Saturday, February 9, 2013

Warner Cat Brooch

In the fifties the space age was upon us. To commemorate that, there were fins everywhere in design and decoration to pay homage to the rockets that would take us to explore the final frontier.

Something else that could be found in many places in the fifties: Cats...
cats eye glasses, kitty cat clocks, cat jewelry...

Secret cat plot to take over the world? Could very well be.
(quote attributed to Terry Pratchett-
Chicken Soup for the Soul)

When I was little, my grandmother gave me some costume jewelry.  Among the pieces were a couple of cat pins.    One was a flat metal Siamese looking one, looked something like the one here, but it was a gray color and not in relief.  I wore it frequently as an accessory in High School, and subsequently it got lost :(
The other one was a little bulkier and I always thought a little big to be worn regularly (being as shy as I was,  I didn't like having much attention drawn to myself either)
It measures about 2 inches, has many faceted rhinestones that make up it's body and head. A single black rhinestone for one eye and nose, Three little gold whiskers on either side of its nose, and one single whisker wrapped whimsically around the eye.   It also has a small row of clear rhinestones for the collar and one on the tip of its tail.  

So it sat in my jewelry box for the most part.... And then one day I decided to see if I could find out anything about it.   I did some descriptive searches and found that very interestingly, it was made by the Joseph Warner Jewelry company.

The J.Warner Jewelry Co. was in business between 1953 and 1971.  He did mostly rhinestone work it seems, floral, fruit, insect designs, plus a few Christmas trees. And cats, lots and lots of cats.   Because the pieces are rare and of a higher quality and fine workmanship than others of that time period, they are highly collectible.  Many of the pieces incorporate a technique called 'japanning' which is a process derived from coal tar that they blacken the metal with.  The pieces have a 'Warner' stamp on the back. (on mine it can be found in tiny letters on one of the ear welds)

Here are some other examples of his pieces that I found around the internet:
Pink Ducky (ebay)

Okay, so I lied, there are a few Duck pins too.

Cat Head pin (ebay)

Clear Rhinestone kitty

 So it seems many of the pins/brooches I found
are just of floating kitty heads, and a few that have the bodies are a single large stone, or no eyes or nose...not quite as pretty I think.

Here are some examples of his insects...
a  green butterfly, and a stunning blue beetle

Butterfly pin (ebay)


This is an example of the japanned metal on these fruit pieces:

Strawberry pin (Etsy)

and Christmas trees!

So finding the history of the pin my Grandmother gave me makes me love it even more.   Do you have a favorite jewelry item?  How did you come about it and why is it special to you?

Thanks for reading!

Note: I found information in the following sources for the history of the Joseph Warner Jewelry company:

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