Maybe you’ve seen vintage jewelry signed 11 W 30 St, or maybe you’ve picked up a piece that’s clearly vintage and signed, but you can’t make head nor tail of the signature. Don’t worry, it’s not you – this one is notoriously illegible.
In the late 1940s and into the early 1950s, there was an explosion of pent-up demand for consumer goods as wartime materials restrictions ended and factories went back to civilian production. There was also a boom in crafts and hobbies, as women left their wartime jobs and went back to being homemakers – do-it-yourself sewing and home decorating saved money and expressed your own creativity. In 1952, a manufacturer named William Dodds got an idea: why not sell do-it-yourself jewelry kits, along the lines of the then-popular paint-by-number kits? He and a partner started a business called Jewel Creations. Blank castings were packaged up with a selection of rhinestones and sold through a number of stores. The castings were signed with the address of their manufacturing plant, 11 W 30 St (in Newark, NJ). Kits included Christmas jewelry, figurals, and “the look for less” knockoffs of popular higher-end designs.
The partnership ended in the early 1960s and later pieces are signed Dodds or Doddz (the Z is actually a backwards S; I don’t know why it’s backwards). The company continued producing kits of Christmas jewelry and figural pieces, including their iconic cats.
If you’re buying, pay special attention to the quality of the gluing. Since the stones were glued in by the individual buyers, the glues used as well as the workmanship could be pretty random. Some of those glues could react with the plating and cause dull spots that can’t be polished away.
Sources: Collecting Costume Jewelry 101, Second Edition by Julia C. Carroll, Collector Books, 2008; Everything Just So: 11 W 30 St, http://www.everythingjustso.net/2014/09/11-w-30-st-inc-brooch.html.