McClelland Barclay was a man of many talents. There are those that can do a number of things, and well, although they are a rare bird. McClelland Barclay is certainly among their ranks. He was a successful illustrator, sculptor, jewelry designer, and then later perished during World War II donating his services to the States, where he was born and lived during his lifetime.
I am just going to touch on his jewelry design although his many skills were recognized publicly. Barclay specialized in an Art Deco style and his works are sometimes tricky to identify even though his entire signature should be stamped on the piece, that or just his surname. There have been instances of partial signatures and even unstamped pieces have been discovered, but these untagged pieces typically would take an expert to properly identify. The trickiness also lies in the fact that after his death in 1946 their was a split in the Rice Weiner company and the Barclay Jewelry company was formed. This had nothing to do with the original McClelland Barclay or Rice Weiner. Therefore, it is important to look for design characteristics and quality emblematic of the original Barclay’s work.
McClelland Barclay jewelry typically falls into three categories: The first is a group made from metals typically unadorned by rhinestones and/or glass pieces. Coiled rope pins, “Wings” pieces, a double maple leaf, floral brooches, and figural pins are common. The second group includes the very familiar and recognized gold or silver plated Art Deco pieces with colored rhinestones and glass. The third and final category is the sterling silver grouping typically created in a figural design including animals, florals, and leaf motifs.
Barclay only designed a few pieces of jewelry and they were worn by celebrities of the time. They have become collectable, rare, and highly desirable. Such works of art are lusted after even in the modern era full of endless options.
“A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.”
Courtesy of Ruby Lane, Illusion Jewels, CriuseRoo