London, South Kensington
5 December 2006
A LATE VICTORIAN OPAL AND DIAMOND BROOCH/HAIR ORNAMENT
Modelled as a butterfly, the thorax, abdomen and wings set with vari-shaped opals, the openwork outer wings set with old brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies to the eyes, mounted in silver and gold, circa 1890, the brooch fitting detachable, with interchangeable tortoiseshell hair comb and gilt metal entremblant pin fitting, fitted velvet case by Elkington & Co Ltd
The brooch was originally a present from James Kitson (1835-1911) to his daughter Emily. Kitson was a Yorkshire 'ironmaster' who owned both the Monk Bridge and the Stanningley iron and steel works in Leeds and also the Kitson Locomotive Works in nearby Huntslet. He was Lord Mayor of Leeds in Queen Victoria's Jubilee year 1896/97 when his daughter Emily acted as his Lady Mayoress, his wife having died 15 years previously. It is very probable that the brooch was presented to Emily in gratitude for her help during his period of office. He was Liberal MP for Colne Valley from 1892 to 1907 when he was elevated to the Peerage as Baron Airedale of Gledhow in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
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