Lest We Forget
Masterpieces of Patriotic Jewelry
Christmas is a time of dazzling decorations and brightly colored gifts, but the sparkling treasures gathered in Lest We Forget: Masterpieces of Patriotic Jewelry and Military Decorations have a deeper significance beyond the seasonal. More than 100 photographs accompany Judith Price’s examination of commemorative military objects, their origins, and their historical significance. Medals and collectibles are documented alongside authentic artifacts owned by soldiers and monarchs. And the accompanying excerpts from interviews with collectors and museum curators provide fascinating commentary.
Price, president of the National Jewelry Institute, was first intrigued by the subject after working to persuade Fort Knox to loan out a 1916 ivory-handled Colt .45 Peacemaker pistol owned by Gen. George S. Patton for a museum exhibition. “From there I started researching him, and that got me into military jewelry,” she says. The pistol that sparked the author’s interest is among the many unique pieces, dating from 1600 B.C. to the 20th century, featured in the book.
Lest We Forget focuses primarily on the iconic military objects of America, France, and Great Britain, three countries with intertwining histories. While many of the medals and decorations were government issue, some of the more special commendations are the products of renowned jewelry designers like Cartier, Fabergé, and Tiffany & Co. But it’s the simpler sweetheart jewelry from the World War I era that Price singles out as her favorite. “Soldiers created lockets with inscriptions that held photographs or a lock of hair, to send back to mothers, wives, and daughters,” she explains. “It’s kind of wonderful, and the sort of thing that’s not done anymore.”