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Butterfly wing brooch is sure to have bidders in a flap!

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The natural world has always been a source of inspiration for jewellers, and since ancient times they have incorporated flora and fauna into their designs – sometimes literally.

It is the Victorians who we associate most with insect jewellery, from buzzing bees to crawling spiders, set with precious stones and diamonds, or in some cases incorporating the insects themselves with iridescent beetles and scarabs being incredibly popular during this time.

But no creature was as popular as the butterfly; as symbols of rebirth and as representing the soul of those departed, the butterfly was much beloved by the sentimental Victorians and its enduring charm remains popular to this day.

On the 22nd May Elstob & Elsob are pleased to offer Lot 1551, a stunning early 20th century butterfly wing brooch, by famed Austrian Jeweller Ernst Paltscho (1858-1929).

This beautiful life-size butterfly brooch incorporates real butterfly wings, encased behind rock crystal and accented by diamonds.

These vibrant iridescent blue butterfly wings come from the Morpho butterfly, a genus of over 29 separate species originating from South America and Mexico. Known for their vibrant shimmering wings in shades of blue and green the Morpho butterfly became highly prized by jewellers.

Butterfly wing jewellery became popular in the 1920s, after jeweller Thomas L. Mott displayed his range of reverse painted butterfly wing jewellery at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. In the form of pendants, earrings and bracelets these popular pieces often feature crinoline ladies or tropical landscapes on blue butterfly wing backgrounds.

This brooch by Ernst Paltscho is a particularly early example of butterfly wing jewellery, their use being patented by Paltscho. An advertisement for the firm at the 1906 Imperial-Royal Austrian  Exhibition at Earl’s Court proudly declares Ernst Paltscho to produce the “Finest Jewels of every kind and style. Specialities of Gold Jewellery. Patented Jewellery Articles with Natural Butterfly’s wings".

A firm spanning three generations, Paltscho was founded by Ernst Paltscho in Vienna, 1899. Trained by his father Carl, Ernst Paltscho was renowned for his vivid designs inspired by the natural world and became known as the “Jeweller to the Kings”, commissioned by Austro-Hungarian aristocracy and members of the Greek royal household.

Many pieces by Paltscho are found in museums over the world, including an exquisite Bonsai Tree brooch in the British Museum. Made from carved jade and set with diamonds, this Bonsai Tree brooch is typical of Paltscho’s vivid use of colour and natural themes.

Rarely found at auction, jewels by Paltscho are highly desirable and sought after by collectors – This beautiful butterfly wing brooch by Ernst Paltscho is sure to have bidders in a flap!

Please contact Jewellery Specialist Melanie Saleem FGA DGA for more information on this and other lots to be offered in the Elstob & Elstob Jewellery, Watches & Silver Auction takes place on the 22nd May at 10am GMT.

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