Thursday, September 24, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday

When my bestemor died, I didn't get too many things, but I loved all I was given because they reminded me of her. I have the serving dishes she used on a daily basis, coffee cups, two of her mother's Bibles (one was my great-grandmother Gustava Jonsen's confirmation Bible, and the other was the Bible given when she married my great-grandfather Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen). I also received a porcelain container filled with her jewelry.

Now, if you knew my grandmother, then you know she was not one to spend money on frivolous things -- jewelry included, I think. So her jewelry at first glance does not seem like much if I take away the sentimental value. Nonetheless, yesterday I decided I wanted to get the tarnish off the jewelry; they are mostly silver pieces. My eyes locked onto a locket made of painted enamel. Inside, the Roman numerals XXVI are etched into both sides. I can only guess what the numbers stand for, and the only plausible explanation is the year 1926. So, I looked up "floral enamel jewelry," and as it turns out, the Art Deco or Art Nouveou jewelry was quite popular at the turn of the 20th century through to the 1920's. So the year 1926 theory may be accurate. That would put my grandmother at 13 years old. So, of course, now I wonder where she got the piece at that age. Was it a birthday or Christmas gift? Did it belong to her mother? It is very frustrating that I will probably never know the answer to these questions. 

After studying the locket as much as possible, I moved on to a brooch with the same enamel and floral style design. The brooch is about 2 inches in diameter, and I guessed it was also made circa 1920; this seems accurate according to what I have read on the internet, and in the Scandinavian Jewelry books I have read on Amazon using the "look inside" feature. When I turned the brooch around, I noticed a stamp. It said G.G. 925 s. Well, as it turns out Norway would always mark the silver 925 to show it was the highest quality silver. But the initials G.G. had me curious. So I did some more googling and found a few similar pieces to the one I had -- nature designs, the same size and shape brooch, and the stamp, all made in Norway by Gustav Gaudernack (1865 - 1914). He was a goldsmith and designer born in Bohemia who went to Norway in 1891 where he lived in Kristiania until his death. According to this site, Gustav Gaudernack was one of Norway's first designers who earned an international reputation, though he is not too well known in the United States. I read on a different site that he specialized in enamel and nature designs, like animals and flowers. He went to work for the jeweler David Andersen, and he was instrumental in their designs, also for their glass works. The David Andersen company still exists today. However, Gaudernack also had his own store, starting around 1910, and when he died, his widow and son continued to make enamel jewelry. It also seems that his grandson, Christian Gaudernack, continues to make jewelry today in the Baerum area. 
But, getting back to the brooch, I read on the site for the link above, that from about 1900, Gaudernack concentrated on the Art Nouveau movement. It was with the flowing style of the flowers and insects that he had his international breakthrough, and it is the one he is remembered for today.

So now this floral piece has more meaning and more questions from me. According to other sites I found selling similar pieces, I am pretty sure the brooch is from the 1920's at the latest. I believe it was either made by Gustav Gaudernack himself in his shop before 1914, or it was made in his name by his wife or son during the 20's. My grandmother would still have been a girl, so I wonder if she received the piece then or later in life, maybe from her mother. The locket doesn't have the stamp, but it looks very similar in style, so it may have been made by the son after his death. This would fit with the 1926 etching theory, and perhaps it is the reason there is no hallmark stamp. Either way, both pieces are unique and very pretty! I truly feel like I discovered treasure yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos and a great story to tell. Welcome to the Blogosphere! I've given you the Kreativ Blogger Award at