Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

By Linda Lombardo, Worn2Perfection on Etsy

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Les Creations, Malupa Paris Pins are still a mystery to me and yet, if the old saying is true and a picture is worth a thousand words, we really don’t require full disclosure to enjoy these wonderful miniature works of art.

I found my first pin in 2003.  The image was of two birds seated on branches, one with wings spread out majestically. It was a simple pin with amazing detail. It had no color; just the creamy ivory-colored plastic that appeared to be poured and molded rather than die cut, contained within a brass bezel with a twisted rope frame. I delighted in seeing a trombone clasp for the first time and the words, “Depose France”, which I quickly learned meant Registered France. 
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 I’d just started selling and immediately put the pin on eBay. It sold modestly to a buyer in the UK. You’d think that was the end of that, wouldn’t you?

Well, that pin never left me – yes, of course, I mailed it – but figuratively, that pin stayed with me, and about a year and a half later, I started to search for it. Much to my delight, I found it again, on eBay, from a seller in the UK. I bid. I won and that was the start of this fanciful collection. It wasn’t the same pin, although I never really looked back to see the name of the seller who had purchased my original pin. It would make an interesting twist to the story if I bought back the same one, so feel free to imagine that I did if it helps.  

One pin led to another and although I’ve researched and researched, little information is available. No, actually, no information is available. When I found a pin with the original hang tag, I thought, “Ah ha! Now I’ve got it.” But not even “Les Creations, Malupa, Paris, Made in France” turned up any clues or new information.
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I even managed to find some of the celluloid pieces, yet to be assembled into these pins, which of course, I purchased without hesitation. Interestingly, I’ve never seen these as completed pins so my little bits of celluloid may be the only surviving pieces.

Most pins have two layers of celluloid to give “the scene” a three-dimensional quality. These thin layers are quite fragile and must have been a painstaking task to assemble. Some have only one layer. Unlike cut celluloid, there is detail and form to the top of each layer, which is why I believe the layers were poured and molded, rather than cut. The brass frames all have little tabs on the back that would be folded over the layers once they were placed in the frame. So simple and yet so beautiful!  

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If you choose to look for these pins, tinted or plain, be sure that they are complete. Many are being sold with missing parts, such as the pair of riders without one of the riders, only the second horse. I’ve seen these sell with only one bird instead of two or – don’t even ask - a headless rider. Minor details, such as the cigar in the Art Deco man’s hand or the reins or whip in the hands of the lady in the carriage, make the picture complete and are worth looking for if you choose to start your own collection. I’m certain that a few of mine lack all the original detail and some, such as the lady in the carriage, have a break or two. I will only purchase them if I’ve never seen another like it.

Whatever you do, stop and take notice, appreciate these little works of art, next time you see one. A picture is worth a thousand words and they seem to be all that’s left to tell the story.

Addendum to the original story, published in Warman’s Jewelry 4th Edition and VFCJ magazine originally:  
Occasionally, celluloid scene pins may be found with the U.S. jewelry manufacturer Coro’s name. I’ve also found a compact with one of the celluloid scenes as the centerpiece. Further research in one of my vintage compacts reference books shows that these compacts were manufactured by House of Nash Daniel, a U.S. manufacturer of accessories in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The scenes are exact matches to the Depose France brooches. At the writing of this addendum, I’ve resent an email to Marcia Sparkles Brown, who offered to ask Gene Verri if he remembers the design and can shed any light on these wonderful celluloid pieces. So, the mystery and hopefully the story continues. 
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