Riker Brothers Antique Dragon Brooch
The Riker Bros. of Newark readily took up the gauntlet in meeting the growing desire of the American public for jewelry which featured figurative themes. There had been an earlier surge of interest in 19th century Europe for Gothic and Renaissance tinged motifs with mythical creatures such as dragons and gargoyles as well as the Mannerist style of grotesques and chimeras being quite popular. The Beaux Arts School also incorporated many of these winged and imaginary creatures during its long span from 1885 to around 1930.
One of the more notable and identifiable motifs offered in a variety of sizes by the Riker Brothers is that of the dragon brooch. Their detailing, texturing and modeling was on the finest par with Tiffany and Neiman Marcus. Beautifully modeled from 14k yellow gold, the image is of a dragon and a sword. Producing two versions, this is the smaller size, yet otherwise identical to its larger cousin.
Constructed of an amalgam of different animals real and imaginary, the ancient beast is pictured with open jaws and ears projecting forward as a garnet cabochon eye focuses on the present situation. Massive wings detail individual feathers as a serpentine or reptilian body replete with scales flexes as the tail coils helplessly about the blade of the sword. The reverse reveals a curved prong, known as a chatelaine fixture for hanging a watch.
Please see page 112 in “The Glitter & The Gold: Fashioning America’s Jewelry” by Dietz et al. for several examples.
Date: Circa 1910.
Measurements: 1-1/4 inches (3.1 cm) in length by 1 inch (2.5 cm) in width. Weight of 4.9 grams (3.1 dwt).
Hallmarks: 14k; Riker mark.
Note: All gemstones and diamonds tested in our gemological laboratory. All metals are acid tested.
Historical Notes: In 1801 this small collection of Newark manufacturing firms launched the well known slogan “Made-in-America”. Dreamy and symbolic, American Art Nouveau style was perhaps personified by the artisans of the Newark network of jewelry design and manufacturing. One of the core members of this group was the Riker Brothers firm which greatly added to developing this city into the jewelry manufacturing capital of America. Having achieved a reputation for its griffon and dragon motif brooches, Riker Brothers offered these and similar adornments in a variety of sizes and manifestations. Their detailing, texturing and modeling was on par with the finest from Tiffany & Co. and Marcus & Co.
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