Vintage Jewelry Shows off Loved Ones in Photo Antiquities Exhibit

Article excerpt

Vintage photography weds novel jewelry in a new exhibit at Photo Antiquities in the North Side.

Curator Bruce Klein pored over online auctions and dealer tables at flea markets and photo shows in a number of cities to gather the wee treasures in "A Victorian Valentine -- Photographic Jewelry of the Victorian Era."

Picture your beloved under beveled glass on a gold-trimmed cameo pin, watch case, pendant, stick pin or ring.

Only affluent types could afford such wearable art in the mid- 1800s, and folks rarely see such treasures today.

At Photo Antiquities, visitors can view approximately 50 pieces of photographic jewelry made from 1839 to 1939. Klein began collecting the jewelry in 1989.

The pieces range from daguerreotypes and ambrotypes set in gold, to photos printed on porcelain and political buttons.

"The images are fairly small," Klein says.

People in the pictures also look very stern -- probably because old-time picture-taking required long poses, and the use of neck braces to immobilize subjects.

"The exposure time could have been 15 minutes," Klein says.

Klein remembers paying about $30 for one of his first finds -- a daguerreotype brooch that probably cost $50 in 1840, or the equivalent of $800 today.

"It wasn't until 1860 that any person could afford photography," says Klein.

Creating photographic jewelry typically involved much time- consuming and painstaking cutting of glass and metal. …