Oscar Massin’s Rare Peacock Feather Brooch Flies Off the Auction Block

Peacocks and their plumage represent good fortune, kindness, and nobility in various cultures and ­mythologies. But that doesn’t explain why this peacock feather pin fetched roughly four times its high estimate ($80,000) at Sotheby’s Dec. 5 Magnificent ­Jewels from the Collection of Mrs. Charles ­Wrightsman sale in New York City. Its rare pedigree does. Manufactured around 1860, the estate piece is a product of Oscar Massin—a designer who’s largely unknown outside jewelry circles. But his pieces are highly prized among collectors. “Massin was one of the really important French jewelers and goldsmiths of that era,” says Christine Webb, a gemologist and jewelry expert with Joia Consulting and the Smithsonian Institution. “True collectors would be very excited to find something from him.” The nearly ­6-inch brooch typifies the period’s bold accessories, which were sized to stand out against voluminous skirts, swags of lace, and intrepid fashions of the day.

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