This is the second of two brooches by my elusive 1930s Mystery Jewelry Maker discovered to date. Like the other brooch, this is also a bow but an entirely different design and was also used by them in necklaces as well.
This bow stamping is the one I call their “nouveau” pattern because the curves remind me of Art Nouveau designs. This same bow (though with a different center element) has been found on four different necklaces thus far. It is 1 1/4” wide and 3/4” high. The material is brass with a silvertone plating which has over time become oxidized.
Although it may appear at first glance to be constructed from multiple stamped pieces, as was their Large Bow brooch, this is not the case. This smaller bow was made from one single piece of metal whose sections were then manipulated into the proper positions to give a 3-dimensional result.
Apologies for the amateurish diagram (I am soo not any kind of artist whatsover!) but this is how the brooch would have looked “fresh off the presses” as a single piece of brass.
There is an open space (gap/cut) between the central and the outer edges of the bow that allows the outer (striped) sections to be bent backwards. The plain unstamped side pieces were bent around to the center back, and then the small tabs above and below the front circle were bent down snugly over those side-piece ends.
This brooch shares the very unusual clasp construction seen in the Large Bow brooch, identifying it as without doubt from the same maker. I had never seen this exact clasp construction before and so I reached out to one of the experts in the vintage jewelry field, Roseann Ettinger who is the author of numerous books on vintage costume jewelry and accessories, to ask if if she recognized it. I assumed that at some point in her decades of experience in collecting as well as selling at her brick and mortar stores and her Etsy shop, she must surely have seen others. She replied “I can honestly say I have never seen a clasp like that! Very unusual!” So these Mystery Jewelry Maker brooches are truly something unique constructionwise.
When this maker used one of these small bows in a necklace, instead of as a brooch, the side pieces were either shortened, as shown in the first photo, or simply left solid (without the cutout tabs for a clasp) as seen in the second. One might wonder “On the necklaces, why were the side pieces needed at all? Why not eliminate them entirely?”
Good question. However, the side pieces were definitely needed when any of these small bows were used on one of their flat mesh choker necklaces. This is the back of the bow used on the necklace that they made for the 1933/34 Chicago Worlds Fair. On this type of necklace the side pieces have an opening large enough for the choker to pass through, whereas on the non-choker necklaces the side pieces of the bow are solid. I have never found any of the small Mystery Jewelry Maker bows that do not have the “wraparound” side pieces; regardless of the stamping design (or lack thereof) or usage they all have them.
Although I discovered their Large Bow brooch in three metal finishes (brass, silvertone-plated brass, and later in sterling by Forstner) I have only found this brooch in the silvertone-plated brass so far. The first example (my own) is heavily oxidized which to my mind only enhances its vintage look. The example below, currently offered by an Etsy seller, is how the brooch must have looked in the 1930s when new:
ADDENDUM, January 2019:
Thanks to a helpful reader this additional finish example has come to light.
I had earlier hypothesized that they must have made this brooch in a natural brass finish as well, and this appears to be it. My only reservation about the exact finish (plating) color is because from the photo it appears to tend toward their “coppertone” or “bronze” finish, i.e., having a somewhat reddish cast. Note that the faux pearl is an exact match for the finish, something that seems unlikely to occur if the metal was left in its completely natural state.
Another clue is the area between the 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions of the ‘wreath’ surrounding the pearl. This area appears to be lighter, as if perhaps a portion of plating has worn away or been removed, revealing the more yellow natural brass beneath.
This necklace affords a good color comparison of the natural brass finish large bow tails versus what I call the coppertone/bronze plating on the mesh necklace. The newly discovered bow brooch seems midway in color between these two: less yellow than the bow tails but not as orange as the mesh.
It will be interesting to see if a natural-brass finish bow brooch (like the bow tails) eventually shows up someday!
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.