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Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst Illinois, 1973.

Last Updated: 10th Nov 2017

By Larry Maltby

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst Illinois

Joseph Lizzadro (1898-1972) came to the United States from Italy with his father early in the 1900’s. He started to work in his father’s shoemaking business but in 1916 he moved to a new job at the Meade Electric Company as a laborer. He worked his way up in the company and eventually became a stock holder. In 1929 at the age of 31 he became Chairman of the Board at Meade Electric, a job that would bring him considerable wealth.

In 1932 Joseph married Mary Sandretto. Mary was born in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula very likely the daughter of an Italian miner. During family trips to the Keweenaw, Joseph collected agates and fashioned jewelry for various family members. Sounds like a beginning familiar to many of us except, Joseph had the means to build a stunning collection of lapidary art.

Italy has, through history, produced many masters in the art of mosaic and intarsia. Joseph included many examples of their work in his collection along with works from Idar-Oberstein, China and India. There is one room that features 26 rock, mineral, and fossil exhibits.

The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst Illinois was founded in 1962.

Reference: The Lizzadro Story

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst Illinois, interior view.

This is an intarsia from Italy. It is the art of fitting together various pieces of stone to form a “painting” of a landscape or scene. This one can be seen hanging on the wall in the interior of the museum shown above.
This is a close-up of another intarsia showing how the pieces are fitted together with the idea that when viewed from a distance the picture looks like a painting. It illustrates the labor required to select the colors and patterns of the stone materials and the skill required to shape the pieces.

This large blue john fluorite vase was crafted in one of the most well-known ornamental stones found in the UK.
The design on the flat surface of this large jade bottle is carved or engraved in relief. The technique is sometimes referred to as Intaglio.

The parrot was assembled from various individual carvings. The description states that the materials are jasper and malachite. It appears that some azurite was also used.
Large panels of malachite with amazing patterns were used to construct this obelisk.

Birds carved in agate.
Mongolian silver with jade, turquoise and coral. The white jade plaque is another example of Intaglio.

The jeweled elephant. During the 70’s this piece was displayed at the Greater Detroit Gem and Mineral Show and the Cincinnati Show.

“The grapes” carved in various materials and assembled.
An agate cameo plate that exploits the black and white bands to create the effect. The diameter is approximately 20.0 cm.

Cinnabar snuff bottles date back to the late 1600’s in China. They were constructed by coating a bottle made of metal, porcelain, or wood with many layers of lacquer colored with cinnabar. The design was then carved into the thick layer of lacquer.
The exterior surface of this jar carved in moss agate shows undercutting suggesting that the inclusions are soft. Chlorite is a likely candidate for the formation of the “moss”.

This antique Scottish agate jewelry is unique.
The display of cut opals illustrates the difference in appearance between opal doublets and triplets in contrast with the unique matrix opals from Mexico.

This large Laguna agate is about 14.0 cm wide.

A selection of variscite from Utah.
A large pillar of rhodochrosite from Argentina.

This article is linked to the following museum: Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (Illinois)

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