Stanley Hill, Sr., and Seneca Iroquois Combs

By Kajetan Fiedorowicz

Many contemporary tribal artists reach to their nations’ historical sources for inspiration, which provides for a certain continuation of tradition. However, they do not always admit that reference. This makes the process of “joining stylistic dots” much harder, but not impossible.

The comb presented below, carved c. 1977 by Stanley Hill, Sr., (Mohawk Clan) is an interesting and competently executed interpretation of an ancient Seneca Iroquois antler comb that dates back to the late 1600s.

This carved and incised comb depicts two wolves, clan symbol of the Wolf Clan. They stay on the roof of a cosmic longhouse that symbolizes the political structure of the Iroquois Confederacy. Within the longhouse, three human figures squat in a so-called “hocker” position, which many women in traditional societies assume when giving birth. However, these figures most probably represent the two eldest brothers of the Iroquois Confederacy, representing the Seneca, Onondaga and Mohawk nations.

Here are two other effigy-related examples from the The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection, which resides at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY.

The first depicts two wolves facing each other without other imagery, and dates c. 1660 – 1675.

The second is a Seneca Horse Effigy Comb, made c. 1670 – 1687 from moose or elk antler. It was found in the 1930s at the Ganondagan State Historic Site, also known as Boughton Hill, in the town of Victor, Ontario County, New York. The museum speculates that the comb’s image of the single horse may relate to the introduction of European horses in Seneca country in the late 1600s. This seminal event turned many tribes into horse cultures.

An excellent piece was found buried with a Seneca shaman woman during the construction of an upscale neighborhood in Toronto. It dates from the late 1600s when the area was the Iroquois city of Teiaiagon (crosses the stream), a land with a river of dangerous rapids. On the comb, engraved lines connect three shapes, or characters — Mishipescheu (a water lynx with the tail of a rattlesnake), a bear, and the shaman. The themes are continuity of man and spirit, and protection.

Last is a comb from my own collection to close this story for today.

An exciting and mysterious World of Combs…


For more scholarly research, please see our Resource Library and examine these books:

The Iroquois Trail: Dickon among the Onondagas and Senecas

The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca

An Address, Delivered Before the Was-ah Ho-de-no-son-ne or New Confederacy of the Iroquois Also, Genundewah, a Poem

Jen Cruse: Stratton Combs

In 1920, the English company of Jarrett, Rainsford & Laughton Ltd resulted from a merger of two smaller companies, each manufacturing items of inexpensive jewellery and haberdashery goods. However, Stratton Ltd was already owned by Laughtons at the time of the merger and the new company retained the Stratton name for their Fancy Metal Department.

From 1923, part-finished powder boxes were imported from the USA for assembly and decoration until the early 1930s when the company set up its own compact and lipstick case manufacturing plant. By 1939 Strattons were so successful that they were responsible for producing about 50% of these items made for the British cosmetic industry. The factory was destroyed in 1940 and production was not resumed until after the war, in new premises and with newly designed machinery.

Expansion in the 1950s saw the introduction of matching sets of ladies’ handbag accessories, including such items as compacts, lipstick holders, folding cased combs, pill boxes and cigarettes cases. Unfortunately there are few surviving records of the early 1950s; the first extant advertisement for a folding cased comb is dated 1955, which probably coincides with the introduction of their cased comb range. If you are reading this article you are probably interested on fashion, and looking for designer polarized sunglasses for women and well here’s the website for you.

The combs were injection moulded from either cellulose acetate or nylon and all products carried the familiar logo ‘Stratton Made in England’. The introduction of the ‘trigger’ comb around 1960 provided an easy mechanism by which the comb sprung from its case, not dissimilar from the ‘flick knife’ principle.

By the 1960s there were Stratton agents worldwide and new designs kept pace with changing fashions. However, comb production slowly declined and by the end of the 1980s cased combs no longer featured in the Stratton catalogues. Both compacts and folding combs were out of fashion. The last folding combs appeared in the US catalogues for 1987-88 and in the British catalogues for 1988-89. The company was finally sold in 1997.


For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and

The Comb: Its History and Development

Comb at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The description the museum gives is

  • Date: 1700 – 1938
  • Culture: American or European
  • Medium: Bone.

In 1705, Tsar Peter the Great wanted to rid Russia of its technological backwardness and import Western style and ideas. He looked to France and founded St. Petersburg by the Neva River, east of the Gulf of Finland because he understood the strategic importance of the Baltic Sea. Trade became plentiful. This established St. Petersburg as more a part of Europe than the rest of Russia.

This comb looks like it was hand carved from clarified horn that came from a horse’s hoof, a popular material in Germany.

The comb was probably made in the 19th Century, both stylistically (Russian Coat of Arms) and by this inscription: C.I.38.23.476. In Russian, C.I. means I.D. Together with the number, it is most probably a proof of the comb’s presence in some sort of Russian museum or collection.

It is very difficult to believe this comb could have been made in America, or after 1917.

I don’t understand the Metropolitan Museum’s description. I will ask them. Comments welcome.


For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and

Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court

The Comb: Its History and Development

Russian Elegance: Country & City Fashion from the 15th to the Early 20th Century

Carving Cat: What is America to me?

BarbaraAnne, “National boundaries change. What happens when you are left behind? What happens when your people have inhabited a land for 9000 years, and others who conquered it less than 200 years ago call them foreigners? As a native son, how do you become an artist, make beauty out of alienation, and find your identity?

One Pomo Indian / Mexican Indian man made this comb:

after living through this:”

Coming “Out” as a Native American (And possibly “Mexican-American”) artist: by Carving Cat

For the early part of my life, “race” defined quite a lot of the boundaries of my world. When you grow up poor AND brown, for some people in the US, that’s a double sin. In their minds (perhaps), it’s not enough that you are a “Foreigner”, but that you would additionally have the audacity to also be one of the poor, huddled masses.

I had been told many times, even as a child, to “Go back to where you came from” and “You people ruin this country.” Except where I “Came From” is California. Where my mother comes from is California. And so on, back 9,000 years.

And on my father”s side? Michigan. And my father’s father? Texas. His father? Texas. And my great grandfather? Texas. And before that, the area where they are from (El Paso, Texas) was part of Mexico.

My mother (Being full Native Pomo) had always told me that “We” were the “Real Americans,” and that everyone ELSE should “go back to where THEY came from.”

Which sounded (As a child especially) even worse to me, since I had known what it felt like to not be wanted, even by people whose parents had come to the US, perhaps even just 70 years ago…

On my father’s side, they were as American as flower tortillas, which is in fact VERY American these days, considering that one can purchase some kind of “wrap” anywhere.

My father’s people had lived as farmers in what was then a province of Mexico. Not as land owners, but as “dig in the hard dirt with your bare hands” farmers. My grandfather was quite Spanish-looking. My grandmother was a small, compact woman who was very much the “Mexican Indian.” She was as dark as polished wood, with strong, sinewy muscles. She had held her large family together through war, alcoholism, gambling, and racism.

My father was born in the 1940s in Michigan, where his parents were living (Working) at the time. It’s quite possible that my grandfather was working in one of the steel foundries there, since his next move involved going to California to work in another steel foundry.

In terms of character, it’s quite hard to place my father. As I remember him, he was strong, smart, grumpy and extremely kind (He could usually keep his grumpiness to himself…), very close to nature.

He had grown up in an age of the “great melting pot”, where “immigrants” were expected to drop their culture and language, in preference of creating a unified, “American” culture. My father had grown up speaking Spanish in the home and outside of the home. It was forbidden (I believe) to speak it by my grand parents.

My father was the epitome of the “God-fearing American.” He honestly believed that America was the greatest nation in the history of the world, where fair play and family values took precedence over anything else. A place where all men were equal (Yes, men…), people worked hard, and to be anything else was patently un-American. He had very much of a love-it-or-leave-it attitude.

Tragically, his ideals failed to work out for him because he didn’t “look” American, even though he wasn’t an immigrant, nor the child of immigrants. America moved over HIS ancestors.

What does an American look like? In all of my travels over more than a decade, the answer is “White” or possibly “Black.”

My father grew up in an era where people would routinely be persecuted for the simple fact of being the “wrong” color, in the “wrong” place. I now suspect that the root of my father’s American Nationalism came from his early treatment by people who regarded him as a “foreigner”, purely on the basis of his skin color. It could even be possible that he faced “racism” at the hands of Mexican-born Latinos, for not being a “real” Mexican, as I had later on.

I believe this treatment engendered in him, his later anti-Immigrant sentiment. I can only suspect this, for I never got the chance to talk about this subject with my father before he died.

He believed that everyone in the US should speak only English, that people needed to melt in or go back, and he was especially hostile to illegal Mexican immigrants even though he spoke perfect Spanish himself. At the start of the Vietnam war, my father was quick to join the Air Force and be sent off to Vietnam, something that haunted him for the rest of his life.

My mother was born in California, to a Pomo mother, and I suspect a Pomo father. Very early on, she had been adopted. For the next 25 years, she would know that she was “different” (Being Native-looking) but not knowing her tribe, her past.

She told me that she had been adopted by a very kind Italian-American man and his a not-so-kind wife.

After her turbulent childhood, she had managed to track her mother down and learn about her Pomo ancestry, some of her background before being put into adoption and so on. Sadly, this never turned into a proper relationship because of my biological grandmother’s mental illness and hostility towards my mother.

Growing up with such a difficult past and perhaps even facing discrimination for her appearance (Big, “Indian” and “mean looking” would be a proper description I believe, much to the pleasure of my mother…), she naturally gravitated toward other Natives and sadly fell into the crowd where alcohol and drug use were commonplace. It’s a long subject, but take it on my word that Natives lack the ability to process alcohol properly, leading them to alcoholism more easily than other groups.

My mother had always taught me that “We” were the “real” Americans and even from an early age, it left a bad taste in my mouth. We spent much time (Whenever we were living in Oakland California) at the Intertribal Friendship House, a community center that helps to organize events for Native Americans in the Bay Area and helps to address social and medical issues that especially plague the Native population, such as alcoholism, abuse, homelessness and drug use.

Skipping ahead…

As a teenager, I had been turned off of “Choosing sides” by the rampant racism and nationalism and just pure stupidity I had seen, both within my family and outside.

I just wanted to be me: an artist, a person and someone who loved the natural world. Could I be called a “Native American or Pomo” artist? Had my tenuous connections to my tribe affected my art? Was my handcrafting genetic?

I had seen some of the amazing Pomo baskets and artifacts at the Oakland Museum and knew that probably, one of my relatives had made them, somewhere near Clear Lake or Santa Rosa, California.

Even at a young age, I had known. Did their patterns influence my art?

As a “Latino” or “Mexican American”, was I influenced by the ever-present Mexican culture in the Western States?

I didn”t even speak Spanish and wasn”t a “Real” Mexican, according to some classmates who WERE culturally “Mexican American.” At that point, I had resolved to drop these “racial” and “cultural” connections, to just be an “Artist”, without these kinds of add-ons.

It wasn’t shame that had led me to that point, but pure exasperation. I had been treated like a foreigner all of my life at that point so I didn’t much care about the “American” label. I also hadn’t been particularly involved with the “Mexican” part of my genetic heritage. The only culture I HAD been welcome into was the “Native” culture.

At various points I had been involved with social organizations of Natives, including the “Native American Youth Council,” through the Intertribal Friendship House.

No, I’ve never lived with other Pomos, crafted with them or learned “our” traditional ways. Am I a “Native American” artist? Or “Mexican American” artist? Or even an “American” artist?

It’s not for me to say. I will leave it to others. For now, I will just make art and be an “artist.”


For more scholarly research, please examine

Smoke Signals

Pomo Indians of California and Their Neighbors

From Indians to Chicanos: The Dynamics of Mexican-American Culture

Carving Cat: Mammoth Ivory Hair Comb for Sale

On offer is the first Art Comb I’ve made, from a rather unique material.

First, the design motif: I wanted to create a unique design style with organic flow, as my work would incorporate only so-called ‘organic’ materials and gemstones.

The center jewel is abalone. However, the most prominent material in this comb is mammoth ivory. The piece I carved comes from the bottom of the North Sea in the Netherlands.

Twelve thousand years ago the sea between what is now the Netherlands and England was a gigantic grassland. Many mammoth and other Ice Age animals lived and died there. Beachcombers and fishermen discovered them when they dredged the sea depths and accidentally pulled out the unusual, fantastic remains of mammoths and other animals.

This particular piece of mammoth ivory dates to around 60,000 years of age, judging by the material conditions and the hardness of the ivory. Using hand tools almost exclusively, I carefully crafted the comb in my ‘Atlantis’ design style, over 3 months of extended work.

Usable mammoth ivory from the North Sea is much scarcer than usable material from the more ‘common’ Siberian mammoth, perhaps on a scale of hundreds of kilograms of Siberian material per each usable kilogram of North Sea mammoth ivory.

Resting in the mineral-rich clays at the bottom of the North Sea, the North Sea mammoth ivory absorbs minerals and displays spectacular colors and patterns. This comb is unique in being the only finely carved Mammoth Ivory art comb on the market. There are some other, modern combs from China that, sadly, are crudely made.

I created this comb in my unique style, using an extremely rare piece of North Sea mammoth ivory, so I hope it will find a special place in the heart of whomever will own it.


Price: $500
Shipping: Free
I will be handling the entire transaction.
Serious Inquiries may be sent to

Lluís Masriera and Modernisme in Catalonia

Art Nouveau’s main ingredients were the Symbolists, who believed that art should reflect the truth indirectly as if in a dream; the flat perspective and strong colors of Japanese wood block prints; and Japanese organic forms and representations of nature.

Out came the curvilinear forms of Art Nouveau, which lasted only 20 years (1890-1910). In different countries, the movement had different names. Jugendstil in Germany, Stile Liberty in Italy, Arte Joven in Spain, and Modernisme in Catalonia.

The pioneer of Modernisme in Catalonia was Lluís Masriera.

In Geneva, he studied enamelwork with Frank-Édouard Lossier. On his second visit to Paris in 1900, he attended the Exposition Universelle and saw the jewels of Lalique. Lalique’s technical skills in plique-à-jour and basse-taille enameling, and the way his jewelry integrated engineering and design into a Symbolist idea, were an epiphany for Masriera.

Exposition Universelle de 1900, Paris. Les lampadaires du pont Alexandre-III et la rue des Nations.

Upon returning to Barcelona, he closed his shop, melted down all his stock, and started again. Opening a week before Christmas in 1901, the designs at Masriera Hermanos, 35 Carrer de Ferran, were ready. The shelves were empty within a week. Masriera became world famous.

He was even commissioned to make a tiara for Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain in 1906 as a wedding gift from the people of Catalonia.

It is called the tiara desaparecido, as no one knows where it is. The tiara was made of diamonds and pearls in a gold frame with multi-color plique-a-jour enamel. On the bottom are two fleurs-de-lys, symbolizing the House of Bourbon. Continuing the heraldic theme, a horse forcené is placed next to each fleur on the band. Between the band and the tiara’s top gallery is the flag of Catalonia.

Two Masriera hair comb masterpieces from 1902 are this blonde tortoiseshell, diamond, enamel and gold hair comb, with trees in cast and chased gold, set in an enamelled landscape,

and this comb at the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim, which also depicts a landscape scene. It is made of gold, tortoiseshell, diamonds, sapphires, and enamel.

Another comb from this period was shown at the Van Gogh Museum’s “Barcelona 1900” exhibit in Amsterdam, which ran from September 2007 to January 2008.

This pair of blonde tortoiseshell hair pins with sculpted gold and diamond decoration were attributed to Masriera, c. 1902. They sold for €1,500 in Barcelona, 2012.

Lluís Masriera made only two tiaras. In this one, c. 1901-1910, he used yellow gold and platinum, set with 513 old-cut diamond brilliants, which had an approximate total weight of 12,5 carats. The wings of the birds were decorated with plique-à-jour enamel and set with two important diamonds of approximately 1.20 carats each. The piece is in the possession of Aardewerk jewelers, with certificate of authenticity by Bagués-Masriera, and registered in the workshops book no 2 and under reference nr 1336.


For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library, this rare book, and these items:

MASRIERA Jewellery 200 Years of History

Masriera / Masriera Deco 2007 [Jewelry Catalog]

The Comb: Its History and Development

Paul and Henri Vever: Swan and Lily Comb

After winning a second Grand Prize at Paris’s International Exposition in 1900, the Maison Vever invited guest designers. The most famous was Eugène Samuel Grasset (1841–1917). He designed the “Swan and Lily Comb.” Paul (1851 – 1915) and Henri (1854 – 1942) Vever made it, c.1900.

Maison Vever, 1871, Rue de la Paix à Paris. Source:

On top of an ivory comb, a black swan and a white swan eat from a water lily. Their necks form a heart — eternal love. Swans were popular Art Nouveau motifs because their winding necks expressed Symbolist philosophy’s elongated style perfectly.

In this comb, the lake is made from painted enamel, showing the water’s subtle color blend from aqua-green to dark blue. A leaf in the water can be seen on the bottom left.

On the comb’s top frame are three leaves made of plique-a-jour enamel divided by gold veins. The leaves’ color variations correspond to those in the water. Notice the dark blue at the top of the center leaf and the dark blue at the bottom-center of the water.

To make the top frame into a semi-circle, there are two groups of water-lily buds in between the leaves. Dripped-gold frames the bottom Grasset’s design. The comb resides at the Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris.

Here is the comb in situ


For more scholarly research, please see our Resource Library and these books.

Art Nouveau Jewelry

Henri Vever: French Jewelry of the Nineteenth Century

Art Nouveau Jewelry (Christie’s Collectibles)

Turtles, Mystery, and Love


A bomb fell on his house: the terror that annihilates all you love in an instant. Fight or flight? The surviving father grabbed his infant son and fled into the forest. No war. No bombs. Instead, the order of the wild. Perhaps there, his mind would regain order, too, and his son would be safe.

And so it happened that both of them stayed there for 40 years.

They built a house, wore loincloth, ate well, and made simple tools. With scavenged shrapnel from a bomb like the one that destroyed his house, the father made a comb. What is extraordinary about it, is with only the memory of society and a future of complete isolation, the right side was carved into the head of a turtle.

The turtle plays a part in many Vietnamese legends. In one of them, a Vietnamese king offered a sacred turtle to Emperor Yao of China (2356-2255 BC). On its shell was written the history of the Earth and Sky since they were born. Emperor Yao had it copied and called it the Turtle Calendar.

This father made a comb out of war.


This unsigned cameo-glass French Art Nouveau hair comb is being auctioned on E-Bay.

I believe it is French, c. 1900, as the dealer says. English cameo glass is more well defined.

I like that the background was created to look like the brush strokes of an Impressionist painter. The painting behind the lady-slipper orchid depicts trees in a twilight sky, reflected in water. The “brush strokes” become larger when the artist “paints” the reflection.

But the orchid in the center is flat idea.

It doesn’t integrate with the background plot. Also it is a glass plaque simply hinged to a silver backing, nailed onto a horn comb. The hinges, or engineering, don’t play a part in the story. They are purely functional.

It’s not Lalique.

As you can see in his Raptor comb, the birds’ gold talons serve as hinges to the sapphires. Lalique combines engineering and Symbolism. (The comb sold for 92,000 euros on July 14, 2013, at the Brissonneau Auction House in Paris.)

Lalique’s famous Landscape Comb at the Gulbenkian was made of enameled glass encased in horn. The painting is the point of the comb, not the background.

Third, Lalique carved his orchids. I did not know where this comb resided, but the unmatchable Jen Cruse did. She commented, “Lalique’s orchid comb is in the Anderson collection at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. I have seen it and its wonderful! It measures approx.19cm (7 1/2 inches) in height. The description reads: ‘Orchid haircomb of gold, glass, horn and enamel; c.1902. The erotic overtones of the orchid made it a favourite motif of the Art Nouveau artists. The petals are formed of yellow and brown enamels with the name ‘Lalique’ stamped on one of them. The centre of this exotic flower is formed in cut glass with a cut diamond of trapezium shape.’ From Lalique: Jewellery and Glassware by Tony L Mortimer. Octopus Books Ltd 1989. ISBN 1 871307 64 3”

Gallé and Daum made lamps, furniture, and vases out of cameo glass, not jewelry in 1900. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) Also, all three artists always signed their work. This comb is unsigned.

So I’m going to take a guess. This might be an “after hours” comb made by an artisan in the Daum or Gallé workshops, who took a piece of leftover glass, and created a comb for the woman he loved. It is very well worn, as there are many scratch marks on the back of the glass. She wore it. She loved him, and he made her beautiful.


Alexander Calder made hair combs for his wife. She put them on the windowsill behind a houseplant. I can picture the room being a kitchen, where she could look at them and smile while making his favorite dish. Genius does not always have to be formally recognized. It can be personally recognized, loved intimately while looking at the hills outside your window.


For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and these books:

Art of Vietnam (Temporis Collection)

Nature Transformed: French Art Nouveau Horn Jewelry

Calder Jewelry

Jen Cruse: Mauchline Ware and Combs – Scottish Souvenirs of the 19th Century

Mauchline Ware is a distinctive form of Scottish decorative treen, said to have originated in the Ayrshire (now Strathclyde) town of Mauchline in the late 18th or early 19th century.

The wooden articles, generally known as Mauchline Ware, were made of Scottish planewood or sycamore (sometimes black lacquered) and were wide ranging in both design and purpose. The front surface was decorated with a painted or small transfer-printed view, portrait or building, and varnished over.

These objects were a popular form of tourist souvenir in the 19th century, and the images depicted covered the whole of the British Isles. Many small items and a large variety of boxes may be found with the characteristic vignettes, the commonest being tea caddies, snuff boxes and pill boxes, trinket boxes, stamp boxes, rouge boxes, needle cases and étuis.

In the early days, the pictures applied to the treen surfaces were either hand-painted or pen-worked. Around 1850, the application of transfer-printing was devised. By about 1860 photographic images became the preferred technique, thus producing more affordable pieces at a faster rate.

Through the 1800s, Mauchline Ware was made in such towns as Mauchline, Cumnock and Lanark and also in Laurencekirk, in the north of Scotland. By the second half of the 19th century, W&A Smith of Mauchline was one of the first companies to exploit the growing tourist industry by making, for export, souvenirs that related to cities, resorts and spa towns in Europe, North America and South Africa.

Although most types of Mauchline Ware are well documented, there is sparse mention of cased combs and an absence of references in the literature of the Mauchline Ware Collectors Club. The three cases illustrated here measure just over 4 ins (10.5 cm) in length and not quite 1 ins (2.2 cm) in width. The combs, original to each case, are made of ebonite (vulcanite or hard rubber).

The image on one of the cases is that of Old Tip Top house, Mt. Washington, N.H. – a known design. This house was built near the summit in 1853 but was eventually replaced by the New Tip Top House sometime in the 20th century.

Another case shows the quay at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. The image on the black lacquered case is that of Southwell Cathedral in Nottinghamshire, England.

Very few Mauchline Ware pieces were marked with makers’ names. It is likely, however, that the Mt. Washington example illustrated was made by the Smith factory in Mauchline and dates between 1885 and 1895, the peak period for the growth of tourism in New England.

At that time the Boston based distributor of Mauchline Ware was Charles Pollock, described as an “Importer of White Wood Fancy Goods,” no doubt the agent for W&A Smith. An entry in the Company’s ledger, dated 1888, lists combs among the Mauchline Ware products although specific details are not known. This particular item was bought at a small antiques market in London in 1999 for £20 (about $35) and is in excellent condition. Unfortunately the original retail price is unknown.


For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and these books:

Mauchline Ware – A Collector’s Guide

The Comb: Its History and Development

Lalique Tiaras: From God to a Rooster’s Breakfast

The setting of gems is profound meditation. How can a tiara or crown give its wearer the verisimilitude of God on Earth? Rene Lalique couldn’t care less. He transformed the appearance of jewelry with new themes.

Combining French Symbolist philosophy with ideas from Japanese art, he incorporated gem setting into raptors’ claws in this comb, made of horn, enamel, and sapphires. It sold for 92,500 euros on 6/14/2013 at Brissonneau Auction House, Paris;

rain, in the moonstone drops falling from blonde tortoiseshell buds in his famous Moonstone Tiara;

and tree-branch garlands. This tiara has leaves of green enamel with small diamond flowers, which are decorated with a mabe pearl garland. It sold at Christie’s for $112,561 on 6/17/2008.

However, being a keen ethologist, two of his pieces stand out as exemplary expressions of animal behavior.

“Head with Rooster Headdress” resides at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. It is made from silver, enamel, and alabaster, and minutely details the intricacy of rooster feathers. What makes this piece special to me is the ruby set in the rooster’s mouth. In real life, roosters eat red currants.

In Lalique’s dragonfly tiara, his golden insects have plique-a-jour enamel wings, but they are also behaving. When dragonflies fly at night, migrating or not, they fly toward the light. Lalique symbolized a light in the dark with an aquamarine.

Art Nouveau jewelry was not only art, engineering, Japonisme, and Symbolism. The gems set in tiaras, diadems, and combs went from symbolizing a wearer’s godlike status to accurately representing a rooster’s breakfast.


For more scholarly research please examine our Resource Library and these books:

The Jewels of Lalique

Rene Lalique at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Rene Lalique: Exceptional Jewellery, 1890-1912