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.
This fantastic piece is an excellent example of the Niello artform! An exquisite coin holder/locket from the Victorian period (ca1880). This fabulous piece is made of sterling silver and is a large, rounded rectangular shape. A beautiful striped Niello pattern is inlaid into the surface of the piece which covers the entire front, back, and sides of the piece. A small push button clasp rests at the top of the locket which allows the front to open and reveal two expandable coin slots. One slot is slightly larger than the other and both appear to be made of sterling silver. There is a round bail at the top of the locket which is hinged at the base. The bail has a marking however I am unable to make out exactly what it says. There is also a marking on the inside of the piece which reads "B.S.D.G.D.". This absolutely stunning and unusual Victorian piece is simply marvelous and would make a great addition to any collection!
Measurements: The coin holder locket measures a little less than 2 7/8" tall, 1 1/4 at the widest point and 5/8" thick. The bail is approximately 3/8" wide and tall. The two coin slots have diameters of approximately 3/4" and 7/8".
Condition: The overall condition of the locket is excellent. Although a small space shows when the locket is closed, it closes easily and securely. The internal coin holders and push button clasp are in good working condition. There is some normal wear to the surface of the Niello pattern and a small chip at the top corner which is not unusual for a Victorian piece.