What is special about this pair of brooches? On the face of it, nothing. So why have I chosen these two brooches to feature as a Brooch of the month? Well, let me tell you their story. They started life as a pair of dress clips, made in the 1930s from plastic and decorated with paste. They are a pair of unequal hexagons representing 3D rectangular boxes. They have a symmetry, making them a pair of opposites which would have been clipped on to a dress or the lapels of a jacket. I can image a young woman putting them onto her dress to brighten it up and going out for tea at a Lyons Corner House. The first of the Lyon’s teashops opened at 213 Piccadilly in 1894, and the first Lyons’ Corner House opened in 1909, the last one finally closed in 1977. During the 1930s the iconic waitresses became known as ‘Nippys’ and could be seen in one of over 200 tea rooms in London.
30th August 1930: British revue comedienne Binnie Hale (1899 – 1984), formerly Beatrice Mary Hale-Monro dressed as a waitress for her part in the Julian Wylie production ‘Nippy’, showing at the Prince Edward Theatre in London. (Photo by Sasha/Getty Images)
So, back to the brooches story. Sometime in the 1980s, when big earrings were all the rage, remember Dallas & Dynasty, earring clips were added. Dallas was first aired in 1978 and ran till 1991 setting off a number of fashion trends, including huge earrings which were removed whenever the leading lady answered a telephone. Did these now oversized pink earring go to discos? Who knows, I remember going to the Lyceum Ballroom in London with its glitter ball to dance the night away but not wearing earrings quite this large.
How these earrings ended up in a small Antiques Centre on the south coast of England is anyone’s guess. But that is where I found them last year. I was browsing said Antiques Centre and spotted them in a cabinet; it was their deep raspberry pink hue which first attracted me. I don’t wear pink, it is not my colour, but raspberries are my favourite fruit. I have memories of going with my grandmother to the tennis club near her home by the sea and having them as a special treat in the summer, just around the time of my birthday. Once the cabinet was open, I could inspect them and found they were earrings with a broken clasp. I don’t wear clip earrings, they just won’t seem to stay on my ears. I then had the idea I could remove the earring attachments and put on brooch fasteners. It is one thing I love about vintage jewellery, wearing something that has had a previous life. By not always buying new with all the ramifications of such a purchase, I have over the years amassed a unique collection of all sorts of jewellery and accessories. So, if you see something at a fair or in a shop, consider revamping it and giving it a new lease of life. Happy hunting until next month when I have a fabulous Vendôme lion to share with you.