191 The Southall portrait provides evidence that inexpensive enamelled novelties of this kind were worn by the educated middle classes who could afford to commission portraits. It has often been assumed that novelty jewellery, because it was frequently inexpensive, was a purely middle- class taste. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fashion started at court: as a thank- you present to the Queen on his birthday in 1842 Prince Albert chose a gold bracelet with a spider pursuing a fly on the band, inspired by the popular poem-cum- nursery rhyme ' The Spider and the Fly', written by Mary Howitt in 1828. On their birthdays the members of the royal family always gave trifles or modest souvenirs as an acknowledgement of the gifts they received. 4The Prince of Wales too favoured spider and fly jewels. 5The theme was subsequently adapted around 1880 as a popular matching suite entitled ' YESPIDERANDYEFLIE' by the Birmingham firm of J. J. Wainwright. With eccentrically placed roundels containing the title and raised gold parts on oxidized silver backgrounds, these are typical examples of Birmingham jewellery imitating Japanese mixed- metal work for an English market. 6( Figs 145, 146) Many of these popular novelties were ordered by the royal family through the crown jeweller some time before they became commonplace in the trade. In 1865 the Princess of Wales ordered an artist's palette brooch with gemstones for the paint colours for £ 1310s. A popular novelty item, its message is ' harmony'. This is an early date for this sort of jewel, more usually found in the 1880s ( see Fig. 110). The Prince of Wales's ledger at Garrard's is peppered with purchases of insect jewels and pins with popular catchphrases of the day. 143Above left Portrait of Isabella Harlock, by Joseph Southall ( 1861- 1944). Watercolour, 1888. London Fine Art Society The young sitter wears an ' Old China' willow- pattern brooch, probably one of the novelties introduced by Vaughton & Sons of Birmingham, with ' chipped' edges to make the plate more realistic. 144Above Banknotes, stamps and china plates: enamelled silver and metal novelty jewels. English, 1875- 85. H. of stamp brooch 2.7 cm. Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Hull Grundy Gift The design for the £ 10 banknote brooch was registered in 1877. The stamp brooch commemorates the issue of the new Penny Lilac in 1881. The earrings imitate willow- pattern plates, reflecting the craze among ' chinamaniacs' for old English china as much as oriental blue and white. THE CULT OF NOVELTY
can appreciate the extraordinary excellence, hundreds will turn to the neighbouring Court to see the last new invention in the way of a cravat pin. The toy is amusing enough. Everybody has seen how bells are rung in all the new hotels in Paris, London, and New York. Instead of pulling the bell making it ring by an exertion of mechanical force, we press a small button in the wall; this is connected by an electric wire with a little alarm, the clapper of which keeps on jingling so long as the button is pressed.... This principle a Frenchman has adapted to cravat pins.... 33 The Timesreport continues with a full description of the pins. They were published in detail in the scientific journal La Nature ( Fig. 163). 34Two were stick- pins, but the third, the star piece, was a ladies' hairpin in the form of a hummingbird with beating wings, real hum-mingbird feathers being the height of fashion at the time ( see pp. 226- 9). According to La Nature, it was owned by ' Madame Metternich' - Princesse Pauline Metternich, member and intimate friend of the Second Empire court, who launched the fashion designer Charles Worth by introducing him to the Empress. 35 The creator of these gimmicks was the distinguished engineer, physician, chemist and scientific instrument maker Gustave Trouvé, noted for his application of portable electricity to military, civil and domestic purposes. Trained as a watchmaker, he set up his own work-shop in 1863, inventing, among other things, a miniature hermetically sealed battery ( patented 1865). 36It was this that enabled him to create his electric jewels, introduced in 1865 and including a soldier beating a drum, a monkey paying the violin, two skulls, one gnashing its teeth, the other rolling its eyes, a decapitated head that did both, a rabbit playing on a bell with drumsticks, a revolving sphere, a Turk's head with eyes rolling from side to side and jaw moving up and down, and a monkey blinking; there was also a pendant with Harlequin and Columbine dancing and the bird hairpin mentioned above. The trick that set the move-ment going was no switch or button, but simply turning the battery on its side or upside down. 37These pieces were described by Georges Barral in 1891; he must have been speak-ing from personal experience and records that the skull and rabbit stick- pins worked for nine hours every day over six months and were still going even then. Few survive: Trouvé was unable to find craftsmen who could make such small objects with the precision required; according to Vever they were made by Cadet- Picard, whose mark appears on the skull pin shown in Fig. 162, but presumably in tiny numbers. 38By 1891 they were already collectors' items: according to Barral pieces that sold at the time for 50 francs were now fetching 700- 1,000 francs on the rare occasions that they came up for sale. 39 Trouvé's next foray into personal ornament was to combine the battery with the new incandescent lamp with carbon filament, patented in the UK by Joseph Swan in 1878 and in America by Thomas Edison in 1879. Trouvé's illuminated jewels burst on the scene in 1883, when they were reported in La Natureand picked up by the Jeweller and Metalworkerand by The Timesin 1884.40They consisted of coloured glass stones set round a globe which con-tained a small incandescent light bulb; at the touch of a switch the beam shone through the coloured glass. Like the earlier jewels they were wired to a small battery, encased in gutta-percha to prevent leakages, weighing some 300 g and measuring about 5 ×3.5 cm ( 2 ×1 ½ in). According to a publicity leaflet issued by Trouvé in 1884, the ' rubies' and diamonds' were specially cut and set to reflect the light source inside, which was a tiny 4- volt bulb. The jewel 210THE CULT OF NOVELTY 162 Trouvé's battery- operated skull stick- pin, enamelled gold with diamond eyes. French, signed PICARDfor A.- G. Cadet- Picard, about 1867. H. 9.2 cm. London, Victoria and Albert Museum The jaw is hinged so that when the wearer set the battery in motion, the skull gnashed its teeth. The battery no longer survives but the connection for the wire is visible beneath the crossbones.