Saturday, February 28, 2009

Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Part 9 - Dress Clips, Fur Clips and Shoe Clips

This is another chapter in my ongoing series about what you should be looking for as you assemble a collection of vintage jewelry. In past chapters we have talked about condition, metal backs, types of stone settings, types of stones used, pin clasps, earring backs, etc.

Today's chapter will talk about the various types of dress clips, fur clips and shoe used during the popular early periods in vintage jewelry manufacture.

While modern day sellers often use the term dress clip and fur clip interchangeably, there are definite differences in the design and intended use of them.

Fur clips have two long sharp prongs which are attached to a spring on the back of the clip. They are meant to pierce fur without doing much damage to the fur pelt. Sometimes, these clips would be marked with the designer name on the top of the hinge and the patent number, if any, under the hinge mechanism. Others would have the patent number on the actual piece itself. Here are some examples of Fur Clip mechanisms (the last one is a modern Kenneth Lane clip.)

photos courtesy of ebay sellers: frenchysvintage, sweetthingsvintage and gloriajean

Dress clips have a larger and wider piece of metal which has "teeth" intended to grasp thin material like a dress or shirt. There are many styles of dress clips. Some were flat hinged pieces of metal with no decoration and others were ornately filigreed in design. Occasionally, one would be more of a wired frame design. Normally, a patent number is found on the underneath part of the hinge mechanism. There are numerous bakelite dress clips from this period too.

Some examples of fairly plain dress clips mechanisms:

Photos courtesy ofvintagejewelrylane and ebay sellers parlin_darlin,meemaws_house, and cvmant

These examples show the difference in a filigree dress clip back:

photos couresty of vintagejewelrylane and ebay seller gillette1

Most early vintage jewelry manufacturers made dress and fur clips, but Coro and Trifari are two notable ones. Many of these clips were patented, but not all were. Some additional designers who made dress and fur clips in number are Miriam Haskell, Eisenberg, Hobé, Hattie Carnegie, Nettie Rosenstein, and Polcini, among others.

It is rare to see a dress or fur clip which was manufactured much later than the middle of the 20th century, so that makes it fairly easy to date vintage clips, at least in the general sense. They were common during the Art Deco and Art Nouveau period up to the mid 1950s and 60s. Earlier and later examples are available, but they are exceptions, rather than the norm. (One notable exception to the early rule of manufacture is contemporary designer Kenneth Jay Lane who makes modern fur clips.)

A special type of clip in this category is a pair of clips which has a special mechanism which allowed two brooches to be worn as a single pin. Coro and Trifari are famous for these double pins. Coro called theirs "Duettes" and Trifari named their creations "Clip-Mates." There are many other manufacturers of these double clips - many were European in design.

The following photos show a common design mechanism for the combination pins. The first two photos show a Coro duette both closed and open and the third photo shows the Trifari Clip Mate.

Photos courtesy of ebay sellers chitknit and peepsnmeems
Shoe Clips were commonly seen in the 1950s and 1960s and are still made today, although not as often worn as they used to be. They were worn in pairs and were meant to embellish a plain pair of shoes. Here are some common shoe clip designs:

For the best investment, try to purchase pairs of fur clips or dress clips. They are always more valuable than the single piece, even if you decide not to wear them together. Here is an example of a pair of owl fur clips showing the back mechanism:

Photo courtesy of ebay seller lovethyneighbor43214

Be sure to visit my Vintage Jewelry Lane Site. I have a nice range of shoe clips and dress clips for sale at reasonable prices.

Be sure to check back soon for the last installment in this series. I'll cover how to shop for vintage jewelry, how to value it, and how to purchase for a good price. I'll also give some tips for buying online and tell you about extras that add value to a piece.

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