Artist Name

birth5/18/1865 in Stuttgart, GermanyPicture of Gustav Manz
death1946
parents?
education
awards

Gustav Manz was born on May 18, 1865 in Stuttgart, the capital of Württemberg in Germany. According to family lore he wanted to become a detective but was unable to do so because of his small stature. His second (and smart) choice was to become a jeweler. He apprenticed with a local jeweler but was restless in provincial Württemberg.

Having heard of an exposition in Paris he left for France and continued his studies there. After stays in England, South Africa, and back in Paris he finally emigrated to the United States in 1893. Rather than setting up shop he stayed true to form and first traveled to visit the Niagara Falls.

By 1900 he was married to Pforzheim-born Martha Bachem in what is reported to have been a "business arrangement" rather than a love match. Martha's family was also in the jewelery trade and business listings of the time show Manz in partnership with Bachem (who eventually left him for a Hungarian violinist.)

Manz's talent and craft soon saw him do work for the premier jewelery merchants of New York, including Tiffany, Cartier, Dreicer, Marcus & Co and Black Starr & Frost. By 1903 Manz was doing business for himself and in his own name, though the attributions of his works can prove challenging. Sometimes he was just named as the "maker" of a piece and a more famous jeweler as the "designer." A careful look at the designs will often indicate that significant design elements came from Manz. He was most famous for his intricate animal and botanical designs and was such a regular visitor to the Bronx Zoo that all the animal caretakers knew him well.

The Great Depression devastated his business and his mental state. He attempted suicide in 1944 but survived in poor health. Gustav Manz died in 1946 and was survived by his daughters Doris and Helen.

Thanks to Laura Mathews (one of Gustav Manz's great-granddaughters) who brought this sculptor to my attention and sent me great information to get me started.

You can click on the medals to see the reverse.

French Bull Dog Club of America Award Medalca. 1905
GM-FBDCA
Bronze

The obverse bears frontal bust of French bull dog in center field. Around, ★ FRENCH BULL DOG CLUB ★ / OF AMERICA. Signed within center field at lower right, MANZ

The first show of the FBDCA was held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on February 12, 1898. An image of the medal is also incorporated in the cover design for The French Bull Dog, an illustrated monthly for Gilded Age devotees of the breed that ran from 1913 and 1914. An early medal from this series was donated to the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, NY, by Joy Van Norden, daughter-in-law of Warner Montagnie Van Norden, who raised prizewinning Frenchies.

The original image of the medal came from the Jay Heritage Center Archives.

  • Jean D Arc

    Jean D'Arc (1904)

    A piece that was probably exhibited at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. According to entry forms submitted by Lawrence, his display—one of the largest at the fair—included an opal matrix brooch labeled "Jean D'Arc" executed by Manz. Like most items for this and other arts and crafts exhibits, the gold surrounding the gem was entirely hand-wrought. Lawrence took design credit, although Manz's output as a designing jeweler suggests he probably collaborated there as well.

Contact me if you have links that might merit inclusion on this page.

Books & Articles

Determined to Give a Craftsman His Due
An article about Manz in the New York Times' Arts & Antiques section of September 27, 2012.

Research Archives and Websites

The Life and Jewlery of Gustav Manz by Courtney Bowers
A very nice biographical article by Courtney Bowers in Antiques with additional sources listed.
gustavmanz.com by descendents of Gustav Manz
A website with lots of pictures of his works and replicas offered for sale.
gustavmanz.blogspot.com by descendents of Gustav Manz
A blog with updates about Gustav Manz's works, shows, etc.

Museums

Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum owns a gold dragonfly alights on swirled glass atop a tortoiseshell comb.
Newark Museum
The Newark Museum owns a gold vine Manz necklace with a teardrop opal pendant.
Winterthur Museum
A museum in Delaware holding Manz's archive.