Repro Alert: Vintage Celluloid Flower Basket Jewelry

In my recent blog post about vintage Japanese celluloid jewelry I spotlighted the chrysanthemum flower basket brooches produced in the 1940s. These lovely pieces were hand painted in many color variations and all were produced from one of two quite similar base molds.

I have discovered that one of those two vintage flower basket designs is currently being reproduced in a cast resin material, hand painted, and then affixed to a reproduction of a vintage brass hair ornament or brass brooch mounting. Let me be absolutely clear: The creator of these items is being 100% up-front about the fact that these are reproductions of vintage pieces! They are NOT in any way trying to pass these off as vintage items, and in fact take great pains to make sure that a buyer knows that they are modern, newly-made pieces. The reproduction pieces are sold on eBay and also at the maker’s own website which offers a wider range of colors and styles than on eBay. In both locations the descriptions include repeated clarifiers such as “new, hand stained, made of natural pine resin”, “hand molded (reproduced from the original…)”,  ”..on a piece of reproduction brass” and “mounted on a reproduction brass hair pin”.  There is virtually no way that someone buying one of these from the original source would NOT be aware that they were recently made.

However, it is inevitable that over time many of these reproduction pieces will eventually make their way into the marketplace – both online and off – via tag sales, etc., and it’s equally inevitable that many of them will be (and in fact some definitely have already been) accidentally misidentified by those sellers as true vintage items.

This likelihood is increased by the existence of photographs of the genuine vintage celluloid flower baskets in several vintage-jewelry reference books and of course in past online sales. Normally a resin piece might be heavier than the same item made from celluloid, but in this case the basket is attached to another object (the brass comb or brooch mounting) and so it’s impossible to tell how much the basket itself actually weighs. Because the entire back of the basket is affixed directly to the brass element, someone might assume that the ‘Japan’ signature is there but simply not visible; as we know, the original Japanese item was signed either on the pinback or by impression into the celluloid itself.

The reproduction pieces are quite accurate; the molds are sharp and clean, and someone who is already aware that there are many painting variations of the original brooch could be forgiven for thinking that this is yet another (even though the coloration style is not truly a match for that seen in the vintage work), and that perhaps hair ornaments and more ornate brooches were made back then as well — or that someone has repurposed one of the 1930s-1940s celluloid brooches into a newer item.

The creators of the reproduction pieces (Heidi and Reed of whereonearth) have been kind enough to give me permission to put some of their images into this article for illustration purposes. Each of the images is a live link to the page on their website that contains their current offerings within which the flower basket items are included. I have linked to their website rather than to the eBay listings because there are so many more color variations on the main site; however, do be aware that some designs are also offered via their eBay store.

Here are a few examples of the 16 different colorways currently offered for the hair ornament; the full range of 16 versions can be found within this page of their website.

Below are some examples of the 13 different brooches that are also made using this flower basket element. See this page for the seller’s thumbnail section showing all thirteen versions. The baskets are attached to reproduction brass mountings which are ornate and varied in design. Notice that the fourth example, in a solid plain cream/ivory color with no shading or tinting, could easily be mistaken for the extremely similar original 1940s Japanese brooch illustrated in the photo immediately following it (that brooch is also illustrated in my recent blog post on vintage Japanese celluloid brooches).

compare the above with the very similar circa-1940s basket below, found in its basic cream/ivory version (as explained in my other post, there were two extremely similar vintage molds which at a casual glance are often assumed to be identical):

For purposes of comparison, below are a selected four different painting variations (of which there were at least 19 which I have discovered to date!) of the original circa-1930s vintage Japanese celluloid chrysanthemum basket brooch.

Collectors and sellers of this type of vintage celluloid should simply be aware that there are modern resin reproductions of the original Japanese celluloid brooch in circulation as well, as both hair ornaments and brooches in multiple color variations.


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