Thursday, March 22, 2012

THAT DARN CAT! Some Classic Panther Designs of Cartier and Gustav Manz



Pencil ring design from Gustav Manz ledgersold 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 Cartier IS 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. 

Check out the posts on this blog and Instagram for other examples of Gustav Manz's jewelry and sculpture

Transporting moment from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Tinder Box" illustrated by Kay Nielsen, 1930


Extracts from Gustav Manz ledgers courtesy of
Winterthur Museum; except as noted, other images and text are
Copyright © 2012 | Gustav Manz LLC 
All Rights Reserved 
Text updated 9/15/2015

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