J.W. Benson Ltd. was a prominent family-based company of London watch and clockmakers during the Victorian era, also producing a variety of fine gold and silver jewelry. Although the family had been producing watches since 1749, James William Benson and his brother Samuel Suckley Benson formed a working partnership in 1847. In 1855, James continued the business under his own name. During its years in business, J.W. Benson Ltd. was employed by several royal commissioners, including Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, the Russian Tsar, and several other royal families. The company also acted as the official watchmaker to the Admiralty and the War Department. After his death in 1878, James William Benson's sons James, Alfred, and Arthur continued the family business. The company had several English premises and later developed its own factory of manufacture. A longstanding name in watchmaking history, J.W. Benson Ltd. thrived several generations, eventually selling to the Royal jewelers Garrads in 1973.
This spectacular five locket necklace was produced by J.W. Benson Ltd. during the Early Victorian (ca1856) era! This substantial necklace is crafted in 15kt gold and features five matching garnet lockets, which hang in a festoon style from two strands of snake chain. Set within the face of each locket is a large garnet cabochon surrounded by a twisted gold rope border. The garnet cabochons are smoothly polished and deep red in color, contrasting beautifully with the brushed gold background!
When opened, each locket reveals two spaces to store special photographs inside. Three of the lockets still contain original black and white photographs and locks of hair. Engraved inside one of the lockets is the inscription "L.P. HAMILTON 1865." At the back of the doubled chain is a barrel catch and safety chain for added security. When worn, the necklace drapes beautifully along the neckline, making a magnificent statement piece! It comes in the original custom box, which is stamped "TO THE QUEEN; J.W BENSON; 25 OLD BOND ST. LONDON." inside the lid. This outstanding necklace would make a special addition for the serious Victorian collector!
Measurements: The necklace measures approximately 16" long. Each festoon locket hangs 1 3/4" long, including the bail at the top. The lockets themselves measure 1 1/4" tall, 1" wide, and 1/2" thick. The box measures 7" wide, 5" tall, and 1 1/4" high.
Condition: The overall condition of the necklace is excellent. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the gold setting. The chain fastens securely at the push clasp in the back, and the safety chain remains in good working condition. Each locket opens easily and snaps securely shut. All five of the garnet stones are intact, securely set, and free of chips or surface scratches. There is a natural patina on the surface of the gold, which is normal for an antique piece and adds to its beauty and character. The box shows some signs of wear commensurate with age. The lid is no longer hinged to the base, but both pieces remain intact with the original maker's mark stamped on the interior.