Fonds AM1670 - Toni Cavelti fonds

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Toni Cavelti fonds

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1.67 m of graphic materials and textual records
440 photographs
1 optical disc

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Biographical history

Anton (Toni) Cavelti was born in Illanz, Switzerland on June 13, 1931. He was the eighth of ten children born to Maria-Onna Neuwirth and Gion-Mathias Cavelti. The Cavelti family moved from Illanz to St. Gallen, Switzerland in 1938. It was there that Toni Cavelti began his apprenticeship with the goldsmith Richard Bolli in 1946. Toni completed his apprenticeship in 1950. He moved to Geneva in 1951 and began work in a watch and jewellery atelier in an industrial setting where he felt unable to fully utilize his skills and expand his craftsmanship. After seeing a painting of Vancouver in a display at a hotel, Cavelti made the decision to move to Canada. He arrived in Vancouver on June 13, 1954.

After his arrival in Vancouver, Cavelti worked for jeweler Frank E. Bercha for just over a year. In 1956, Cavelti joined his friend Karl Stittgen at 1454 Marine Drive and they started a venture under the name European Watchmakers and Jewellers, where Cavelti stayed until 1957. In 1958, with a partner, he opened Droz & Cavelti at 1030 W. Georgia. This arrangement did not last long, and in 1959 he moved his own operations into a space on the second floor of the Birk’s Building at the corner of Granville and W. Georgia Streets.

That same year Cavelti travelled back to Switzerland and re-connected with childhood acquaintance Hildegard Moser. They were engaged soon after. They married in November of 1959 in Vancouver. They had their first child, a son, in 1960 and two years later, a daughter.

Looking for a space that would allow his business and craft to grow, Cavelti moved his store to a space at 717 Seymour Street in 1963. He stayed until 1971 when the building the store was in, the Strand Theatre, was set to be demolished. He moved his shop to a spot at 692 Seymour Street where the shop stayed until 1991.

In the mid 1970’s Cavelti purchased a half interest in the Randall Building at 555 West Georgia Street. He held onto the building and was able to buy out his partners for full ownership of the building in the late 1980’s. By 1991 Cavelti was looking for a more stable location and moved his store into the building he owned and the new address of Toni Cavelti Jewellers beacme 565 W. Georgia Street. In 1999, after meeting Dr. Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera, Cavelti sold his company to Birks. Cavelti continued to design and consult there until early 2008.

Over his career, Cavelti received numerous honours for his work. In 1961 he was the only Canadian participant to show work in and exhibition of contemporary jewellery at Goldsmith Hall in London, England. Cavelti also won four Diamonds International Awards. The first was for a ring design in 1957 and he was awarded another for a brooch design in 1963 .

In 1971 the Government of British Columbia commissioned Cavelti to create a necklace for the Queen Elizabeth II for a royal visit celebrating the hundredth anniversary of British Columbia’s entry into the Confederation of Canada. Cavelti won his third Diamonds International award for this design and his fourth was awarded in 1977 for a pavé-set platinum necklace.

Cavelti was quite involved with the community of Vancouver through his relationships with his clients, and his support of the arts. Over the years Cavelti sat on the boards of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Opera. After selling his company Cavelti focused on his painting and wire sculptures and has sold and exhibited his works.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of design materials and drawings, promotional materials, correspondence related to the design of a necklace for Queen Elizabeth, a copy of a CBC documentary about Cavelti and a short unpublished autobiography. These records relate to Cavelti's activities as a jeweler and business owner in Vancouver, as well as his personal life.

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