Indian Bengal Tiger Claw Jewelry, ca. 1869
Appraised Value: $10,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:51)
GUEST: I inherited it from an aunt who died several years ago at the age of 101 and she had it in her possession for many years, I think, because I saw it many years ago and admired it, which I guess is why I got it. She and her husband traveled extensively, all back in the '50s and '60s. He was a choir director and he toured his choir all over the world, and she was a collector.
APPRAISER: This is jewelry that was made as a result of being stationed in British Colonial India and perhaps something that your aunt might have bought at an antique shop in the '50s or prior to that, somewhere in her travels, perhaps in England. The material that this collection of jewelry is made of is tiger's claws from Bengal tigers from India. And this is what officers in the British service would do for recreation when they were off-duty: tiger hunting. Tigers are now a protected endangered species, but in those days, tigers were a feared creature that preyed on villagers and it was considered that the British officers were doing a favor by going out there and killing the tigers to protect the people, the livestock. And they would go on the elephants, they would beat the brush, get the tigers out and then they would shoot the tigers, but then they would remove the claws from the tiger and they would give those to jewelers and commission jewelry from the tigers' claws. And up here we have the pair of earrings, and this is two of the smaller tiger claws set opposing each other, and they've done something else I've never seen with tiger-claw jewelry. They also have British reverse crystal paintings of the Bengal tiger. The earrings have an inscription on the back that says, "For my daughter." The brooch in the center is quite remarkable. It has a big British crystal with the Bengal tiger and above it a gold elephant, and this material that decorates the elephant is most likely aluminum, which is quite rare in jewelry. It predates platinum. It was a state-of-the-art metal when this was made. There's an engraving on the back of this brooch, and it's dated 1869 and the inscription says, "In remembrance of the many happy years passed in the old 10th Regiment." And the old 10th Regiment was a regiment stationed in British Colonial India in the 1860s. Down below we have the bracelet, and the bracelet is a series of these tiger claws, not as big as the ones in the brooch. Those are massive claws, and this is made of 20-carat gold and wonderful filigreed phoenix birds and elephants. The bracelet came in this box. You can see the shape cut out exactly. The box is elephant ivory. I've never really seen tiger-claw jewelry quite this nice. And one thing to keep in mind-- not anybody can buy and sell this. You now need to apply-- you have to have a license from Fish and Wildlife-- and they want to make sure that these tigers were not killed recently. If they can certify that these tigers died a hundred years ago-- and we know these did; 1869 is a long time ago-- then you may get a license to trade in tiger claws, but otherwise they are protected.
GUEST: I see.
APPRAISER: With that in mind, it's still a rare collectible and there are people that adore this and I think the collection is $10,000 at retail--
GUEST: Oh, my.
APPRAISER: --today in a shop that specializes in this kind of antique jewelry.
GUEST: Well, that's exciting. Wow.
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