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5THECULTOF NOVELTY OVELTY'jewellery was a term used at the time in both jewellers' trade catalogues and in fashion and ladies' periodicals. The novelties, most of them relatively inexpensive, have tended to be dismissed as mere curiosities, and in one sense they are, but underlying many are the concerns and preoccupa-tions that dominated social and cultural discourse. A simple ' date' jewel might mark a birthday, engagement or wedding ( Fig. 142), but there was in many instances a message for both wearer and beholder. Some were obvious puns; others were so personal that their mean-ings are unintelligible today. But above all they represent an element of individual choice as opposed to the conventional gifts for bridesmaids or the prescribed etiquette of mourning wear. For both men and women they were the perfect dinner party joke - a battery- powered electric jewel that could be switched on and off at the touch of a button - or conversation piece, whether a bracelet made of the new Parian porcelain in imitation of marble, a stud or brooch in the form of a £ 10 banknote or the new ' penny lilac' stamp brought out in 1881, or the front page from the Daily News, perhaps the equivalent of today's ' birthday' newspa-per. 1Topical events, successes of the stage, popular lyrics: all are mirrored in ornaments intended to delight, amuse or startle. Many may have been created with a youthful audience in mind. ' Old China' jewellery in enamelled silver or gold had been popular since the late 1870s, reflecting the taste for old English ceramics as much as the craze for oriental blue and white porcelain; usually the brooches or earrings were round or oval ( Fig. 144). 2In 1885 Vaughton & Sons of Birmingham brought out a new line: ' To make the plate more realistic', wrote the Jeweller and Metalworker, ' at various portions of it there are imitation chips'. 3The young Isabella Harlock in her portrait by Joseph Southall seems to be wearing one of these: the tightly buttoned brown velvet collar of her jacket is set off by a brooch in the form of a willow- pattern plate with uneven edges. The painting is dated 1888 ( Fig. 143). 142 ' 1889' novelty jewels. Advertisement for ' date' jewels offered by Godwin & Sons of High Holborn. From Illustrated London News, 6 July 1889, p. 32 The simplest are made out of gold or silver wire, others are set with diamonds or pearls. The prices ranged from £ 6 15s for a gold and diamond bracelet to 5s for a silver brooch, which could also be had in best- quality gold ( presumably 18 ct) for 21s and in second- quality ( probably 12 or 9 ct) for 12s 6d. The idea for ' date' jewels may derive from jewelled and enamelled ' date' souvenirs of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee two years earlier. Previous pages: left, detail of bee brooch ( see Fig. 176a); right, fanciful fashion plate ( see Fig. 147) ' N