Question: I recently received this jewelry from a cousin who said it was given to our great-grandmother during the early 1900s. The 1-inch square pin is 14k yellow gold, has a real diamond and is decorated with what looks like heavy black paint. A small loop at the pin's back folds upward so it can be worn as a pendant and "DW" over "JW" within a shield is stamped under the loop. Information is appreciated. - M.C., Berlin
Answer: Your combination brooch and lavaliere is an Edwardian era piece bearing the mark of Daniel & John Wellby Ltd., English silversmiths and jewelers. Founded at London in 1883, the company is noted for having produced quality sterling flatware and hollowware as well as fine jewelry which includes stunning tiaras created for royalty.
The "heavy black paint" mentioned in your inquiry is enamel ornamentation, a favorite jewelry enhancement at the turn of the last century. It was created for your piece by applying a fancy layer of black powdered glass to the pin's gold surface then firing the piece until the melted glass produced glossy black decoration.
Prices paid for similar single-diamond D&J Wellby brooch-lavalieres currently range from $300 to $425, based on cut, color and weight of the stone. Ex-amples with multiple diamonds are fetching $650 to $1,200.
Question: My fiance's friend is selling a centuries-old Lancaster County, Pa., farmhouse and wants to give us a piece of wooden furniture called a "pie safe." It was made in the 1860s, is 6 feet high, 3 feet wide and 1 1/2 feet deep, with two drawers, five shelves and two front doors. Each door has three metal panels decorated with a punched tulip and stars design. I would like to know about pie safes including value. - S.F., Stone Harbor
Answer: Forerunner of the wooden icebox, pie safes - also called pie cupboards, meat safes, kitchen safes and pie chests - were used during the 1700s and 1800s to keep pies, breads, preserved meats, jellies, jams and other perishables fresh and safely stored away from insects and rodents.
Based on original Ger-man designs and created by country cabinetmakers in many sizes and models, most pie safes are freestanding cupboards fitted with two doors, several shelves and often drawers. Inserted door panels made from screening, fabric or tin decorated with hand-punched designs provided ventilation to prevent mold and food spoilage. Fashioned from pine, poplar, cherry or other woods available to the maker at his location, pie safes sometimes were painted blue or red. Favorite motifs found on the cupboards' punched-tin panels include tulips, stars, hex symbols, roosters and eagles.
Pie safes presently are purchased by collectors and decorators for use in kitch-ens, baths, home offices and libraries. Because they al-ways were utilitarian furniture, stained shelves, hard wear and the occasional mouse hole are considered part of their charm. Ex-amples with original paint, patina, hardware and punched-tin door inserts claim highest dollars. Al-though some late 1800s pie safes are priced in the $300 to $500 range, 1845 to 1860 pieces are selling for $4,000 to $5,000 and a choice example fetched $37,700 at an auction last year.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:
Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.