Late 19th-Century Hungarian Refugee Family Jewelry

Value (2009) | $12,000 Retail$14,000 Retail
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GUEST:
My mother's family is from Hungary, and when the Second World War was encroaching upon their land in about 1944, they had to leave their home, and they basically just gathered together whatever they could carry with them on their person, left their home and spent some time in Augsburg, Germany, and after the war was over, in 1951, the Communists had taken over and they basically could not return home, so they took whatever they had, and they were able to emigrate to this country in 1951 on a troop ship, and my mother had her 24th birthday on the troop ship, and basically everything that they had was in pockets or, you know, on their person so that they wouldn't be stolen out of baggage or anything like that. And they were only able to take a hundred pounds other than what they were carrying on them. And some of the other items that might have been better, my grandmother buried in the backyard of their home just in case they could go home, and they never could.

APPRAISER:
Here's a picture of them in the cover of the jewelry box.

GUEST:
Yes, that was in Hungary, and that's my grandmother, grandfather, my mother and her three brothers.

APPRAISER:
Okay, tell us about this, looks like a ticket here. And what does it say on it?

GUEST:
Each of the people that were boarding the troop ship had to have their little card to say who they were and that they were in good health or not so that they could be able to emigrate and come to this country. The other side of the ticket says, "international refugee."

APPRAISER:
So what they could carry is what they could leave with, and what better to leave with than your jewelry? It was small, it was portable...

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The jewelry itself tells a story. There are several generations of jewelry here. You're wearing a necklace of lapis beads.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Those were part of it.

GUEST:
Yes, sir.

APPRAISER:
The ivory beads are genuine ivory. In the box here, there's a serpent bracelet with a garnet head, a very Victorian one, and a wedding band, an interesting kind of elk's piece with elk's tooth. But the real value I'm going to focus on, the earring-and-ring set, which are Persian turquoise and diamond and gold. And these are Victorian pieces that date about the 1870s.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
And the other piece that we'd focus on is this large crescent pin, which dates about 1880 to 1890. Usually these are smaller. And it's inset with rubies and diamonds and a sapphire in the center. But this one has a fitting in the back, and there's a thumbscrew here.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And when you take that apart, this fitting comes off, because it went onto a hair ornament also.

GUEST:
Oh. Great.

APPRAISER:
And it could be worn on a hairpin or perhaps it could have been part of a tiara and worn either in the front or in back of the hair. A very opulent, ornate gem-set item and quite valuable. A pin this large with diamonds and rubies and a sapphire, in this condition and rarity, at retail this piece would bring about $9,800.

GUEST:
Oh, my God. That's great.

APPRAISER:
The little turquoise-and- diamond earrings and the ring, there's another $2,500 in that set.

GUEST:
Great.

APPRAISER:
This group of items-- your ring, the brooch and then all the other things-- at least $12,000 to $14,000 for all of it at retail.

GUEST:
Great.

APPRAISER:
Thank you so much. It's a remarkable collection and a very interesting story. I thank you for bringing it.

GUEST:
Great. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Edith Weber Antique Jewelry
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$12,000 Retail$14,000 Retail
Event
Raleigh, NC (June 27, 2009)

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