• Antique Animal Jewelry

Antique Animal Fobs: A Majestic Menagerie

A few weeks ago, we mentioned fobs in our Gentlemen's Jewelry blog. In this week's blog, we take a more in-depth look at the delights and intricacies of animal-shaped fobs: from snakes and dogs to hunting fobs.

18-carat gold snake fob and split ring with a carnelian stone, c.1905

Antique Animal Jewelry

Two more views of the same c.1905 snake fob and split ring

Antique Animal Jewelry

What is a Fob?

Developed around the 1770s alongside the invention of pocket watches, a 'fob' often refers to the small ornaments that were suspended from watch chains, making the pocket watch easier to pull out of a pocket by adding weight to the chain and giving the wearer something to grab hold of. While fobs were worn by gentlemen in the Georgian era, they became very fashionable in the Victorian era, made particularly popular by Prince Albert (1819-1861). Given the strict Victorian dress code that meant that respectable men should only be seen wearing 'essential' jewelry, most fobs seen hanging from watch chains had practical as well as decorative or sentimental purposes. Many fobs had seals in the bottom, which were used to press a distinctive personal mark in the wax of a letter, note, or important document.

Snake Fobs

Three Georgian snake fobs, most of which are seals

Antique Animal Jewelry

French Victorian era 18k gold snake fob, the seal engraved with the French word 'Toujours' (always) From @curiouslytimeless via Instagram

A pre-revolutionary Russian fob depicting two intertwined snakes with their heads at the bottom of an oval base, winding their way up to the tails and a bail. The oval carnelian is engraved with the image of a rose bush a bee with a beehive in the background. The word 'Полезное' is Russian for beneficial, good for you, or useful - From @kirstenscorner via Instagram

A late Georgian/early Victorian carnelian fob with snakes, 9-14k, with three large uncarved carnelians set into the piece. One of the carnelians has a hinge and opens up to reveal a hidden compartment

From @kil_nyc via Instagram

Victorian snake fob with an amethyst bottom - From @runesandrebus via Instagram

Griffin & Lion Fobs

Large griffin fob seal from @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

18k Victorian double Griffin fob with an uncarved crystal seal base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

15k gold Victorian fob seal with two fierce lions. The monogram on the seal is J H E

From @jessicakagancushman via Instagram

14k gold Victorian lion fob with an uncarved bloodstone base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold antique lion fob seal with an uncarved carnelian seal base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold Victorian lion fob with repousse work and an uncarved, rare shield base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Two Victorian lion fobs - from @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Dog/Hound Fobs

19th-century gold, silver, and bloodstone hound fob with a gold base and bale and tiny diamond eyes

Antique Animal Jewelry

19th-century French double hound fob, modeled in silver and gold, with a rock crystal seal

Antique Animal Jewelry

Five 9k-14k dog fobs on an 18k gold 20” chain - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

A Victorian hunting 'pointer' dog, c.1880, 14kt yellow gold with textured detail and garnet eyes. The base of the fob is a large, smoothly polished carnelian seal with a set of initials framed in a wheat-like border

Via 1stdibs

14k gold Victorian dog fobs, one with a sardonyx base and the other bloodstone

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique 18-carat gold fob of a seated hound, with carnelian uncut seal - Antique Animal Jewelry

Victorian 15k yellow gold seal fob of a dog, the seal is inscribed: 'Love Me, Love My Dog'

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

19th-century French fob modeled in silver as a bully breed dog, with gold collar and plinth, and a bloodstone uncut seal - Antique Animal Jewelry

Victorian 14k gold dog seal fob, the bloodstone seal reads 'Forget me not'

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

18-carat French fob designed as a seated sight hound. With a D engraved seal and tiny ruby eyes

Antique Animal Jewelry

14k Victorian dog fob with an elaborate seal base - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k yellow gold Victorian Cocker Spaniel fob with a bloodstone base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Victorian 10k gold dog fobs, one with a bloodstone base, the other carnelian

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Georgian/Victorian silver and 18k fob with a banded agate bottom

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Double-sided Victorian 14k dog fob with original hook and garnet eyes

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique silver dog fob - From Antique Jewellery Company

Georgian 14k gold poodle seal fob with citrine base - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Early Victorian gold poodle fob with a pink foiled crystal seal From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Hunting Themed Animal Fobs

Antique fox fob seal and fox watch key - Antique Animal Jewelry

Fabulous gold fob c.1830 finely modeled with a hound and grouse and an uncut chalcedony base

Antique Animal Jewelry

Antique fob seal c.1820-30 with a hunting scene - a hare, a fox, and a hound, hiding in foliage, the bottom a bloodstone with rampant lion intaglio - Antique Animal Jewelry

Two Georgian hunting fobs, 18ct gold c.1810. The fob on the left depicts two hounds chasing a hare, with a bloodstone seal beneath depicting two hounds hunting a wild boar. The other is designed as a hound chasing a fox with a beautiful centerpiece of a Scottish thistle and a split ring with an intricate leaf design. The bottom is set with a large foiled citrine - Antique Animal Jewelry

Two Victorian 14k gold stag fobs with engraved bloodstone bases

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold Victorian deer fob with a banded agate base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Rare Victorian full-figured silver fox fob with a bloodstone seal

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Bird Fobs

A little bird next to a winter tree. The sardonyx agate below reads ‘tho absent not forgotten’

Antique Animal Jewelry

An early Victorian fob of a swan wrapped around a cross with garnet eyes and an uncut carnelian base

Antique Animal Jewelry

Two high carat Victorian fobs - a parrot watch key and an eagle fob, the seal having been replaced with a garnet at some point - Antique Animal Jewelry

14k silver Victorian fob of an eagle perched on a branch, c.1880, with a bloodstone base and garnet eyes

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold Victorian eagle head fob with a carved bloodstone base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold early Victorian repousse bird fob with a carved amethyst base ('spare nought')

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold fob of a falcon/bird with ruby eyes, perched on a garnet bottom mount

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Other Animal Fobs

Victorian 14k gold eagle and snake fob with a bloodstone on one side and a finely engraved reverse

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Victorian 14k bunny fob with a bloodstone base - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique Victorian rabbit fob - From @franziska_vintage_jewels via Instagram

Charming vintage 9-carat gold fox/wolf fob with a bloodstone seal

Antique Animal Jewelry

14k gold mother sheep and baby lamb with gorgeous repousse and a large amethyst on the bottom

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique gold ram fob with a seal base - From Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian 12k gold cat or fox fob with an uncarved carnelian seal From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Victorian 18k gold bottle-top cat fob with diamond eyes From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique gold cat fob with textural detail and floral detailing at the base From Etsy, dealer unknown

A collection of rare and antique animal fobs - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

hallmarked gold early Victorian horse fob - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Two late Georgian/early Victorian fish fobs, 9-10k, one larger than the other with bloodstone and amethyst seals - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique entwined double animal fob - From Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian 14k double horse fob with a repousse base and agate bottom

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique animal fob - From Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian 14k ram fob with a sardonyx seal - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Around the beginning of the 20th century, wristwatches began to gain popularity, replacing the pocket watch and rendering the watch chain obsolete. Fobs were no longer to be seen hanging from a gentleman's watch chain, but they were sometimes reused as charms on women's necklaces and bracelets.

To wrap up, here are some more collections of antique animal fobs that we love...

A stunning collection of animal fobs & a dog fob necklace from @jessicakagancushman via Instagram

An assortment of animal fobs from @spareroomantiques via Instagram

Dogs and snakes from @laelius.antiques via Instagram

For more rare Georgian and Victorian jewelry, follow Antique Animal Jewelry on Instagram.