When I first started this series, I really wasn't sure if I would be able to decide one way or the other whether or not all pieces of Sherman jewelry were permanently stamped. Up until recently, I was on the bandwagon of "Every piece was signed, no matter what!!" After giving it a lot of thought and examining my own collection, I'm ready to stick my neck out and put my own opinion in writing.
If you read the first post on this topic, I photographed a delicate Sherman paper hang tag that was attached to some of their jewelry after it was manufactured. If all pieces were already permanently signed, why would these tags be necessary at all? We all know they exist even though it would have been redundant to attach them to signed pieces. However, they would have been ideal to identify jewelry that was either unsigned or where permanent signatures were not a practical option due to design.
In Post II, I examined two unusual identical brooches (with the exception of color), one signed, the other with no signature and in Post III, I showed that Sherman jewelry was produced using a combination of inconsistent permanent signing methods.
As collectors, we now have the benefit of "20/20 hindsight" fully aware of how critical that permanent signature is when buying or selling Sherman jewelry. Over time, it is expected that matched sets get separated, hang tags get discarded, pieces get broken or misplaced, display cases disappear etc.
It is highly unlikely that anyone during the 40's, 50's or 60's could have foreseen that "second hand" costume jewelry would be sold over and over at exceptionally high prices and need to be positively identified each and every time, especially 50 years later. Back then, they would have anticipated establishing authenticity once for what they would have expected to be the only time. Being sold only at high-end department stores and by reputable independent jewelers would have provided even further proof of authenticity to the original purchaser.
It is my personal belief that all Sherman jewelry left the factory with one or any combination of the following:
1. Embossed signature on the piece itself;
2. Signature plate securely soldered on the item;
3. Attached threaded signed paper tag; or
4. Presentation in the "Jewels of Elegance" metal or cardboard storage case with matching signed pieces.
In the book "All that Glitters" which is a reference and value guide for Jewels of Elegance by Sherman, Valerie Hammond states that she was assured by members of the Sherman family that no "Unsigned" jewelry was produced by Sherman at any time.
If you stop and think about it though, all you have to do is change the word "Unsigned" to "Unidentified", and suddenly it all makes perfect sense.
I hope you will weigh in by leaving your own comments on this topic for others to ponder. Believe me, I can take the criticism!!!