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I'm a communications specialist with a passion for vintage and I run an online vintage business called Vintage Baubles & Bits.

I consider myself a saver of beautiful items from the past and a repurposer of treasures!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Whiting & Davis - A Brand History

I absolutely adore Whiting & Davis. A.D.O.R.E. it! I first learned about this brand when I started my vintage purse collection. Whiting & Davis is very well known for creating metal and mesh purses. Of which I now have several. So much to my pleasant surprise I found out that they made really high-end costume jewelry too. The pieces I've seen that I love the most tend to be their cameos. I've had several pairs of Whiting and Davis clip cameo earrings come through my shop and just this past week I was lucky enough to be top bidder on a table of jewelry at an auction. I had combed through the boxes of lot jewelry and noticed that one of the boxes of miscellaneous jewelry actually had several vintage compacts and a nice box, which, just so happened to contain a gorgeous Whiting & Davis Cameo set! Pendant and clip earrings were both so pretty! They were worth the price of the whole box!

Whiting & Davis was based in Plainville, MA and started producing mesh chain purses in the late 1800s. They're also one of the oldest costume jewelers in the country as well. Research I've done (www.vintagecostumejewels.com) indicates that the company was started as a chain making firm owned by William Wade and Edward Davis. Then in 1907 C.W. Whiting became a partner and the company created a machine that allowed them to produce what they became most popular for, mesh purses or bags.

In addition to the bags they're most well known in the costume jewelry world for their cameos, both glass and hand painted porcelain. What makes some of their cameos so beautiful is the use of iridescent glass. Cutting the cameo heads out of this material gives them a shimmer and glow that is irresistible! They hit a real popularity in the 1950s when the introduced a reproduction line that created cameos and other jewelry sets that looked like museum pieces.

They're also know for being more inventive in the coloring of the glass and cameo settings. They created a line of "Topaz Glass" where they put a cream colored iridescent glass over a black glass background to create a brown, topaz-like color.They also created cameos that look red, pink or purple depending on the lighting by using frosted glass against a black glass background.

Whiting & Davis is still in business today - but only in their purse line. They stopped production of their costume jewelry in 1991. By the general rule of thumb, to be "vintage" an item must be at least 20 years old - so all pieces of Whiting & Davis Jewelry are now officially vintage, as of this year.

This brand is one I personally would spend money on. I trust the quality of the materials that Whiting & Davis used and I love the craftsmanship. Depending on the age of the piece is where you'll see different price points. For sets that are from the 1950s-1960s I'd easily price those, depending on quality at $50-150, with the high-end pricing for a set that included a bracelet or earrings, necklace and brooch, or for pieces that date in the 1920s-40s. If you find these at an estate sale, auction, flea market or antique shop add them to your shopping list!

4 comments:

  1. ThanX for the fascinating bit of history on this company. I'm 54 and find it amazing that just in my lifetime the 'costume' pieces that my mother turned her nose up to, calling them junk "jewelry" its funny but many of them are collectors items. Same thing with the carnival glass we'd get as toy souvenirs down Revere Beach. I was always mesmerized by the colored glass, especially the iridescence. She'd laugh at me. Guess I got the last laugh! Keep up the good work! Debi

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    1. Thanks Debi! I agree, you never know what's going to be a collector's item down the road! The ironic thing I find is that this was "junk" in the 1950s, but still holds up better and is of higher quality than almost all the costume jewelry on the market today!

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  2. I wish I knew what the set you have pictured is worth. I have the three piece set and several people have asked to buy it. I have no idea what it sold for new so I don't know what to tell them about price. I is a beautiful set!

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    1. Diane - I would probably ask $125-150 for a three piece set. I assume you mean earrings, bracelet and a necklace correct?

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