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Marcus & Co: A Brief History.


The American jewellery firm of Marcus & Co. was based in New York City, and is best known for their high-quality Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces. Herman Marcus was born in Germany in 1828. As a young man, before moving to New York in 1850 at the age of 22, he gained experience at 'Ellemeyer', the court jewellers in Dresden. It was in Europe that he discovered enamelling techniques which were not common in the US at that time, and this expertise led to his first job in New York, designing for Tiffany & Co. He later represented Tiffany at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris. 

 

In 1864 he started his own firm, a partnership with Theodore Starr, forming Starr and Marcus, and though highly successful, the firm was dissolved in 1877. In 1884, Marcus became a partner in the firm Jacques and Marcus, where his son William was already a partner, and in 1892, when Georges Jacques retired, the firm became known as Marcus & Co. By this point, Herman Marcus was already well known and respected by the New York City jewellery community. The firm’s bold use of brightly coloured enamel mixed with precious and semi-precious gemstones is unmistakable, and represents a confidence in design not usually seen in this period. They also introduced gems rarely used in jewellery at that time, such as zircons, chrysoberyls, spinels and peridots.

Plique-a-jour Enamelled Brooch 
Circa 1900

Herman died in 1899 but his sons continued to run the company well into the 20th century. The firm’s designs were of high quality, and are still among the best examples of American Art Nouveau jewellery. Marcus & Co. continued to attract a high-profile clientele throughout the twentieth century which included John D. Rockefeller. The firm was sold to Gimbels, the department store in 1941, and then in 1962, it merged with Black, Starr, and Frost.

 

A timeline of Marcus & Co:

  • 1828 - Herman Marcus was born in Germany.
  • 1850 - Marcus moved to NY aged 22, his first job was a designer for Tiffany & Co.
  • 1864 - Marcusstarted his own firm, a partnership with Theodore Starr, forming Starr and Marcus.
  • 1877 - Starr and Marcus was dissolved, and Marcus returned to Tiffany.
  • 1878 - Marcus represented Tiffany at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.
  • 1884 - Marcus left Tiffany to become a partner in the firm Jacques and Marcus where his son William was already a partner.
  • 1892 - Georges Jacques retired, and  Marcus & Co was founded, located at 857 Broadway in New York.
  • 1899 - Marcus died, but his sons continued to run the company.
  • 1900 - The firm exhibited at Paris’s Exposition Universelle.
  • 1920’s & 1930’s - The firm produced incredible Art Deco jewellery, that they would later be known for.
  • 1941 - The firm was sold to Gimbels during WWII.
  • 1962 - The firm merged with Black, Starr & Frost.

 

Marcus & Co. sapphire line bracelet hatton garden
Marcus & Co. sapphire line bracelet, American, circa 1920.
Ref: 27202
Marcus & Co. sapphire line bracelet hatton garden
Marcus & Co. sapphire line bracelet, American, circa 1920.
Ref: 27202
Marcus & Co. natural pearl and diamond necklace Hatton Garden
Marcus & Co. natural pearl and diamond necklace, circa 1915.
Ref: 28077
Marcus & Co. natural pearl and diamond necklace Hatton Garden
Marcus & Co. natural pearl and diamond necklace, circa 1915.
Ref: 28077
Marcus & Co. sapphire and diamond brooch berganza hatton garden
Art Deco sapphire and diamond bow brooch by Marcus & Co., American, circa 1935.
Ref: 25419
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Updated 29/05/2024 at 2:48PM

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