Jewelry Makers F - M
(Germany, 1855 – 1979)
Founded in Pforzheim, Germany, in 1855 by Georg Seeger and Theodor Fahrner, Sr. (1823 – 1883), the Fahrner company became one of the most successful European jewelry manufacturers of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Theodor Fahrner, Jr., (1859 – 1919) ran the company from 1883 until his death. It was then sold to Gustav Braendle and renamed Gustav Braendle, Theodor Fahrner Nachfolger (German for “successors”). When Braendle died in 1952, his son Herbert took over. Production ceased after his death in 1979.
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 J. 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. A year after winning a silver medal at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900, the company registered the “TF” trademark, which enabled them to export jewelry to Great Britain.
Under Gustav Braendle’s leadership, the firm 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.
(United States, 1920 – 1964)
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 a new corporation, Forstner, Inc., to carry on the business. They entered bankruptcy in 1964.
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 included the symbol shown here. The others 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 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.
FOSTER & BRO.
(United States, 1873 – 1941?)
Theodore W. Foster & Bro. Co. was incorporated in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 1, 1898, but had its origins much earlier. Born in New York, Foster (1849 – 1928) 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, cigarette and vanity cases, photo frames and other novelties. The company was granted many design and utility patents pertaining to bracelets, vanity cases, lipstick holders, and hair brushes/mirrors.
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 firm leased some of its space to other jewelry manufacturers. By 1925, they had branch offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
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 (1873 – 1936), Theodore’s son, was the company’s vice-president at that time. He took over his father’s roles of president and secretary in 1928.
Sometime in the late-1930s to early-1940s, the company stopped making jewelry. Their listing in the 1937 edition of the Providence City Directory stated their line of business as “jewelers and silversmiths”, but in the 1942 edition, it was “metal specialties”. Foster was not listed in the fifth edition of Trade-Marks of the Jewelry and Kindred Trades, published in 1943. An article in Women’s Wear Daily in 1950 described the firm as “manufacturers of custom-made compacts, lipstick containers and other brass specialties”.
When Foster was placed in receivership in 1952, it was bought by Stephan J. Clark, another metals specialties manufacturer, and renamed Esco-Foster, Inc., of Providence. That corporation was dissolved in 1954.
(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”.
(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).
(United States, 1927 – 1995)
German-born William W. Hobé (1881 – 1961) immigrated to the U.S. and settled in New York City in 1910. He worked for at least two local button companies before starting his own firm in 1916. The same announcement in the January 18 issue of Women’s Wear and the February issue of Notions and Fancy Goods that year stated: “William W. Hobe, formerly a designer of art and novelty buttons for Lemoine and Paquin, Paris, for a number of years, and later with the button house of Seliger & Co., Berlin, has started in business for himself under the trade name of the Hobé Button Co., Inc., at 127 Madison Avenue”. He applied for his first design patent in 1916 and continued to patent button designs until 1929.
In 1923, the incorporation of Hobé, Inc., importers of women’s costumes, at 219 West 37th Street was announced in Women’s Wear Daily. A December 15, 1926 article in the same publication discussed a collection of “metal and composition buckles and clasps” and wood-bead belts displayed by Hobé et Cie and The Hobé Button Co. The transition from button-making to costume jewelry probably occurred at the end of 1927, when the inventory of buttons, buckles, ornaments, belts, and trimmings, as well as the furniture and fixtures of the Hobé Button Co., Inc., at 219 West 37th Street, were sold at auction. By 1928, Hobé Cie was making costume jewelry at the same address.
The company began selling their pieces in up-scale department stores and boutiques in the 1930s. 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 (1924 – 2011) took over the company. William’s grandson James ran it from the 1980s to 1995. Though still in operation, the firm is no longer associated with the Hobé family.
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.
(United States, 1913? – 1979)
Sometime after his emigration from Hungary in 1911, Jacques Kreisler (1890 – 1974) joined the firm of Marcus Stern Manufacturing Co. at 41 Maiden Lane in New York City. Stern (1856 – 1919) was a diamond setter and engraver. By 1915, Kreisler and Stern’s sons Edward and Tobias had taken over the business, and the company name had changed to Jacques Kreisler & Co.
In 1920, the firm moved from Maiden Lane to larger quarters at 333 Fifth Avenue. A 1921 issue of The Jewelers’ Circular announced the opening of the company’s Chicago office with a complete line of inventory. News of Kreisler’s operations reported in that trade publication and their listings in trade directories indicate that the company produced gold, platinum, and diamond jewelry and watch bands.
This focus on fine jewelry is consistent with the design patents granted to Jacques Kreisler, himself, in the 1920s and 1930s: finger ring mountings, bracelets, and watch bands. His first utility patent, applied for in 1919, was issued in 1920 for a jeweler’s torch. In 1924, he was granted a utility patent for a method of producing “box settings” for gemstones.
The corporate history briefly recounted in recent articles about the company’s current operations indicate that it closed during the Depression and then re-opened a year later under the leadership of Jacques Kreisler and Tobias Stern. In the 1934 edition of the Jewelry Trade Mark Book, the owner of the company’s trademark is listed as Kreisler, Stern Co., successors to Jacques Kreisler & Co. A utility patent for a vanity case with multiple compartments applied for in 1934 and granted to Kreisler in 1935 was assigned to Kreisler Stern Co., Inc. However, a 1934 Vogue ad for a compact produced by the company shows their name as Jacques Kreisler Sales Corp.
When the company took the name Jacques Kreisler Manufacturing Corporation and when they started producing women’s costume jewelry cannot be documented. (According to Brunialti, the firm produced costume jewelry, mainly in sterling silver, in the 1940s.) By 1939, they announced the addition of a full line of men’s jewelry to their production of watch bands and women’s jewelry. The next year, they moved production to a new 35,000-square-foot factory for nearly 400 workers in North Bergen, New Jersey. The company’s showroom remained at the former New York office on West 52nd Street. In 1942, the executive and sales offices moved to Rockefeller Center.
During World War II, business was booming. Like many of their competitors, Kreisler contributed to the U.S. war effort. Their workforce of nearly 1,000 produced cathode ray tubes, aircraft tubes, and manifold assemblies in addition to women’s and men’s jewelry and watch attachments. After the war, the company returned to their core business of jewelry manufacture, added cigarette lighters and pens to their inventory, and continued to produce aircraft parts. By 1950, they discontinued their women’s fashion jewelry line. Their success in the aerospace industry continues today, but the jewelry division closed in 1979, after moving to Florida four years earlier.
Kreisler trademarks include “KREISLER” and “KREISLER QUALITY”.
(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.
(United States, 1923 – 1952)
Founded by Russian immigrants Joseph and Louis Mazer in New York City in 1923, Mazer Brothers first made shoe buckles and then added costume jewelry to their production 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.
Mazer Brothers was located at 6 West 32nd Street until 1941, when the offices, showrooms, and factory were combined into a much larger, more modern facility at 20 West 33rd Street. At that time the company had about 100 employees.
In 1948, the brothers separated: Louis and his son Nathan continued the Mazer Brothers business under the name Mazer Bros., Inc.; Joseph and his son Lincoln, in partnership with Paul A. Green, formed Joseph J. Mazer & Co., Inc., and became known as Jomaz. Mazer Bros. continued producing jewelry until 1952, the year Louis Mazer died.
With ties to traditional fine jewelry design, the company’s focus was always high-quality materials and techniques to produce imitations of fine jewelry at an affordable price. Their slogan in ads placed in Vogue from 1948-1950 was “The Precious Look in Fashion Jewelry”. 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.
An August 1929 issue of Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) endorsed several of the company’s collections: long pendants and chokers in white stones with colored crystals mounted in sterling silver; chokers, bracelets, rings, and pendant earrings with marcasites and genuine gemstones in contrasting colors; and rings with baguette crystals and marcasites. Mazer Brothers advertised their marcasite and baguette jewelry and their marcasite and “real stone jewelry” in several issues of WWD in 1929-1930. Classic motifs, including floral, foliate or ribbon-and-bow designs, characterized these early pieces.
In the late 1930s and 1940s, rhinestone-laden necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and earrings were the focus. Louis Mazer patented his company’s answer to Coro’s Duette and Trifari’s Clip Mates in April 1939 (patent number 2,153,022), which you can see here. The 1950s produced bib necklaces and pendant earrings set with lavish pastes.