Book Reviews

SPECTACULAR PHOTOS

Twentieth Century Jewelry, by Anna Maria Massinelli. 1994. 180 pages. 220 color illustrations. $50. (JCK Data Center NG-007) To order call (800) 227-7210.

It’s difficult to be negative about a book that features hundreds of excellent color plates depicting some of the most elegant jewelry of our time. In fact, from a purely visual point of view, this book scores well. However, if you want pertinent and easy-to-read text that describes the items shown, then this book is lacking.

The book’s premise is that the 20th century inherited the revolutionary Art Nouveau style as its foundation, then proceeded with a series of other minor revolutions. Two essays try to put the jewelry of this century in perspective. The essays are filled with information, some useful and some not, about the people, trends and developments of the goldsmith’s art. But the essays are tough for anyone other than a jewelry historian to wade through. The blame is shared equally by the translation, layout and content.

But turn to the large section of color plates and who needs text? Here are spectacular photos of a wonderful selection of jewelry. There are several exquisite pieces from Cartier, such as a 1925 bracelet watch with diamonds in platinum and an awesome array of carved emeralds, sapphires and rubies. Many of Bucheron’s finest creations are included, such as a pair of lifelike feather brooches from the 1950s. Just flipping through the pages, you are captivated by lesser known pieces from such luminaries as Lalique, Fouget, Van Cleef & Arpels, the Vever family, Neiman Marcus and others.

Many items don’t seem to be credited to anyone, such as an absolutely wonderful gold and ruby brooch in the form of a World War II tank. It’s disappointing that a book of this quality, written well into this century’s final decade, stops its coverage at 1960. In the end, this beautiful book is a mixed bag, long on visuals and somewhat short otherwise. – Alan Revere, Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, San Francisco; JCK Book judge.

FACING PERIL

Security Manual, by Eric Oliver and John Wilson, sixth edition. 1994. 261 pages. Four black/white illustrations. $15.95. (JCK Data Center AH-001) To order call (802) 276-3162.

“An arrest should be made as quietly as possible, with no unnecessary use of force…doing nothing to attract undue attention…tell why he is being restrained…treat him with consideration…. Precautions after arrest…use of force…unlawful arrest…. Police and criminal evidence.” All these points are covered in the section on arrest, giving quick structure to the decisions that should be made in the situation.

As stated in the title, this is a security manual. Point by point, instructions include how to respond in given situations. General security duties, patroling duties, alarm systems, searching, keeping of notes, questioning suspects, evidence and court procedure, fire precautions and cash security are just a few of the points covered.

In this age when written instructions become more and more necessary, this book offers readily understandable guidance. It is well laid out and indexed.

Steps are outlined in a simple one-two-three format, leaving few questions as to the proper choice. Easy, concise and well-recommended, the book is a good reference for your personnel or as a basis for your own manual. – James C. Jessop, George Carter Jessop Jeweler, San Diego; JCK Book judge.

NEXT BEST THING

Imperial Surprises: A Pop-Up Book of Fabergé Masterpieces. 1994. 6 Pop-Ups. 50 illustrations. $18.95. (JCK Data Center AA-042) To order call (212) 206-7715.

What fun! A truly beautiful and informative book about the most unique jewels in modern history – the fabulous Fabergé eggs. Just open the book and the cleverly engineered pages pop out at you.

There is hardly anyone who loves jewelry who has not been awestruck by the incredible creations of Peter Carl Fabergé, goldsmith to the czars, yet very few of us ever get to see the real McCoy. So here is the next best thing.

Although sparse in text, the book presents visual and tactile information in a totally captivating manner. The book begins, “The aim of this book is to recapture the delight and excitement of those who originally received these beautiful objets d’art, created by the House of Fabergé.” Mission accomplished.

My favorite, a tough choice to make, is the Coronation Egg, created in 1897. This unparalleled treasure opens to reveal an exact and fully articulated miniature of the carriage that bore Czarina Alexandra to her new home beside Czar Nicholas. Made of gold, enamels and diamonds, the work is only one of many masterpieces depicted in the book.

When my 10-year-old daughter Alexis picked up the book, she was captivated by one of mankind’s greatest achievements, and she did not move until she had read the entire book, cover to cover. Now that’s a testimonial. – Alan Revere, Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, San Francisco; JCK Book judge.

DIRECT MAIL ADVERTISING

Small Retailer’s Guide to Direct Mail Advertising, by Stan Holden. 1994. 32 pages. $7. (JCK Data Center 0J-002) To order call (708) 491-1680.

“Direct mail, if properly used, may be the least expensive and most productive advertising medium.” This booklet begins with that sentence and then describes the nuts and bolts of direct mail advertising.

Topics include the basics of mailing lists, print format and design, making a schedule, selecting the number of places to mail, using coupons, photos, preparing the newsletter, selecting a printer and postage.

This booklet sticks to the basics. With a small knowledge of direct mail, you can go quickly beyond the basics. – James C. Jessop, George Carter Jessop Jeweler, San Diego, Cal.; JCK Book judge.

RADIO HELP

Small Retailer’s Guide to Radio Advertising, by Stan Holden. 1994. 32 pages. $7. (JCK Data Center 0J-001) To order call (708) 491-1680.

Radio advertising made simple. This booklet lists the advantages radio offers, programming formats, suggestions on buying airtime and how to write and produce your commercial. Included are sections on decisions to make before writing a commercial and 39 tips from radio experts to make your commercial more effective.

The booklet summarizes the points that make a good radio commercial. Woe to the person who plans a campaign solely from these brief points, but their listing will remind you of important ideas. – James C. Jessop, George Carter Jessop Jeweler, San Diego; JCK Book judge.

YELLOW PAGE OPTIONS

Small Retailer’s Guide to Yellow Pages Advertising, by Stan Holden. 1994. 32 pages. $7. (JCK Data Center 0J-004) To order call (708) 491-1680.

How would you answer if a stranger called to say he would be in your area to make a large purchase the following day and asked why he should buy from you? Your answer is a good start on your advertising in the telephone book.

The basics addressed in this booklet are ad size, how to start out, layout, borders, illustrations, trademark advertising and co-op advertising.

The booklet makes a quick study of an area in which we often spend little time, but which may be very important. It’s a good, abbreviated review, giving us points for deeper thought. – James C. Jessop, George Carter Jessop Jeweler, San Diego, Cal.; JCK Book judge.

NEWSPAPER BASICS

Small Retailer’s Guide to Newspaper Advertising, by Stan Holden. 1994. 32 pages. $7. (JCK Data Center 0J-003) To order call (708) 491-1680.

Are you unsure about your newspaper advertising? This pamphlet answers myriad questions in a nutshell.

The basics when considering, developing, placing and tracking newspaper advertisements are described in pages packed with short, easy-to-follow, how-to tips. Assumptions about your business, seven basic ad types, where to run your ad, how big your ad should be, how to save money on ad rates, how to do layouts, tips on types, ways to illustrate and how best to use co-op ads all are considered.

The amount of information passed in these brief pages will not allow the understanding necessary to spend a large advertising budget. The store owner who commits any significant amount of dollars to newspaper advertising will likely find this booklet too brief. However, it can remind you of basics we all should know and perhaps suggest some fresh ideas. – James C. Jessop, George Carter Jessop Jeweler, San Diego.; JCK Book judge.

SILVER HISTORY

Sotheby’s Concise Encyclopedia of Silver, Charles Truman, general editor. 1994. 208 pages. 300 color, five black/white illustrations. $50. (JCK Data Center GI-029) To order call (802) 457-1911.

Sotheby’s has given us more of a guide than an encyclopedia, on periods of silver development. The book, written by leading authorities primarily from England, includes chapters titled “Early Silver,” “The Medieval Period,” “Renaissance and Mannerism,” “Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassicism,” “The Nineteenth Century,” “American Silver, Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau,” “Art Deco,” “Post-War Silver” and “Forgeries, Fakes and Concoctions.”

The photographs are beautiful and the material gives an insight into silver’s stylistic changes throughout the ages. But not to include even basic silversmithing techniques in an encyclopedia on silver is a disservice to readers.

As the director of the Society of American Silversmiths, I have had the privilege to attend many silver exhibitions. I continually hear people ask how a piece was made. I’m not saying every book on silver must have a section on technique, but a book that calls itself an encyclopedia must educate readers on all areas of the subject. – Jeffrey Herman, founder, The Society of American Silversmiths, Cranston, R.I.; JCK Book judge.

JEWELRY MAKING AS HOBBY

Making Modern Jewelry, by Peter Bagley, 128 pages. 23 color, 140 black/white illustrations. 1992. $24.95. (JCK Data Center ED-029) To order call (800) 542-7567.

Combining traditional goldsmithing procedures with a hobby-level approach to jewelry making, this book offers an overview of techniques in a variety of materials. It begins with an interesting yet superficial chapter on design, followed by chapters on metal, wood, paper, feather, thread, glass, plastic, etc.

Each contains several sample projects to demonstrate the possibilities within each medium. Unfortunately, the author skips lightly over essential metal-working techniques, presuming the reader already possesses some hand skills. Yet several of the later projects are too basic to interest those with the accomplished level of skill expected earlier. The book also lacks hazard warnings for acid, heat and fumes.

Making Modern Jewelry does contain several interesting techniques, such as a detailed low-tech electroforming system that can be built for well under $10.

Though clearly not on top of anybody’s wish list, this book does provide enough information to merit its perusal. – Alan Revere, Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, San Francisco, Cal.; JCK book judge.

APPRAISING APPRAISING

The Professionals’ Guide to Jewelry Insurance Appraising, by Patti J. Geolat, C. Van Northrup and David Federman. 1994. 250 pages. $95. (JCK Data Center AF-004) To order call (913) 451-2200.

Awareness of the need to perform more accurate appraisals with tested, supportable values is developing in the jewelry industry. Publications from JCK to the Rapaport Report are advancing this cause.

This book has its place here. With discussion of appraiser responsibility, appraisals as insurance documents, replacement value vs. cost and developing market data, the authors advance the discussion of the appraisal assignment.

As a reference to terms and tables for weight estimation (caliber cuts to beads), methods of construction, types of finishes, names of chains, metal makings, types of settings, hallmarking and stone cuts, the book should be in an appraisal library. However, the gemological information is too brief, with an attempt to cover diamonds through colored stones and pearls in 85 pages.

As reference for basic information, the authors have done a good job. But in tone and philosophy, the book is an attempt to advance an industry of “independent appraisers” and sets an attitude that could hurt the jewelry industry. None of the authors’ job histories shows practical experience in the trade. From this perspective, they lecture on the evils of the jeweler/appraiser, citing flagrant errors jewelers have made. They seem to forget the large number of jewelers doing a good job at appraisals and the honest efforts many have made to advance the industry. – James C. Jessop, Certified Gemologist Appraiser, AGA; George Carter Jessop Jeweler, San Diego, Cal.; JCK Book judge.

MAJOLICA PRIMER

Majolica, by Marilyn G. Karmason with Joan B. Stacke. 240 pages. 140 color, 60 black/white illustrations. 1989. $75. (JCK Data Center AA-031) To order call (212) 206-7715.

In its early years of production, majolica earthenware was inspired by the ceramics of the Renaissance. Admired and avidly acquired in its own day, majolica fell into disfavor in the 20th century, as the creative and complex society that flourished under Queen Victoria came to be regarded as the epitome of vulgarity and pretension. It was evicted from the dining room and tea table, banished to basements and attics or even discarded.

A revival during the past two decades has progressed far beyond a handful of collectors. Today, majolica holds a place of importance in major museums around the world. But what really is majolica? Who made it? How can it be appreciated and collected? The answers are all here in this meticulously researched book.

Majolica mania began in 1851 in London when Herbert Minton delighted the public with a stunning display of jewel-colored earthenware. I was fascinated to learn that such names as Wedgwood, George Jones, Holdcroft and other English potters joined Minton in making majolica wares. Sweden, Russia, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Australia and the United States joined Gien in France and Villeroy and Boch in Germany on the majolica mania bandwagon. Even the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 featured majolica vases, pitchers, game dishes, oyster plates, match strikers, compotes and centerpieces by U.S. manufacturers.

Why is a book about a product of another era of value to today’s sales consultant? Personally, I gained insight as to the dining habits of the period and why some items were made. For example, I learned that one of the last courses of a Victorian banquet was the cheese, usually a 12″ high blue-veined Stilton, which was brought to the table in a cheese bell, also called a cheese keeper or cheese stand. Somehow I find that knowledge gained is usually knowledge used. I think you will, too! – Doris M. Nixon, director of educational services, National Bridal Service; JCK book judge.

JEWELRY MAKING TECHNIQUES

Jewelry Making Manual, by Sylvia Wicks. 1990 reprint of 1985 original. 176 pages. 300 illustrations. $19.95 plus $3 shipping. (JCK Data Center HB-002) To order call (207) 767-6059.

This is primarily a jewelry textbook consisting of many basic and decorative techniques combined with academic, historical and design considerations.

It starts with some technical and philosophical aspects that many professionals don’t even consider – such as “what is jewelry?” This sounds crazy at first, but it’s a crucial foundation to initiate jewelry design.

The text is instructional, informative, intelligent and designed to provide information on all segments of jewelry making. Particularly impressive is a section on construction of findings, catches, hinges, etc. The illustrations are beautifully rendered and answer scores of technical questions.

The section “Elements of Design” deals with creativity, ideas and concepts. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t address casting, a basic method of jewelry creation. However, this omission is offset by a host of other topics, such as bead stringing, rendering, electrocoloration, plastics, creative materials and a section on advanced techniques.

Peter Gainsbury, former technical director of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, served as a consultant, thus lending additional quality control.

This is one of the most beautiful jewelry textbooks I’ve ever seen. The graphic presentation is unusually striking and dynamic with high-contrast paper, gray boxed-in areas, color strips and scores of high-quality color photos blended into the other graphics. Every person involved in the metal arts should find such value in this book, whether for its information, photographs, rendering, creative ideas and philosophies or its comprehensive overview of jewelry creation. This book is a winner, and highly recommended because of its high quality text and astonishingly low price. – Professor Mark S. Baldridge, Longwood College, Farmvale, Va.; JCK book judge.

THE ART OF FRENCH JEWELRY

The Belle Epoque of French Jewellery 1850-1910, by Dr. Michael Koch et al. 340 pages. 258 color, 60 black/white illustrations. 1991. $105. (JCK Data Center EZ-001.) To order call (310) 343-9204.

Without a doubt, the goldsmith’s art reached its zenith in France during the second half of the 19th century. This was the period when romantic historicism led to the revolutionary and enduring Art Nouveau style. It was a time when technique, design, patronage and style converged to produce jewelry that would captivate audiences for a hundred years.

Packed with its 258 large color plates, this exquisite coffee-table book has two sections: a series of essays on the styles, artisans and importance of the period’s jewelry and a catalog of an exhibition at the Bayerisches National Museum that inspired research and resurgence of interest in Art Nouveau jewelry.

The eight essays document the history and significance of the period in academic depth. The catalog portion of the book displays color photographs of some of the most beautiful jewelry ever made, along with biographies of the period’s important goldsmiths and their hallmarks.

The jewelry represents the work of such luminaries as Alphonse and Georges Fouquet, Cartier, L. Gautrait, Frederic Boucheron, the Vever family, Louis Aucoc – the teacher of René Lalique – and Lalique himself, considered by many to be the ultimate master of Art Nouveau jewelry.

Refreshingly, there are countless lesser-known works of these artists as well as many previously unpublished works from museums and private collections around the world. The photos show excellent examples of such goldsmithing techniques as chasing, repoussé, fabrication, casting, enameling, stone setting and granulation, each taken to its highest level of achievement

In summary, this book is top-shelf all the way. For those who make, collect, deal, study or just admire fine period jewelry, The Belle Epoch of French Jewellery is a rare gem. – Alan Revere, Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, San Francisco, Cal.; JCK book judge.

EVOLUTION IN EATING

The Rituals of Dinner, by Margaret Visser. 432 pages. 1992. $12.50. (JCK Data Center DN-005.) To order call (201) 387-0600.

In this totally fascinating book, Margaret Visser traces the rituals of dinner from their origins through their evolutions, eccentricities and meanings.

Table manners are as old as society itself. One way to understand them is to recognize they are a system of civilized taboos that came into operation in a situation fraught with dangers. They are designed to reduce tension and protect people from one another.

Visser roams throughout the historic and the modern worlds, stopping wherever she sees food being served to see how it’s done. She serves the reader a banquet of table customs from far-flung cultures.

The customs didn’t develop overnight. The fork, for example, took eight centuries to become a utensil employed universally in the West.

If you want to know the two types of cannibal society, why table manners are rituals, why feasts are given, why food is a preserver of racial identity, how a hamburger relates to a three-part meal where all references to companionship have been deleted – plus the origin of a thousand other table manners, rules and beliefs – read The Rituals of Dinner.

It’s wonderful food for thought! – Doris Nixon, Director of Educational Services, National Bridal Service; JCK book judge.

CLOCK REPAIRS

The Clock Repairer’s Handbook, by Laurie Penman. 176 pages. 301 black/white drawings. 1992 edition of 1985 original. $39.95. (JCK data center GI-025.) To order call (802) 457-1911.

This good book is a virtual reprint, even though the fine print mentions, “New Enlarged Edition.” It differs from the original in only a few paragraphs that have made room for some short new comment. The contents, illustrations, page numbers and two minor original errors have not been changed a bit.

When first published, it won excellent notices. Those who would like to read an original review might look into the March 1987 issue of Horological Times. The reviewer was the late Otto Benish, a discriminating expert clockmaker, who liked the book enough to declare: “This book should be included in every clock repairer’s library.”

Benish lauded Penman’s comments on lubrication, use of cleaners and a trouble-shooting chart. He questioned the use of carbon tetrachloride to clean platform escapements, yet he thought there was enough positive information to make the above quote his opening statement.

For those who have a copy, there’s no need to purchase this new printing. For those who don’t own a copy, the modest price, good illustrations and text make it a worthwhile addition. – Henry B. Fried, horological editor; JCK book judge.

BIRMINGHAM SILVER HISTORY

The Silversmiths of Birmingham and Their Marks: 1750-1980, edited by Kenneth Crisp Jones. 410 pages. 43 color, 300 black/white photos. 1981. $85. (JCK Data Center JJ-049.) To order call (800) 321-5068.

Behold a complete history of silverware manufacture in Birmingham, England, a major city in the annals of silverware.

The material is so well organized and illustrated that readers should feel that a competent historian has given them a complete tour of the city. The large pages make the many photographs particularly effective.

The book is divided into sections: “The History of Birmingham Silversmiths,” “The Organization of Management and Labor,” “Major Birmingham Silversmiths,” “Bullion Dealers and Companies of the 20th Century,” “The Maker’s Marks” and a glossary including decorative terms and techniques. The glossary is clearly illustrated with line drawings.

The book will appeal to silver-lovers of all types, including appraisers and collectors. It combines an authoritative account of the growth of Birmingham and its silver trade and gives readers the valuable means to identify the makers.

It brings us right up to present-day Birmingham, complete with a photograph and history of John Price, current president of Arthur Price, the largest manufacturer of silverware in England.

This important book will be a valuable contribution to the history of silverware. I highly recommend it. – Robert M. Johnston, R.M. Johnston & Associates, Baltimore, Md.; JCK book judge.

WRIST WATCH GUIDE

Modern Wrist Watch Price Guide: Retail Prices, Book 1, by Sherry and Roy Ehrhardt, Joe DeMesy. 116 pages. 1992. $25 plus $4 shipping. (JCK Data Center CF-039.) To order call (816) 761-0080.

The 2,000+ watches pictured and appraised in this identification and price guide represent the top-priced watches of 12 high-grade makers. In alphabetical order these are: Audemars-Piguet, Blancpain, Breitling, Cartier, Chopard, Concord, Gerald Genta, International, Patek Philippe, Piaget, Rolex and Vacheron & Constantin.

Each watch is presented with its name, features, code number and estimated value. The details of each watch are presented in a full page of author’s notes and comments. Included are some words of advice to collectors, among which is a statement that this book is the first to provide factory retail prices, which have appreciated 1125% in the past 20 years.

Other headlines include “Modern Watch Trading,” “Pawn Shops,” “Retail Jewelry Stores” and “Coin Shops and Shows.”

The end pages are lists of pocket and wrist watch production dates by serial numbers of well-known makers, American and European. Eight pages are devoted to an “Index to Vintage American and European Wrist Watch Price Guide Books 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and an ’87 update.”

Finally, a table of watch sizes, lignes, millimeters and inches is included. – Henry B. Fried, JCK Horological Editor; JCK book judge.