Find a hidden treasure in a family jewel.
Sometimes, it's not the flawless photograph that compels us to trace an
identity; it's the image found accidentally. When Sybil Farmer
inherited her grandmother Annie Letitia Harrison Baker Maddock's
(1875-1906) jewelry in 1994, she didn't notice the photographic mystery
in Maddock's silver locket. Farmer recently cleaned the locket,
carefully removing the two portraits of her uncles, and underneath one
of the pictures, she discovered this badly damaged photo of a young
girl. She's not sure who the girl is and would like to identify her.
Throughout the history of photography — beginning with the daguerreotype in the 1840s and continuing today — people have placed photographs in jewelry. Worn by men, women and children, photographic jewelry lends itself to a variety of settings. Women generally select pins, lockets, rings, bracelets and even coat buttons with matching sets of bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Men favor keywinds (used to wind watches), watch fobs, rings, cufflinks, stickpins and coat buttons.
Queen Victoria popularized photographic jewelry as a symbol of mourning when she wore pieces adorned with Prince Albert's image after his death in 1861. Between 1861 and 1880, photographs appeared in lockets and brooches with swiveling compartments to hold swatches of hair or clothing. (Maddock's locket contained only the three portraits.)