That’s a Wrap: Bows Aren’t Just for Wrapping Presents: Fashion Embraces Decorative RibbonsOne of the favorite motto’s of a vintage jewelry aficionados is, “What’s old is new again.” Bows have been an important part of adornment for centuries and The Napier Co., like many jewelry manufacturers utilized the bow motif for decades.
Bows have once again become the mode making their appearance on the runway, the red carpet and the hottest “must wear” fashion blogs; even men are getting into the fashion with the iconic bowtie.
So how can you partake in this sinuous motif and sport a little vintage? Each decade has offered a smattering of bow-motifs. Here are some examples of vintage Napier jewelry through the years.
One particularly interesting bow necklace by The Napier Co. from the late 1920s‒early 1930s was designed by Emil Schuelke—the designer famous for the iconic Penguin Shaker. The brilliance of The Napier Co. was most of the talented design staff didn’t just design in one genre or category. The majority of designers designed pieces for jewelry, barware, vanities, giftware, etc. Emil Schuelke was no different.
One of the most fantastic examples of the bow motif was recently offered by Urbantiques on Ebay.
For more information about vintage fashion jewelry and The Napier Co. purchase the book now.
Or Bows in Season
The article describes a brief history of bows and how they have been used through the years in fashion jewelry.
The statement necklace will be stepping aside for 2013 fall fashion accessory must-have — the pendant necklace. But that doesn’t mean this new, yet pastime favorite will go without being notice. The pendant necklace can be equally dramatic, and this season’s necklaces are taking a dramatic plunge. The 1970s in my opinion was the “Decade of the Pendant” and The Napier Co. presented some of its most iconic pendant necklace pieces during this era.
The Napier pendant necklaces of the early 1970s ranged from large oval-shaped motifs to intricate open metalwork or large suspended hammered plaques. These designs were often complemented with matching cuffs, which were equally alluring. To read more about pendant necklaces of the 1970s go to page 440 of The Napier Book.
As a jewelry historian and a collector, I am always seeking to know who designed a particular piece of jewelry. But as the history of early fashion jewelry manufacturers fades into the sunset, determining the authorship of design isn’t always an easy task. For some companies like The Napier Co., designers did not take personal credit, except for rare occasions when design patents were filed, competitions were entered, or special marketing campaigns were launched.
And if one based his or her assertion on findings and stampings only, one could likely be wrong. In fact, a design component could have originally been used by Mr. Wm. Rettenmeyer in the early 1900s and reused again in the 1950s in a design created by Mr. Eugene Bertolli. Did each man design the respective piece? Well yes, they did!
The Napier Co. had a very skilled tool department and with great skill could rework dies used decades ago. It was one of the advantages Napier had to bring unique designs to the market. The company depth of design inspiration from its vaults was as deep as its history. A designer could walk into the die repository and let the creative process begin. It would be much like a visit to Wolf E. Myrow, located in Providence, R.I., or CJS Sales Ltd. in New York, New York— with a seemingly endless supply of stampings, beads, and stones, the possibilities were infinite.
The design department worked as a team, and more than one designer could be assigned to a specific collection. With story boards finished, trends analyzed and design elements decided upon, each designer would then bring their respective creativity (design) to the collection. In a cohesive manner, a necklace could be designed by one person while earrings were designed by another.
As we record the history of these wonderful companies, we have the unique position to go back and ask designers to help with identification before the information is lost forever. The book, The Napier Co. identifies a smattering of designs with their respective designers, and we look forward to new discoveries as renderings surface and folks turn to their own records to answer the longstanding question, “Who designed this piece?”
Napier introduced the “Pipes of Pan” collection in 1973. Renowned jewelry designer Francis Fujio designed this “brutalist-style” collection for Napier during a period the company was notably recognized for creating larger breastplate pieces.
In the recently published book, The Napier Co.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry, the author features both the collar (shown in a vintage advertisement) and pendant necklace, along with pendant earrings. The pendant necklace features a three-tiered-construction central plaque comprised of three graduated stepped rows with hand-carved curved “pipes” and polished end surfaces.
A total of four necklaces, one hinged bangle bracelet and three earring designs rounded out this collection. The most popular necklace in the collector’s market is the one featured in the “Napier is Sultier” advertisement shown here. This particular necklace can command two to three hundred dollars at auction.
Unlike many of the die-stamped pieces of the late 1970s, the “pipes” for this design were hand-carved and then cast in white metal. The collection was available either gold or silver-plated.
The necklace shown to the right measures 2 3/4″ x 3 1/4″ with 18″ chain. To view this and other pieces from the 1973 collection, go to page 477 of The Napier Co. or click here to purchase
Life By Design Publishing is commencing an active campaign to get The Napier Co.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry book into community libraries across the country. We are asking fans of the book to print out and take to their local library the purchasing information to acquire this book title. Please download this form and take to your local library today! To print additional information for the librarian click here. (Forms will open in new window.)
The head jewelry designer of The E. A. Bliss Co. traveled rather frequently to Paris in the late 19th and early 20th century. These trips were long and sometimes challenging trip for those who were not suited for the rolling seas and the salty air.
Mr. William Rettenmeyer made those jewelry-seeking trips, often in the company of Egerton Ames Bliss. In 1906, one of these trips was documented. In time, we will chronicle this adventure, and the industry to share first-hand all in a day’s work for one American Designer from Meriden, CT.
On his first day traveling from Paris to Germany Mr. Rettenmeyer writes:
“Igney Avricourt, June 19, 1906, Monday. First experience of the French way of sleeping on train like sleeping on a board with a pillow thrown in, not much comfort.”