Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why I Like Shopping at B'Sue's Boutiques

By Joseff of Hollywood

 Maybe it all started when I was a kid. . .I mean, most of us would have to believe out predilections and habits and hobbies came out of what we did as children, wouldn't you agree?

Me, old enough to know better; young enough not to care.

I grew up in a very middle class family with a father who was a machinist and a mother who was a stay at home wife and mother. This was long before domestic engineers were all the rage. I grew up wearing hand me downs,learning to bake and cook--even if it was to earn a Girl Scout Badge, learning how to embroider, crochet and work with water color and oils, learning how to design our own patterns and sew our own clothes and learning how to string beads. Saying we did not have much money would have been an understatement. To make ends meet, my father indulged in his hobby--restoring Model A and Model T roadsters. And, to this end, we would end up at swap meets driving the most hideous yellow and green double can truck with a huge utility bed on the back piled high with "valuable merchandise." From Turlock to Harrah's Swap Meet in Nevada, we would go early in the morning, myself napping most of the way over, have breakfast that was packed in the car and then awake to slow activity of old friends our family had made over the years and new friends that we would see for years.

When I was old enough to explore alone, I was able to try on clothes from the 1920's and look at the china and the jewelry. I had my saved up allowance with me for the first time and I bought a bag of sparkling jewelry --broken bits and pieces--for 1.00.  I swear, I must have been a bird in a past life--I love shiny things so much. It was bits, but my dolls would be beautiful. My mother ,less than enthusiastic , pronounced it dirty and ordered me to take it back to the place from which it had come and of course, get my dollar back. So, good kid that I was, I took it back. But I held it in my heart. It is there still.

I opened my first online venue in 2007. A year before the housing market took a dump. When vintage was still at a premium and good stuff was still out there to be found. One of the things I always loved was finding pieces that matched what was in the books written by the experts. It was like stamp collecting where you found the stamp that was on the page that you needed after buying that yellow envelope of stamps. Except these were not all from Helsinki or Italia as those stamps seemed to be.

Loving Miriam Haskell jewelry, as I do,I went on a search for cage work components. And that is how I became acquainted  B'Sue.  From her ebay store to her online venue, I knew there was something special something different . It didn't take long to realize that some of the same stampings she was selling were identical to some of the jewelry used by established designers. When she says that they are from vintage tool dies, she is right on.

So, I wanted to share with you some of what she has sold in the past and what she is selling now. If she has it now, there will be a link to the item. The piece that is pictured at the top of the blog is by Joseff of Hollywood. Joseff designed for many films in Hollywood. The started in 1935, so they produced jewelry for movies such as Gone with the Wind and Breakfast at Tiffany's. The center plaque of that piece was sold by B'Sue's for quite a few years.

Grape Leaves and Vines

Another Joseff of Hollywood piece uses the grapevine frame many of us have used. It can be found right here .

Sold as singles on the main site and sometimes as multiples on the Etsy site.
This is another Joseff of Hollywood Piece

 Birds I

Another piece that was just online at B'Sue's is the birds with arms over the flowers. The dress clips, also brass,were designed by Fred Razazadeh and are a book piece.
They are identical except for the hardware on the back.  I have shown both the front and the back so you can make comparisons.


 The deer stamping, which can be found online here , is found in the sister store on Etsy.

As you can tell, the pieces are again, identical.

 The next brooch is a sterling silver piece by Lang Silver.  It is vintage.


Another popular piece that can be found on the site is the porthole bezel. This is a piece I like to use a lot. I found this one stylized into a scarf clip. It has been modified to have a wave in the disc itself but the pattern is the same as is the size. You can find this piece here .

This is the back of the clip and as you can see, it has been broken off

This is the piece on the website

Birds II

One of the things most collectors want in their collections are the Corocraft Duettes swallows. I believe that the body design is the same on one of the stampings. The head has been altered a bit. That is not unusual for designers.The link for the bird is here . I also have a page that talks about Coro and Corocraft.  You can follow the link here .

Here are the pictures:
The back of the piece showing the clip that fits into the setting so you can wear as a pair

The front

B'Sue's piece. . . Notice how the head is straight but everything else down to the attention in the tail is similar

Laurel Burch Piece

A prolific artisan of everything from jewelry to bags to masks in the 1980;s was Laurel Burch.  B'Sue Bird stamping is an exact match to her 1976 piece called Soaring Birds.

You  can find the stamping here .


Finally, one of my favorite stampings that I actually used in the Build A Line Challenge class, which, if you EVER get the chance, get into it and you will soar. . . the right and left facing monkeys.  Now , I have to tell you that this artist D. (for Daniel or Danny Pollak) is a Canadian artist who has been making jewelry out of Toronto for the past 30 years.  Only part of the stamping is used.  You will want to look closely, to create whimsy on this monkey kind.  My using the stamp and other pieces, he creates something new.  He reminds me of our own Harry Wood at Oscar Crow.  You can find Harry's shop here .

Harry sometimes uses the metal stamping to create new creates, like his bunny Marie Antoinette, or when he uses the heads from German bisque animals a top the bodies of German bisque people forms.  Fascinating and fresh!

Back to Daniel Pollak.  B'Sue carried this stamping.

 In the build a line challenge, I used it this way:

I call this Saint Simian because the top piece I used as a connector makes monkey look like he's wearing a halo!

Danny Pollak used it this way:

Picture by Sandy Campbell

Picture by Sandy Campbell

You can read more about D. Pollak here .


I have one final stamping to show you.  The butterfly.

This stamping is identical and beautiful and one of many different butterflies found at B'Sue's.  The piece on the right or at the top, is not Japan, China or Western German, but it is the same exact stamping that probably cam out in the 1960's.  You can find it here .

An Addendum: The Geisha Girl Heart

As I posted, one of the gals in the B'Sue Creative Group, Mary Reckmeyer, sent me a copy of of a beautiful stamping that she bought from B'Sue's that was an exact copy of a pin that she got from thrift store shopping (one of my favorite past times). You can find the link
here .

Photo Credit: Mary Reckmeyer

And that's about it for right now.  Sorry this was so long, but I had a lot to share.  I am one of those people who will use the stampings in my jewelry but also collect them.  I love history, and costume jewelry has a history of its own that links it to American in a way that nothing else quite can.  It reflects our culture and social and political landscape.  It reflects how women were perceived and how they wanted to be perceived.And it reflects metal shortages and how even through wars we kept the jewelry and ideas alive.  Little pieces of precious art.  Our heritage.


  1. Replies
    1. Just for a lark! Thought it would be fun to show the matches. I'm a geek girl like that! Thank you for replying!

  2. I enjoyed your blog very much. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for helping with the geisha heart, Mary!

  3. Enjoyed reading this and you sharing memories. Thanks Mary Katherine. Definitely a great read.

    1. It was a fun write! Thank you for taking the time to read it, Irene!

  4. Dear Mary Katherine! We are SUCH birds of a feather.....I had such a similar upbringing except for the swap meet part. Those I discovered on my own, much later. But I have a deep love for the old pieces and I THRILL when I find a piece that uses a piece I currently sell or have sold. We used to have the RGP finish that was so much like Haskell you had to hold it side by side w originals and looke really close. Unfortunately we can't get that finish made anymore til I can find someone who can do a consistent batch. Artisan batches can vary too much one way or another. BUT ANYWAY....thanks for a great read and I loved to hear about all of it. I sold my first piece of vintage jewelry back in the late 80's and oh man. I WAS SOOOOOOO HOOKED! Always will be. XOXO B'sue

    1. My first sale was when I was eight. Dad used to buy auctions when we were young and bring home all kinds of stuff we unloaded from his huge truck. I was given a set of books about animals who were talking and never liked them. We went to a swap meet locally on Sunday morning, personal time just me and my dad, and there was a book buyer there. I remember dad told me that this man bought books and he told me to ask 150.00 for the series. My little mind could not comprehend that. They were awful books. My spunky mouth told him the price when he asked, and as he opened up his wallet and gave me the money, I experienced that thrill. Got to keep the bucks, too. Thank you for reading the blog piece. Much appreciated.

  5. Mary Katherine what a great blog piece. So informative!!

  6. I love using pieces rich with history! Well done!

    1. I love history, too. There are a group of us out there who know the younguns have got to be edumacated about this before it dies out with us. And there are an army of the willing! Thanks for the reply, Renee.

  7. Love the then and now photos. Good information thanks for sharing

    1. This was a joy to put together, Gloria! Thank you for stopping by and sharing!

  8. How fun! I have a single Laura Burke bird earring. One of my best friends gave it to me ages ago to make something with. I didn't recognize it upside down until you showed it. lol Thanks for sharing!

    1. I recently found a single Laurel Burch earring of a girl hugging a horse that is in the shape of a heart. I am thinking focal for a charm heart bracelet.

  9. Thank you sooo much for your post and the Pictures, so interesting and informative. Thank you for sharing, ianke

    1. Ianke! Thank you for coming and reading my blog!

  10. I love your pieces from last year. Looking forward to seeing your tree themed pieces. I' too, am greatly inspired by nature

  11. I love your pieces from last year. Looking forward to seeing your tree themed pieces. I' too, am greatly inspired by nature