Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Internal Hysteria at the Bookstore

I've been having a bit of luck lately finding good costume jewelry--I think it's because in a past life I was a crow and anything big, sparkly and ostentatious attracts me like a moth to a flame (or a crow to a bauble, duhhhhh). So there I was in a favorite thrift store I visit regularly, and I'm really not seeing anything that strikes my fancy. Plus, like everywhere else, someone in the back has discovered how their computer works and from there, it's finito for customers looking to score a big cheap find. And yet . . . So, yes, if someone donates a pair of crystal candlesticks, they're going to be priced at $60, which is still probably a good deal but that price just doesn't fit my definition of "big cheap find." Thinking that I'm going to have to tell Miss Pat that I didn't find any "treasures" today other than a stoneware bowl for $3, I wandered over to the jewelry counter to see if any stickpins had made their way in--I have this insane need to collect stickpins. This thrift store is located in a really nice section of a small town and they receive all kinds of really nice donations, like depression glass, Fostoria American, crystal, etc. I don't go there for the clothes, but I have several quite chic friends who buy most of their clothes there and look FABulous. And then, suddenly, I saw it--this pin:It wasn't even in the jewelry case under lock and key--it had been pinned to a plastic earring card and was hanging on the earring display. I checked the back of the pin--no identifying marks, and the metal was kind of dull, yet something told me to grab this big old hunk of dull metal and rhinestones and pony up the asking price. Soooo--I go home and use my magnifying glass to confirm that there are no maker's marks on my pin, which is too bad because although I'm pretty sure it's vintage, trying to fit the right description into Google in order to find anything about it is going to be a chore. The next day, I went to my local Books-A-Million to try, once again, to find information on the damn Trifari crab pin. Ah, there's a costume jewelry book I hadn't seen before--Warman's Vintage Jewelry by Leigh Leshner. I quickly determined that Leigh wasn't spending much time on any particular maker and as I thumbed through (sitting on the floor by this time), I noticed a preponderance of pins (ha!) that were constructed similarly to my hunka dull metal pin. Then to my wondering eyes did I spy--MY PIN! Here's what it said: "Art Deco brooch, pot metal and clear rhinestones, $165." ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE DOLLARS!!! I'm in a bookstore, I can't scream or do a happy dance, but my tummy sure did get all flippety. This pin was made before WWII, probably between the late 20's and late 30's--pot metal is a mixture of tin and lead and once we geared up for war, no one could use pot metal commercially since the military needed it all (so the poor jewelers had to go second best with silver). Most of these pins had no marks because they had tags and, unless you're Minnie Pearl, the first thing you do with identifying tags is yank them off. Yes, yes, I KNOW you're supposed to cut them off, but who has time to find a pair of scissors, hmmm? Still no real information on the crab pin, but I'm pretty certain that it was made pre-patent by Trifari, which definitely makes it old. I'm just amazed that I haven't found ONE picture of this pin, since it is soooo striking. Here you go, ladies--another dazzling crab photo:
Costume Jewelry 101 and 202 by Julia Carroll are also excellent books and I really thought I'd find the information I was seeking BUT still no luck--she has a huge section on Trifari in the 202 book with drawings, photographs, patent information . . . but no mention of my little crab. I know I'll stumble on it, probably when I'm researching something completely unrelated, and anyway, I love the hunt!