This is a major update to my research series on this 1930s jewelry manufacturer, containing a number of newly discovered examples and design elements.
This 16” long necklace is completely painted in their rich medium blue, with white accents. The middle of the central station includes the same rectangular octagon design that was seen in the green mesh necklace/bracelet set in my previous post.
I was really surprised when I saw this because it’s the first time I have seen this flower-and-leaf pendant! I’ve never seen them produce a purely naturalistic design element before, but this is absolutely all original and definitely theirs. This tubular mesh chain can be seen in several of their other designs. The necklace is 16” long (not including the pendant). This necklace “anticipated” the 1960s by about thirty years!
This is a four-shades-of-green version of the brown(s) necklace that was seen in Part Four. It is 16” long. The clasp for this type of endcap (and for the circle ones) was a “link lookalike” hook, as is shown in the second photo.
I nearly flipped when I saw that this had sold on eBay for only $10, because it’s the first one ever found that follows very closely the style of my mom’s necklace shown at the very beginning of Part One: it has only two of the smaller size box chains, it has the identical clasp, and includes their “faux marcasite” findings. This is also the second time I’ve found this flat oval; the first is used in the green pendant seen in the first photo of Part Three. What I don’t know is whether the oval slid freely within those faux-marcasite elements; the extreme degree of wear would seem to indicate that it may be so, but then again they seem to be in the exact same position in both photographs – which seems unlikely. The chain is 16.5” long.
Another flip-out when I discovered this necklace which is a new-to-me bow design. (There’s a secret to these bows which I’ll reveal eventually!) Lovely tubular-mesh chain, wonderful pale blue and white, and even the drop is a new discovery. It was listed as being 15.5” long.
Here’s the same bow (sadly, no photo of the entire necklace) in black and white which was also the first time I’ve seen them use that exact colorway. It’s been bugging me for the past three years of research that no purely black-and-white examples had turned up… and finally, here it is. Love the way they applied the colors to the tubular mesh chain in order to get a checkerboard appearance.
What’s that old saying about asking and receiving? Shortly after the discovery of the previous necklace came this image of a black-and-white mesh choker! This is the second style of mesh chain that they used; you can see the difference between it and the one used in the first photograph. I call this their “fine mesh flat” style, for obvious reasons. 🙂 The seller noted that the choker is 14 1/2″ long by 5/8″ wide, and also that much of the original black paint on the bow had been worn away. However, if you look at the black-and-white necklace shown previously, you’ll see that the colors were reversed for this bow! The remaining black areas on this bow were painted white on the necklace with the ‘drop’.
Now here’s a totally ‘new’ bracelet that I’d love to have seen (and snatched up) when it was for sale. Chocolate-brown fine flat mesh band (which would have wonderfully matched their chocolate brown mesh necklace that I do own) with a dimensional circle in a color that reminds me of coffee with just the right amount of milk.
The metal is silvertone and the same two square accent pieces can be seen in the green necklace/bracelet set illustrated in my previous blog post. Bracelet length was noted as fitting a 6.5” wrist, with a 3/8” wide band which is slightly narrower than the flat mesh one used in the white and black bow choker. The circle is 1 1/8” in diameter and has a ribbed reverse as can be seen in the third photo.
Although this may appear at first glance to be a bracelet that was converted to a necklace (I certainly thought it was!), the discovery in early 2016 of an identical one in yellow revealed that this is indeed how it was made. The listing description described this color as “aqua green” but it looks like their usual light blue to me, and I’ve never seen them do anything whatsover in an ‘aqua green’ color. This newly discovered center element was noted as being 1” in diameter. The overall length is just over 16″.
This simple but elegant salmon pink choker is their ‘watchband’ flat chain. This was the only size (3/8” wide) of this particular style of mesh chain; their other two flat chains were made in both 3/8″ bracelet and 5/8″ necklace widths.
This is a truly horrible 2007-listing picture of what must surely be a lovely necklace. It’s especially frustrating because it shows another design element – the three elongated rectangles which appear to have a raised, blue-accented center – that I’ve never seen before! Double aaargh!! I tried my best to enhance the picture but this is the best I could do, so you can imagine what the original image was like. 😦 It has the ‘watchband’ chain and the same faux-marcasite pieces seen in the two chain/oval bue necklace above. Length 16.5” long, and 3/8” wide, which further confirms the chain type… as does the apparent shade of blue.
October 2015 update: the same necklace in a lovely salmon colorway can be seen in this post, and in far better photos.
That lovely smooth salmon color again, and with two more new elements: ‘rounded’ ovals instead of the flat ones seen earlier, plus the faux-marcasite links! This is another years-old listing with no further info possible, but the description cites the length as being 16” and the ovals being 3/4” wide (meaning top to bottom). This is their third type of flat mesh chain, which was 5/8” wide and so the dimensions of chain and ovals tally perfectly.
Remember me theorizing in my last post that there must be a matching necklace to the triple-greens/triple-snake-chain bow bracelet? Well, here it is! It’s a choker length at 15″ long.
This necklace is truly a hybrid: it has the smaller bow combined with a larger bow’s drop, attached to their snake chain which is most often seen with the larger bow. Yikes! To be honest, I can’t tell whether this necklace has traces of paint on it or not; and if so, whether it’s light blue or white that only looks blue because of the reflection from the blue surface it’s placed on. Or it could also be a really bad case of verdigris…..
If it wasn’t for the fact that the surface condition looks pretty consistent in all three things – chain, bow, and drop – I’d say it might be an assemblage from either two or three necklaces. On the other hand, it may have been a design experiment!!
This is a slightly different colorway of the necklace shown at the end of Part Two. The green area on that necklace is red on this one. This chevron element with a box-chain fringe is seen in many of daintier designs; because the chains are smaller on those, they have seven chains in the fringe, but because this design uses their larger box chain there are only five of them here.
I will probably kick myself forever because I missed this necklace when it was available for sale several years ago. The lotus flower motifs are totally new to me but are absolutely their workmanship. No doubt. See the alternate colorway example below for size information, none of which was available with this image.
There were several surprises in the description of this color version (and yes, I kicked myself a second time, and even harder) . The photo color was misleading and so I was glad to see a description of it being “pale pink and medium brown”; this is probably the salmon color shown earlier. The chain length is given as 15” which is definitely a choker – the green one didn’t look that short in its photo, but obviously it is – and it was noted that five lotus motifs are attached to the “alternating small wide pink and brown enamel rings” on the chain. This explains the lack of serious wear to the links, as well as the spacing. Each lotus motif is cited as being 3/4 inch wide and high (including the “hanger loop”).
I also discovered a third colorway of this necklace being offered for sale on a vintage venue with a gross misattribution of being early 1900s Czech and “possibly Neiger Bros.” When I contacted the seller to request permission to use her photos, I explained the correct age and origin of the necklace, thinking that surely they would not want such a big discrepancy between their description and what is actually the case (there was also a huge discrepancy in pricing). They never responded to me, and as of this writing have not changed their item description. An odd thing about their necklace is a seeming mismatch in paint colors: the lotus “petals” are described and shown as being white and dark blue, while the chain is accented in white and black. This makes no apparant sense — why use two colors that are so close but not a match? — especially when it is indeed the correct chain style for this necklace. I would normally assume a ‘chain swap’ except for the fact that the lotus elements are supposedly attached to the chain. The seller’s photos are not helpful, as there are only two views (front and back) and no close-ups for detail; it’s not likely they would respond to a follow-up inquiry from yours truly!
This is the second of two of this maker’s necklaces that are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the other is the green-and-silvertone textured bow necklace seen in Part One. This is a beautiful example of their large bow with drop, in navy blue and white with their matching chain having the connecting links accented to match. This is the same chain used in the “lotus” necklaces. The Met notes both of these necklaces as having been the gift of the same donor and their origin as American.
Here is the same necklace in green and white. One thing that has been very consistent is that when this chain is paired with “painted” pendant, the chain links are also accented in the same colors: blue/white, green/white, etc.
Chicago World’s Fair
It was a huge surprise when I recently discovered two examples of commemorative/souvenir jewelry made by this company for the 1933-1934 World’s Fair in Chicago. For multiple reasons there can be no doubt that these were the product of this ‘mystery jewelry maker’. I hope this will finally put to rest any remaining theory that this jewelry line was made by anyone but a American manufacturer (even if one doesn’t take the Metropolitan Museum’s word for it.) Originally I was going to make this a separate blog post but considering that many of the other pieces here share design elements, decided to include these as well.
This beautiful necklace is just about the same length as the first (blue) example in this post, at 15.5” long and 3/8” wide. Now, here is the secret to the bow, which you may not recognize at first glance – I am embarassed to admit that I myself didn’t, and I’ve been looking at this jewelry for years! The bow on this necklace, which has a plain matte finished ‘back’ section plus a plain polished ‘front’ – very Machine Age, wouldn’t you say? – is the “blank” unstamped version of the nubbly, tailored, and nouveau ones! And that chevron shape, with or without the dangling chain fringe underneath? That is a “half bow.” The differences are all in the surface stamping. The size, shape, everything about all of those bows – and the chevron shape – is identical, and all examples of this bow are theirs. To my knowledge, no other jewelry manufacturer has ever used this bow casting.
Getting back to this red necklace, though, this particular World’s Fair medallion design is one of several that incorporated the official A Century of Progress motto. I have found this same medallion, in a light blue, on only one other item thus far which is the fob of a chrome keyring marked Swank. However, Swank did not produce any of this jewelry because although they did at one time make both mens and womens costume jewelry, they switched to only mens’ jewelry (and things such as keyrings) after the end of World War I. When Swank did resume making womens jewelry in the 1980s it was under the Anne Klein label. It is of course possible that our Mystery Maker was the company who designed and produced this World’s Fair medallion and then sold it to other companies to use on their own souvenir items, but it’s equally possible that some other company produced it as a plain metal “blank” for others to enamel (or not) however they wished. The exact match of the red paint color on the mesh chain and the medallion could support either theory.
Unfortunately, yet another not-great photo in a years-old auction listing. Still it’s good enough to show that this necklace and bracelet set of tubular mesh chains, with their typical D shape-plus-ring closures, was also one of theirs. This was the actual size of the image and so magnification is unhelpful, but the short descriptions says that the chains are “..three different shades of blue. On the ends there are silver clasps and on one side of each there is a little blue and silver enamel logo from the Chicago World’s Fair, Century of Progress. The necklace is 15″ long and the bracelet is 7″ long.” These dimensions also match perfectly with our maker’s bracelet and chokers of this style. It looks as though the small round logo at the end of each piece is the same as the one in the center of the red choker’s bow, here painted blue to match the darkest chain. These two new discoveries may be a promising ‘lead’ in the ongoing seach to find out who the elusive Mystery Maker was!
If you have any information about this jewelry or photographs of 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.