Any jewelry historians out there? While sorting through my father's
things Icame upon a silver bracelet with a fairly heavy simple chain
and an oval piece with his name and home town engraved on it. The
odd thing was that the bracelet had no clasp. It was closed with a
heavy jump ring and so was clearly intended not to be removed by the
wearer. A link had been cut to take it off. The only thing I can
think of is that someone had it made and put on him before he went
off to Guam in WWII. Maybe as a reminder to him of where he was from
and an additional ID should he have been killed or seriously
wounded. Any thoughts on this? Did people do this sort of thing?
It's sort of sweet to think of his mama putting it on her boy before
sending him into harm's way. An ordinary bracelet made just as an
accessory would have a clasp, I would think.
Here in the UK during the 1st world war, 1914/18, there was a
bracelet made with the word Mizpah on it.
This was bought and given to ones sweetheart of wife? to remind them
of the absent soldier.
I was restoring all the machinery in the Birmingham jewellery
quarter museum, and had access to the dies threin.
This Mizpah die was one of those I chose and was given permission to
test the restored drop stamps with.
Ive several samples still here in my personal collection.
No doubt someone will be able to cast light on this word's meaning.
Page- I can answer this. I'm sure it was a family gift. What a
wonderful keepsake for you to have.
I was born and raised in the military. Both my parents and all of
their male siblings went to war as well as my brother.
Dog tags are the standard for ID. The old soldier's tale says that
the notch in them at the bottom is to be able to hammer it in between
the teeth of a dead soldier so he or she could be identified at the
morgue after their clothing was cut off. Dad may have told us this
just to gross us out a little. My late father's flying jacket from
the 5th Army Air Corp had a silk piece sewn on the back that said in
Chinese that there was a reward for the return of his body or his dog
Though it is not an official thing I've know some GIs today that
have their ID tattooed on their bodies in addition to wearing their
I've made several bracelets over the years for both men and women
without a clasp. It's not necessarily always a war thing.
Tiffany's used to make bangle bracelets that had no clasp, but a
small gold or silver screw that was meant to be rarely removed. The
bracelet came with a special Tiffany's screwdriver.
I still have my "dependant" dog tags as well as my late mother's and
Have fun and make lots of jewelry
My limited experience with jewelry and war has to do with my pilot
husband. He was prohibited from wearing any jewelry (except for a
wedding band) because it might be caught during an emergency and
either inhibit movement or cause injury. He never even wore his
wedding band when flying. This was in the early '70s.
I wonder if such rules were non-existent during WWII.
Judy in Kansas
In GB during WW2 I believe it was recommended (though perhaps not
compulsory?) that all civilians wore an ID bracelet with their name
and address on it.
In her middle teens at that time, my mother lost hers: it was found
and returned by a young man who lived about a mile away. A few years
after the war ended, mother met the young man again at a local tea
dance: neither of them remembered the bracelet incident until some
time later. The young man and mother were married, and later on I was
born. Who says coincidences don't happen?
Hi, Ted. "Mizpah" is the emotional link that remains between people
when they are separated, by distance, say, or by death. I believe
it's a Hebrew word. Now you've given me an inspiration for engraving
a ring my sister gave me before she died.... Lorraine
Tiffany's used to make bangle bracelets that had no clasp, but a
small gold or silver screw that was meant to be rarely removed.
The bracelet came with a special Tiffany's screwdriver.
The notch in the old dog tags was simply to register it on the
embossing machine that was then in use.
I suspect you're thinking of Cartier's Love bracelet, which is still
Interesting bit of jewelry, Page. It's entirely possible that it was
a gift to be used as ID in the event of your father having been
killed during the war. Perhaps the gift giver wasn't familiar with
the fact that the soldier would be issued dog tags, altho they'd
been used by the US military at least as early as WW I.
I recall reading about soldiers during the Civil War pinning notes
with their names, units and hometowns onto their uniforms just
before a battle. So many men being killed, with no one left in a
unit to ID their remains. Sad to think of having to prepare for
one's own death in that way, but very practical.
Linda in central FL
I love Mizpah jewelry. My friend Jane Clarke of Morning Glory Jewelry
in Albuquerque, NM has a fabulous store with antique jewelry,
especially her collections of Mizpah. She has been featured many
times in books for it. Carolyn Kelley wrote a great article in The
Antiques Magazine on 'Falling For Antique Mizpah Jewelry' which
explains during the Victorian Era one such example is Mizpah
jewelry, which from the mid- to late-1800s was given to a loved one
during a period of long separation. military service, travel, or
otherwise. as a forget-me-not. The examples of the work are stunning
with great engraving. Dinah
Thanks for all your sharing of experience and wisdom regarding the
making and selling of jewelry. You have been very helpful to me, and
I never skip posts by you or Tim.
I still have my dog tags (Vietnam. drafted) and there's no notch in
Apparently the military changed their design since WW2. In any case,
the reason there's 2, is so that if a soldier is KIA, one tag stays
with the body and the other is turned into somebody to do whatever
recording is done by the killing machine. Also, the tags are worn
around the neck and bracelets are not used because they are much more
likely to remain with the body.
He was prohibited from wearing any jewelry (except for a
weddingband) because it might be caught during an emergency and
either inhibit movement or cause injury.
I don't know anything about war bracelets - I'd guess they are
simple ID but it's just a guess.
I had a high school history teacher who was in the Air Force in WW2.
He said that in some of the bombers - B17, B29, I'm thinking - they
would use a ladder to get in but to get out there was just a square
hatch in the floor that they'd jump through to the tarmac below. In
doing that they'd grab the edge to break their fall. After a certain
number of fingers were cut off from catching wedding bands on the
edge, wearing them was banned. How long it lasted or how widespread
this was I don't know. I jumped off a roof when I was a teenager,
grabbed the gutter in the same way and cut myself real badly from a
cheap band I was wearing - never doing that again! John
I have my late husbands tags from his time when he was on a nuclear
sub out of Guam in 1964. They have the notches. At least at that
time, all the submarine guys we knew from different boats, had
John- The guys I knew who worked on the Air Force flight lines and
the pilots as well were forbidden to wear wedding bands for that very
My father never wore or owned one. I knew almost no dads who wore
wedding bands when I was growing up.
When I got married to "Wasbund" number 1 many decades ago he was
shocked that I didn't get him a band. It just wasn't on my radar.
The only reason I made a ring for Tim was because of my ego. He made
me an amazing ring and I just couldn't be out done by him. The first
thing that went through my head after the shock of the beauty of the
ring he made me was "Oh shit! Now I've got to come up with something
really really spectacular for him".
Oh and John- What!? No siblings to torture? We had a younger sister.
We made HER jump off the roof of the house. I made a kind of
cape/parachute for her so she'd be safe;-) Have fun and make lots of
No doubt someone will be able to cast light on this word's
The Hebrew word "Mizpah" (or "Mizpeh") means "watchtower." In the
Bible, it occurs as a proper noun. I assume its signficance on the
tag is a kind of hope that God is watching over both the giver and
Hey Dennis, I lost my dog tags in Vietnam during an incident. My
father was career military and had a notch in his dog tags that were
designed to be wedged in the mouth of the dead. He saw a lot of
action in the Pacific in WW 2. As a kid it was scary to see him
demonstrate how they were wedged in the mouth. I never saw anyone in
my outfit with a war bracelet. I guess it was a past wars kind of
I lost my dog tags in Vietnam during an incident. My father was
career military and had a notch in his dog tags that were designed
to be wedged in the mouth of the dead. He saw a lot of action in
the Pacific in WW 2. As a kid it was scary to see him demonstrate
how they were wedged in the mouth. I never saw anyone in my outfit
with a war bracelet. I guess it was a past wars kind of tradition.
Once again, the teeth wedging story is an urban legend.