MINIATURE PHOTO BOOK CHARMS
These enamel photo book charms first became available around 1900 and were produced for about 10 years. Most are gilt brass with an enamel front cover though a few Coronation ones were made in solid silver (rare). In the UK the Royal Family were the most popular subject matter and in 1902 thousands were made as souvenirs for the Coronation of King Edward VII. The photos inside normally consisted of six pictures with the most common being King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, the Prince & Princess of Wales, Prince of York and Queen Victoria. The less common had the King and Queen but also showed a combination of the Coronation Chair, Westminster Abbey, The Choir, the Crown Jewels and Windsor Castle. There are many different designs for the outer covers of the Royal books with just a few pictured below.
Most Royal book charms in excellent condition will sell for between £40-50 though rare covers like ones with the appliquéd crests or solid silver ones can sell for more. Most royal books are for the 1902 Coronation though I do know that one was produced for the 1911 Coronation which is rare as these book charms had virtually gone out of production by then.
The next most popular field is the town souvenir book. This is a huge field that I am finding new books for on a regular basis. They were not just for large towns and cities, smaller market towns with a very limited tourist trade also had them made. The market for these has always been a bit odd. It all depends on the town, some places are more popular than others. I suppose the Royals are more universal whereas a book charm from Horncastle doesn’t have the same appeal. These range in price from £20 up to £70 for a really good town or city. Sometimes the price can be bumped up by someone who isn’t a charm collector but actually lives in the town. A few are pictured below.
The next field is the specials and one offs. These include exhibitions, theatre and stage stars and sporting events. These are all rare and command a high price even if they aren’t in the best of conditions. One of the rarest I have ever had was for the racing yacht Shamrock II. I sold it in about 2002 for just over £200 which just goes to show how difficult it is to put a price on these sometimes, especially if they cover two collecting fields. These UK style enamel fronted book charms were made for the foreign market as well. They aren’t seen very often but they do come up occasionally though are rare. Pictured below are a Paris Exposition of 1900, Stars of the Stage, Noord Holland and East London in South Africa.
Something a bit different are the heart & clover shaped charms. These are very hard to get hold of but fascinating. Closed up they are heart shaped but they fan open to make a four leaf clover. Three of the leaves have photo views. Foreign made ones tend to be all enamel but UK ones have an enamel front cover and photos inside. These sell for around £80-£100 for the UK ones but much more for the all enamel foreign ones.
FOREIGN SOUVENIR BOOK CHARMS
Foreign souvenir book charms were very different to the UK books in that most were pullout designs that were normally silver plated brass. Ypres and Paris seem to be the most common found. Ypres was very popular during WWI and the most sought after today shows the bombed buildings though Royal & Military leaders are also popular. Extras like the pencil on the side that acts as the clasp are always highly collected. These books were produced for much longer than our UK enamel books, well into the 1920's, but there was much less choice and doubles are often seen. Rarities do come up, any non France or Belgium are unusual. Prices for these are anywhere between £30 and £50 for common ones but rarities can be much more.
They did produce proper miniature book style ones as well which again were made for much longer than our UK ones. It is rare to see an enamel foreign book; they are normally just silvered brass though I have had a beautiful Rouen enamel one (pictured below). This is a huge field again because of the date range but also because virtually every country produced this type of book. The foreign souvenir books are still being made today as key rings and you often see 1950's brooches with books hanging from them that have tiny coloured postcard views in them (UK ones as well as foreign). Where do you stop your collection? Personally, for selling, I stop at the 1920's but many people say black & white pictures only, no colour. The price range for these is as vast as the books themselves but don't expect to pick any up for less than £30 and you will need to dig much deeper for nice examples.
There are always novelties and Paris came up with the idea of putting their pullout pictures inside miniature opening purses. These do come up quite often and are always popular so expect to pay £50-£80 for a nice example.
(Values updated January 2016)
All images and text copyright Sandy's Vintage Charms 2009.