The life and jewelry of Gustav Manz

Three years later he made an ostensorium for the lux­ury retailer Terheyden Company of Pittsburgh (Fig. 24), which was presented by the Reverend J. R. Cox of Pitts­burgh to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. Manz is shown with the vessel in a period photograph owned by family members, but he is not mentioned in an article about it clipped from an unidentified Pittsburgh publication in the family scrapbook. Another religious piece he evidently created was "a gold bust of a nun for Cartier, Inc., about 1941," as Jules Glaenzer acknowledged in a letter typewritten on Cartier letterhead to Doris East­man in 1948, a brief note that went on to state, "unfor­tunately we are not in a position [to locate it]."19

Manz and his wife (who was a suffragette and became editor of Leonia Life magazine) divorced in 1913, and he later married a woman known only as Bertha or Betty. His daughter Doris (a beauty whose portrait was on the cover of McCall's Magazine in November 1924) was his New York-based traveling salesperson for a few years in the 1920s and 1930s, a remarkable occupation for a woman at the time. After several address changes reflect­ing the gradual uptown progression of the New York jewelry and shopping districts, his workshop finally ended up in Manhattan's jewelry district today-the west forties. Between 1922 and 1934 he was listed succes­sively at 1 and 2 West Forty-seventh Street, before settling in 1936 at 42 West Forty-eighth (across from Rockefeller Center), where he remained until 1944.

Manz always seemed to at least cover his costs until the Great Depression struck and he became ill with cancer. In a letter dated March 13, 1939, a representative of F. Walter Lawrence wrote to Doris, who then lived in Ohio and had appar­ently requested work on her father's behalf: "Conditions in our business have been demoralized for the last three or four years, and it is a very difficult time to make contact with anybody. I think if Mr. Manz felt so in­clined he could probably get a job with one of the big manufacturers, but it would be a difficult change for him, as he has always been his own boss."20 Manz's health seems to have stabilized around 1940, but costs continued to rise beyond his reduced income. One day in 1944 he went into his shop and turned on the Bun­sen burner in an attempt to commit suicide. While he eventually recovered, he spent most of the brief remain­der of his life at the Frances Schervier Home and Hos­pital in Riverdale, New York,21 and died on February 16, 1946. His death notice in the New York Times does not mention that he was a jeweler, but merely states his dates of birth and death and names his surviving fam­ily members."22 He was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Westchester County.

Sensing his imminent lack of recognition, Doris East­man went on something of a campaign to document her father's achievements. Thanks to her efforts all those years ago, some fortunate circumstances, and the documentation and memories of the family, many details of his life and work have been preserved. In addition, his artistic legacy survives in the vast number of pieces that were dispersed around the world by scores of high-end retailers. Rather than being a marketable moniker, Gustav Manz is a figure through whom the history of jewelry production can be better understood, significant not only for his creations, but also for his role as a highly skilled, yet completely anonymous artisan who supplied the stocks of well-known retailers and designers.

I would like to thank Janet Zapata, Ulysses Grant Dietz, and Jeanne Solensky at the Winterthur Archives, as well as countless other people for their help with this article, particularly all Manz's won­derful, surviving descendants, who have been so generous with their memories.

During his peak years Manz supplied jewelers across the country and in London. For a table listing those who bought from him visit

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[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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