Ever thought about wearing a coin as a piece of jewellery? Well, so did the Victorians, and they took it one step further with the use of enamel!
Enamelled coins were produced in the late 19th century, and were especially popular in the 1880s, and even more so in 1887 - the yead ofQueen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, which saw an enormous demand for souvenirs. Enamelled buttons were already popular during this period and the process was fiddly, but not too difficult to transfer to coins, which were made into brooches, pendants, pins, and all kinds of other decorative elements. The most famous producer of enamelled coins was Edwin Steel, who opened a factory in Birmingham in 1886 to sell enamelled coin jewellery.
Many enamelled coins feature designs modelled closely on that of the original coin or one of it's prominent design elements, such as a crest or bust. Most were produced with silver coins; gold examples are excessively rare. This is because gold is a softer metal and therefore far more difficult (and expensive) to enamel, especially to maintain the integrity of the original coin while doing so.
The process involved two phases: first, the coin was prepared - the background and any other unwanted elements removed, leaving usually the letters and decoration. Secondly, the enamel (a paste made of powdered glass) was applied in layers, fired, and ground down to fix different colours at different levels. This second phase could be repeated many times, depending on the complexity of the decoration and overall size of the coin, and was usually done over several stages to achieve the finest results.
Enamelled coins remained relatively popular as curiosities and trinkets into the early 20th century, but were made obsolete by the Gold and Silver Act of 1920, which made it illegal to use gold and silver coins for anything but currency - prohibiting the enamelling of coins.
#numismatic #numismatics #numismatik #numismàtica #coins #coin #enamelled #enamel #enamelledjewellery #enamelpin #enamelpins #enameljewelry #auction #england #english #victorian #victorianjewelry #jewellery #jewelry #victorians #victorianenamel #victoriana #auctionhouse #queenvictoria