This brooch is known as Fuji man. It can be found in a number of reference books, which allows it to be accurately dated to 1942. Coro was one of the largest and most prolific costume jewellery manufacturing and wholesale companies in the United States.
Fuji man was originally attributed to Adolph Katz, but he was not a designer, he chose the designs from a large pool of designers, for example Gene Verrecchio (see Mr & Mrs Squirrel on The Casket) but many were just picked from portfolio drawings. So why is Adolph Katz credited as one of Coro’s main designers? He was the design director for Coro and from 1924 he was in charge of selecting the designs Coro would manufacture, commission to be manufactured, and sell. He was probably the single largest influence in creating the look for which Coro became known. As the design director he was responsible for signing the patent paperwork, so for many years the incorrect attribution was given. I cannot find the name of the designer, but Fuji man is part of a 1942 series entitled Ethnic Figural Designs, which included a Frenchman with a beret, two native Americans, and an African Chief with a magnificent headdress.
This brooch has an unusual fastening, reminiscent of the fur clip fastenings used in the 1930s/40s. Fur clips generally have two really sharp prongs that are pushed through the tough pelts. The sharp prongs are unprotected, which was fine when worn as originally intended but for today’s fashions they do need a little adaptation to prevent the wearer being stabbed. On the Fuji man brooch the two sharp prongs are secured between two very small pins, keeping them well away from the wearer.
Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s ‘Three Holy Mountains’ and is the highest volcano in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). There are thousands of images of Mount Fuji, but some of my favourites are by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).
Mount Fuji behind Cherry Blossom by Hokusai