During the 18th and for most of the 19th century, children were thought of as miniature adults and dressed accordingly. It was not uncommon for little ones to receive jewelry as gifts and coral beads were particularly popular because coral was thought to protect children from evil forces.
It's a rare treat indeed to find a child's miniature coral bead necklace surviving from this period! Circa 1800 the necklace is composed of little barrel shaped Mediterranean coral beads strung with silk cord and finished off with an ornate tongue and groove box clasp. The round clasp is pinchbeck (an antique gold substitute) and it is pierced and painted with lines and dots in black enamel.
The necklace only measures 11-1/2" from end to end and as you would expect it is in fairly aged condition with staining to the cording and some pitting to the pinchbeck alloy on the clasp. The 4-5mm beads are all in tact and the clasp fastens securely.
What an interesting necklace and we can't help but wonder about the life it may have lived! This little girl in our photo wearing a coral necklace was painted by John Hoppner in 1796, she was one of the Sackville children and the daughter of the Duke of Dorset.