An Enigma, in Silver-Grey

So, online auctions.

The first rule of online auctions is “Caveat Emptor”, right? Buyer beware. Everyone knows that, I think. Well, I hope.

But what’s the second rule? Or the third? The fourth?

Personally, I like to say they are, in no particular order, “don’t buy something if the seller doesn’t know what it is, because it’s probably fake, or broken, or both”; “don’t buy anything if the seller is less-literate than a fourth-grader, you’ll just encourage them”; and “don’t buy something if you don’t know what it is, either”.

Sometimes, I’m not afraid to admit, I break those rules myself.

Case in point…

The seller didn’t know what this was. I’m not sure what it is, other than the obvious, i.e. a pin or brooch. It’s… probably not a military cap badge, as I suspected it might be from the blurry photo and vague description. That I know. What it is… is quite a bit trickier.

It’s silver. 800 thousands fineness, according to the mark on the back, and I have no reason to doubt that. It’s big, about 1-3/4 inch or 45mm across. There are a pin and catch on the back that would not be anachronistic right around WWI, maybe ca. 1905-1920, though they could be replacements, and the piece might actually be from the late 19th century. There are no hallmarks, no maker’s marks, no indication of the country of origin. It’s made – and very well made, by hand; the skill and craftsmanship that went into this piece are quite impressive – of a bunch of pieces, more than twenty in all, and there’s reason to suspect that the majority of the pin is actually fashioned from pieces of silver coins. (Making it literally “coin silver”, I suppose.) I strongly doubt it was made as a project for a school class somewhere, for a couple of reasons.

The thing in the middle I thought might be the coat-of-arms of Hamburg, Germany, but I’m pretty sure that’s not correct. Likewise Gibraltar.

If you recognize the design of this, I’d love to hear from you, as I suspect that’ll provide most of the answers I’m ever going to get about this odd not-so-little pin.

(Edited to add: One correspondent suggests it could be an older, pre-WWII emblem for the city of Cagliari, in Italy, which seems as plausible as any other guess.)

Published in: General | on May 2nd, 2013| 1 Comment »

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