C.1840. An absolutely special French turquoise & gold 'Witches Heart' vinaigrette padlock.
This rare find is a working padlock & vinaigrette that is in the form of 'Witches Heart'. This shape of heart was a love token to symbolize the meaning of ‘bewitched’ with love. The front of the piece is encrusted with cabochon-cut pavé turquoise. It is hanging from two short ornate gold chains with matching turquoise cabochons and a half orb at the top. The back is as beautiful as the front. Finely engraved flowers and leaves on gold makes the piece even more complete. When it opens, it reveals the vinaigrette compartment, and you can see the exquisite pierced work that has a motif of a bird and flowers. The back panel closes properly.
What was 'vinaigrette'? The vinaigrette was used as a miniature container with a small sponge that was saturated with perfumes or oils. Often worn over gloves, bracelets or from chatelaines and chains, the vinaigrette was carried to mask less-fragrant surroundings. When the sponge was soaked only in vinegar, it could also help prevent the wearer from fainting.
This piece has the French eagle's head hallmark on the front handle of the padlock. This hallmark is seen on French made pieces of gold since 1838, and represents items that have been tested to be constructed of a minimum 18k gold.
The pavé turquoises are in blue and green hues, and the color variance is natural. Overall this piece is in great condition.
Total Drop (N-S): Approximately 2.17" (55mm)
Width (heart): Approximately 0.79" (20mm) at the widest