Founded in New York in 1888, Udall & Ballou was one of the finest New York jewellers of the early 20th century. Based on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, they also advertised locations in Palm Beach, Newport and Paris. By the end of the 1920s they had become one of the most prosperous firms of the period, and were recognised in the 1930s specifically for floral, architectural and abstract designs, as well as retailing watches. During World War II, however, their short-lived but prestigious production came to an end due to the difficult financial situation.
Their style was noticeably one of bold American interpretations of Parisian designs and indeed the fanciful concept of the magpie dressed to go to the ball, 'la pie va au bal', was also seen in Cartier jewels at the time. Yet the design perfectly expresses the successful combination of the French with the American, also recalling the whimsical tradition of this period of animal jewels of such other American jewellers as Raymond Yard.
For another animal jewel by Udall & Ballou, please see lot 177 in the New York sale, 17th April 2008