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Victorian Stanhope & Locket Orb Pendant


In 1859, the first micro-photographic lens was patented. It was called the Stanhope, and it was a HUGE fad in the Victorian era. The miniature lens was hidden inside all kinds of regular objects: pens, pipes, needle cases, thimbles... but the way to keep a precious secret close (literally) was to stash it in a piece of jewelry. At first glance, you wouldn't notice there's anything special about a Stanhope jewel. That's a good thing, because lots of the imagery was pornographic! This locket is on the tame side: it holds a chaste (and hard-to-photograph) image of a young woman. It must have been commissioned especially by a loved one.


  • Materials

    14k gold (tests), stanhope lens, glass, new 14k gold chain

  • Age

    c. 1890

  • Condition

    Good - small but noticeable dents on both sides of the sphere; a little erosion along the edges of the photo within the stanhope but the image of the little girl is still clear

  • Size

    3/4" length including the bale, 5/8" diameter, 18" chain

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please note:Terms of Sale

Antiques can be returned unworn and in original condition within 10 days of delivery for an exchange or refund minus the cost of shipping. Once a piece has been altered, including ring re-sizing, it is FINAL SALE.

RelatedHistory Lesson

Lockets:Magical, Medicinal, Memorial.

It’s hard to pinpoint when modern-day lockets were invented, but it’s believed that they evolved from ancient amulets.