Napier’s “Sir Galahad” Collection

Napier’s “Sir Galahad” collection
Napier’s “Sir Galahad” Collection

It doesn’t take long after reviewing The Napier Co.’s 1940 fall collection to be thrust onto the battlefields of medieval warriors where warfare decided the fate of empires worldwide.

With our war underway, the epic battles of the Middle Ages where men fought midst the horrors of war and since romanticized—created an element of escapism from our reality, and these war-time representations found their way into fashionable jewelry.  The collection represented the noblest and purest of all knights, Sir Galahad. The knight who achieved the Holy Grail, and as the Napier name implies, was without equal.

The two images here are part of Napier’s “Sir Galahad” collection. The collection was inspired by the display of old armor and coats of mail on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Drawing inspiration for new collections from famous museums, particularly in Europe, was a long-held practice of the jewelry firm. The armor-inspired collection featured necklaces, bracelets, pins, and earrings. Designs included ornate spear points, battle-ax heads, and breastplates–while other designs adapted flexible parts of the armor.   A collar of silver beads with long lapels simulating the collar on a coat of mail featured one example.  Pins represented as miniature medieval weapons included lances, a battle hammer, swords, and shields. Small buttons reproducing motifs in flat designs characterized one element of the collection’s earrings with hoops and winged” styles that stood out and away from the face rounding out the grouping.

Author: Melinda Lewis

Jewelry historian, Melinda Lewis is co-founder of Costume Jewelry Collectors Int’l (CJCI) and author of The Napier Co.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry.