In the Victorian era, romantic courtship happened almost entirely by correspondence; thus a rich and romantic culture developed around letter-writing and related ornaments; and this item is a perfect example: a lovely hanging letter clip in the shape of an lady’s elegant hand. A young suitor’s post or calling-card would be safely guarded under these delicate fingers, awaiting timely delivery to her mistress . . .
This edition is the original design as produced in Birmingham, England by J. & B. Ratcliff Patentee, c, 1845. — not a later re-cast or copy! The item’s backplate bares the original hallmark: “J&B Ratcliff Patentees Birmingham”. The detail here is absolutely stunning, crisp and elegant, like a piece of classical sculpture with a dark, rich patination that’s completely original — never polished! And the backplate is far longer than later editions (or copies), extending well past the fingertips, allowing plenty of purchase for letters, as well as ensuring artistic balance to the original composition (by 1850, Ratcliff had severely shortened this feature).
An exquisite antique from the age of romantic elegance!