Costume Jewelry Collectors Int’l Presents
Researching Costume Jewelry
by creator and author Dotty Stringfield
McClelland Barclay Jewelry Signatures by Patricia Gostick, © 2006
||Most of the books that I have read, indicated that the full McClelland Barclay signature would be found on his jewelry, to distinguish it from the pieces made by Barclay, another costume jewelry company. This expectation of a full name has led me to make some errors and some lucky finds – to miss pieces by him and to discover a few. Initially, I only searched for “McClelland Barclay” jewelry on eBay, Ruby Lane and various websites, until I gradually realized that there were four possibilities:
1. full two name signature
2.. only the surname “Barclay”
3. partial signatures
4. no marks
The vast majority of McClelland Barclay jewelry falls into the first category, but there are pieces in each of the other categories, as well.
|An example of jewelry in the second category is the “Wings” series, shown in the September 1941 Mademoiselle magazine with the heading: “Fashion Takes to Wings designed by McClelland Barclay.” The ad itself states, in part, “Barclay’s newest creations- wings of gold and silver plate- reach a new high in jewelry designed exclusively for Rice-Weiner.” The ad goes on to list sizes and colour combinations, with the most expensive being $3.00! The Mademoiselle ad and a photo of a “Wings” brooch are shown on pages 62 and 63 of the 2002 book, A TRIBUTE TO AMERICA: COSTUME JEWELRY 1935-1950 by Carla and Roberto Brunialti. The brooch is only signed “Barclay” followed by the copyright symbol, although my own version does not have the copyright symbol. I have seen other metal with rhinestone Retro Moderne pieces on eBay simply marked “Barclay”, and there is a necklace of this type shown on page 171 of A TRIBUTE TO AMERICA.
|I was able to buy my “Wings” brooch on eBay without the price going sky high, because it was listed as a “Barclay” piece, and “Barclay” pieces are not nearly as collectible or expensive as “McClelland Barclay” jewelry. On the other hand, I hesitated too long when the matching “Wings” earrings were offered on a website. There was no photo of the signature, and the earrings were listed as “Barclay”. By the time I realized that they were, in fact, his rare “Wings” earrings and decided to purchase them, they were already sold. Had I seen a picture of the signature, I would have known immediately who had made the earrings, because I have discovered that McClelland’s signature is printed, and the Barclay Company signature is generally in script, although I have also seen it in block letters. However, when an online photo is not sharp or clear, I focus on the letter “a” in the word “Barclay”. The “a” in McClelland Barclay’s last name is like a keyboard “a,” such as all the letter a’s on this page, whereas the “a” in “Barclay” (not McClelland Barclay) jewelry is a cursive or handwritten “a”. I find this helpful when looking at “Barclay” jewelry offered for sale online, as pieces are sometimes listed incorrectly. If there is no photo of the signature, and you are not sure whether a piece is by McClelland Barclay or not, ask to see a close-up picture of the signature, and this will enable you to determine the maker.
||The third category of signatures contains partial stampings. Here are some of the partial signatures that I have seen: “Clelland Barclay” appears on a pair of Art Deco style earrings, presumably for reasons of space. There is also another group of sterling vermeil leaves and flowers items that I never thought to be typical of McClelland’s work, which all have partial stampings: “nd Barclay” on the necklace or “cClelland B” on my second example of the same necklace; “lelland Ba” appears on the matching brooch, “Barclay” preceded by half of the letter “d” on another brooch, and “McClelland B” on the earrings. Finally, there is another atypical group of sterling vermeil flowers with coloured rhinestones: the necklace and the matching bracelet are both marked “dBarclay.” (There is a separate plaque on each of these pieces which says “STERLING”.)
Page 2: McClelland Barclay
|I would like to suggest that the partial signatures on these sterling vermeil items are not accidental. I suggest this for two reasons: firstly, there is enough room on all of these pieces, except the earrings, perhaps, to have a full signature, so space was not an issue; secondly, the sterling vermeil group has name plaques on the back, rather than an impressed signature, which is a departure from most of McClelland’s sterling silver jewelry, but even the two other sterling pieces with plaques that I have seen- the sterling vermeil “Carmen Miranda” brooch and the sterling wishing well brooch- contain the full McClelland Barclay signature. So, why are there only partial signatures on the atypical sterling vermeil sets? Were they McClelland Barclay designs or someone else’s? In their first book, American costume jewellery:1935-1950, the Brunialtis state that McClelland sent designs to the Rice-Weiner Company in 1942-1943 while he was on active duty, and these were executed in sterling silver (p. 246). The authors date the “Mexican Head” brooch to this period, and I note that it only has the partial signature “dBarclay”. Perhaps all the sterling pieces from 1942-1943 were marked with partial stampings to distinguish them from the early sterling pieces that appeared in 1938, or was there another reason?
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