Theodor Fahrner (1859 – 1919) Fahrner is one of the most famous and sought after names in European costume jewelry. Originally established in Germany in 1855 by Georg Seeger and Theodor Fahrner, Sr., the company’s first designs were rings that satisfied the public’s interest in historical events.
When Fahrner, Sr. died in 1883, his son, also called Theodor, assumed managerial responsibility of the company and expanded its production to include multiple jewelry types. It manufactured high-quality, mass-produced rings, gold, silverware, and jewelry designs by artists in the Mathildenhohe Artists’ colony near Frankfurt, Germany.
Trained as a steel engraver, Fahrner was a talented and adept draftsman and designer who specialized in steel engraving at Pforzheim Art Academy and who pioneered designer jewelry. He commissioned European freelance designers whose work turned a previously insignificant ring factory into one of the most creative jewelry companies in Europe.
The company’s ascendance began with a presentation of jewelry made by designer Max J. Gradl at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition where it received a silver medal.
Between 1887 and 1895, the firm started producing jewelry that included necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and earrings. Many were designed by noted artisans of the time including Franz Boeres, Rudolf Bosselt, Max Joseph Gradl, Hermann Haussler, George Kleemann, and Ferdinand Morawe.
Design styles included Art Nouveau and the Jugendstil style. The latter, a style popular in Germany during the mid-1890s, its appeal continued through the first decade of the 20th Century. A combination of late 19th Century English Art Nouveau (usually floral in character) and Japanese applied arts, the designs represented the essence of the Jazz Age and the Art Deco movement especially when using the geometric style. Black enamel and green agate, combined with coral and onyx, became signature colors for Fahrner and for the Art Deco period.
As the style evolved, it began to include more abstract Viennese designs. Fahrner permitted the artist/designer’s names to appear on the affordable silver jewelry pieces along with the company’s own TF trademark. Working in silver, enamel, marcasite, iron and semi-precious stones, the designers made hundreds of jewelry pieces. They also sent large quantities of their creations to cities in the UK and America.
Fahrner’s jewelry designs contain many examples that employ enamel, sterling silver metal of various silver content, and faceted colored stones of turquoise, green agate, amazonite, chalcedony, rock crystal, pearl, marcasite, hematite, coral, onyx, and amethyst. They are quite valuable.
In 1919, when Theodor Fahrner, the younger died, the firm was purchased by Gustav Braendle and became known as Gustav Braendle, then Herbert Braendle in 1952. By 1960, the company was producing modern silver jewelry with designs and stones reflecting antique art that used gold and silver in Roman and Egyptian motifs.
When, in 1979, Herbert Braendle died, the firm of Gustav Braendle and Theodor Fahrner was dissolved and most of the firm’s records destroyed. The jewelry produced by the Theodor Fahrner company is sought after by collectors and its pricing is often high.