I’m not the handiest guy. So normally, when I see a metal box with plastic drawers at a garage sale that 99.9% of the time contains screws, nuts and bolts, I don’t even bother to look inside. But something about this box made me take a look. And every drawer had jewelry! I quickly grabbed it and the owner sold it to me for $6.

What I found inside was pretty shocking! Besides an Art Deco brooch and lady’s watch, and the dozens of other pieces of vintage costume jewelry, I found a rare brooch from the late 1800s with a story that needs to be told!

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you might have seen this piece posted when I found it back in August of 2020. Of course, it’s immediately recognizable as Victorian, from the late 1800s. But there’s a hidden needle on the inside and I didn’t know what it was for. So I needed to learn more!

I posted several photos to a couple of Facebook groups for vintage jewelry to see if anyone knew what the stone was or what it was used for.  The response was amazing!  So here’s what I learned…

First, the stone is pretty rare!  It’s called a Saphiret.  Saphirets were originally made in the mid-1800s in Czechoslovakia.  The stone is made by mixing melted gold into sapphire-colored glass. The result is a glass that looks brick reddish brown or pink, but reflects blue as well.  These stones were mostly out of production by 1900 as the cost of gold had risen, making it too expensive to make.

But the best part about this piece is that it’s not only pretty, but it has a purpose! Nanny Brooches were popular in the 1870s in Europe and were made with a hidden needle & thread.  These were made so Nannies could make emergency repairs to children’s clothing, while still looking pretty darn classy.  These pieces are quite rare, and I received a ton of interest online, receiving more than 40 comments in the Facebook group.

That’s a sweet piece of history to find in a tiny box of jewelry at a garage sale in Kansas City.   If you like this history lesson, or like watching me dig for curious antique finds, please like, share and subscribe, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Until next time, happy hunting and happy wanderings from Wandering Wiener Antiques!