Find of the Week: This macabre brooch at Historic New Orleans Collection has claws!

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NEW ORLEANS -- News with a Twist has teamed up with the Historic New Orleans Collection to bring you a unique find each week from the museum's vaults.

This week's find is a bit bizarre. It's a dog's paw that was turned into a brooch.

Beware, it scratches!

Amanda McFillen,  associate director of museum programs, said the brooch belonged to Eliza Jane Nicholson, a storied journalist who in 1876 became the first woman publisher of a major metropolitan newspaper when she took the helm at the New Orleans Daily Picayune.

"It seems to have held up pretty well. I think its weathered a little bit since she first acquired it," McFillen said.

Nicholson was born in Mississippi and came to New Orleans as the first woman journalist in the South. She eventually inherited the Picayune from her late husband and turned it into one of the most profitable newspapers in the region.

She was an advocate for women's rights and equal pay, but what brought about this macabre accent piece?

"The dog paw is because she was also a huge animal lover as well," McFillen said. "Her and her second husband were some of the co-founders for the Society in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  She had a small dog, and when he passed away she had one of his paws turned into a brooch."

The Historic New Orleans Collection has a huge collection related to Nicholson -- letters, photographs, her writing desk from the Picayune, and her writing pen -- although the most unusual one is certainly the dog paw brooch.

You can see all the Historic New Orleans Collection has to offer by visiting either one of their campuses. The Royal Street campus, including The Shop at The Collection, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Chartres Street campus, including the Williams Research Center and Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Learn more about the Historic New Orleans Collection here.


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