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IN studies of Art Nouveau style there is a chance that the name of Charles Horner may not spring to mind, but this history of the Halifax family business of Charles Horner Ltd offers an insight into the design and production methods of mass market jewellery from 1837 to 1984.

This book covers the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Art Deco-style thimbles and hatpins plus all the brooches, buckles, buttons, hair ornaments, silverware and tableware that formed the basis of Horner products, stemming from this long-lived jewellery manufacturing business.

All of it was formed upon the remarkable success of entrepreneur Charles Horner’s brilliant silver/steel invention patent of 1885 – the revolutionary three-layered Dorcas thimble. Chapter 4, Charles Horner Thimbles, by Norma Spicer is a marvellously illustrated read: “Dorcas thimbles: Essential to M’Lady’s Dress”, as is Chapter 5 on the Charles Horner Hatpins, now highly collectable and which, in 1905 were an important source of income for the new Charles Horner factory.

Victorian women piled their hair up perilously high and, since etiquette obliged them to wear hats, the pins started out at a decorous four inches, but by the Edwardian music hall period, when hats were so vast they threatened to topple the wearer, the pins to anchor all this together were some 14in long.

This book is a bit of a find. Assiduously researched by the author, a Charles Horner hatpin collector, this well illustrated book gives us a social history of the period; an insight into the life of a Yorkshire entrepreneurial businessman, the rich story of an important Halifax jewellery manufacturing business and, for all the Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Art Deco-style jewellery folk, a chance to pore over the company’s pattern books and sales catalogues.