by Ginger Moro  



 

The Arts & Crafts Movement was a philosophy and state of mind, rather than an art movement like Art Nouveau and Art Déco. Originating in mid-19th century England, with John Ruskin and William Morris, it was a rebellion against the encroaching soulless industrialization of the decorative arts. A return to the hand-craftsmanship of the Medieval guilds was embraced. Jewelry and objets were lovingly created by hand, bringing beauty to the beholder, as opposed to the dehumanizing results of mass-production and the machine. Arts& Crafts jewelry has been extensively explored in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and the United States in several books, but the "Amsterdam School", as it was called in Holland, has largely been ignored. Jewelry was crafted in hammered copper or silver, mounted with cabochons of the chalcedony quartz family, (agate, chrysocolla, chrysoprase, or  carnelian) or set in cloisonné enamel. The Dutch hallmark for silver was the sword, representing .835 fineness.  

 

The Amsterdam School's foreign influence was neither Celtic nor Japanese, (as with the British,)  but Indonesian, where the Muslim artists of the Dutch East India colonies created their decorative arts with geometric abstractions. (Representational art is prohibited by the Muslim religion.) The Moorish influence was tapped by artists like Jan Eisenloeffel and Franz Zwollo Sr. and Jr. who worked complicated patterns in cloisonné enamel.  

An enamel brooch by Franz Zwollo Sr and Jr., 1920. From De Toegepaste Kunsten in Nederland- Sieraden ("The Applied Arts in the Netherlands- Jewelry") by Dr. de Jonge, 1924. Both Zwollos studied abroad and worked together in Amsterdam in the Twenties in cloisonné and champlevé enamel.  

Enameled buckles and brooches showing Moorish influence, 1923-4, by Jan Eisenloeffel (1876-1957)  from Sieraden.  He was involved in the applied arts as well as jewelry. His Moorish designs were complex linear treatments in enamel constructed around a central cabochon.  

The Arts & Crafts movement was fuelled by a reverence for traditional handicrafts and environmental concerns, protecting the countryside from advancing industrialization. Returning to nature was celebrated In England with floral designs, but in the Dutch lowlands, organic shapes were taken from the sea, revolving around the endlessly inventive shapes of the shell. These were often adorned with coral cabs, a sea creature, or amber which was found in the Baltic sea in abundance. Originally, each piece was hand-hammered to illustrate the hand-crafted technique, but soon, in order to reach a wider public, hammer marks were simulated with cast jewelry which could be sold more reasonably.  

Jac. A. Jacobs (1885-1965) and Fons Reggers created brooches inspired by sea creatures. Jacobs often mixed the hammered and smooth textures, and mounted his brooches and pendants with opal, coral, agate, or amazonite. These were signed "JJ" or "RR 4".

   

 


Hammered silver pendant and brooches with sea shapes mounted with opal and agate, Jac. A Jacobs, 1924. From Sieraden.  

Machine-hammered brooch with amazonite signed "JJ" for Jacobs. Gail Gerretsen collection. Photo by Robert Weldon.  


Hammered silver shell brooch set with coral. Stamped "JJ".
 Ginger Moro Collection. Photo by Robert Weldon.

Fons Reggers was one of two brothers working in Amsterdam from 1923 to 1934. Their benchmark  was "RR4" in a rectangle. Regger's hammer marks were carefully orchestrated into the overall design.

   

 

Regger's brooches were organic flowing shapes, hammered and chased, mounted with moonstones or coral. Twenties. Courtesy of the Frans Leidelmeijer Gallery, Amsterdam.  

Regger's bar pins were elegant attenuated shapes, alternating different textures, set with carnelian or coral. Bearing the Dutch sword .835 silver mark, and "RR 4".
 Ginger Moro Collection  

The silver Art Déco design pendant with amazonite and marcasites is signed Reggers. The pendant with marcasite leaf design and amber drop is unsigned. Ginger Moro Collection.

   

 

Cor Vos, from Utrecht, studied with J.Jacobs, but his style was more sensually naturalistic. His brooches were like miniature sea sculptures which had washed up on the beach. They were mounted with moonstone or agate. 1923, from Sieraden, op.cit.  

J. Peters eschewed the flowing shapes of his compatriots in the Twenties and Thirties, embracing the more geometric Art Déco style, while remaining quintessentially Dutch.  

Five silver brooches in J. Peters' personal Art Déco style set with moonstone and coral. Courtesy of Franz Leidelmeijer Gallery, Amsterdam. Photo by Co-Press Studio.  

Value Guide: Because of the rarity of the signed silver Amsterdam School pieces, prices range from $300 into the four figures, when found in antiques shops in Holland. These are rarely found outside of the country, where Dutch Arts & Crafts are not commonly recognized or appreciated.

 

There were many unsigned pieces created in the spirit of handicraft for the masses. Silver, silver-plate or copper jewelry was stamped or cast, simulating hammer marks, and set with faux coral glass cabochons. These were sold very reasonably, and can be found currently in Holland for $75 to $200 apiece, depending on the design.




(top) Hammered silver bar pin is unsigned.  

(middle) Two silver-plated brooches, unsigned- one is set with a cornelian cab.

(bottom) The trapezoid hammered brooch is 2 1/2" wide, unsigned. 
 Private Collection.

(top) The silver-plated copper bar pin brooch is unsigned.
 (bottom) The repoussé patinated brooch is set with an agate cab, bearing the Dutch silver sword mark. The cast scrolled brooch is mounted with a high-domed blue chrysocolla cabochon, marked "WEA" . Both of these brooches (1 3/4" wide)  have the "C" catch plus a tricky little "Y" safety catch. 
Ginger Moro Collection.  

Brooches were the most popular items of the Amsterdam School jewelry, discreetly set with small cabochons. It's unusual to find a bracelet with a large chrysoprase plaque. This one is 1 1/2" wide set in a hand-hammered silver-plated cuff. Ginger Moro Collection.  

Dutch Arts and Crafts jewelry of the early 20th century was distinguished by discreet design and semi-precious stones of low intrinsic value, reflecting the rigorous morality of the Dutch Calvinist character. This reticence was thrown to the winds in the Sixties, when Dutch artists joined the universal social and artistic rebellion against the traditional status quo.

 

Many of the above Amsterdam School pieces are featured in my book, European Designer Jewelry, (The Netherlands chapter,) where I explore 20th century costume and artist's jewelry from 13 countries of Europe and Scandinavia, (300 pages, 700 photos, mostly color). An autographed copy is available. Please contact Ginger Moro at: modmoro@earthlink.net for details.  Selected pieces from Ginger Moro's collection are also for sale.

 

 

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  Article by Ginger Moro
Photographs courtesy of Ginger Moro and by
Robert Weldon and Co-Press Studio
Web design by Marbeth Schon  

 Copyright © 2004 Modern Silver Magazine and Ginger Moro

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