Welcome to the Gustav Manz blog. Manz was a master goldsmith and designing jeweler whose career spanned New York's Gilded Age and Art Deco eras. We invite you to share your thoughts, and will do our best to answer specific questions about the life, work, and contemporaries of this early 20th century artist-craftsman. Regards, The Editors
Thursday, March 22, 2012
THAT DARN CAT! Some Classic Panther Designs of Cartier and Gustav Manz
Pencil ring design from Gustav Manz ledger; sold to Pickslay & Company, circa 1911 Image Copyright Gustav Manz LLC
Even before Cartier's Jeanne Toussaint thought of placing a friendly spotted "panthere" on cabochon emeralds—or having one jump through hoops, as seen in the firm's recent promo video—quite a few jungle cats loped through the glittering cases on Fifth Avenue and Boylston Street in Boston and Jewelers Row in Chicago. A good number of them, like the panther confronting a snake in the drawing above, were designed and executed in gold or sterling silver by the early 20th century animalier and jewelry maker Gustav Manz.
Panthere clip-brooch designed circa 1948 by Cartier's Jeanne Toussaint (Duchess of Windsor collection)
Image copyright Cartier
Okay, we'll admit, L'Odyssée de CartierIS pretty great marketing candy. It reminds us of the sleepy princess in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Tinder Box"—carried on the back of a sleek cat rather than a dish-eyed dog... But we were more awestruck when one of Manz's rings made a rare appearance at Skinner's recent fine jewelry sale this month.
A Star Sapphire and 14K Gold Panther and Snake ring attributed to Gustav Manz, offered at Skinner's Fine Jewelry Sale, June 14, 2011
Lot 238 carried us back to April 1904, when Manz's hand-wrought gold and sapphire panther ring went on view at the Fine Arts pavilion at the St. Louis world's fair, along with dozens of other pieces he created for F. Walter Lawrence's jewelry exhibit. Someone purchased the panther ring during the fair's run according to correspondence between Lawrence and Halsey C. Ives, who oversaw the applied arts entries. A version Manz's panther and snake design for the commercial market later turned up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's 8th Industrial Arts exhibit, and appeared on the cover of Jewelers' Circular in January 1924.
Above: Manz sketch for a ring with cabochon sapphire, sold to Moore & Mason, 1925; below, Manz sales record for a panther and snake ring purchased by Tiffany & Co in 1913; bottom, drawing of a panther stickpin set with a cabochon gem from Manz's design scrapbook Image copyright Gustav Manz LLC
Manz's business ledgers from 1910-1925 show multiple variations of big cats stalking—on men's rings and sleeve-links and scarfpins, with cabochon or calibre stones, sold to Tiffany & Company, Shreve, Crump & Low, Pickslay & Co, and others, testifying to the popularity of the motif with gentlemen of the Gilded Age....You might say it carried them away.
Transporting moment from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Tinder Box" illustrated by Kay Nielsen, 1930