To celebrate Valentine’s Day this brooch is from the 1930s and depicts Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet in the balcony scene in Act Two when Romeo scales the forbidden garden of Juliet’s house to woe her. The brooch is French. There are no markings on the brooch so how do I know this? The French often use a distinctive type of clasp that is easily recognisable. They are known as trombone clasps, sometimes referred to as push-pull clasps. The trombone clasps are named after the musical instrument and they require a push and pull mechanism to operate. They were used in Europe mainly France from the late 19th century through to the 1940s. Trombone clasps are sometimes seen in later brooches of the 1960s,1970s and even as late as the 1980s but the rollover clasp is far more common in the second half of the 20th century.
Showing the trombone clasp open. By pushing the small lever in, on the left, the brooch is made secure.
Romeo and Juliet are one of the world’s most famous pair of star-crossed lovers. They have been portrayed in art many times, one of my favourite pictures is that by Frank Dicksee painted in 1884. It is wonderfully romantic, depicting the young lovers saying farewell at daybreak, Romeo tenderly disentangling Juliet’s embrace.
Romeo and Juliet By Frank Dicksee 1884 (Southampton City Art Gallery)
To all lovers young and old
“Sweet, goodnight! This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.”