Original Vince Lombardi Trophy Comes Home to Newark

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City of Silver and Gold from Tiffany to Cartier exhibition showcases the glittering days when Newark was the center of manufacturing with gold and silver.

Packers 1967 National Football League Championship Trophy (The First Vince Lombardi Trophy) Tiffany & Co., Newark, New Jersey Silver, 1967 Lent by the Green Bay Packers, Inc.

For more than a century, the City of Newark was the thriving center of the precious metal industry in the United States and home to the design workshops of scores of famed jewelry goldsmiths and silversmiths such as Tiffany & Co. and Krementz. To many, the most recognizable of the objects produced by these manufacturers is the Vince Lombardi Trophy - now the iconic symbol of the National Football League Super Bowl championship - that was first handcrafted in Newark in 1967 at Tiffany & Co.’s silver factory.

The original trophy, named after the Packers’ legendary coach who was born in New Jersey 100 years ago, will be on view for three months at the Newark Museum - January 8, 2014 through March 30, 2014 - to mark the playing of Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on February 2, 2014. It is a centerpiece of the dazzling exhibition City of Silver and Gold from Tiffany to Cartier.

City of Silver and Gold showcases more than 100 objects drawn from its unparalleled holdings documenting the rise of the city’s gold and silver industry from modest beginnings in the early 1800s to national prominence by the turn of the 20th century, according to Chief Curator and Interim Co-Director Ulysses Grant Dietz.
City of Silver and Gold traces Newark’s history beginning with small-scale producers such as Baldwin & Co. in the 1840s, which made both silver objects for domestic use as well as some gold jewelry. The city’s precious metal industry boomed during the years after the Civil War (1861-1865), fueled by discoveries of gold and silver deposits in the United States and the influx of skilled metalworkers from Germany and elsewhere in Europe. By the time of the American Centennial in 1876, Newark’s three main industries had arisen – beer, leather and precious metals.

Busy factories such as those of the Unger Brothers and William Kerr produced stylish, modestly-priced sterling silver coffee and tea sets that were sold in jewelry stores all across the nation. For a more elite clientele, Tiffany & Co. opened its first factory in Newark in the 1870s and built a massive new factory in the city’s north end that opened in 1894. Some of Tiffany & Co.’s greatest objects came out of their Forest Hill shop in Newark.

Examples from all of these makers are included in the exhibition. Four unique masterpieces from Tiffany’s Newark plant will be on display: a pair of massive candelabras made for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris; a pair of sleek art-deco candelabras made for the New York World’s Fair in 1939; a jewel-encrusted coffee set in the “Viking” style made for the Buffalo World’s Fair in 1901; and a unique solid-gold coffee set given by a husband to his wife in 1897 for their golden wedding anniversary.

On the eve of the Great Depression, Newark’s jewelry industry was providing 90 percent of the gold jewelry in the American market. Dozens of factories, from small to huge, produced 14 and 18-karat gold jewelry and accessories six days a week, and Newark became the largest consumer of small colored gemstones and diamonds in the United States.

Well-known names such as Krementz achieved brand recognition on their own in the 20th century; but other names, such as Henry Blank and Larter & Sons, remained known only to the high-end jewelry stores who sold their cufflinks, brooches, hatpins, necklaces and bracelets in every corner of the country from Alaska to Texas.

Stay informed as new exhibition information emerges by following the Museum on Facebook at facebook.com/newark.museum or Twitter at twitter.com/newarkmuseum; or by visiting http://www.newarkmuseum.org.

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Lisa Batitto
Newark Museum
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