Monday, March 13, 2017
This gouache rendering of a personalized signet ring comes from a trove of early 20th century jewelry designs left by designing goldsmith Gustav Manz.
The entwined snakes allude to Mercury the messenger, and are often used as a symbol of medicine, though strictly speaking a single snake wrapped around a rod known as the staff of Asclepius was the image ancients associated with healing.
Sticking with a medical theme, the initials 'PRN' on the left shank could be an abbreviation for pro re nata ("use as needed") which was invoked by medicos of yore along with primum non nocere ("first do no harm"). And the initials 'LH' on the right could refer to Lenox Hill hospital, where one of Manz's daughters received her R.N. in 1924. Originally known as the German Hospital, the clinic on Manhattan's Upper East Side was renamed in July 1918, as antipathy toward the city's sizable population of German-born immigrants revved up during WWI.
Of course, the letters may have had nothing to do with doctors and nurses and simply been a token of love, from one set of initials to another. 'JAN' and 'U' tucked into openings between the twining serpents suggest a month that may have had significance to a prospective buyer—another jewelry mystery yet to be solved.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The world must be peopled.
—Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
Also elephanted, lioned, and rhinoed.
Which is why we share proceeds from our special edition bracelet with the conservation and environmental organization Tusk.
To place an order, inquire here
—and help protect treasured wildlife.
Copyright 2016 | Gustav Manz LLC
Saturday, December 10, 2016
HEADS OR TAILS, THE WILDLIFE WINS
Sunday, November 13, 2016
The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) monument
Kamakura, Japan, 1923. The statue was originally gold-plated and housed inside a temple
Image courtesy periodpaper.com
Water-color on parchment rendering for a 1923
finger ring; image from Manz & Co costbooks
(Winterthur Museum, Joseph Downs Collection)
According to a notation in Manz's stockbook, Tiffany & Company bought the ring on September 25, 1923, just three weeks after a major earthquake struck Japan. The quake rocked the ancient city of Kamakura, where an enormous bronze statue of the Buddha—weighing 93 tonnes—shifted a distance of two feet! Whether the timing of the Tiffany purchase was an act of karma or just coincidence, the piece was just one of hundreds of rings, brooches, bracelets and cufflinks Manz designed and his artisans crafted for the store's jewelry department in the post-World War I decade.
Below, lotus detail from one of Manz's
jewelry renderings from the 1920s
(Winterthur Museum, Joseph Downs Collection)
Monday, October 31, 2016
Here's one of Gustav Manz's most charming cats, with its back up in classic feline style. According to German folk myth, if a cat crosses your path from right to left watch out. But if it saunters past from left to right expect good fortune. Manz naturally pointed his kitty in the more favorable direction, as a stand-alone design in the early 1900s—possibly in the form of a scarf pin or cufflink; he later adapted the outline for the tabby half of a cat-and-dog diamond jabot brooch retailed by Black, Starr & Frost in the mid-1920s.
Happy Halloween and watch for cats crossing!
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Gustav Manz's scenic "Desert Brooch" (c. 1901-3) traveled to some notable venues, including the National Arts Club and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. According to the entry form submitted to the Exposition by jeweler and exhibitor F. Walter Lawrence (who commissioned the piece), the fragment of "Phoenician glass" framed by miniature palms and a train of camels came out of the Old City of Jerusalem.
More astonishing, that ancient city itself would be replicated on ten acres of the fairground, featuring 1:1 scale models of the Wailing Wall, Tower of David, and a cast of Moslem, Christian, and Jewish concessionaires hired to walk around in traditional garb herding livestock, enacting ye olde handicrafts, and performing religious rituals!
Perhaps one of their delegation purchased the Manz brooch as a reverse souvenir before heading home, for it has not surfaced publicly since the photo above was shot for a spread in Town & Country magazine a few months prior to the fair's opening day, April 30, 1904.
Click here to read Professor Milette Shamir's illustrated account of the Jersusalem Exhibit. More about Gustav Manz's jewelry at the fair in our earlier post OLYMPIC DREAMS.
Recreation of Jaffa Gage, Jerusalem, World's Fair
St. Louis (St. Louis Public Library)
Copyright (c) 2016
Gustav Manz LLC
All Rights Reserved