Archive for April, 2013

A bit Off-topic, but who could resist these incredible Victorian Earrings? Not me!

While the focus of this blog is on all things 18th century, with emphasis on the Royal Navy, I sometimes come across something which is either so bizarre (the Battle for the Eternal Light, for example!) or awesome that I stretch the timeframe a little. In any case, this is still Age of Sail, though thoroughly not sailing related!

Dear readers, I give you

A BOX.

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CONTAINING VICTORIAN OWL EARRINGS.

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OWL EARRINGS!

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TAWNY OWL EARRINGS! IN A CAGE!

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If you’re not squeeing with delight and pawing at the screen right now, then – well, then you don’t. But these earrings are some of the most astonishing pieces of jewellery I’ve ever come across. According to the Antiques Roadshow expert, the owls date to between 1865  – 1868, and he valued them at £ 3’000 (!!!).

And the cherry on top of the awesome-cake: the owner does still wear these earrings – the last time at a Harry Potter fancy dress party! Go you, Hedwig!

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22 April, 2013 at 8:46 pm 4 comments

Gallery of Fashion – Lady’s 18th Century Fashion Guide

After a lengthy drought in all things 18th century, the Antiques Roadshow finally featured something of interest to this blog again. And  on one of your most popular topics: fashion!

A lady brought along four 18th century fashion guides, dated 1795. Illustrated with 174 of the most stunning fashion plates, these guides gave highly detailed information on all things chic. What to wear, where when, how and in what manner – the “Vogue” of the Age of Enlightenment, of sorts, only without the intent to make everybody look like clowns. Bonnets, morning dresses, gloves, even how to style your ringlets. The complete guide to beauty.

How I’d love to flip through those pages… I did flip something else, though, when the expert stated that the value of those guides was in the fashion plates (about £100 per plate), and what some would do was to cut the books to sell them.

Pray tell, what did I just hear? Cut the books? Cut the books?!

How about pointing out the historic value, which is in the context? How about selling prints instead? I hope to the Gods nobody ever comes along and has a long-lost portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds valued by her, she might advice to cut it down to fit the frame.

Luckily, the owner of the books immediately said that she had no intention to cut the books. Brava, brava!

Edit for clarification: the expert didn’t say “go forth and cut ye olde bookes”. But she said, as I wrote above, that the value was only in the fashion plates, made no mention of the historical value and context at all, and gave the impression that cutting the books wouldn’t be a big deal. Antiques Roadshow experts always put emphasis on context and historical value as soon as an item dates back to WWI or WWII. However, history is more than wars. I don’t think a comment along the lines of “…some would cut the books to sell them, which would be a real shame/remove the historical context etc.” would have been too much to ask of an expert.

Here are some of the plates – please note that I had to do a bit of “cut and paste” work to show them as complete as possible, but due to ratio issues during capping, you can sometimes see where I patched the individual pictures together. Nevermind, I hope you will enjoy them, anyway.

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“Watering Place” – needless to say, this was my favourite of the plates shown on telly!

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What fascinated me was the date of these guides – 1795. It’s very much Regency – which was still 16 years away! Fashion is faster than politics, it seems!

17 April, 2013 at 10:50 pm 1 comment

Release the Hounds, Collingwoodites: Thieves Steal a Lock of Admiral Collingwood’s Hair (and more!)

Ladies and gentlemen, your help is urgently needed:

The Lord Mayor of Newcastle’s Mansion in Fernwood Road in Jesmond has been broken into on  1 April. Police believe that  burglars broke in through the cellar overnight between last Monday and Tuesday. The criminals stole

  • a gold Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Labour Party founder Arthur Henderson in 1934 (the medal bears the inscription “Parlimentum Norvegial A Munro Henderson” and is with a presentation scroll in a leather case)
  • a large amount of antique silverware (silver cups dating back to 1919, a set of four Victoria napkin rings embossed with a star from 1875, a William IV snuff box dating back to 1834, a George II mustard pot from 1759 and a Queen Anne silver love cup engraved with two Queen Anne coat of arms)
  • and a lock of hair from Admiral Lord Collingwood. It was kept in a circular oak box with an engraved inscription: “This box which was made out of transform of the Royal Sovereign and enclosed a lock of the hair of the late Lord Collingwood, was presented by Admiral Thomas to the Corporation of Newcastle Upon Tyne.”

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These are very distinct items which are almost impossible to sell through “regular” channels (unless the criminals melt the silver down, which I really don’t hope they’ll do), and I don’t think waiting for any of these items to turn up on The Antique’s Roadshow in twenty years is the way to go. So let’s try to do a bit of detective work:

There’s not much we can do about the medal or the silverware, but if anybody, anywhere should try to sell a lock of Collingwood’s hair or inquire about its value, chances are that one of us will notice. So please, keep your eyes and ears open, and don’t hesitate to contact the police if you see somebody trying to sell any of the above-mentioned items!

Anyone with information on the burglary is asked to call Northumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.

By the way, former  Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd and technology tycoon Graham Wylie have offered £30,000 for the return of these items.

6 April, 2013 at 9:51 pm 1 comment


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