Gold Heirloom Booklink Chain, ca. 1840

Value (2008) | $12,500 Retail

This piece has been in my family for five generations that I know of, and perhaps more. It was given by William Clark Jr., who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1836.

The Texas...


When Texas declared its independence.

When Texas declared its independence. He gave this as a wedding gift to his daughter in 1844. William Clark was a descendant of Abraham Clark, who signed the American Declaration of Independence. The little inscription here is in my grandmother's handwriting, and was done right about the turn of the century. I am wondering if he bought it or had it made in Texas, or whether this could have, in fact, been a family piece.

It is a gold necklace...

That is correct.

in a fitted box and wound in the coil of the fittings, so that it lays perfectly for travel and wouldn't be damaged. The design of the piece has elements that are little rectangles that are pierced and joined in a hinged manner so that it lays flat in succession. It is called a "booklink chain." These were popular in the Victorian era, but started just about at the time that this would have been gifted for the wedding. It's early booklink. It's about 1840. I'm going to close the cover for just a minute


and show this decorated, Moroccan leather case embossed with gold designs. And this is very typical of custom-made jewelry boxes done in the first half of the 19th century. This is not American work. This is not Texas jewelry, and, as a matter of fact, I don't believe it's even Eastern jewelry. We had manufacturing jewelers in Philadelphia and Boston and New York, but a piece like this, it's made in Europe. So someone of your family's abilities could have purchased this from a fine jeweler in one of the major cities and then had it shipped or brought out for the wedding gift.

I'm wondering, considering its age and its color, whether this is just an oxidation or whether this deep, rich gold color has a larger karat.

That's oxidation. Unless it's pure gold, if there's other alloys, it will oxidize slowly. That's just oxidation on the surface of the metal. A piece like this, in its fitted case, a European gold chain of 60 inches in length, in marvelous condition and original case, would be valued in the marketplace at retail at about $7,500. Which is a goodly amount. The chain doesn't have a lot of weight; it's all about age, craftsmanship and authenticity. But I think there's a premium for the history. When you have a family with important lineage, it is worth more money. And I would tack on about another $5,000 and say it's about $12,500 because of the history, because it's an important American family and an important Texas family.

Thank you so very much.

Appraisal Details

Edith Weber Antique Jewelry
New York, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$12,500 Retail
Dallas, TX (June 28, 2008)
19th Century
Box, Chain

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