Monday, October 1, 2012


Bronze medal carved by Gustav Manz, circa 1905
Jay Heritage Center Van Norden Collection

The handsome mug in the pic above lives at the Jay Heritage Center, a gift from a member of the Van Norden family, who owned the mansion prior to its becoming a museum. The signature of the artist, Gustav Manz, can be spotted just above the second "A" in "America." The Van Nordens bred many champion dogs as well as livestock at their estate in Rye, New York—from Frenchies shown at the 1900 Paris Exposition, to Highland cattle brought to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. 

Numerous canines and felines passed through the Manz household in Leonia, New Jersey in the 1900s (none of them show animals, although on occasion he was said to have smuggled home a wildcat or panther cub borrowed from the Bronx Zoo to sketch). The artist's grandson recalls that Manz was partial to St. Bernards, perhaps reflecting his Swiss-German roots. 

Manz design for French Bull Dog scarfpin
from a circa 1910 sales brochure
  Mathews Family Collection

Known for his animal miniatures, Manz  designed mountings for Marcus & Co, Tiffany, T. Kirkpatrick & Son, Black Starr & Frost and other merchants who catered to the dog fanciers parading their pooches around the Hotel Astor. His arrival in New York in the 1890s more or less coincided with the Frenchie's rising profile at kennel club shows. (Early skirmishes with aficionados of the rose-eared bulldog—preferred by English breeders—spurred the formation of the French Bull Dog Club of America; the bat-ear soon came to be favored by show judges.) 


Top: Manz's rendering for circa 1910 diamond-pave English pug or bulldog scarfpin,Mathews Family Collection; Ledger entry for a gold scarf-pin by Manz sold to Tiffany & Co, circa 1910; Joseph Downs Collection, Winterthur Museum

Sometime after the club's inaugural meeting on February 12, 1898, a commission for a special bronze medal carved by Manz was arranged by jeweler F. Walter Lawrence (whose stamp appears on the rim). An avid golfer and founding member of the Canoebrook Country Club near his home in Summit, New Jersey, Lawrence had grown up in Maryland and was plugged into the sporty set. 

Manz, by contrast, entered the trade at 14 as a goldsmith's apprentice in Germany, then worked in shops across Europe before taking a year to prospect in Africa's diamond fields and sketch the wild animals he would later carve in bronze, gold, and platinum. His medal must have been well received: it appeared on the cover of the Westminster Show edition of the French Bull Dog Club's magazine in January 1913. 

That same year Cole Porter—a junior at Yale—penned his famous fight song enshrining the school mascot: a bulldog named Handsome Dan. English not French, but vive la difference!


Bow-wow-wow: Cole Porter's sheet music 
for his alma mater's most popular fight song

We welcome all comments, and invite you to follow Gustav Manz on Facebook and Instagram

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved 
Gustav Manz LLC


  1. Very interesting post. I have just acquired a French Bulldog plaque signed by Manz. It is identical to the one shown in your article but without the surrounding band with French Bulldog Club. Would you know anything about it?

    1. Hi Robin: Thanks for writing and sorry for slow reply. I'd love to see a picture and also the dimensions of the plaque. Is the piece bronze or another metal? He produced bulldog jewelry as well as small sculpture. You can reply here or shoot me a private email at All best, Laura