Modern 2.0
Jakob Bengel Art Deco Chrome and Galalith Necklace

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Directory: Estate Jewelry: Costume: Bakelite: Pre 1940: item # 1111070

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Modern 2.0
421 West Church Street, Apt 508
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
(904) 612-1851

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Jakob Bengel Art Deco Chrome and Galalith Necklace

Offered is an Art Deco chrome, butterscotch and red Galalith necklace by Jakob Bengel, from the 1930s. Necklace length: 16 ½ inches Center Pendant: width 8 inches, drop 1 ¼ inch. Excellent vintage condition without any damage noted. History: With the cool elegance and singular, precise grace of a Bengel necklace, the modern 1930s woman drew all attention to herself. The still fashionable and appealing combination of geometric Galalith or Bakelite or Glass forms and refined metal were intended to remind one of the modern comforts that had arrived with the new developments in manufacturing. The missing luster of gold or platinum was eclipsed by the color and brilliance of the new materials used. These elements, new to the jewelry industry, not only compensated for the missing metallic gleam but actually excelled it through their wonderful contrast to the chrome of the chains. Bengel was a pioneer of modern jewelry and developed its own independent elegance. That the firm never mass-produced or exported in numbers is naturally alluring to collectors. Pieces are often unique or parts of sample collections whose production numbers were very low. Attempts at mass-production failed for three reasons; firstly the designs were too modern to appeal to a large market; secondly, the lack of materials required; and finally, the Third Reich’s political isolation. Added to these problems was the expensive price which was mostly due to the fact that the products were not cheap mass-productions, but handmade. The intricate work meant that skilled Bengel workers required three or four days to create a new piece. This of course led to a rise in the price of the unique jewelry. The cost of one of the pieces was in the range of a month’s wages for a high ranking civil servant. The question of who was behind the creative designs is also of interest. The two greatest sources of inspiration were the brilliant Bauhaus jewelry designer Naum Slutzky, and the notable french jewelry designers from the "Union des Artistes Modernes" group. This association was formed in 1929 with the Avant-garde artists Jean Fouquet, Gerard Sandoz, Jean Puiforcat and Raymond Templier among its first members. The identification of the never signed Bengel jewelry is helped by the partly preserved sample books. The comparison of forms with the models and chain elements allows a precise identification of authentic Bengel works. Recent auction results allow one to expect large increases of value from Bengel jewelry.

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