So I've been on this "trip" through ebay looking at lots of Victorian jewelry. Looking at shapes, materials, styles for inspiration. I'm already enamored with slide bracelets. I've bought 2 already. I'm working on some ideas for a beaded version but I was always curious of the design. So here's the story on slide bracelets...when ladies and gentlemen wore a pocket watch it was often on a chain. These chains had fobs (charms/seals/etc.) dangling from the clasp that attached the watch to the chain. The other end of the chain was attached to a "T" bar that was inserted into a button hole of the jacket or vest. In my great grandpa's case, it was attached to the strap of his overalls. There were often slides on these chains to lengthen or shorten the length of the chain to adjust for girth, desired drape and the like.
Then at some point (late 1800s, early 1900s) people started switching to wrist watches, the newest thing!.
This from Wikipedia "In 1904, Alberto Santos-Dumont, an early aviator, asked his friend, a French watchmaker called Louis Cartier, to design a watch that could be useful during his flights. The wristwatch had already been invented by Patek Philippe, in 1868, but only as a "lady’s bracelet watch", intended as jewelry. As pocket watches were unsuitable, Louis Cartier created the Santos wristwatch, the first man's wristwatch and the first designed for practical use. Wristwatches gained in popularity during World War I, when officers found them to be more convenient than pocket watches in battle. Also, because the pocket watch was mainly a middle class item, the enlisted men usually owned wristwatches, which they brought with them. Artillery and infantry officers depended on their watches as battles became more complicated and coordinated attacks became necessary. Wristwatches were found to be needed in the air as much as on the ground: military pilots found them more convenient than pocket watches for the same reasons as Santos-Dumont had. Eventually, army contractors manufactured watches en masse, for both infantry and pilots. In World War II, the A-11 was a popular watch among American airmen, with its simple black face and clear white numbers for easy readability."
So what to do with all these beautiful sometimes gem encrusted slides? It became fashionable (and still is!) to collect these slides and put them on a bracelet or necklace chain design for the purpose. So that's the origin of the slide bracelet.
So, this afternoon, while staring at a ladies short watch chain (called an Albertini in this instance) it was mentioned that sometimes these short chains were worn as bracelets. The T bar went through the loop or clasp at the other end in the manner of a toggle clasp. So is that where THAT design is from?
I'm tellin' ya this has been a very valuable excursion looking at vintage jewelry. And it's only cost me about $100 so far. I have a slide bracelet, a white sapphire and marcasite mourning brooch, an old crystal necklace strung on fine chain, and my newest acquisition another slide bracelet. I'll take some pics and show ya. In the meantime I've seen some beautiful shapes and jewelry styles that I hope to translate into beadwork. I highly recommend this sort of activity for inspiration when you are in a bit of a bead slump.
Pictures coming soon!