Jakob Bengel began making watch chains in his factory in Idar-Oberstein, Germany in 1873. The chains were made from silver, brass and other alloys known as Tombac and Double Americaine. He was a success and in the 1920’s went on to producing geometric costume jewellery using chromed chain, tubes, findings and Galalith (this is a type of early plastic similar to Bakelite and Catalin). He also created complicated constructed chain known as brickwork, this was cold painted in reds, blues, blacks and greens.
The majority of Bengel jewellery is unsigned/unmarked (the Bengel mark is a pyramid stack of cannon balls and a cannon) especially those that were exported. In some cases because of Germany’s lack of popularity in the 1930’s, items exported to France were marked ‘Made in France’.
The factory closed on the outbreak of World War Two in 1939 and lay closed and undiscovered until 2001 when collectors discovered the factory and its catalogues.
The Jakob Bengel factory is now a museum. Two reference books have been published featuring the original drawings and pieces.
“Art Deco Schmuck” Christianne Weber – Arnoldsche
“Bengel Art Deco Schmuck” Wilhelm Lindemann & Others – Arnoldsche