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The Mystery Brooch, Eisenberg or Imposter?

Here is an interesting story about identification, misidentification, a possible fraud, and how even an auction house or a collector can be taken in.
I was doing some reading this week and found that a huge collection of Eisenberg had been auctioned in May of 2021. Joy of joys, the auction catalog was still available online to view. I was hugely surprised to see this item, marked as an Eisenberg dress clip.

Mystery dress clip makred as Eisenberg

The piece as it appeared in the auction log.

Eisenberg dress clip

Notice how the clip is mounted to the back of a round setting, there should be a flat space for it to sit flush.

I was surprised because I had purchased the same piece, much the worse for wear, earlier this year. Only mine was completely unmarked and was made as a pin.

Unmarked pot metal rhinestone brooch with dangling pears
Notice how poorly the navettes sit in the cups, the points don't even touch the brackets meant to hold them.
Reverse side of unmarked pot metal brooch
You can really see how rough the piece is from the back, notice how every gap has mold overflow that was left in place.

The missing dangles were explained by a closer examination and sure enough, there were shiny cut marks where the rings had been severed from mine. I have a Staret brooch with extremely similar construction. I honestly thought this piece might be a Staret because of the similarities. This brings me to another photo, something that stuck out in a Morning Glory antiques story on Bobye Syverson. She was known as the unofficial "Queen of Eisenberg" for her large collection. The photos were not attributed to her, but this piece stuck out.

Photo of brooch attributed to Eisenberg

Sorry for the poor quality, note the similarities in the main body of the piece.

As you can see, it isn't a perfect match as the dangles are oval, and there is no photo of the back, but the structure is the same.
I think that this piece and the one that was auctioned were misidentified.
I believe that the dress clip was harvested from another piece and attached to this much cheaper item.

Here's where your detective skills can come in handy!

It is crudely forged in pot metal. The edges of the cups are irregular and no finishing was done. Many of the navette cups are so badly made that a stone won't sit properly. The cups are made to look as though the stones are point set, but many of the point set brackets are missing entirely, and it appears to have come out of the mold that way. Only 6 stones in the main piece are prong set. It is overall so thin that you can easily bend it. The pin is soldered on sloppily.

Eisenberg's pot metal pieces were substantial. The settings were thick and very smooth on the back. Everything larger than the 24pp accent stones would be prong set. I have never seen an open back setting on anything but their sterling pieces.

Eisenberg Original fur clip, pot metal flower
This is a true point set piece, an Eisenberg pot metal fur clip, notice how each navette is held securely in place at the tips. Nothing but small stones are glued.

Eisenberg original pot metal fur clip back side

Notice how thick and smooth the metal is, there are no open settings.

It is my conviction that this auction house got it wrong. Obviously whoever purchased this piece also got it wrong. How often do you think that happens? I wonder if we can trust pieces and parts. I've certainly heard the stories about Weiss plaques being sold by the cartload and added to anything and everything.

Anyway, I thought this was interesting, and I really did enjoy picking at this mystery. I hope this was a decently educational read, and happy hunting!

1 comment

  • Bravo!


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