Monday, September 15, 2008

UnSigned Sherman FACT or FICTION? Conclusion

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!!!


woztiques said...

Hi Deb
Like you I believe that there were many unsigned pieces of Sherman. An elderly lady that collects Sherman locally and whom i have sold for has a sister that worked with Gustav Sherman and shes said many times that all sets were boxed togther and usually only 2 -3 pieces of a 4 piece set were signed while others may have a hang tag. Over the years sets were broken up so im sure that there are many unsigned pieces out there. Will be interesting to see what everyone else thinks
Pam- Alberta Canada

Deb said...

Hi Pam, thanks again for your comment which backs up my own conclusions about unsigned Sherman jewelry.

Fingers crossed some others weigh in on this hot topic.


jeweledrabbit said...

Hi Deb,

I know for a fact not all Sherman pieces were signed.

My mother worked for him in the early 60s and I'm in the possession of a demi-parure set (necklace and earrings) he gifted her with. Only the necklace is signed.

Deb said...

Thank you so much for your post. You are the second one to post to my blog who knows a former employee who has confirmed that not all pieces were signed.

I'm so glad collectors and people "in the know" are speaking up and getting the correct info out here for everyone.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment on my post,


By the way, I bet that demi parure is amazing!!

Anonymous said...

I'm an afficionado of Sherman, having only been fortunate enough to own some earrings and a ''bead'' set. However, I found a necklace with the most amazing AB stones, and an extension chain with the large rings between every 3rd or 4th rhinestone. It was so well made I knew there was probably a ''name'' attached, but it wasn't until I started looking by designer for matches that I found the identical necklace in 2 other colors - both marked Sherman. Mine is not signed, but I'm convinced it was made by Sherman. For whatever it's worth.
Benji - The Gilded Cage

jeweledrabbit said...

My demi-parure most definitely is amazing. If you care to take a look at it you'll find a pic of it here:

Deb said...

Hi Benji, thank you for contributing to our discussion on signed versus unsigned Sherman jewelry. Your comment further proves our position on this. Thanks again for sharing,


Hi Jeweledrabbit, I checked out the Sherman set that was a gift to your mom.. BREATHTAKING!!! Absolutely beautiful and so unique! Thanks for sharing,


PLMAL said...

Hi Deb, I am so glad you wrote this blog. I am a firm believer that there is a lot of unsigned Sherman out there. Anyone who says there is not is just plain wrong in my eyes. I have been in the antique and collectible jewelry business for 14 years; sell on ebay; at antique shows; and in an antique mall in Alberta. People know me for my jewelry, and I have owned litereally HUNDREDS of pieces of Sherman jewelry over the years. When I buy a 5 piece parure and only 3 pieces are marked, and they are clearly a set, it leaves me no worry at all that all pieces are Sherman. I have bought an incredible parure where the huge bib necklace that was not signed, but the earrings and the bracelet were signed. They were all in the orignal box. I have seen an unsigned two-tiered fuchsia rigid cuff bracelet, which was clearly Sherman only. One can easily spot Sherman quality and findings and design. I have been in this debate many times with other Sherman collectors and dealers, and I believe firmly that there are unsigned pieces for just the same reasons that you stated. Thanks for taking the time to publish this information.
Paula Malmstrom in Calgary, AB

Deb said...

Hi Paula, thank you for taking the time to read my post regarding the ongoing debate of unsigned Sherman jewelry. In my opinion (and many others I'm finding out), there just isn't any other sensible conclusion, Unsigned Sherman jewelry is a fact. Thanks again for commenting.



Hi Deb

Well I finally got over here to see what everyone had posted to the questions I'd raised in my blog on the same subject a while back and now I'm more than convinced, despite the comment Valerie Hammond herself left in my blog, that there are indeed "unsigned" or as you put it so perfectly "unidentified" Shermans out there. What perhaps has convinced me the most is the comment by "jeweledrabbit" that Sherman himself gifted her mom with one of his creations, and it was unsigned. What more proof do we need for heaven's sake. Now I can feel a lot more comfortable about selling the one or two Shermans I have that are unsigned. For me this issue is now CLOSED! Thanks to your friend at JewelCollect for sending others over here to add to this discussion.

Any progress on your shop approval yet?

Deb said...

Hi Viga, thanks for weighing in on this discussion. I'm with you, this debate is now over. Unsigned or Unidentified Sherman jewelry exists absolutely no doubt in my mind. To date there has not been any comment from the other side so "Case Closed".

Thanks again for taking the time to read the posts and comments.


Anonymous said...

Here it is in a nutshell: I know Valerie Hammond personally and too was right on the bandwagon of , "Unsigned Shermans' never left the factory,ever!"

Complete turn around! I was lucky enough to purchase an Apple green Sherman brooch & earrings as a set. The brooch is signed, the earrings are not.

Here's the kicker: when I placed both the brooch(signed) and the earrings (unsigned) under my UV light...they all glowed!!! Indicating that I had indeed a "RARE" Sherman item!

It does not make sense to me that another manufacturer ,other than Sherman himself, would go through the expense and trouble of adding the uranium crystals to their product in order to "properly forge" it.

Think about it, is it even remotely feasible that people were checking "Sherman' with UV Light, back in the day?

I doubt it.

I so sold onthe fact that "unsigned Sherman" did leave the factory and until anyone can give me concrete evidence as to "Why Not", then this case is CLOSED!

This case is closed for me - YES! there are unsigned pieces out their, the ones that left the factory without being stamped yet, bearing the little paper "Sherman" tags that have long since been thrown away.

I think we've all been duped by "all that Glitters!"

Happy hunting Ladies :)

Anonymous said...

The REAL QUESTION for you is this;

When are YOU gonna write the book on Sherman!?!

It'd be so great and you could "stir the pot" and get everyone to really use their heads on this "Signed versus Unsigned" topic.

Deb said...

Hi Michel, thank you so much for contributing to this ongoing and sometimes "hot" debate. I'm with you. Case closed, there ARE Sherman pieces out there that are now UNIDENTIFIED having been removed from their original Jewels of Elegance Case or having had their SHERMAN paper tag discarded decades ago.

I appreciate all the work and interviews Valerie Hammond did in her book, however, I do not agree with her sources that all Sherman jewelry was "permanently" signed. "Identified" at the time of original sale "yes" but not always with a PERMANENT signature.

As far as having a book in me, just keeping up with this blog is enough LOL!!!!!

If you would like to read more about it, do a search for the "Sherman Jewelry Blog". There is an entire debate going on there right now you may wish to contribute to including several posts from Valerie herself.

Thank you again for posting,


Ken said...

I recently purchased a Sherman - Necklace and earrings in the original Sherman Box from an elderly woman who received the pieces new as a gift in "her earlier years". I was reluctant to purchase the set because although the earrings were singed Sherman, the necklace was not. She told me there was a stringed tag on the necklace originally and she kept in the box for many years but some where along the way it must been discarded. The set is indentical to each other and in the original Sherman Box - purchased from the original owner, I have no doubt that the unsigned necklace is Sherman.

Phil Morris said...

Got the paperback "All That Glitters"in the mail. Have been buying a lot of the jewels for my sister and I ordered this book. The photos are accurate. So without reading what she had to say I know good photos and I am impeccable in what I order and what I collect. There are 65 pages of brooches with 2 per page. Anyone who collects know that bracelets are the piece that is most in demand and popular. So there are only 11 bracelets shown in the whole book. THAT ALONE MAKES THE BOOK WORTHLESS. Also the bracelets shown are just various rows of stones, nothing rare or unusual. Such a huge disappointment. Rediculous. Book is definitely not worth getting in that it really gives you no more info than ebay. What it gives you is a few good pics. Even the necklaces were rather the plain ones, and not too many of them either. Such a disappointment. Phil Morris

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