If I had £5,000 to invest what would I buy?

Aurélia Turrall, Jewellery Specialist

Autumn is upon us, and so we all prepare to bring our winter coats and hats down from the attic ready to face the colder days and chill in the air. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Who says new season, says new coats, and perhaps new jewels…

If I had £5,000 I would buy myself a beautiful Art Déco diamond double clip brooch. And that would certainly brighten up any cold day and any winter coat or hat! Why would I pick that particular piece? The answer is simple and straight forward: one can never go wrong with diamonds. Diamonds are timeless, full of fire, brilliance and sparkle. Diamonds set in Art Déco pieces are often a mix between old brilliant-cut (round) and very sharp calibré-cut. Calibré-cut is the name for those stones which have been cut to fit a precise piece of jewellery. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can be diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, onyx… the list goes on. It is that unique combination of cuts which I find fascinating and exciting when wearing a piece of jewellery. Choosing an older piece of jewellery means embracing its history. With Art Déco, the history is in the stones, but not only. The material used to mount the stones changed from gold to platinum. Platinum became a new favourite in the roaring 20s and was used by all the great designers. So much so that Cartier launched their new platinum jewellery collection on the same day they opened their studio in Paris, rue de la Paix, because of what it represented in the world of jewellery. This new technique offered more sturdiness to the pieces and brighter metal.

But Art Déco is so much more than stones and metal. It is a symbol, synonymous of freedom and order after a world in chaos. The straight lines found in Art Déco jewellery break with the traditional ribbons and swags from the Belle époque. They can appear simple but are in fact very complex, combining circular shapes with kite or baguette-cuts for example. They are designed with an edge to give women an edge. The pieces can be angular but more importantly they have clean lines, with perfect symmetry, no room for “delicacy” found in earlier jewels. Even though on close inspection, Art Déco pieces are incredibly delicate as they try to juggle new shapes, cuts and combinations of colours. With an all diamond-set piece, one is able to add it to any coloured outfit.

A double-clip brooch from that period would combine all of the above and even more. I would pick this item for its ambivalence. It can be worn as one piece, or separately, allowing to wear one part on a silk scarf, to tie the two ends together for example, and the other perhaps on one’s coat, hat or a suit.

Chic and timeless, an Art Déco piece worn in a man’s world makes a strong statement of equality and fearlessness, fitting any suit or garment with its contemporary look filled with history. 

If I had £5,000 to invest what would I buy?

By Alastair Meiklejon, Senior Valuer and Wristwatch Specialist

£5,000 – it seems like a lot of money to be spending on a watch doesn’t it? A piece of mechanical jewellery that serves pretty much no other purpose than to look good, and make the owner proud to be wearing it… however, in the world of horological collections £5,000 is almost a starting point for many top tier watches.

The watches that I have included today represent the most popular category in the market – the gentleman’s stainless steel sports watch. If you have read my articles on the Rolex Submariner, you will be aware that even trying to look at one of these brand new is somewhat akin to trying to buy toilet roll in 2020, and unless you have the contacts, don’t even think about owning one until you have been on the waiting list for years…
We will however start with a couple of notable mentions – firstly the Ulysse Nardin Diver 8163. It’s a brilliant, strong move from a company that has always had a little bit of an identity crisis – from supplying the majority of the worlds naval forces to releasing slightly risqué watches with different images from the Kama Sutra, Ulysse Nardin have always been a choice for those who wanted something a bit different and this 42mm diver is about as accessible as they will ever get, it’s a great looking watch with a bold dial and bezel, and at £5,600 (I know I am cheating a little) I think it’s a great alternative to a modern Submariner.

Second, is the Grand Seiko Sport Automatic Spring Drive GMT which also comes in at around £5,500. This is a slightly bizarre choice as Grand Seiko occupy the position as the ‘Lexus’ of the watch world – everyone knows they probably make the best product, will work brilliantly well forever and when they need servicing, it will be at a moderate cost. So why aren’t they flying off the shelves? Because of that badge unfortunately. It’s a great shame, but wearing a £5,000 watch, with the same heritage as the digital timepiece I wore to school just doesn’t create the same desire as some of the more luxury brands we all know and love.
So – what would I buy with £5,000?
There is only one option, not only do I think that this is the best watch for the money, I also think that to a certain degree, you would be hard pushed to find a better time piece in many greater price brackets.
The Omega Seamaster – it is frankly, brilliant.
Coming in at £4,450 it’s also about a grand cheaper than my other alternatives, but never looks like a cheap watch. Omega are without doubt one of the power houses of Swiss watch design, Rolex are simply young upstarts when it comes to heritage (in fact Hans Wilsdorf launched Rolex as a cheaper alternative to Omega) and Omega can claim many of the worlds most notable horological moments including the first watch on the moon. Currently though, most people will associate the brand with James Bond, and that’s ok – what better ambassador than a secret agent whom can jump
out of planes, trains and blow stuff up – all with the aid of his timepiece.
The Seamaster, in my opinion is all the watch you would ever need in this category, it’s a proper divers watch with a stunning dial, a comfortable bracelet, 300m water resistance, and a great brand heritage. There are a multitude of colours to buy them in and you can literally walk into a shop and buy one, without having to sell your soul or pay a massive premium to own one.
A great watch, at a great price point.

If I had £5,000 to invest what would I buy?

Ben Hanly Modern and Contemporary Art Specialist

£5,000 to buy art – sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? It is certainly a decent chunk of change to play with – large enough to focus the mind and to open the possibility of buying something a little bit more special than a decorative wall filler. Conversely, the moment one starts looking at works in a slightly higher price bracket, and by artists who have more pedigree, suddenly £5,000 doesn’t seem that much at all! A strategy is, therefore, needed if the canny buyer is to maximise their buying power.
For me, if I had £5,000 to spend on one artwork, I would adopt a twofold approach – firstly I would look to buy as good a work on paper as I could find by an artist whose work I loved, but whose paintings are out of my reach. Secondly, in order to maximise my buying power, I would concentrate my search entirely on the auction market rather than buying from a retail gallery. Buying from auction can take a little more time, and it needs a little more research by the collector, but it often allows one to buy works considerably cheaper than retail level. As a famous supermarket says – every little helps!
The artist I would buy with my £5,000 is an artist who I think is significantly undervalued in the current market, both in terms of his talent as well as in comparison to the values many of his contemporaries achieve. Keith Vaughan is a relatively overlooked Modern British artist who was born in 1912 at Selsey Bill in Sussex. He was a self-taught artist with no formal instruction in art, yet he went onto forge a highly individualist and distinctive career which has until fairly recently has been overshadowed by the giants of his generation – Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Terry Frost, Ivan Hitchens etc.

Vaughan started his career as a commercial artist when he was apprenticed at the Lintas advertising agency, from which he gained an understanding of composition and form – both essential skills in commercial art. From 1939, after he left Lintas, Vaughan became a full-time artist. With the outbreak of World War II, Vaughan declared himself a conscientious objector and joined the St John Ambulance; in 1941 he was conscripted into the Non-Combatant Corps.

During the war Vaughan formed friendships with the painters Graham Sutherland and John Minton, with whom after demobilisation in 1946 he shared premises. Through these contacts he formed part of the neo-romantic circle of the immediate post-war period. However, Vaughan rapidly developed an idiosyncratic style which moved him away
from the Neo-Romantics. Concentrating on studies of male figures, his works became increasingly abstract.
Vaughan worked as an art teacher at the Camberwell College of Arts, the Central School of Art and later at the Slade School.

During the war Vaughan formed friendships with the painters Graham Sutherland and John Minton, with whom after demobilisation in 1946 he shared premises. Through these contacts he formed part of the neo-romantic circle of the immediate post-war period. However, Vaughan rapidly developed an idiosyncratic style which moved him away
from the Neo-Romantics. Concentrating on studies of male figures, his works became increasingly abstract.
Vaughan worked as an art teacher at the Camberwell
College of Arts, the Central School of Art and later at the Slade School.
Throughout his life, Vaughan’s struggled with his own internal demons. Vaughan was a gay man living in a time when homosexuality was illegal and actively frowned upon by Society. His struggle with his sexuality is reflected throughout his work and in his source of subject matter. Studies of figures and male nudes feature heavily in his work, although they are simplified and abstracted showing the influence of both international Modernism, Cubism his love of ballet and dance. Vaughan suffered from habitual depression and alcoholism, which eventually resulted in his suicide in 1977.

One might be forgiven for thinking that in light of all this Vaughan’s work would be negative and dour, however, this is wrong. As is often the case, personal struggles can produce works of great sensitivity and subtly. Vaughan’s work has a graphic quality that is softened by the use of a very sophisticated colour palette. They are very beautiful, elegant images.
The commercial art market has begun to reflect the increasing interest in, and appreciation of Vaughan’s work, with good examples now regularly achieving six figure sums at the auction. His works are also appearing more frequently at high end art fairs, where wall space has a commercial value, and a dealer’s decision to show a Vaughan instead of another artist is a calculated strategy, and one that reflects growing demand.
And yet, even with this increased visibility Vaughan’s work is still undervalued in relation to many of his contemporaries, and it represents significant investment potential. His drawings in particular are surprisingly accessible financially and it is entirely possible to buy lovely pencil or pen and ink studies for a thousand or two, sometimes less; and more important, finished watercolours and gouaches can be bought within our £5,000 budget at auction.
How long this relative accessibility will last, I cannot say, but in my opinion now is definitely the time to buy Vaughan’s work if like it and respond to it. Clearly, as always, liking an artist’s work is the primary reason for buying it, but it’s always nice to have a healthy upside too.

Licence To Spend, The True Cost of Being Bond

By Alastair Meiklejon, Senior Valuer

Finally, this month will see the release of the much anticipated ‘No Time to Die’ – the 25th film in the James Bond series, despite a very long wait since the original release date the world is waiting to see just what Bond can offer in Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007.
It is a phenomenon that in 2021, a character such as Bond can still pull the crowds, but it’s the franchise that always wins and whatever is associated with Bond generally brings in the royalties as well. With a supposed birthday of the 11th of November 1920, he is certainly looking good for his age…
How though, has Bond changed over the years? In 1962 when ‘Dr. No’ was released, it’s doubtful that anyone could have seen just what effect the Scottish/Swiss secret agent (who was named after an expert on American birds, and one of Ian Fleming’s favourite authors) would have on films, products and computer games to name but a few.
Now, what a lot of people don’t realise is that Bond’s car was a Bentley – according to Ian Fleming – the Aston Martin came with the films, but the DB5 is now possibly the most recognisable movie car on the planet, possibly more recognisable than some of the lesser-known Bond actors (sorry, Timothy). Strangely, the most expensive example of this legend is a Bond car, but not as one might imagine. The promotional car for ‘Goldfinger’ (1964) sold a couple of years ago for close to £5,000,000 and was in remarkable condition as Mr Connery had never driven it in anger during production. To put it in context a standard DB5, minus ejector seat and oil slick jets, can be purchased for under a million.

For those with a lesser budget, my choice would always be the Alfa Romeo GTV6 driven by Roger Moore in Octopussy – obviously this was a prop car as when I owned one of these, saving the world from nuclear destruction would not have been on my agenda – just getting it to start was considered a success.

Bond’s watches are another example of how one man (and maybe a great marketing department) can change the course of a product. So, what was the first ever Bond watch on screen? It was the instantly forgettable Gruen Precision 510 (Connery’s personal watch, and worn in many other Bond outings)… but nobody cares about that and so we always talk about the Rolex Submariner 6538.

Again, the source of the watch was reputably Connery, although it has been hinted that it may have belong to production staff… with the passing of Connery, I suppose we will never get the full lowdown… what is true however is the escalating value of the 6538 along with most other vintage Rolex sports models. If you want to` be a part of the ‘Big Crown’ Rolex club, be ready to hand over close to £100,000 for a good one these days.
There are of course, again many other options for classic Bond watches, with Seiko, Breitling and most recently Omega, whom have pretty much rejuvenated a brand tanks to Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig wearing some timepieces that do far, far more than tell the time.
When we look at the clothes that Bond sports, there has always been that sartorial elegance with Bond, with Daniel Craig wearing a symphony of Tom Ford attire, with accoutrements by Sunspel, Orlebar Brown and many others but, for me nothing beats Roger Moore in the Safari Suit though, capturing a moment when being a secret agent required a pair of flared trousers, and preferably with a silk cravat.
So, over the years – many things have changed with Bond from watches, to cars, and clothing manufacturers. Hopefully, ‘No Time to Die’ will be as good as we have come to expect from 007, as nobody does it better…

Sir Terry Frost, 1915-2003

By Jonathan Horwich, Modern and Contemporary Art Specialist

To be asked to write an article about one of my favourite artists is truly a delight. Terry Frost’s muse wasn’t a person but the Cornish town of St Ives. Thanks to Covid this unique seaside town with all its artistic heritage, glorious light, sights and sounds of the sea, which was for so long an inspiration for Terry, is now the ‘go to’ vacation spot for families across the UK, so hopefully current and future generations will get to see for themselves just what inspired Terry and so many other great artists over the years.

Terry was born and brought up in Warwickshire, he left school at 14 and started work locally, working mostly manual jobs with no sense that his natural artistic ability would ever make him a living. When war came he served as a regular soldier, first in France then the Middle East and Greece before joining the Commandos. While serving with them in Crete in June 1941 he was captured and sent to various prisons for the duration of the war. During his time at Stalag 383 in Bavaria, he met the painter Adrian Heath who saw Terry’s talent and encouraged him to paint. Terry later described these years as ‘a tremendous spiritual experience’, he felt that he had gained ‘a more aware or heightened sense of perception during my semi starvation.’

As soon as the war was over, Terry went to study at the Birmingham College of Art, he soon discovered the action was in London and moved down to Camberwell School of Art. By 1946 he had removed to study at St Ives School of painting for one year where he held his first one man exhibition in 1947. He continued his studies in London and Cornwall and when in 1950 he was elected a member of the Penwith Society, he made a move to St Ives in 1951. He later taught at Leeds and in Cyprus and finally settled in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1963.
In 1960, Frost held his first one-man show in New York at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery. This exhibition was a seminal moment in his career and he said of this experience:
In New York they all came to my exhibition, de Kooning, Rothko, Klein. Newman and Motherwell all took me to their studios.

I accepted it all as normal and they accepted me. They were all painters struggling to get somewhere like I was. They worked hard; they would sleep until noon, do eight or nine hours in the studio, and then starting at eleven at night proceeded to drink me under the table! Then we’d go out at four in the morning and have breakfast at a Chinese restaurant.’
I first met Terry in the 1980’s during my early days at Christie’s, I would see him either at our auction preview ‘Drinks’ or at his shows at the Whitford gallery just around the corner in Duke Street. He was always full of fun and told great stories such as this one from his days working in the 1950’s as an assistant to the sculptor Barbara Hepworth in her studios in St Ives … Hepworth was convinced her clients would not buy her work if they knew she didn’t make everything herself, so she was understandably nervous whenever prospective clients came to visit her studios. Terry told me that whenever visits took place he and the other assistants all went down to the pub until the coast was clear. One particular day important clients were coming so Terry and the other assistants made themselves scarce in the pub as usual, expecting on their return to find the visitors long gone. However as soon they arrived back Barbara told them to hide, the clients has arrived late and were still in the house and would be coming up the path any minute now. The assistants all managed to quickly find a hiding place and Barbara began showing the clients around the garden and studio. Terry was well hidden behind a bushy tree, however he could feel all the beer was beginning to well up inside him and very soon he was going to have to pee ! He hung on and on but with the tour continuing he could hold out no longer. He couldn’t risk nipping to the loo so performed the task from his bushy hiding place thinking he had got away with it. However unknown to Terry he had unwittingly created a small river which was running swiftly down the path towards Barbara and her prospective clients, Barbara noticed the stream but luckily her clients were too busy enjoying their tour to notice and Terry got an ‘earful’ from the boss after they had gone.

Terry’s many talents were fully recognised during his long career, he was made an R.A. in 1992 and Knighted in 1998. Speaking in the 1980’s about his work he said; ‘A shape is a shape, a flower is a flower.

A shape of red can contain as much content as the shape of a red flower. I don’t see why one should have to have any association, nostalgia or evocation of any kind. It boils down
to the value of the shape and the colour.’
Terry was always making art and exploring new avenues and mediums. I went to his last London show at the Whitford Gallery to see he had totally changed his medium and had made wonderfully colourful moulded and blown glass pieces. Forever energetic and full of new ideas, Terry Frost represents all that is good and great about late 20th century British Art.

Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense

Rupert Neelands, Antiquarian Book and Manuscript Specialist

Though not the inventor Edward Lear (1812-1888) was certainly the great user and populariser of the verse form we call the limerick. One example of his work, previously unknown, has just come to light after being long hidden in the Charnwood Autograph Collection in the British Library.
It concerns the inevitable ‘old man’, this time on a bicycle, and was composed for a young lady, Mary Theresa Mundella (1847-1922) whom Lear often wrote to. As the expression of an absurd situation, with an undertone of violence, it is a highly characteristic piece of nonsense:
There was an old man on a Bycicle,
Whose nose was adorned with an Icicle;
But they said — ‘If you stop,
It will certainly drop,
& abolish both you and your Bycicle’.
The unfortunate bicyclist is, of course, drawn in. Lear illustrated all his own poems, demonstrating equal fertility of imagination as a poet and artist.Born in the village of Holloway on 12 May, 1812, he was the twentieth child in a family of twenty-one children. His devoted older sister, Ann, brought him up in a separate home from his countless siblings. Suffering from epilepsy, chronic asthma and weak eyesight, his education was mostly at her hands. His father, a stockbroker of Danish background, had understandable money troubles. Fortunately, Lear’s natural ability as an artist and draughtsman enabled him to earn a living from the age of sixteen, and ultimately win the wholesale admiration of society. Between July and August 1846 he visited Queen Victoria at Osborne House in order to teach her ‘landscape painting in watercolours’. But he was also faced with the difficulties of being a homosexual in the morally censorious climate of mid-19th-century England. While he was to find living abroad easier, he was always a lonely man and this comes across in the sad, forlorn quality of his nonsense poems.

The recently formed Zoological Society of London employed the young Lear as an ‘ornithological draughtsman’. His first publication, Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots, began to appear in parts when he was nineteen, publication continuing from 1830 to 1832. This exotic publication was based on the Zoological Society’s own collection of specimens, and it was through the Society that he first made the acquaintance of Lord Stanley, later 13th Earl of Derby. The aviary and menagerie at Knowsley Hall, Lord Stanley’s ancestral home near Liverpool, were the largest in the kingdom, eventually occupying 100 acres of land and 70 acres of water.

Lear accepted Lord Stanley’s invitation to reside at Knowsley, which he did on and off in the years 1832-1837. His role as artist in residence was to record the singular-looking birds and mammals in his patron’s zoo, and he became the first major artist to draw birds from life instead of skins. In his leisure time he entertained the children at Knowsley with poems, drawings, alphabets and menus.

He illustrated the limericks he found in Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen (circa 1822), and his mind soon teemed with his own. However, he never used the term limerick, preferring to call his lyrics ‘nonsenses’. His charming conversation and piano improvisations were no less pleasing to the adults.

Lear moved to Rome in 1837, joining a circle of expatriate English painters and writers, landscape drawing made less of a demand on his weak eyesight. A ten year sojourn in Italy led to two richly illustrated books, Views in Rome and Its Environs (1841) and the 2-volume Illustrated Excursions in Italy (1846-1847). The year 1846 also saw publication of two other titles. Both contained depictions of birds and animals, and were yet utterly different in character. Gleanings from the Menagerie at Knowsley Hall, a book paid for by his patron, was a folio illustrated with 17 hand-coloured lithographed plates after Lear, a serious work of natural history.

The Book of Nonsense by Down Derry Down was an all-lithographed work in two parts, each bound separately in two oblong octavo volumes, their content seventy-two limericks printed on one side of the leaf only, each with an illustration after the author. Both volumes had the same pictorial front board capturing the moment of uproarious delight when the poet-artist passes his Book of Nonsense to a group of children. The accompanying limerick reads:
There was an old Derry down Derry,
Who loved to see little folks merry:
So he made them a Book,
And with laughter they shook,
At the fun of that Derry down Derry!
Just visible beneath this opening limerick is the date 10 February 1846 and the imprint of Thomas McLean, 26 Haymarket. About 500 copies were published by McLean, and sold at 3/6d.

Lear persisted with the pseudonym of ‘Derry Down Derry’ for the second one-volume edition by McLean which appeared in 1856. This reprint is today rarer than the first edition itself. A third edition, commissioned from Routledge, Warne and Routledge by the author, was published in 1861-62, and became the basis for all future editions. This time, Lear supplied 43 new limericks accompanied by his illustrations; lithographs were replaced by wood-engravings made from his drawings by the Dalziel brothers, who did the printing. Three limericks in the original edition were deemed unsatisfactory and dropped. Lear, who was named as author for the first time, included this dedication expressing how his poems had already given pleasure to two generations: ‘To the Great-Grandchildren, Grand-Nephews, and Grand-Nieces of Edward, 13th Earl of Derby, this book of drawings and verses (the greater part of which were originally made and composed for their parents) is dedicated by the author, Edward Lear’. The dedication is dated 1862 at the foot.

Once the third edition of 2000 copies had sold out, copyright was bought by Routledge who reissued it on a regular basis. Within only two years, it had reached a ‘fourteenth edition’. The first American edition is probably that by Willis P. Hazard of Philadelphia in 1863, copying the Routledge printing of the same year.
After settling at San Remo, Italy, Lear published three more volumes of nonsense with his own illustrations. Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets appeared in 1871. Its most famous poems include ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, written for the three year old Janet Symonds, and ‘The Jumblies’. Both narrate journeys to remote places. But in their romance, the owl and the pussycat go to sea in a pea-green boat, while the Jumblies seal their fate by departing for ‘far’ places in a sieve.
More Nonsense, 1872, was devoted to fresh limericks. Laughable Lyrics. A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, last to come out in 1877, included favourites like ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’ and ‘The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò’. Lear’s inventiveness seemed to have no limits. Nonsensical creatures abound in this last volume, as do nonsensical landscapes like ‘the Hills of the Chankly Bore’ and ‘the Great Gromboolian Plain’.
All too commonly the Book of Nonsense was read to destruction. This is especially true of the first edition, whose pages were glued but not sewn together. ‘The two volumes consisted of individual leaves glued to the back with rubber solution; the contents, prone to disintegration, often fell to pieces and were thrown away. Others were rescued, but rebound with leaves missing or replaced in a different order. This did not make for wide distribution, and when a second edition was published in 1855, it too was shoddily lithographed and bound’ (Grolier 32). A census taken by Justin Schiller in 1988 located only 11 complete and 12 incomplete copies of the first edition, though the number of survivals now appears a little higher than that.

In buying a modern edition of Lear’s nonsense verse, it is important to ensure that all his original illustrations are included, and not just a small selection of them. For it is actually the interplay between illustration and text which is the source of enjoyment. If you read the ‘nonsense’ first, it raises the question of how the illustration can make sense of it. If you begin with the illustration, you then want to know how its grotesqueness can possibly be explained in the snippets of verse below. Invariably the focus is on a single individual, separated by one peculiarity from the rest of society and essentially in conflict with it. In some cases eccentricity triumphs over dull conformity, in others it lamentably fails. But the game of seeing how verse and illustration match up together provides endless fun.
Lear had begun to systematically collect and illustrate limericks, some years before A Book of Nonsense appeared in 1846. Evidence for this comes from an amazing 2-volume manuscript notebook filled with drawings and limericks, included in the Edward Lear exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1985. The notebook had first been uncovered in 1981; to then be published by Penguin as Bosh and Nonsense in 1982, at which point it was given an 1860s date of composition. However, the date was revised to the early 1840s by the Royal Academy, and when the notebook was auctioned in 1986 Sotheby’s agreed. The contents were summarised as ‘79 humorous ink drawings and the accompanying autograph verses, each on a separate sheet, numbered 1-80, number 11 no longer present’. 16 of the limericks had never been included in print, while the variation among the drawings was even greater. ‘At least twenty’ were ‘alternative designs, with no similarity to the published drawings’. The notebook left its estimate of £40,000-60,000 behind to reach a figure of £143,000, a sum which would easily be tripled, perhaps even quadrupled, if it went under the hammer today.

Copies of A Book of Nonsense in first edition form which are badly worn and/or defective won’t normally command a big price. Three copies of the first edition came up for auction in 2016, following a period of 12 years in which there had been no recorded sales (see ABPC database). In March 2016, Bonham’s sold a first edition lacking 2 plates for only £800 hammer. In May, the price rose slightly for a much repaired copy lacking one plate. This made $2000 at Swann’s. Such incomplete copies may be destined for framing, if not too damaged. However, the third copy sold at Sotheby’s on 20 October 2016, was certainly not one to be broken up. This was complete, and despite being ‘affected by spotting and browning throughout’, bidding closed at £35,000 hammer, not a bad investment for 3/6d.

The French Crown Jewels – Transformations and Fate of The Collection

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Aurélia Turrall, Jewellery Specialist

Louis XV did not add to the collection but instead had stones recut. He especially had the Côte-de-Bretagne recut in the shape of a dragon to be set in the Golden Fleece. By recutting it, the stone now weighs almost half of what it did.

Replica of the Golden Fleece

The Côte-de-Bretagne and the Golden fleece are amongst the very few pieces ever to be found after the great theft of 1792. Over the course of a few days, thousands of jewels,tapestries and furniture was stolen at the Hotel de la Marine, the royal storage since 1775. No one knows who exactly is responsible for the heist and accusations were made against everyone. Many were executed by guillotine, which had been moved in front of the Hotel de la Marine as a statement. Other thieves survived by revealing the whereabouts of the jewels and furniture. The Sancy and blue diamond were lost, but the Côte-de-Bretagne was found in Holland, where it was recut and sold in England. It was later brought back to France along with the Regent.

Napoleon added to the collection over the years.

“Napoleon” diamond necklace, Smithsonian Museum

In 1814, when Louis XVIII came to power, the crown jewels counted 65,072 stones and pearls: 57,771 diamonds, 5,630 pearls, 1,671 coloured stones (424 rubies, 66 sapphires, 57emeralds, 235 amethysts, 547 turquoise, 24 cameos, 14 opals and 89 topaz).

Charles X had some diamonds set in a sword. The sword was modified by Napoleon III, by adding bee motifs and number III. It was stolen from the Louvre in 1976 remains lost to this day.
During the III Republic, the Crown jewels were exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1878 and again in 1887 at the Louvre. In 1882 a vote was put forward by Benjamin Raspail to decommission the Crown jewels to be sold and dispersed. The Republic wanted nothing to do with Royalty. The vote was 325 yes against 85 no. Luckily the Regent and Côte-de-Bretagne were given to the Louvre and the Musée des Mines.

The Crown jewels were offered for sale a few years later in 1887 over the course of 9 sessions at the Louvre. The sale was a success for the government but a historical and gemmological disaster. Gems were unset so none would be traceable to a particular monarch or piece of jewellery. The biggest buyers were Boucheron, Tiffany and Van Cleef. Bapst Frères also purchased many in order to keep the gems in France.

Tiffany sold many pieces to American heiress who wanted a piece of history and French aristocracy. William Waldorf Astor purchased the Sancy and donated it to the Louvre. Over the last 70 years, the Louvre has tried to buy back as many pieces as possible. There are currently 23 pieces in the Apollo Gallery.

The French Crown Jewels – Greatest Acquisitions and Additions to The Collection

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Aurélia Turrall, Jewellery Specialist

Henri IV and his wife Catherine de Medicis decided to rebuild and add to the collection of the Crown jewels. Nicolas Harlay de Sancy was in charge of Henri IV finances. He owned two diamonds which he purchased from the King of Portugal. He recut these and named them Grand Sancy and Beau Sancy. He offered to sell the Sancy to Henri IV who declined stating it was too expensive. Instead, he bought the Beau Sancy.

The diamonds most likely came from India and could have been part of the jewels belonging to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy 1467-1477. Amongst his jewels were the White Rose diamond. It is rumoured the Sancy could
be the same stone.

The Beau Sancy, K colour, light brown, SI1 clarity, type IIa (type IIa diamonds are chemically “cleaner” and often have exceptional clarity) weighing 34.98 carats. In 1610, Marie de Medicis had the Beau Sancy set atop her coronation crown.

The following day, Henri IV was murdered by Ravaillac. For four centuries the diamond was owned by several European Royal houses, such as the House of Medici, Kings of England and Prussia. It was sold by Sotheby’s in 2012 for £5.3 million to a private collector.

The Sancy weighs 55.23 carats. It has 51 facets and was considered to be one of the most beautiful diamond for almost two centuries until the Cullinan was found in 1905 in South Africa.

It was purchased by James I for 60,000 French crowns and was set in the Mirror of Great Britain.

The Sancy was described in the Tower of London’s inventory as “…one fayre dyamonde, cut in fawcetts, bought of Sauncy…”

The Sancy was briefly owned by Charles I, King of England and then by his son James II. James had to flee to France under Louis XIV protection and brought with him the Sancy which he agreed to sell to Cardinal Mazarin in 1657 for £25,000.

Cardinal Mazarin was advisor to the young Louis XIV. Incredibly wealthy with a fortune said to be worth 22 tonnes of gold, he purchased gems and jewels which he will then bequeath to Louis XIV on his death with the condition that these could not be sold, had to remain all together and would be called the “Mazarins”.

Amongst those were 12 stones which he purchased from Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of England, wife of Charles I in exile from England. These stones are the foundation of the 18 “Mazarins”.

Louis XIV added to his collection by purchasing the Diamant de Guise in 1665 and in 1673 the Hortensia diamond, a pink 21.32 carat diamond.
Most, if not all diamonds came from India, more accessible than Borneo where diamonds were also found. During one of his last trips, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier brought back the “Tavernier Blue” which became the “Grand bleu de Louis XIV”. It weighed approximately 115.40 carats.

It was stolen in the great theft of 1792 and recut, down to 69 carats. It is said to be the well-known cursed Hope diamond, recut to prevent proper identification.

Tavernier also brought back the Grand Sapphire of Louis XIV, of Ceylon origin. The king purchased it in 1669 and weighs 135.80 carats. It was believed that sapphires could cure plagues which is why it was never cut. I is exhibited in Paris.

In 1691 an inventory was drawn up stating that there were: 5,885 diamonds, 1,588 coloured gems, 488 pearls adding to a total of 11,430,481 pounds.

The Regent diamond was added to the collection a few years later, bought by the Duke of Orléans in 1717, then Regent of France, for £135,000 (the equivalent of £21 million). It had taken two years to cut, 1703-1705, and finally weighed 140.64 carats.

It was considered to be the most beautiful and clean diamond, until the Cullinan, becoming a symbol of the French crown.

In 1722, the Regent was set at the front of Louis XV coronation the crown, the Sancy at the top of the fleur-de-lys alongside Mazarin diamonds.

It was subsequently set in Louis XVI coronation crown in 1775. In 1791 is was valued at £480,000 (the equivalent of £58 million).

Having won the Campagnes d’Italie (wars in Italy), a superstitious Napoleon had the Regent set in his sword in 1812, convinced it had made him win the wars. It was later set in Princess Eugenie’s diadem in 1825.

The French Crown Jewels – Early Jewels

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Aurélia Turrall, Jewellery Specialist

Francis I, French king from 1515-1547, decided to differentiate personal jewels to those belonging to the State. At the time, jewels were used to finance wars and for political purposes. In 1530 he selected 8 gems and jewels. Kings and Queens would enjoy these gems and jewels throughout their reign but the collection would be inalienable and had to be passed down on their death. The collection included three spinels called “balais rubies”, from the north region of Afghanistan called Badakhchan. In many crown jewels, spinels are described as rubies.

The most important was the Côte-de-Bretagne, a 214 carat spinel, probably from Pakistan. Originally it was an odd-shaped stone, with three points.

The stone belonged to Anne de Bretagne, wife of Louis XII and are linked to how Brittany became part of France.

The Côte-de-Bretagne is the only “survivor” of the original collection put together by Francois Ier. It has been pawned several times, coming and going numerous times. It has stood the test of time but not intact; re-cut for Louis XV in the shape of a dragon, bringing its weight down to 107 carats. The stone is so large that it could have financed a whole city at the time.

The other spinels were the Oeuf de Naples (the egg of Naples, top) a 247 carat spinel added by Francis II, and l’A-Romain (the Roman A, for Anne of Brittany, bottom).

A diamond pendant was amongst the 1565 inventory of Mary Stuart. It was a diamond pendant with table cut diamonds, bought to her by her husband, Francis II, when she was Queen consort of France between 1559 and 1560.

He also purchased the Great Table, a 41 carat diamond, worth 212kgs of gold. 30 years after Francis I death, his grandson Henri III pawned the Crown jewels, against his grandfather’s wishes, in order to pay for the religious wars. Very few jewels were bought back but the Côte-de-Bretagne was miraculously recovered.