As it appeared in Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
by Joanne Victorie Wiertella
Photography by Willa Davis
And also in Antique Register, March–April 2006
(Arizona and New Mexico issue)
Note: ASCAS (Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver) is an online publication.
Here is a link to the online version of the following article: ASCAS #37.
Cherubs on Jewelry Boxes
Jewelry boxes manufactured in America during the early 1900’s, are a remembrance of our history and a time during which spiritual expression was conveyed through art.
Antique jewelry boxes (also called jewel caskets or trinket boxes) are delightful treasures often decorated with angels or cherubs.
Both angels and cherubs represent winged heavenly beings.
Cherubs are depicted as beautiful, innocent, chubby babies with wings.
Cupid, the son of the goddess of love in both Greek and Roman mythology, was a beautiful young boy with wings who used gold-tipped arrows if he wished two people to fall in love.
All these -angels, cherubs, and Cupid- signified the message of love.
Cherubs have appeared in works of art from the time of ancient Mesopotamia and remained a common theme in Greek, Byzantine and European paintings and sculpture.
Late Christian-inspired art depicted cherubs as plump children with wings, as in Raphael’s Sistine Madonna.
During the late 1800′s and early 1900′s when Americans, the English, and French were enjoying an artistic and philosophical Renaissance, cherubs were an important theme that reflected the virtuous ideals of the time, yet also an appreciation of mankind’s place in the joys and glories
of the world -a spiritual contrast to the “cold” Industrial Revolution.
Cherubs could be found described in literature, portrayed on canvas and in sculpture, and as a design on many decorations in the home.
Jewelry boxes, frequently covered with cherubs, hearts and roses, were an expression of the Romantic Movement -conferring the message of love. This was an era when people not only spoke the words “I love you,” but an article given as a gift, would confer that sentiment with every incident of use.
A gentleman would give his lady fair not just a “present,” but a physical manifestation of his affection spelled out clearly by a symbolic messenger such as Cupid or a Cherub. A jewel box was the perfect gift in the early 1900′s for a gentleman to express his admiration for a lady. JVW