>This article was originally printed in Antique Trader
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“Lest We Forget: Masterpieces of Patriotic Jewelry and Military Decorations” by Judith Price, President of the National Jewelry Institute Taylor Trade Publishing, 2011; ISBN 978-0-7624-3871-6 Hardcover with dustjacket, 160 pages, 11 by 11 inches; $29.95 Available for preorder on www.amazon.com.
Judith Price’s latest accomplishment in her respected jewelry book series is a lavishly illustrated history book that focuses on the Western world’s military medals and military-inspired jewelry: “Lest We Forget: Masterpieces of Patriotic Jewelry and Military Decorations.”
Regardless of whether it is a piece of jewelry created by a world-renown maker such as Tiffany & Co. or Cartier, or an anonymous piece of “trench art” or a Medal of Honor, what these artifacts have in common is they all appeal to a sense of patriotism and service to country.
“Lest We Forget” has earned the distinction of being the presentation of historical research and documentation in such an attractive format that it would be as suitable for the coffee table as it would for the reference shelf in the library. The text and images are displayed in a clean, modern, easy-to-read design.
Biographies and military histories from such notables as George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte are illustrated with 150 artifacts from the illustrious collections of the American Numismatic Society, the West Point Museum and the Musee de l’Armee, to name but a few; pieces that we might otherwise never view.
A full range of adornments and historical time periods are covered; “Lest We Forget” showcases such diverse items as the George Washington Peace Medal given to the Indians (and Peace Medals given by subsequent administrations), the earliest Medals of Honor (and follows the Medal of Honor’s alterations through time), Civil War Corps badges, British military decorations and historic French treasures.
Question-and-answer sections from museum curators from around the world drive even more depth into the scholarly details, discussing subjects that include historical objects from Napoleon, fraternal and political organizations and military medals. For example, Fergus Read, head of the Exhibits and Firearms Department of the Imperial War Museum (London), discusses trench art. Read says, “It is probable that only the very smallest metal and wooden objects were worked by front-line soldiers, and even then mostly while in reserve lines and at rest.” Therefore, the image that might come to mind of a soldier hunkering down in a trench and fashioning an item when we hear the phrase “trench art” is unrealistic.
It is a bit cumbersome flipping through pages to see images that are referred to in the text as being on this page or that. But the images are all large, in color and with clear details, which are all necessary for proper identification. Other necessities aptly provided in this book: a detailed bibliography for further research and an excellent index (10 pages worth) for cross-referencing artifacts, historical figures and so on.
Judith Price is the president of the National Jewelry Institute, a non-profit organization initially formed in 2002 whose mission is to preserve, research, and exhibit fine jewelry from all over the world. Other jewelry books she has written include “Masterpieces of American Jewelry” (Running Press, 2004), “Masterpieces of French Jewelry” (Running Press, 2006) and “Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry” (Running Press, 2008).
Though not yet available in bookstores (the title will be released Nov. 11), “Lest We Forget” can be preordered on amazon.com for $19.77 (compare to the publisher’s retail price of $29.95). Whether you are a student of military history or jewelry design, you’ll find the time spent with this book worthwhile.
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