silver heirloom jewelry -er- thing...
February 25, 2014 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I have no idea - what did a lady do, exactly, with this ornament? pics inside--

Left to me by my grandmother , who died almost 50 years ago, amongst a quantity of other brick-a-brack and papers which I have barely looked at in all those years, but am now sifting through, in order to get my own house in order...
Janiyé was a modern artist of some repute in the mid 20th century I gather, but-
I have no idea what this thing is...
back, signed

for reference, the box measures 2" x 3"
posted by Abinadab to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea, but can I take a wild guess?
The ring-like part is finger sized, correct? So it looks like it helps position the metal part, which has contours that seem to match a hand/digits.
I'm thinking it's a writing aid, to keep your skin from touching the ink as you write.

Second guess along similar lines is a guide to help you write with correct hand shape, perhaps to assist left-handers? Was your grandmother left-handed?
posted by anonymisc at 2:41 PM on February 25, 2014

It looks like a saddle and horse shoe (or highly stylized stirrup.) I can't see any way you could wear it, however, since there's no pin or ring.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:41 PM on February 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

Yes - I think it's a saddle and stirrup, viewed from side-on.
posted by anonymisc at 2:42 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure what the thing in question is, either, but Atelier Janiyé is a jewelry collective formed in Boston in the 1950s by three artists. Per a recent exhibit, by 1958, the sole owner-artist was Miye Matsukata. (The current owners seem to have inherited the name from Matsukata.) Her thing was creating "wearable sculpture."

The current storefront is on Newbury St, not far away from 306 Beacon St, though I haven't been able to find a reference that confirms 100% the two are the same, but given the origins of the name (a combination of Miye and her two fellow artists' names), I suspect it is. Might be worth contacting the two artists working there to see if they have any ideas? They worked with Matsukata for a number of years.

I'm still not sure how to wear that, though.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 2:43 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: anonymisc, that is certainly wild guessing, it made me smile - in fact she was and I am left handed!
However, I think it is ornamental rather than functional, given what i have learned about the maker, also, the ring like thing at the end of the chain is too small to fit even a childs finger.

It does look like a saddle and horseshoe, though i cant think why that would have appealed to grandma, she we not interested in equestrianism as far as i know,
and the mystery remains - how do you wear it?
posted by Abinadab at 2:55 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering if the stirrup chain might be intended to loop up behind the saddle and then hang down in front?

If so, then maybe a pin could be pushed through a couple of the links in the chain at the top?
posted by sparklemotion at 3:00 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Would you wear the ring around your finger, and then hold the 'saddle' part in your hand, so the 'wing' of the 'saddle' points out your finger? It just seems like something you'd want to hold in your hand, pressing into your palm.

Like a fancy worry stone, or to follow along under the current line of a book as you read (with the pointer part).

Ugh so hard to describe in words.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:03 PM on February 25, 2014

The Atelier Janiye still exists - would it be worthwhile to contact them for further information? Edit: As Pandora Kouti has already suggested above.
posted by ninazer0 at 3:22 PM on February 25, 2014

I've been looking at pictures of women's riding habits (apparel), and I wonder if it would be used to hold the riding crop in the ring, and the weighted part could slip into the rider's glove, as a way to secure the riding crop? women riding sidesaddle - this pinboard has some good vintage equestrian photos. This company sells vintage riding habits and equestrian jewelry. Vintage riding habits.
posted by theora55 at 3:39 PM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: failing this, dear MF, I will be contacting current iteration of Janiyé.

theora55, that's an interesting theory, but I could break that sliver chain with my little finger, never mind slinging a riding crop around a piste.
posted by Abinadab at 4:03 PM on February 25, 2014

Maybe a watch fob?
posted by brujita at 4:30 PM on February 25, 2014

Is there a gap under the raised part of the saddle such that it could be slipped over a page in a book? Bookmark?
posted by sarahw at 5:22 PM on February 25, 2014

It might be helpful if you posted a picture that had a ruler or a number 2 pencil in it for scale.
posted by donut_princess at 5:27 PM on February 25, 2014

I'd have thought a brooch -- there isn't a teeny tiny catch or hinge on the inner edge of that almost-circle for a pin, is there? Does it all look finished and complete, not a thing missing? the tulipy-looking bit looks like it might be a bit heavy for that chain. But maybe it's one of those meant-to-be-asked-about things. It does look just fun to hold.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:54 PM on February 25, 2014

What about some sort of a cloak clasp?

If the ring went around a button on one side and the ornament went through a button hole on the other?
posted by SLC Mom at 6:57 PM on February 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Of course then the saddle would be hanging upside down.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:00 PM on February 25, 2014

My thought upon seeing this was that the item served as a zipper aid, so that a lady could zip up her dress by herself.

The ring would attach to the zipper pull and the saddle shape would be held and used to pull up the zipper on her dress when she couldn't reach it otherwise.
posted by misha at 9:00 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's an example of a cheaper vintage zipper helper, to give you an example of what I mean.
posted by misha at 9:18 PM on February 25, 2014

Maybe the little ring part is an ear cuff?
posted by dywypi at 3:23 AM on February 26, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks folks, for your input. It is still a mystery.
There are no slots, gaps, clips, or evidence of anything missing, but I can't definately say it is "finished" ,except insofar as it is brightly polished and signed.
posted by Abinadab at 4:04 AM on February 26, 2014

Maybe it's just an art piece to look at. You didn't do anything with it and that's why it's still in the box.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:02 AM on February 26, 2014

thinking ladie's pocketwatch fob?
posted by vivzan at 4:05 PM on February 27, 2014

I don't see how this can possibly be right, but it reminds me of a Georg Jensen citrus peeler -- the top, that is, as if there's a space for the thumb to rest. I wonder if it's some sort of tool.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:58 PM on March 3, 2014

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