After publishing my first two articles on my 1930s jewelry ‘mystery’ maker I have come across some new examples of their work that I’d like to share with you.
This pendant is an intriguing juxtaposition of their chevron element – which we’ve seen on its own with a cascade of chains beneath, and also as half of a duo forming a bow – with a flat oval. In this pendant only the lower half of the oval is enameled to match one of the two greens in the chevron but I can easily imagine a version in which the entire oval is enameled. This is the very first true pendant that I have seen of theirs; all of the other examples have been full necklaces. I would love to know whether the chain is original to the piece!
This example is a design that we’ve seen before: the “nubbly” bow combined with a triple snake chain which is the same combination seen in example A09 in Part One. That necklace was enameled in autumn colors of bright yellow, pumpkin orange and chocolate brown. However, this one combines black, white and yellow; it is the first time that I’ve seen black used; until now, the darkest color I have found on those styles has been the very dark brown used in necklace A04. Considering that black was a popular Art Deco color it has puzzled me that I haven’t found it in any of their pieces until now.
A third new colorway for this design appears in this navy blue/silvertone metal combo. This blue appears to be the same color as the darkest of the three blues found in necklace A02. Although necklace A06 combines blue enamel with silvertone, that one uses a much lighter (almost robins’-egg) blue and so the overall effect of that piece is more “icy” than rich.
This box chain/fringe necklace is another example of a transitional piece between styles A and B; in fact other than a slight difference in enamel color it is a “twin” to the first Transitional necklace in my second post in this series. The only difference is that this necklace is accented with red enamel on the chevron instead of green.
Here we see black enamel used for the second time, in combination with pumpkin orange. This necklace intrigues me on several levels, not least of which is their use of silvertone rather than goldtone metal in order to really play up the contrast between the two enamel colors. I’m rather surprised that they did not also use the black enamel to accent the detail within the center areas of the bow.
Update, April 2015: I’ve since learned that the color on this bow is not original to the piece; in fact it was applied with paint, rather than being enameled. Thus, the necklace seems to have been all silvertone with no enamel at all; the black and orange decoration was applied by a subsequent owner. This explains not only the unaccustomed glossiness of the black (which I’d put down to the seller’s photo lighting) but also the atypical areas of color. I was going to remove this example from my post but decided to leave it in as an illustration of how a piece can be deliberately altered over time. Whether this was originally designed with this particular chain — which is indeed one of theirs — is an open question. However, the necklace definitely did not leave the maker’s shop bearing this orange and black decoration!
This necklace clearly has a replacement drop, and at first I assumed that the chain was not original either; mainly because it isn’t quite as heavy as the other Style B link chains seen thus far. However, the finish on the chain appears to match that of the bow. So this might indeed be its original chain and clasp; if so, it is definitely “lighter” than any chain I’ve seen matched with this bow. I’d say the odds are 50/50 that it is a replacement chain. Its age was misattributed, of course; although vintage, it is certainly nor Victorian which is what the seller of this piece had claimed.
We’ve seen this all-silvertone neckace in Part Two, represented by item B2 there; however there is a subtle difference because that first necklace has black enamel accents whereas this one does not. This is another case where the necklace was represented as a Bengel piece via “word of mouth” (more about such occurences in Part Four).
This last necklace may seem at first glance to be a particularly well preserved example of this maker’s work, with a typical Art Deco color combination of black and mint green enameling. The shapes and patterns of the bow and drop certainly are in line with what we’ve seen so far. However, despite a casual similarity this is an entirely different bow design which, despite the similar patterning, is noticeably different on the ends: not only do they extend farther out than the originals do, but the ends are notched instead of having a straight edge. The chain is also not one of theirs. In my opinion this necklace is simply a copycat of the Mystery Maker’s bow. A future post will examine other necklaces which used this same chain and appear to be from an entirely different manufacturer.
The fourth article about this mystery manufacturer examines the probabilities that any or all of these pieces were produced by Jakob Bengel, as some have claimed.
If you have information about this jewelry or photographs of any examples that do not yet appear in this blog series, I would be delighted to include them in a future post! Please use the Contact Form on the About the Chatsworth Lady page.