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Cut Steel
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Wonderful listings, it is nice to see someone interested in historic jewelry!
Carl Brines, Sun, 6 Nov 2011 4:44PM
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Cut-steel bracelet
c. early 1800s

An ornate cut-steel bracelet with a raised oval central rosette.

Cut-steel pieces were manufactured starting in the early 1700s, but much of it dates from the middle of Queen Victoria's reign.  According to Anne Clifford, in her book Cut-Steel and Berlin Iron Jewellery, there isn't any literature, such as pattern books or advertisements so dating is imprecise, but the major period of manufacture for excellent cut steel is between the mid 1700s to the mid-1800s.  The jewelry is not marked, but it follows the fashions of the time.

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Close up of the central motif.  the cut-steel studs are made of steel (duh!) and were formed with minute rivets protruding from the back of each stud.  The tops of the studs were faceted and polished, then set into metal, often at angles in order to catch the light.  The studs rust, but this bracelet is in almost perfect condition.

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Back of the bracelet showing construction.  Thin sheets of metal, often brass, low grade silver alloy or even tin, were cut into shapes which were then covered with densely packed studs.  The studs were secured to the base plate by the minute rivets protruding from the back of each stud.  This particular design is made of several base-plates, with interlocking faces, adding to the richness of its appearance.  You can see a small "girder" of metal holding the different base-plates together.

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Another picture of the construction.  In general appearance, cut-steel jewelry can look very much alike to marcasite jewelry.  The easiest way to tell them apart is in the mounting, as cut-steel studs are never mounted (as with marcasites), but always rivetted into place.

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Cut steel earrings

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Cut steel butterfly pin

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Cut Steel Necklace
Circa 1800

Exquisite and elaborate cut steel necklace.  The necklace part is a bit more than 17 inches.  The roundel is 2 1/2 inches across, and, from the top of the
roundel to the bottom of the drop is 5 inches.

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Back of cut steel necklace showing fine rivets.

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Cut steel chandelier earrings
Circa 1840

Pretty cut steel earrings, circa 1840, in the chandelier style. The bright steel is riveted to metal plates, with gold ear wires. The earrings are 5.5cm [2 and 1/4 inches] in length and 2.5 cm [one inch] wide.

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Cut steel brooch
c. 1800

Elaborate cut steel brooch (approximately 4" long).  Note the variety of different cut steel pieces including pampilles, a cascade of drops usually diminishing in size.

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Note central strengthening bar, used on the more elaborate pieces.

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Cut steel rigid bangle bracelet
c, 1800

According to Clifford, page 20, rigid bangles are the most common form of bracelet, usually a simple strip of three rows of studs set on a hard backing and fitted with a flange clasp.

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Back of bracelet.

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Cut steel hair comb
Early 1800s as the rivets are hand set

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