Monday, 9 February 2015

SUPER FANCY JEWELS, A SUPER FANCY THIEF, OH AND ALSO NAPOLEAN

MUSEUM MONDAY

BY ALEXANDRA JEFFERY

Napoleon's mother, Maria Laetitia Ramolino Bonaparte's acrostic bracelet that
spells 'Letitia': Lapis Lazuli, Emerald, Turquoise, Idocrasio, Tourmaline,
Ialino (Hyaline) and Amethyst.
From Jeweler Magazine.

Recently I came across a story about Napoleon's jewels. They had arrived in Australia, at the National Gallery of Victoria. And by recently I mean last month and by "had arrived" I mean in 2012.

Well whatever they're still pretty no matter how behind I am in the news.

Empress Josephine’s shell cameo diadem, presented to her by her
brother-in-law Joachim Murat Empire period 1804–15 gold, shell,
mother-of-pearl, cameos, pearls, precious and semi-precious
stones
From Jeweler Magazine.

1808–13 Box with a crowned N monogram Empire period 1804–15
gold, diamonds, enamel. 
From Jeweler Magazine.

1780–1814 Malachite parure (Parure en malachite) Empire period
1804–15 gold, malachite, pearls
. From Jeweler Magazine.

There are a couple fancy, pretty things you can see above. What really caught my eye was the touch watch that belonged to Jerome Bonaparte:

Abraham-Louis Breguet Swiss 1747–1823 Touch watch belonging to
Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia 1809 gold, diamonds,
pearls, enamel.
From Jeweler Magazine.
I had to look up what a touch watch was because I hadn't heard of one before. They are also called montre a tact or tact watch, and were invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet. The intent of the watch was to relay the time based on touch. According to Foundation De La Haute Horlogorie: "In the late eighteenth century it was considered impolite to consult one's watch in company... Knobs representing the hours are positioned around the case with a large hand that could be turned until it met resistance. Its position in relation to the knobs gave the time."

The one above was discovered on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, well according to my Wikipedia search it was, so now it is FACT.

Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823).
My little sojourn into Abraham-Louis Breguet's watch-making (the Breguet Company is now the luxury division of the Swiss Watch Group) led me to this awesome article in Wired about the theft of a rare collection of timepieces from the Mayer Institute in Los Angeles. One of the pieces stolen was "The Queen:" "a priceless gold pocket watch designed for Marie Antoinette by legendary Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet."

I'll just give you the highlights here of what happened: April night, 1983; theft valued at 700,000.00 (USD); ex-Israeli army intelligence officer as the investigator; becomes a cold case; 2006 woman contacts a lawyer about some timepieces her husband had owned THAT HE CONFESSED ON HIS DEATHBED THAT HE HAD STOLEN 2 DECADES AGO; the pieces are returned to the museum; the Queen now valued at 30 million dollars.

Also the Wired article gives a pretty cool summary of the thief's--Na'aman Diller--life as a burglar. This is some real life heisting okay?

2 comments:

  1. The life of an object is a complicated thing - this watch has quite the story! Thank you for sharing it with us!

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