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Jewelry Makers F – M

Fahrner

(Germany, 1855 – 1979)

Founded in Pforzheim, Germany, in 1855 by Georg Seeger and Theodor Fahrner, Sr., the Fahrner company became one of the most successful European jewelry makers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Theodor Fahrner, Jr., ran the company from 1883 until his death in 1919. The company was then sold to Gustav Braendle and renamed Gustave Braendle-Theodor Fahrner Nachfolger (German for “successors”). When Gustav Braendle died in 1952, his son Herbert took over. Production ceased in 1979, when Herbert Braendle died.

Theodor Fahrner, Jr., was a creative and innovative designer and member of the aesthetic reform movement known as Jugendstil, the German name for Art Nouveau. He pioneered the use of eminent artists to design jewelry made partly or entirely by machine. Designers included Joseph Maria Olbrich, Max Gradl and Patriz Huber, who were architects and interior designers; Julius Müller-Salem, Bert Joho and Ferdinand Morawe, painters; and Ludwig Habich and Franz Boeres, sculptors. Each designer had a distinctive style. They helped the company gain eminence for its Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and Celtic Revival jewelry. After winning a silver medal at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900, the company established the “TF” trademark and began to export its jewelry to England.

Under Gustav Braendle’s leadership, the company received acclaim for its striking Art Deco designs in silver or vermeil silver with matte enamel and marcasites, combined with semi-precious stones such as coral, onyx and green agate. In 1932, filigree was added to the inventory. German politics in the 1930s and World War II restricted the company’s design freedom and production output. After the war, the company never regained its earlier success. In the 1950s, a large variety of designs was produced. Modern silver pieces with semi-precious stones as well as Egyptian- and Roman-inspired designs were produced in the 1960s.

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Fishel, Nessler

(United States)

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Forstner

(United States, 1920-1955)

Incorporated in 1920 by William (Wilhelm) Forstner, Walter Forstner, and Harvey T. Andrews (a lawyer), Forstner Chain Corporation was located at 646 Nye Avenue in Irvington, New Jersey. Brothers Wilhelm (1878 – 1962) and Walter (1884 – 1979) were born in Pforzheim, a jewelry-making center in Germany. After emigrating to the U.S., they operated W. Forstner Co. and, with other partners, F. Speidel Co. at 162 Clifford Street in Providence, Rhode Island, before starting this company. When William retired in 1955, a group of executives formed two new corporations: Forstner, Inc., to carry on the jewelry-making business, and King Manufacturing Corp., for the manufacture of chains and other raw products for the jewelry industry.

From 1926-1955, Forstner Chain was issued numerous utility patents pertaining to various types of chains, bracelets, ornamental belts, suspenders, watchbands, key chains, collar pins, tie holders, and cuff links. One design patent for a watch bracelet was issued in 1941.

Two ads in Vogue magazine in 1940 promoted the company’s leather key chains with rhodium-plated initials. From 1946-1948, Vogue ads showed a variety of jewelry for men and women, including snake chains fashioned into two- , three- , and four-strand bracelets and, two- and three-strand necklaces; bracelets with one or two charms; watch bracelets; pendant brooches; and key chains. Flexible spiral bracelets (some with motifs such as snakes and calla lilies) and chokers were also prominent. For men, money clips, tie-clasps, key chains, and adjustable watch bands were advertised. At various times, these pieces were available in sterling silver, 1/20 12K gold filled, 10K gold, and/or 14K gold.

An ad in the October 13, 1926 issue of The Jewelers’ Circular showed the company’s registered trademarks, which designated the metal quality of a piece: FORSTNERS (1/10-14K gold filled), UNION (1/20-12K gold filled), W*F (1/40-12K gold filled), RADIO (“special process electroplate”), and NUMIUM (“numium metal base with real platinum finish”). The ad also showed this symbol for the company’s trademark:.

The 1943 (fifth) edition of Trade Marks of the Jewelry and Kindred Trades, listed the above symbols as well as FORSTNER, FORTUNE, SNAP-LOCK, DUBL-LOCK, and SLIDE RING.

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Foster & Bro.

(United States, 1873 – 1950)

Theodore W. Foster & Bro. Co. was incorporated in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 1, 1898, but had its origins much earlier. Foster was first a partner in White & Foster, which incorporated on January 1, 1873. With the addition of Samuel H. Bailey, that firm became White, Foster & Co., and operated until White’s retirement in 1877. The company then took the name Foster & Bailey and continued operations until early 1898, when Foster bought out his partner.

Located at 100 Richmond Street, Foster & Bro. produced gold-filled, gold-plated and sterling silver jewelry as well as sterling silver manicure sets, vanity cases and other novelties. The company was granted many design and utility patents for items such as vanity cases, lipstick holders, and hair brushes/mirrors, starting with a shearing device (metal cutter) for jewelers in 1912 and ending with a “lipstick holder of the propel-repel type” in 1941. Patent number 1,479,130, granted in 1924, pertained to a bracelet fastener. The company had two trademarks: the letters “F&B” and the letters “F&B” within the outline of a flag.

In 1880 the company occupied only one floor of the Richmond Street building. By 1901, Foster & Bro. owned and occupied the entire building as well as additional buildings in the square formed at the corner of Richmond and Friendship Streets. The company leased some of its space to other jewelry manufacturers. The Biographical History of Manufacturers and Business Men of Rhode Island (published in 1901), described Foster & Bro. as “among the largest manufacturers of jewelry and sterling silver goods in the city, employing some 275 hands”. T. Clyde Foster, Theodore’s son, was one of the company’s officers at that time. Theodore died in 1928. The company was sold to the Niku Company, Inc., in New York City, in 1950.

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Granbery

(United States, 1901 – 1929?)

Brothers John and Samuel started the firm J. A. & S. W. Granbery in Newark, New Jersey, in 1900, when John bought out his partner in Cutler, Granbery & Co., a jewelry manufacturing firm in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. J. A. & S. W. Granbery incorporated on December 18, 1907. With their factory located at 31-33 East Kinney Street in Newark, the company also had a New York City salesroom at 9 Maiden Lane. In 1922, they opened a Chicago office. Granbery ads in city directories and trade publications used the labels “Makers of Gold Jewelry” and “The 10kt line that sells”. The last listing of J.A. & S. W. Granbery in the Newark city directory was in 1929. Their trademark was the letter “G” within a horizontal diamond shape.

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Miriam Haskell

(United States, 1926 to the present)

Born in Tell City, Indiana, Miriam Haskell (1899-1981) moved to New York in 1924 to start her career. She opened a gift shop in The McAlpin Hotel on July 30, 1926, and then hired Frank Hess, a young window dresser from Macy’s, as her chief designer. This partnership of a savvy businesswoman with an eye for design and a talented designer with vision launched a company that has been responsible for the finest handmade costume jewelry ever created. Additional boutiques opened shortly after the first – in the Hotel Roney in Miami, Florida, and on West 57th Street in New York. In 1933, the company moved to Fifth Avenue in New York. By then Miriam Haskell jewelry was being sold by up-scale department stores and shops in many locations around the U.S. For nearly 35 years, Hess remained head designer and was succeeded by Robert Clark (1960-1968), Peter Raines (1968-1970), Larry Vrba (1970-1978) and Camille (Millie) Petronzio (1980 to the present). Ownership of the company changed in 1950, when Miriam Haskell sold it to her brother, and again in 1955, 1983 and 1990.

From the beginning, the distinctive style and quality of Haskell’s pieces appealed to well-dressed women and Hollywood stars. Worn by Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball, the Duchess of Windsor and other luminaries, Haskell’s jewelry has also appeared in films, in television shows and on stage. Among her contemporaries as well as today’s collectors, Haskell’s jewelry is prized for its innovative and complex designs and skillful execution to the highest standards. For example, beads were woven onto antiqued filigree backs, and pieces were assembled by hand. Also notable are the types and high-quality of the materials used, such as handmade Murano beads; pressed and poured French glass; faceted crystals from Austria and Bohemia; faux seed and baroque pearls first from Bohemia, then from Japan; and metal findings and stampings from Providence, Rhode Island. During World War II, when these components were not available, natural materials (such as wood, seashells and feathers) and plastics that could be acquired from domestic sources were used. Early themes from nature, such as leaves, flowers, butterflies and birds, have continued to the present. Pearl necklaces have also been a staple of the company.

According to Judith Miller (in Collector’s Guides: Costume Jewelry, DK Publishing, 2003, p.98), “Miriam Haskell did for the women of the United States what her contemporary Coco Chanel had done for the well-dressed ladies of Paris: namely, established costume jewelry as a fashionable and valued art form in its own right. For that alone, costume jewelry collectors of today have much to thank her for”.

For more information, see Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff’s excellent book Miriam Haskell Jewelry.

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Hess-Appel

(United States, 1943 – 1954)

Lester L. Hess and Jack H. Appel established Hess-Appel in New York City in 1942. Hess and George E. Fearn, a freelancer, were the company’s designers. Hess continued to provide designs while he worked as production officer at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, during the war. The company’s trademark, Jollé, appeared in advertisements with the accent mark but without the accent on jewelry. Production ceased in 1954.

According to Brunialti, Hess-Appel’s best work featured pieces in sterling silver and sometimes enamel. Some of their well-known designs were pairs of brooches called Russian Dancers (1943) and Card Dancers (1947).

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Hobé

(United States, 1927 – 1995)

The son of Jacques Hobé, a French master goldsmith who founded Hobé Cie in 1887, William W.Hobé sold theatrical costumes in New York in the early 1920s. He then received a commission to produce both costumes and real-looking jewelry for the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway, and similar orders from other theatre companies and Hollywood film studios soon followed. In 1927, William founded Hobé Cie Limited in New York to produce costume jewelry and accessories (including buttons). The company began selling their pieces in up-scale department stores and boutiques in the1930s. By the 1940s, stage and film actresses such as Carole Lombard, Bette Davis and Ava Gardner were wearing Hobé jewelry both on and off stage. In the 1960s, William’s sons Robert and Donald took over the company. William’s grandson James ran the company from the 1980s to 1995. Though still in operation, the company was sold by the Hobé family in 1995.

Except for Lou Vici, who worked for the company from the 1930s to the 1970s, until 1995 all Hobé pieces were designed by members of the Hobé family. From the beginning, Hobé’s designs were often inspired by historical European jewelry, and their production was always top quality. The company used many of the same techniques and craftsmanship standards as those employed in the making of fine jewelry. Sterling silver, 14K gold plating, semi-precious stones and high-quality pastes were typically used by artisans who crafted each piece by hand. In the 1940s, designs mainly featured leaves and flowers, bows, baskets and hearts. Late in the decade, William’s wife, Sylvia, designed a series of Oriental figures known as Bandores. By the 1950s, the company’s designs incorporated more “bling”, in response to contemporary tastes for more glamour. However, the designs were still original and the pieces well made. Hobé jewelry was marketed under the slogan “Jewels of Legendary Splendor”, with Hollywood actresses and top models used in advertising campaigns.

Among the most well-known of Hobé’s designs today are the reproductions of 16th- and 17th- century European fine jewels and the floral pins produced in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Kreisler

(United States, 1913 – 1977)

Founded in 1913 by Jacques Kreisler (an immigrant from Hungary) and T. Stern in North Bergen, New Jersey, Jacques Kreisler Mfg. Co. initially produced only precious jewelry. In a 1927 trade directory, the company’s entry states its location as New York City, with a branch office in Chicago, and describes its line of business as “manufacturers of jewelry”. In the 1931 edition of the directory, the company describes itself as “manufacturers of diamond-platinum and sport watches; 14 and 18K gold, platinum and diamond-platinum watch bands; gold, platinum, and diamond jewelry”. In the1940s, the company also produced costume jewelry, much of it in sterling silver. The jewelry division of the company moved to Florida in 1975 and closed in 1979.

Design patents for a finger ring, bracelets and watch bracelets were issued to Jacques Kreisler in the1920s and 1930s. In 1931, he applied for a utility patent for a vanity case (a combination of compartments for cosmetics); patent number 2,010,521 was issued in 1935. Helen D. Cole, William Diehl, Kurt Speck and Germanil Anthony Santullo designed for Kreisler in the 1940s. Diehl’s first design patent (for a watch band) was issued in 1944. Several design patents for pins were granted to the designers, working individually or in partnership, in 1945 and 1946. Figurals and military motifs were prominent. Speck designed watchbands until at least 1952.

Kreisler trademarks include “Kreisler” and “Kreisler Quality”.

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Walter Lampl

(United States, 1921 – 1959)

Walter Lampl (1895-1945) established his firm in New York in 1921. The company produced fine jewelry, costume jewelry and personal accessories such as compacts and perfume bottles. In-house designers included Maybelle Manning, Nat Block and June Redding. All designs had to be approved by Lampl, who held all design patents. After Walter died, the company continued to operate under the leadership of his wife, Sylvia, and son Walter, Jr. Walter Lampl, Inc. ceased production in 1959.

The company’s motto, “Creators of the Unusual as Usual”, appeared in its ads. This motto was also reflected in the jewelry the company produced, such as whimsical pins in the forms of jeweled fish and enameled circus tents. Lampl applied the same care and high-quality of craftsmanship to the pieces made of gold-fill or sterling silver and rhinestones as those with diamonds set in gold and platinum. Jade, garnet, moonstone, coral, turquoise, pearl, ivory, amethyst, chrysoprase, aquamarine and citrine were among the materials frequently used. The company found particular success in the design and manufacture of charms and charm bracelets. In 1956, more than 750 different charms appeared in the Walter Lampl catalog.

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Leach & Miller

(United States, 1904? – 1934?)

Not much is known about this company beyond its listings in trade directories. They indicate that Leach & Miller was located in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and had branch offices in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. The company manufactured gold-filled and sterling lockets, bracelets, belt buckles, scarf pins and brooches. The “L&M” trademark (superimposed on two conjoined leaves) was still active in 1934.

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Mazer & Jomaz

(United States, 1927 – 1981)

Founded by Joseph and Louis Mazer in New York City in 1923, Mazer Brothers started producing costume jewelry in 1927. Early in 1930, Marcel Boucher joined the firm as a designer and remained there until 1937, when he left to open his own company. In 1946, the brothers separated: Louis and his son Nat continued the Mazer Brothers business, and Joseph and his son Lincoln, in partnership with Paul A. Green, formed Joseph J. Mazer & Co., Inc. and became known as Jomaz. Mazer Brothers continued producing jewelry until 1951. Andre Fleuridas (in the early 1950s) and Adolfo (in the 1970s) designed for Joseph Mazer. Jomaz ceased production in 1981.

With ties to traditional fine jewelry design, the brothers’ focus was always high-quality materials and techniques to produce simulations of fine jewelry at an affordable price. Materials included gold- or rhodium-plated metal before and after World War II, sterling silver and vermeil sterling during the war, imported Austrian crystals and enamel. Classic motifs, including floral, foliate or ribbon-and-bow designs, characterized the early pieces. In the late 1930s and 1940s, rhinestone-laden necklaces, bracelets and earrings, as well as a line of double-clip brooches and crown jewel pins (similar to those produced by Trifari and Coro) were the focus. Louis Mazer patented his company’s answer to Coro’s Duette and Trifari’s Clip-mates in November 1934 (Patent No. 1,981,521) and April 1939 (Patent No. 2,153,022). The 1950s produced bib necklaces and pendant earrings set with lavish pastes.

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