Francisco Torres Rebajes

Francisco Torres Rebajes

Rb4. “Pekinese,” Rebajes 1941-42. Manufacturer Rebajes Metal Art Craftsmen. Designer Francisco Rebajes.
Copper brooch of a Pekinese dog. 8 x 4.9cm Marked Rebaje.
Vogue, May 15, 1943: “Flight of Fancy” by Rebajes.

Francisco Torres Rebajes. PENNINO — PROVIDENCE JEWELERS INC.

REBAJES
On 10th July 1953 WWD dedicated a long article accompanied by photographs to Francisco Rebajes and his “Success Saga, ” which was a typical story of the American dream come true.

Francisco Torres Rebajes was born in Puerta Plata, in the Dominican Republic, on 6th February 1906. His parents, Antonio Torres Ros and Francisca Rebajes de Torres were Spaniards who had emigrated from Majorca to the New World.
His father was a shoemaker who had his own workshop, where Francisco grew up honing his manual skills by using his father’s tools. After a brief school education, for which he showed little interest, in 1923 at the age of sixteen, he emigrated to the United States where he did all sorts of odd jobs including that of assistant waiter.
Having remained jobless during the Great Depression, Rebajes literally lived on the streets until 1932, when, at a Greenwich Village party he met and soon after married Pauline Schwartz. In his days on the streets of New York, Rebajes used to collect cans and metal scraps from which he made animal figures. His first creation, according to WWD, was of a tin horse.
In 1931 when the first Washington Square art exhibition was announced, Francisco decided to display his animals which, neatly arranged on an iron table, captured the attention of Juliana Force, director of the Whitney Museum. Force asked him to bring his creations to the museum at the end of the exhibition and offered to purchase all ten items on display for a total of $30.
With this money Rebajes rented a shed in Greenwich Village at 182% W, 4th Street. Here he began his commercial activity, designing and manufacturing metal by hand and, later on, copper animals and objects, including costume jewelry. His success was shown by the opening, on 19th December 1941, of a showroom at 377 Fifth Avenue designed by Jose Fernandez. At the same time production was moved to a larger workshop at 17th Street West, where forty people worked, later growing to sixty.
Rebajes personally designed all his items, including, in addition to costume jewelry, ashtrays, plates, ornamental wall plaques, and knick-knacks. The most used material was copper, but he also made some silver pieces, especially during the war, when copper was reserved for war production.
Rebajes, with the help of his wife Pauline who was in charge of administration, was in charge of the company until the beginning of the 1960s, when he sold the firm to his production manager, Otto Bade, and retired to Torremolinos in Spain, where he lived and designed until his death in the spring of 1990.
Francisco Rebajes was a talented and creative designer and his copper and silver jewelry with its animal and ethnic, abstract, geometric and stylized subjects, figures prominently in the history of American costume jewelry.
No design by Rebajes was ever patented.
The jewelry is marked R=baj=oo, with the typical stylized E and S.