Monday, August 13, 2012


Born in 1903 on the Fourth of July, Doris Rosalie Manz was the younger of Gustav Manz's two daughters with his first wife Martha Bachem. In a circa 1920s studio photo (detail above), Doris wears a Chinese style dress, and a ring stack that includes one of her father's designs for a bezel-set cabochon jade, as well as a link bracelet with tassels wound around her wrist. By her late teens she'd not only become fashion-conscious but was acting as her father's sales agent, picking up knowledge of gems for mounting from people she called on in the trade, such as young Harry Winston, Witherbee Black of Black, Starr & Frost, and George Frederick Kunz of Tiffany & Co.

Stylish, gregarious, and ambitious, Doris inevitably came onto the radar of Neysa McMein, the illustrator responsible for McCall's magazine's American Beauty series and a friend of sculptor Sally James Farnham, who was a personal acquaintance and customer of Doris's father. The resulting cover portrait—showing Doris with a wavy bob, representing the "The Scandinavian American Girl"—appeared on the magazine's November 1924 issue. (Surely an issue worth splurging a Liberty head dime on!) 

Decades after Manz's business archive was donated to Winterthur Museum, one of Doris's business cards was discovered pasted inside her personal copy of George F. Kunz's Rings for the FingerThe author's inscription on the flyleaf reads:

Miss Doris Manz, 
  In appreciation of a 
friend of her father 
  the author
  George Frederick Kunz
  27 August 1920
  New York 

Beside his signature, Kunz sketched a hieroglyph or rune engraved upon a stone. We'd give anything to know whether Tiffany's swashbuckling gemologist was merely showing off his calligraphy or offering a secret handshake to a young woman seeking to rise and prosper in the field her immigrant father (as well as her maternal grandparents, diamond ring manufacturers in Newark) had chosen.

We welcome your comments, and invite you to follow Gustav Manz on this Blog, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Copyright © 2014 | All Rights Reserved 

No comments:

Post a Comment