Raymond Yard’s Rabbit Waiters

Raymond Yard, Art Deco Platinum, Gold, Diamond, Gem-Set and Enamel Rabbit Brooch. Lot 474. Auction May 6, 2019.

NEW YORK, NY -- In 1898, Raymond C. Yard began his career in jewelry as a door boy for Marcus & Co., one of the top jewelers in New York City. He thrived, rising first to salesman and ultimately to general manager. John D. Rockefeller was among Yard's many notable clients and was influential in his opening of the Yard company in 1922. Rockefeller recommended Yard to his family and friends, and soon Yard’s exquisitely bejeweled creations were gracing the collections of the du Ponts, Woolworths, Havermeyers, Flaglers and other prominent New York families. The new Yard enterprise flourished as the economic boom of the 1920s fueled demand for gems, jewels and all things luxurious.

Arguably the most iconic design Yard created was the Rabbit Waiter series. These brooches figure prominently in Natasha Kuzmanovic’s book, Yard, The Life and Magnificent Jewelry of Raymond Yard, and are illustrated on the back cover, both inside covers, and several inside pages.

These whimsical, anthropomorphic brooches are rare and highly sought after by collectors. The original models were designed in the late 1920s, with the first rabbit brooch debuting in December 1928 bejeweled entirely with diamonds. By the 1930s Yard was designing more colorful rabbit brooches with gem-set clothing of calibré-cut rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

Yard was careful not to design any two brooches exactly the same -- the waiters had slightly different strides, carried different trays and bucket contents, and and wore uniforms of varying jeweled color combinations.

Where the inspiration came from, no one quite knows. However, it is theorized that the series of brooches may have been inspired by the many popular books at that time featuring rabbits. The character of the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Cottontail, Br’er Rabbit and The Velveteen Rabbit all could have influenced this line. There was also speculation that these brooches were humorous metaphors for Prohibition’s outlawed liquor and the abundance of inexpensive labor.

Yard’s prominent clients eagerly purchased these eternally charming and amusing brooches, confirming the jeweler’s instinct to always tantalize his discerning clients with, “something new for someone who already had everything.”

California Jewelry

Auction Monday, May 6, 2019 at 10am
Exhibition May 3 - 5

Lot 474
Art Deco Platinum, Gold, Diamond, Gem-Set and Enamel Rabbit Brooch, Raymond Yard
Signed Yard, circa 1935
Similar example on the back cover and pages 154-157 in Natasha Kuzmanovic's book, Yard, The Life and Magnificent Jewelry of Raymond C. Yard.
Est. $25,000 - $35,000
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