Victorian Silver Niello Checkerboard Whistle Pendant
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 Although Niello work has now been replaced by more modern techniques, it still is used in Thailand.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!
This unusual whistle pendant from the Victorian era (ca1880) is a wonderful example of the Niello craft! The whistle is made of silver and is decorated with a wonderful Niello checkerboard motif that covers the entire outer surface. At the base of the pendant is a small mouthpiece, where two small cutout spaces create a passageway for the hollow air chamber inside. When blown, the whistle still produces sound, making the piece both stylish and functional! The pendant hangs from a simple sterling ring at the top, and would look perfect worn on a favorite chain. A very special antique piece, it would make a unique everyday accessory!
Measurements: The pendant hangs 1 5/8" long, including the sterling ring at the top. The whistle itself measures 1 1/4" tall, 1/2" wide, and 3/8" thick.
Condition: The overall condition of the piece is excellent. There is no apparent damage to the silver setting or to the Niello motif, which remains intact with only minor surface wear. The whistle function remains in good working condition, and the ring for hanging is secure.