Llanelli Town Hall Brooch

Llanelli resident Idwal Davies approached Llanelli Community Heritage to help him solve a long-standing problem in identifying a family heirloom. The item is an unusual silver brooch, engraved on its face with an image of Llanelli Town Hall. According to family tradition it was presented at a ceremony that took place in 1913. According to a local jeweller it was probably made around 1912 and assayed in Birmingham.

The Birmingham Mint has suggested that the letter 'S' engraved on the reverse of the brooch indicated that it may have been made by Seddingham Bros.

Idwal has made several appeals through the local press and other historical organisations but has had no success in solving the mystery. Perhaps someone has a similar brooch and can tell us its origins and solve the mystery.

If you have any information regarding the brooch please contact us.

 

LCH0183

 

 

 

Comment by Robert Protheroe Jones
Curator of Heavy Industry at the National Waterfront Museum at Swansea

Both the general shape and the details of the brooch are typical of Edwardian ladies' brooches.

Very likely it was a generic design offered by wholesale jewellers with a blank centre suitable for engraving with women's names, messages, or images. The style of the engraving suggests that it was done by the wholesaler and I suggest that they offered such a service if a retail jeweller supplied a postcard of the view to be engraved, there very likely being a minimum order. If this last supposition is correct then there would have been at least some dozens made.

Enormous quantities of everyday jewellery is lost or sold for scrap. Surviving 'out of fashion' pieces of jewellery are consigned to the backs of drawers and to attics. There could well be other examples in existence but as this design does not seem to have been previously publicised, it suggests that small numbers exist (or survive). Quite possibly the local jeweller who commissioned the batch found that the design did not sell as well as anticipated - the engraving is quite clumsy and the subject matter quite different to the usual 'feminine' subjects seen on such brooches - and would have been dissuaded from ordering further batches.

As the brooch does not contain a specific engraved inscription commemorating what it was presented for, it was clearly presented with a verbal message or a card which has over the intervening century, been lost. Such a brooch could readily have been presented for attendance or teaching service in a Sunday school, regular school, long-standing assistance with a voluntary society (e.g. Band of Hope, a choir, etc.), or any similar presentation. The selection of the design would have depended on whatever took the purchasers' eyes (and was within their budget) when they went to a local jewellery shop.

Llanelli Town Hall and the mansion at Parc Howard were preferred subjects for inexpensive decorative ceramics (such as Gossware, amongst others) so it is not surprising that at least one of them turned up on a brooch - perhaps there are also examples with the mansion at Parc Howard waiting to be found.