob remains in excellent antique condition. The watch remains intact but is no longer functional. However, the Niello piece retains its unique value as a collectible and decorative piece of antiquity. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the enameled Niello pattern. The winder and glass watch face remain intact. The watch swivel clasp fastens securely and is in good working condition.