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Coming to the fore in America at a time when Coco Chanel had just launched her vrais bijoux en toc, or real fake jewelry, collection in Europe, Miriam was able to ride on an American obesssion with French fashion and model her early jewellery on European costume jewellery, competing directly with Chanel and Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli.One of four children, she was born in the small town of Tell City, Indiana, to her Russian Jewish immigrant parents.Miriam Haskell, seen below, was a celebrated American jewellery designer, business woman, and costume jewelry pioneer.She was noted for her original but affordable hand-made costume jewellery, which successfully reflected, and was sensitive to, both the economic times and historic events in America, be it the Great Depression of the 1930s or the war years of the late 1940s.In fact, it is said that Joan Crawford was such an admirer of Miriam Haskell designs that she collected nearly every piece that was produced from the 1940s to the 1950s (all to be auctioned off by New York’s Plaza Art Galleries upon her death in 1977).Publicity shots of these celebrities and others wearing her jewellery, along with design credits for films and theatre productions, and interviews all confirm her status within these illustrious circles.I usually make them for special holidays for Frank, but a handmade card can be appreciated any day of the year.That same year, Miriam was joined by Frank Hess, a window dresser from Macy’s, who became her jewellery designer.

They owned one of the town’s dry goods stores carrying fabric and cloth, somewhat akin to an English haberdashery store.

Miriam progressed through High School in nearby New Albany before studying at Chicago University for three years, but without graduating.

In 1924 Miriam set off for New York City with a fabled 0 in her purse, more than likely loaned to her by her shop keeper father.

On the 30th July 1926 a business permit was issued in Miriam’s name, allowing her to open a gift shop style boutique – Le Bijou de L’Heure – in The Mc Alpin Hotel on 103 Sixteenth Street.

As a friend of Coco Chanel’s she also created pieces for Chanel’s couture collections.

Handwritten letters are really nice to get and can be fun to write.


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