Published Articles

The Jewel Box

A "Jewel" of a Collection as it appeared in Antique Week, August 28, 2006
Written by Joanne Victorie Wiertella, Photography by Willa Davis

Excerpt: “Fortunately for us, today Art Nouveau jewel boxes can be found nearly everywhere—if you look carefully—antique shops, malls, antique shows, the internet, re-sale shops, even garage sales, though rarely. Because jewel boxes are, in some ways, as yet ‘unrecognized’ by the general public as a valued antique collectible, they are often mislabeled, mis-priced, and mislaid. Prices range from $20-$700 each. Art metal Nouveau jewel boxes seem to be one of the ‘best kept secrets,’ for there actually are many serious collectors in the United States and elsewhere—some with collections as large as 800 boxes!”

Cherubs on Jewelry Boxes as it appeared in Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver and Antique Register, March—April 2006
Written by Joanne Victorie Wiertella, Photography by Willa Davis

Antique jewelry boxes (also called jewel caskets or trinket boxes) are delightful treasures often decorated with angels or cherubs. During the early 1900′s when Americans, the English, and French were enjoying an artistic and philosophical Renaissance, angels, cherubs, hearts and roses, were an important theme that symbolized the message of love. A jewel box was the perfect gift in the early 1900′s for a gentleman to express his admiration for a lady.

Antique American and German Jewel Boxes as Souvenirs as it appeared in ASCAS Newsletter #91, December 2011
Written by Joanne Victorie Wiertella, Photography by Willa Davis and Joanne Wiertella

During the early 1900’s, increased travel and discretionary spending, a desire for beautiful items not previously available to the “average” person, and the manufacture of “objets d’art” priced as trinkets—all these encouraged American travelers to purchase mementos of their journeys inside and outside of their country. About the same time Germany was fast developing an art metal wares export industry— called “white metal,” German silver,” and “nickel silver.” This gave rise to the souvenir jewelry box, which soon became a phenomenon.

Nouveau Jewelry Boxes Portray Spring Floral Fantasies as it appeared in Collectors Journal, May 27, 2008
Written by Joanne Victorie Wiertella and Steven P. Pody, Photography by Willa Davis

The Victorian “Language of Flowers” combined with the new style, Art Nouveau, culminated in art metal trinket or jewelry boxes caskets, that were lavishly decorated with flowers. The flowing lines fit very well with the sentiments of the blossoms in the early 1900’s: “Vergiss mein nicht!” (Forget Me Not!); Lily of the Valley, also called “Virgin’s Tears”; Daisy, the “poet’s darling;” Four-Leaf Clover having good luck properties, and so on. ”Flowers should deck the brow of the youthful bride, for they are in themselves a lovely type of marriage. . . .”

• Art Nouveau Jewelry Boxes  as it appeared in Collecting Buzz 2009. Written by Joanne Wiertella.

Jewelry boxes have long been treasured, for they have held precious items—sometimes valuable in themselves, sometimes valuable for their memories. Throughout history, jewelry boxes were constructed and designed by craftsmen, one box at a time, each a unique piece reflecting the style of the time and locale. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, all this changed. As we know, the concept of mass production was avidly adopted in the United States during the late 19th early 20th centuries. And for the first time, metal objects like jewelry boxes, for example, could be cast in quantity and, therefore, were less costly to produce. 

Symbols of Romance as it appeared in Collectors News, February 2007    
Written by Joanne Victorie Wiertella and Steven P. Pody   Photography by Willa Davis

When we think of Valentine’s Day today, we envision Roses, Cupid with his golden tipped arrows, and Hearts be-decked with ribbons. Hearts as symbols of “love” date from the late medieval period. The Rose, “Queen of Flowers,” has been a favorite throughout history for its perfect beauty.  Cupid is the son of Venus the Goddess of Love. All these symbols, the Rose, Cupid, the Heart, Poppies and Cherubs, adorned the art metal jewelry boxes of yesteryear.

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1912. Enameled Metal Fancy Articles Immensely Popular.

Metal fancy goods enameled to imitate ivory, which were first introduced a season or so ago, have now secured a great hold upon the popular fancy, and a splendid business is the result. All kinds of fancy goods are being made, decorated and finished in this manner, amongst the most popular of which are photograph frames, desk sets, clocks, jewel boxes, and thermometers, many of them being exquisite specimens of fine art in fancy goods. As a rule, these articles are made in close imitation of white ivory, although a number of the most attractive are perfect reproductions of old carved ivory, with a cream like effect, which is much admired. A new development however, and one which has met with popular approval, is the production of metal fancy articles of this nature in raised floral patterns; these floral decorations are daintily tinted in their natural colors and are not only entirely new and novel, but exceedingly artistic and sell remarkably well. The jewel box illustrated herewith are of this character and is one of two of the most popular in lines being shown.Jewel Box