Solomon Finkelstein

Solomon Finkelstein

R5. “Raspberries, Reja 1941
Manufacturer Reja, Inc.
Designer Solomon Finkelstein.
Not patented.
Gold-plated metal brooch, red, green and black enamel, rhinestones, in the shape of raspberries. 6.2 x 5.7cm.
Marked Reja Reg.
Series “King Arthur’s Knights”

Solomon Finkelstein. Deja Costume Jewelry incorporated.

Solomon Finkelstein began to work, probably in 1932, with Sol Finkelstein Co., New York, first at 990 Sixth Avenue, then at 55 West 47,h Street. The company manufactured rhinestone jewelry and ornaments for wholesale distribution and therefore did not advertise. For this reason it is not known what items belonged to its production, or what trademark it used.

In 1939 Finkelstein decided to manufacture jewelry for the retail trade too and changed the name of the company to Deja Costume Jewelry, Inc., with a showroom in New York, 366 Fifth Avenue, and its plant at 47 West 47th Street.
Du Jay, Inc., summoned Deja, Inc. to appear before the Supreme Court of New York requesting that it changed its name, on the grounds that it was too similar to Du Jay. On 10,h October 1940 Du Jay, Inc. obtained an injunction prohibiting Deja from using this name or any other name that was similar to Du Jay, Inc., in connection with the production and sale of novelty costume jewelry, as of 1st April 1941.
As early as the 17th January 1941, with an announcement in WWD, Deja announced its change of name to Reja, Inc., with no change in address. In March of the same year, however, the showroom was moved to 377 Fifth Avenue. The choice of the name Reja was apparently dictated by practical reasons, since the mark Reja could be stamped over the Deja mark, thus saving the items already manufactured with that mark (R3.).

Solomon Finkelstein

R3. “Blue Carnation,” Deja-Reja 1941.
Manufacturer Reja, Inc.
Designer Solomon Finkelstein.
Not patented.
Rhodium-plated metal brooch, blue and white enamel, pearl in the center, rhinestones, in the shape of a carnation. 9 X 6.8cm.
Marked Deja-Reja.
Owing to Dujay having successfully sued the company for brand name similarity, Deja had to change its name to Reja. The change should have taken place from Is’ April 1941, however, as early as 17th January 1941 Deja announced in WWD its change of name to Reja Inc. The choice of the new name Reja was probably due to the fact that the “D” of Deja could easily be re-engraved as “R” without too much difficulty and the company could therefore still sell the goods that had already been manufactured under the name Deja.
This brooch actually has both names engraved on it: with a poorly corrected Deja on the stem, and Reja on a petal. This allows for a precise dating of the brooch.

Deja Costume Jewelry, Inc. did not advertise much in Womens Wear Daily – only a brief item appeared with its name and address and the words “Individualized Costume Jewelry” – and in February 1939 the paper dedicated a report to the company’s first collection, complete with a reproduction of the designs of a brooch and a bracelet. The trademarks used for the stamping of the items were Deja, Deja Reg., Deja Original, and Deja Fleurs, registered on behalf of Deja Inc. The few known Deja items – the company only managed to present four collections – are made of white or gold-plated metal, sometimes with enamel accents, which were not very heavy, and were of floral or figurative subjects and date from 1939 and 1940. Deja was also the owner of a patent for a brooch of a heart holding a torch, called “carry the torch. ” The patent was assigned to Noel Meadow and Sidney Herbert on 21st May 1940 with No. 120,626, in response to the application filed on 2nd April 1940.
The company operated under the name of Reja from January 1941 to 4th December 1953, when it announced its bankruptcy WWD, 4th December 1953). Its President at the time was still Solomon Finkelstein, while the company address was 143 West 20th Street.
The company had been in trouble for some time and in fact Reja’s production from 1948 onwards had grown much worse. An attempt to salvage the company was made in June 1953, when Reja Jewelry signed a commercial agreement with Heller-Deltah Co., Inc., 411 Fifth Avenue, New York. With a notice in WWD, 5th June 1953, Heller- Deltah announced that “Now Heller-Deltah will sell and advertise Reja Jewelry with the famous name La Tausca. ” Unfortunately this attempt proved unsuccessful.

Solomon Finkelstein

R8. “Totem Pole, Reja 1941.
Manufacturer Reja, Inc.
Designer Solomon Finkelstein.
Not patented.
Gold-plated metal brooch, red, black and sky blue enamel, colored rhinestones, depicting a totem pole. 10.5 x 2.5cm.
Marked Reja Reg.
The “Totem Pole” is part of the first collection of items manufactured by Reja after its name change. The collection was featured in VJVJD, 28th March 1941, which described it as being: “A lapel series called “King Arthur’s Knights” and executed in antique-finished gold or silver metal with tiny rhinestones is a new jewelry group at Reja Costume Jewelry, a firm which formerly traded as Deja and is now in new quarters at 377 Fifth Avenue. Biggest promotional group here in enameled metal jewelry is a collection of vegetables, fruit and nuts to supplement a variety of flower pieces. Nicely designed and colored, the pieces include decorative stalks of celery, bunches of scallions, strawberries, a cucumber studded with tiny green stones and a pea pod with pearls for peas. There are little vegetable earrings to match and charm bracelets dangling miniatures. In addition to the flower spray group, there is a line of dogs of all breeds, in enamel and rhinestones, and others of flying seagulls and tropical fish.
An Indian item is a long, brightly colored totem pole pin with matching earrings”.
The mark “Reg, ” that appears on only some of the items in this first series, stands for “registered” and demonstrates that the company had registered the new name.

Heller-Deltah, established in 1904 in New York as L. Heller & Son, Inc., specialized in the manufacture of jewelry with pearls with the trademark La Tausca. Heller- Deltah also went bankrupt in 1956 and the La Tausca division was purchased by D’Arlan Jewelry Co., Inc.
The first collection WWD, 28th March 1941) included a series of gold and silver-plated brooches with enamel accents and plant, floral and figurative subjects, called “King Arthur’s Knights” (see description of series R8.).
Reja advertised in Womens Wear Daily with its name and address and the slogan “Individualized Costume Jewelry.” The daily often presented its collections with articles and jewel designs that nowadays are a precious source of information for the dating and attribution of jewelry items. In February 1946 the company began to advertise in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, i.e. nationwide and in style, with full page color advertisements. The first advertisement appeared in Harpers Bazaar in 1946 and featured three items of the “Africana” series, a line of four brooches with matching earrings, made of sterling and black enamel, of African masks called: “Ubangi, ” “Congo Belle, ” “Nubian Head” and “Witch Doctor” (R33., R34., R35., R36.).
The company – which had a very individual character, and despite its small size was very successful, as demonstrated by the attention it received from the press – manufactured limited quantities of items for the medium-upper market segment. Production was characterized by great emphasis on design, which was always original and of undisputed artistic value.

Solomon Finkelstein

R9. “Sunflower,” Reja 1943.
Manufacturer Reja, Inc.
Designer Solomon Finkelstein.
Not patented.
Gold-plated sterling brooch shaped like a sunflower with large round blue crystal in the center and rhinestone studded petals and leaves. 6.5 x 4.5cm.
Marked Reja Sterling.
A picture published in WWD, 17″‘ September 1943, shows that for its fall collection of that year, Reja had made floral brooches with the same characteristics as this item, i.e. with a large central stone, surrounded by small white stones and gold-plated sterling leaves that were small in comparison with the flower.

Most designs were created by Solomon Finkelstein who patented only four of them; three brooches of the “Africana” series in 1946 and the “Jack in the Box” (R39.) of 1947 (with patent application submitted in 1946) belonging to the “Rose Opal” (registered trademark) line, which was characterized by the light, openwork structure of the sterling and by the use of pink cabochons. In 1949 {WWD, 27th July 1949) Joseph C. Klafter designed a collection, of which nothing else is known.
Reja followed normal market practice by presenting two collections a year, a spring and a fall collection, which included several themes and lines. Each line or item was given a name inspired by the theme. Figurative subjects featured prominently: fantasy or anthropomorphic animals, masks, special objects, fairy tale figures, and characters from folklore. Reja was renown for its masks and in its 1945-46 production made great use of large colored oval stones, or faceted drop-shaped stones, for the body of animals, or as the central piece of the design as in “Man from Mars” (R25.) or “Atomic Bomb” (PR40.). These stones were made by a specialized firm, the Oval Manufacturing Co., New York, 64 W. 36th St., which, in a series of advertisements in the Jewelers Circular Keystone (April, July, September 1945) advertised its production and showed its applications in some Reja items.
One of the most beautiful collections was the spring collection of 1946 – presented in Women’s Wear Daily in January – which included, in addition to the “Africana” series: “Punchinello” (R30.), the “Chinese Mandarin” (R29.), the “Court Jester” (R31.), brooches shaped like golden hands and feet, and a pair of fish. The collection also featured some vegetable subjects, including shiny enamel tomatoes and beetroots (“Hucksters”), the “Modern Heirloom” series characterized by a fretwork manufacture resembling lace, the “Via Lattea (Milky Way)” series with rhinestone spirals, and “Alba” (Dawn), a brooch representing the sun with a golden cupola with rhinestone-studded rays and little birds flying towards the sun. The fall collection was equally extraordinary, featuring, among other pieces, a “Medusa” (R26.), a “Good Fairy” (R32.), and the “Rose Opal” line.

Solomon Finkelstein

R12. “Turtle Set,” Reja 1943. Manufacturer Reja, Inc. Designer Solomon Finkelstein. Not patented.

For the spring of 1947 Sol Finkelstein designed the “Gardenesque” line (R40., R41., R42., R43.), Chinese-inspired brooches shaped like flower vases made of gold-plated sterling, blue sapphire, or China red stones, or moonstones and colored enamel that expressed well his taste for miniature. For the fall collection of the same year he designed the “Dancing Women” brooches of ballet dancers with rhinestone- studded gowns and hair and faces made of colored stones, and ’’Exclamation Point,” a brooch shaped like an exclamation mark with a large pearl on top, rhinestones, and large alexandrites. Use of sterling started in the middle of 1942 and continued until about 1947. Afterwards the “real look” prevailed, which had a simple repetitive style and used poorer materials. Production comprised the entire range of jewelry. Nowadays, however, practically only the brooches remain, sometimes with matching earrings and only rarely necklaces and bracelets.
The trademarks stamped on the jewelry were: REJA, registered in 1941, written in small, thin, sometimes barely legible block letters. In 1941 the letters REG. were added to the trademark and also the trademark REJA INC. appeared, however only on metal products.
Reja also registered a few trademarks such as “Rose Opal,” “Artistry in Jewelry,” and “Pinch Pin.”

Solomon Finkelstein. Deja Costume Jewelry incorporated