Friday, November 15, 2013

Vintage Bridle Rosettes

Vintage horse bridle rosettes were not just ornaments but an important part of a driving or riding bridle and were produced from the 1800′s to about the 1950′s. They were first used by the U.S. Cavalry in simpler forms. Today they are highly collectible and oftentimes used in jewelry creation as brooches or necklaces.  You often see them in antique store, on Ebay or Etsy and the prices will vary tremendously depending on the design.  Some are highly collectible.

Bridle rosettes can run the full range from very plain to highly artistic. During the 1800s, they grew popular with the riding and driving public and were produced in increasingly decorative styles. By the Victorian period, thick glass domes were covering polished brass backs. Beneath the domes, fancy, colorful diecuts and transfers would be inserted. Flowers and animals were popular subjects.

As horse riding and driving changed in the mid-1900s from essential transportation to an enjoyable pastime, bridle rosette production persisted but in decreased numbers. One of the last American producers was the Chapman Company of Minnesota. While almost no antique rosettes carry maker markings, Chapman stamped theirs, which are highly collectible.

Over the years, many old rosettes have been converted into costume jewelry by removing the D ring from the back and adding a pin or pendant loop. Purists treasure them in original condition.

I bought a few sets of these (many are sold in pairs) a few years ago and queried what I might do with them. There is a book that tells you about them too.

You can make them into jewelry but it is difficult without putting something around them like in this photo as the backs are often brass and they are covered with a glass dome.  Heating these will melt the glass.

But I love the variety you find out there:

I made one into a belt that I will show you at some point.  But next time you see one of these in an antique shop you'll know what a bridle rosette is.

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