5 Goofy Jewelry Tales From 1942

JCK magazine used to run a feature in the front of the book called “Speaking of the Jewelry Industry.”

It contained news and notes—both serious and funny—from around the country about jewelers, watchmakers, and industry professionals.

Since it’s the middle of the week and I’m sure JCK readers could use a pick-me-up, I decided to focus on five of the most amusing stories I found in our 1942 archive.

April 1942

A lusty-voiced auctioneer in one of those open front jewelry auction rooms along Times Square was doing his best to turn a spectator into a customer for the wrist watch he held aloft.

I have been offered $20 for this fine watch,” he bellowed. “…$20…Will anyone say $25?…anyone at all?”

A young man, who was passing by on the sidewalk, deep in conversation with a second young man, looked up cheerfully, said “25 dollars” in a strong, pleasant voice, and then went right on talking to his companion as they continued on their way.

May 1942

Saboteurs and paratroops would get short shrift in Zumbrota, Minn., where veteran jeweler Anton F. Michaelson maintains an arsenal in connection with his jewelry store.

On one side of the shop Michaelson carries on his “regular business”; on the other is located a collection of 100 or more weapons, some of them dating back to the early 1700s and ranging from there up to the modern gun.

One of his prizes is a flintlock used in the war between Norway and Sweden in 1718; 224-years-old, it’s still usable. A revolver shot by a murderer, a madman’s dagger, a Philippine bolo, Civil War sabers and battle-axes are among his other implements of war.

Useful in Zubrosta defense might be this gentle weapon: A 30 lb. 4-gauge shotgun, once used by market hunters who slaughtered ducks for sale.

* * *

A typographical error in a story in the Daily Oklahoman of Oklahoma City caused undertakers to vie for the business of performing last rites on M. Kasner, a jeweler of 515 W. Main St. of that city, but their inquiries revealed that Kanser was very much alive.

“I experienced the pleasant sensation of Mark Twain by telling them and my friends that the report of my ‘death’ was greatly exaggerated,” said Kasner.

It all happened when Kanser was selected to auction boxes and pies, as well as war stamps, at the city employees’ War Stamp dance.

The Oklahoman carried a story of the event and over the article was the heading: “Jeweler to Auction War Stamp, Dies.” Just a matter of the substitution of the letter “d” for “p.”

“The undertakers were calling me all day for my business and they got a shock when I answered the telephone,” said Kasner. “They thought they were talking to a ghost.”

In spite of the error, Kasner was on hand for the dance—and the auction.

June 1942

Hanging from the rafters in the basement of Wolf’s Jewelers in Topeka, Kan., a bull snake—yellowish brown with black blotches—surprised a couple of employees. They killed the snake, and that started a chain of curious developments.

A few days later when a china salesman called at the store, the employees accused him of shipping a “diamond-backed rattler” along with the china from his company. Before he got on to the joke, the salesman was red with embarrassment.

But the china company man had the last laugh. He sent an invoice to Mrs. C. A. Wolf, owner of the store, billing her for $200 for “one-twelfth dozen diamond-backed rattler,” explaining that the snake was a pet at the china factory and accusing the Wolf people of inhumanly destroying it.

The snake-killers had a few moments of worry until they realized that the letter, too, was a gag.

P.S. Nobody ever did find out how the snake got into the jewelry store.

August 1942

Inscrutable, indeed, are the ways of the postal service. A curious tale coming from Portland, Ore., adds this one to the book:

One Adeline Hoffman of Portland stopped in at the post office to inquire after a package she was expecting from a soldier friend. Upon opening the parcel given her, she rubbed her eyes in amazement, for inside reposed diamonds valued at more than $3,000. Suspecting that such gifts were a trifle beyond a mere private, even at the recently upped pay rate, she turned the package over to the authorities who more or less shared her views.

Investigation disclosed that a Los Angeles wholesale jeweler had addressed the package to one “A. Hoffman,” a diamond dealer, at general delivery, Portland. Miss Hoffman had merely struck the jackpot.

Which story is your favorite? What’s the goofiest thing to ever happen to you and your jewelry store?