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RESEARCHING COSTUME JEWELRY
originally created and published by Dotty Stringfield on IllusionJewels.com
HARRY ISKIN JEWELRY
Written by Carolyn Davis
© 1997 to present
Harry Iskin was born in London, England on September 30, 1886. His parents were both born in Russia. He immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1908 at the age of 22. He married his wife Leah in 1911. She and her mother were both born in Pennsylvania, her father was British.
In 1917, Harry registered for the World War I draft. He lived in Philadelphia and listed his occupation as a jewelry engraver. His first child, Evelyn, was 4 years-old. The draft card listed his physique as “slender, medium build, gray eyes, and brown hair.” In 1920, his second daughter Pauline was born. In 1930 his occupation was a manufacturer of wholesale jewelry.
In 1936 he moved to more spacious quarters in Philadelphia to accommodate his growing business. In 1938 he rented additional “business quarters” on the west side of Manhattan (NYC) as Iskin Manufacturing Company. The December 28, 1953 issue of The New York Times classifieds listed an auction notice. It was for a “Receiver’s Sale in Bankruptcy in the matter of Iskin Manufacturing, Company, Inc. All stock, supplies, machinery, and equipment were auctioned on the company’s premises in Philadelphia on January 6, 1954.
Mr. Iskin’s last address was in Montgomery, Pennsylvania where he died at age 82 in April, 1968. In summary, Mr. Iskin’s jewelry talents were employed as early as 1917 and he was a jewelry manufacturer for at least 23 years, from 1930 through 1953. He was based in Philadelphia, with an additional location in New York for a time.
Most of the Iskin jewelry available is gold filled, sterling, or vermeil. Yellow gold was used on the entirety of a piece, with rose gold used as a contrasting accent. A common brooch theme is a floral design, with limited use of glass stones, embellished with any or all of the following: bars or pleats, curlicues, ribbons, and leaves. Some designs are more simple and dainty, while others are more ornate. The brooches range in size from one to four inches in height. He also made link bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. Stone colors seem to cover the rainbow and include topaz, pink, red, lime, green, shades of blue, purple. Pearls were also used.
More rare are rhinestone brooches and hinge bangles (and whatever else there is to discover!). I’ve seen three examples of a framed brooch, constructed similarly like a Coro Duette. The frame has three prongs to which a small brooch and a pair of earrings are attached. Another form has one larger pin and two scatter pins on a three pronged frame. My example is marked “Iskin Pat. App.”, and I’m searching for another example in the hopes that it has a patent number.
1. Social Security record on Ancestry.com
2. 1930 Census, City of Philadelphia, PA
3. Draft Registration card (WWI), dated June 5, 1917
4. New York Times, October 12, 1938
5. New York Times, December, 28, 1953
6. Jewelers Circular Keystone, August 1936
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by Dotty Stringfield with the assistance of research contributor Pat Seal
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