TORQUAY MARBLE
AND
DEVON MARBLE JEWELLERY

DEVON MARBLE GOODS MADE IN VICTORIAN TIMES
Text and Pictures by Jennifer Carnell

A spectacularly intricate Torquay marble brooch designed to show off the array of Devon marbles and fossils found in the area.

Some Torquay pieces were far more intricate in design and manufacture than Scottish agate jewellery. Items were also produced in Exeter, Totnes and probably in other local towns.

The Devon trade also produced bracelets, tables, vases, pen trays, thermometers, rulers, seals, postal scales, paperweights and numerous other objects.

In 1851 John Woodley of Torquay exibited tables inlaid with Devon Marbles at the Great Exhibition and John Bradley of Exeter submitted a slate table painted to imitate eighty types of Devon marble.
Henry Champernowne of Totnes also exhibited a fossil and marble table and the official catalogue said of the Devon stones and the challenge of working with them:
'The marbles of Devonshire are often coralline, but generally very crystalline and much altered, the fossil remains being more or less obliterated. They often exhibit veins, and are varied and rich in colour. The chief objection to them in working, arises from the frequent irregularity of texture they present, and their brittleness.'

A smaller Devon marble and fossil brooch.
Devon marble jewellery is often mistaken for Scottish agate and even pietra dura or Ashford marble from Derbyshire.

Miss Cottrell wearing a Devon marble brooch in about 1861.

A closeup of Miss Cottrell's brooch.

An elaborate Devon marble pen tray with marble, fossil and malachite inlay.

A large inkwell holder.

An interesting example of a Devon brooch with a a varied array of fossils and marble.
Although I didn't see it, there was an exhibition about the local marble industry at Torquay Museum in 2012.

A large Victorian Devon malachite leaf brooch, probably made by Aaron Brothers or Bradford of Torquay.
As well as Devon marbles from local quarries, the Devon makers of marble jewellery also used malachite imported from Russia.

One of the Torquay firms who specialised in silver and malachite jewellery was Aaron Brothers. They were active in the early 1850s and exhibited at the Irish Industrial Exhibition of 1853 when they entered:
A 'silver taper stand on malachite leaves; engraved and gilt match box, inlaid; richly chased silver-gilt eagle on malachite pedestal; engraved and gilt casket, inlaid; silver and malachite box, for postage stamps; silver-gilt engraved paper knife, malachite handle; brooches and bracelets in malachite.'

Edwin Bradford was making malachite jewellery and other goods, including malachite boxes and malachite scales, in Torquay as early as the 1840s.
This malachite and silver bracelet was produced by Bradford in 1849.
Interestingly, the silver bracelet part was made by Hilliard and Thomason, and hallmarked by them in Birmingham, and Bradford then added the malachite and his own name and 'Torquay'.
Edwin Greenslade Bradford (c.1818-1874) was born in Newton Abbot, Devon and was based at 9 Strand, Torquay.
In 1851 he described himself as a jeweller and watchmaker and in 1861 stated he was a goldsmith and marble mason.
He was probably related to James Bowbeer Bradford (c.1814-1879) and Denis John Bradford (c.1826-1911), who were also born in Newton Abbot, Devon and who also worked as jewellers in Torquay.

A malachite earring.

 

A moon and heart malachite brooch.
Torquay

In August 1854 the following malachite items were awarded for archery at the Archery Fete held at Torquay Cricket Club at Chapel Hill Cross:
2nd Member's Prize for Ladies: a ‘handsome malachite brooch' won by Miss C. Maden
2nd Member's Prize for Gentleman: a ‘set of malachite buttons, set in gold' won by Mr. W.R. Hole.
Visitors Prize for Ladies: a ‘malachite stamp box' won by Mrs. West.

Torquay brooch.

A Devon brooch with marble, malachite and fossil.

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