Those who have read Part One of these posts about my 1930s vintage jewelry Mystery Maker will no doubt be surprised at the apparent difference in style between those pieces and the ones you are about to see, which I have dubbed Style B. In fact I was totally clueless that these were from the same design shop until I accidentally discovered two transitional pieces – which we will also see in this second post. (Part One can be found as an archived post here, and also directly below the end of this post.)
It was pure coincidence that I happened to purchase the first example of this Style B, (Example B1 below). I normally gravitate toward more delicate or smaller scale jewelry but the combination of the soft- and graceful-appearing central bow plus a box chain which I have always had a weakness for, inspired me to purchase that particular necklace. Some months afterward, the seller told me that another example of the identical necklace could be seen on Sheryl’s Art Deco Emporium website within the section devoted to Jakob Bengel jewelry, and that given its placement in that section it might be possible that it could be a Bengel design. I was even more pleased at this possible attribution, and of course had no inkling that the necklace was indeed the product of my 1930s Mystery Maker shop. That discovery would come sometime later. In the meanwhile, I slowly began to develop – via happening to find variations of this first necklace – a list of characteristics common to these necklaces and related pieces. For clarity, these characteristics are compared to their counterparts in the Style A designs.
Characteristics of Style B:
* Only one chain; no more multiples.
* Larger diameter box (5mm square) in the chain, and a longer length (17” instead of 15”-15 1/2”)
* Larger scale/heavier “look” overall.
* The chain never goes “through” the central station, as is the case in all of the A styles, but is instead attached to each side of it.
* The bow design is soft and realistic instead of the more geometric forms encountered in Style A items.
* Enameling is reduced compared to the Style A jewelry; there is a much larger percentage of metal surface to enameled surface, whereas in Style A pieces the enamel predominates.
* The chains that do have enameling are no longer “dipped”, but instead have the enamel applied across the top surface only.
* There is a single drop/dangle element (if one is present) below the central station, instead of a “fringe”. The one exception may be the flat mesh chain necklace A-11 seen in my previous article, which originally clearly had a single drop element below the bow. This, and the minimal use of enameling, makes me think that necklace may well have been a transitional piece between Styles A and B, especially since the same chain is used in one of the definite Style B examples below. The scale and length of the necklace is typical of Style A. Oh how I wish that I could find an example with the original drop!!
* Spring ring clasps (no more box clasps, except possibly for one flat chain style below).
Examples of Style B (description follows photo)
(B1) Single box chain in goldtone metal with fine black enameling in almost a “damascene” fashion. This is a thicker box chain than the ones used in the A styles. The ‘soft’-looking bow also has fine black enamel accents within its chevron-pattern design; similarly enameled reverse teardrop shaped drop matches. Spring ring clasp. Necklace is 17” long overall, and the central motif is 1 1/2” top to bottom. Sold in 2013 by my shop, ChatsworthVintage.
(B2) The identical necklace as #B1 but done in silvertone metal. It is unclear from the photo whether this necklace has black enameling or not. Sold by BoyleRPF Vintage Jewelry.
(B3) Flat double-row chain identical to the one used in the #A-11 choker, except that it is silvertone instead of goldtone. Identical bow and drop to #B1, #B2 and #B3; it appears to be a shinier silver metal than the chain. I cannot tell whether the reddish tints on the drop and part of one bow end are enameling or merely a reflection from the person photographing it. No idea what the clasp is like (there was only one photo) but assume it is the same as used for #A-11 although it could also be a spring ring clasp if both ends of the chain terminate in the same way as the front ends shown here. This is the Sheryl’s Art Deco Emporium item mentioned earlier. The description says that this is a “German Art Deco” piece and it appears in the same section as her Jakob Bengel offerings although that name does not appear in its description. I have contacted her to ask for a clarification but did not receive a response. Therefore I am assuming that these necklaces may be German in origin but am not sure whether they have anything to do with Bengel. Also please keep in mind that the attribution of a country does not necessarily mean, on her site, that it was actually made there. For example, she told me that the #A12 necklace is described as being an “American” necklace purely on the basis that she acquired it from an American source. If, as I believe, the same source produced all of these necklaces, it is clear that either the German OR the American attribution is incorrect.
(B4) Open flat rectangular link chain with dark green and bright white enamel accents. This appears to be the same dark green and white colors used on necklace #A5. This too is a “new” chain style. Central bow is enameled more heavily than in necklace #B1, and the faceted bead drop is clearly a replacement for its original reverse-teardrop. The clasp ring may be a replacement as well. Sold by BoyleRPF Vintage Jewelry.
(B5) Thick oval link chain goldtone necklace with black and dark green enameling applied to one portion of the links only. Bow and drop enameled likewise. We will see this identical color combination in another piece. This is the first example of this thick link chain that I have seen. Sold by BoyleRPF Vintage Jewelry.
(B6) Round snake chain in plain goldtone. this is the identical chain that was used in the orange/yellow/bronwn enameled #A9 + #A10 necklace/bracelet set in the previous section, but this necklace has NO enameling whatsoever. Found on Pinterest, origin unknown.
(B7) The identical round snake chain as #B7 above, and also with no enameling on the necklace… but now made as a lariat necklace utilizing only the “tails” of the bow, and adding a pair of ornate finial drops! The bow element and finials are accented with white and medium-brown enameling. Length is unknown but it may be somewhat longer than the 17” overall length of the other examples. Sold by BoyleRPF Vintage Jewelry.
(B8) A brooch (the first I have discovered by this maker!) utilizing the same round snake chain and bow “tails” as the necklace above but with the use of a pair of snake heads instead of the finial drops seen in the #B8 necklace. No enameling at all anywhere on this piece. C clasp. This brooch was wildly misidentified by its eBay seller as being an “antique Victorian pinchbeck” item and thereby went for an exorbitant price to another bidder.
(B9) Box chain identical to the one used in necklaces #B1, #B2 and #B3; with medium-green and black enameling on the top surface of the boxes only (and not to every one of them). Instead of being a bow, this pendant is an off-center dome or circular pyramid shape formed by asymmetrical (not concentric) circles rising upwards in step fashion in alternate rows of solid green enamel and neatly accented rectangles. This is a newly discovered pendant from this maker. Sold in 2012 by my shop, ChatsworthVintage.
And now, two examples of what I have dubbed “Style T” because they are clearly transitional pieces between the “heavier” B designs and the “daintier” ones shown as A. Both of these necklaces utilize elements found in both A and B, as does #A-11 which I may well reclassify as transitional in the future. Unfortunately I have no idea which of the two styles came first chronologically!
(T1) Single box chain necklace in silvertone, with the triangles/fringe element used as a pendant. I am assuming that the box chain is the same as the smaller ones used for the Style A necklaces because there are still the same five lengths of fringe beneath the triangle; if this was the Style B box chain, five lengths would be too many to fit in that location. Therefore this must be the smaller-scale box chain.
Even though the chain and triangle pendant are identical to the Style A pieces, I classify this as transitional for two reasons: (1) there is no enameling at all on any of the chains and very little on the chevron; all of the Style A pieces except for the #A-11 choker have much more enameling than this (which IMHO reinforces the possibility that #A-11 might also be a transitional design) and (2) although the Style A necklace #A1 is also a pendant, that one still has its chains running through the bale. The method of attachment of this item’s pendant is the one we find in Style B pieces. If I had to assign this necklace to one or the other style, though, I would place it into the Style A category. This necklace was suggested by its eBay seller as being a “Bengel style” and thus went for a ridiculously high amount, especially for one with its enamel in such poor condition, to another bidder. I would have liked to acquire it but not at that price with this much wear.
(T2) This extremely interesting piece combines elements from A and B styles in equal measure while adding two new elements! This flat chain is one that I had not seen before and at first I thought it was a new chain for them. However, it’s equally possible that it is “one half” of the two-row chain used in the choker #A11. This chain is entirely enameled which is a Style A technique. The pendant incorporates the bow tails from Style B, enhanced with the same neat precise enamel accents seen in #B1. The smaller of the two circles (circles are another new element! no open circle pendants were seen before) is the identical finding that serves as the clasp ring in necklace A4 (the triple round mesh chain in two shades of brown)! The two shades of blue enamel used on this necklace are virtually an exact match for those used on necklace #A2 (see photo below of them together).
However, despite its more delicate Style-A scale, on this necklace the chain length falls into the B category at 17” plus a 1 1/2” pendant drop. The top designs of the silvertone hidden box clasp forms a tailored-bow shape.
So in #T2 we have five elements from Style A pieces (the fully enameled chain, same blue enamel colors, use of an “A” finding within the design, use of a flat link chain, and smaller overall scale ); three elements from Style B pieces (half of the B bow, a side-attached pendant rather than the chains going through or behind it, and the longer chain length); and at least one new element (the large central circle motif). IMHO this is a truly transitional piece between the two styles that this maker produced and I was delighted to find it!
And so to summarize all of the different design elements discovered to date in pieces from this Mystery Maker:
Eight different chains: 3 mm box chain, 5 mm box chain, round (tubular) fine mesh chain, snake scale chain, heavy oval link chain, single flat mesh chain, double flat mesh chain, and open rectangular link chain with zigzag design and enamel accents.
Six different clasps: hidden box box clasp with a diamond motif with a small flower in each of the four corners; hidden box clasp, rectangular, top has three half-cylinders; central section is enameled to match chain; hidden box clasp, rectangular, top motifs form a tailored bow shape; hidden box clasp, rectangular, ends have top motif to match design of double flat mesh chain; J hook with flat ring; spring ring clasp.
Eight different central station motifs:
* Triple-chevron/open diamond shape, faux marcasite effect, enamel/metal, solid flat back, hangs from matching bale; removable from necklace (example A1)
* Triangular shape with point uppermost; all or partly enameled; fringe drop made of 5 box chain lengths (examples A2, A3, A4 and T1)
* Tailored bow design resembling two of the above triangular shapes point to point, but cast as a single element; appears to have had a single (unknown shape) drop. (example A-11)
* Tailored bow with ‘pebbly’ or ‘faux bead’ textured surface; incorporates 8 semi- or quarter-circle designs, all or some of which have enamel accents. (examples A5 through A10)
* Soft bow, with reverse-teardrop shaped single drop (examples B1 through B6)
* Bottom half (tails) of soft bow only (examples B7 and B8)
* Combination of soft-bow tails and flat open circles (example T2)
* Asymmetric ‘stepped’ semi-bullseye dome with Greek key/Aztec motifs (example B9)
Two different lariat end caps: Snake heads; textured and ribbed elongated finials
By the way, if any readers have photos of any of the above pieces in different colorways or different combinations of design elements I would be delighted to see a photo and include those versions in a future update of my “research”! I can be contacted through my Etsy shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/chatsworthvintage.
Archived blog posts can be found here.