The Gazette asked Count Jehan de la Marche, eighth King of the East, for memories of some of his early SCA experiences. This is the second installment he sent, which covered his memories of his reign.
The next event I recall was my coronation, which was also the next Crown Tourney, which was supposed to be the tradition at the time, though observed irregularly. (I believe it fell in late September or early October 1972.) It was held on a site in Beyond the Mountain which was basically an unmown field –the owner of the site had told the autocrat that it would be mowed in advance of the event, but it was not, so the field was covered in grass two or three feet high. Oddly enough, I have no distinct recollection of the moment that Cariadoc put the crown on my head, though I know the ceremony was very simple by later standards. I believe we used a version of the Archenlandish oath from C. S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy (”This is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s famine in the land, as must be sometimes, to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your kingdom.”) However, that belief is based on what I recall of the practice of the time, not direct memory of hearing it. The one moment I distinctly recall is that when I kissed my queen after crowning her, her crown fell off.
There was also the episode of the Queen’s Piper. Sometime before the coronation, I was walking through Wolsey Hall at Yale and heard a man playing a bagpipe alone in an empty auditorium. I had invited him to the coronation, and since there was already a King’s Piper (Sir Eyolf) I appointed this one (whose name I do not recall), the Queen’s Piper, whereupon Lauryon said “All right, now play.” Someone said “The queen has issued her first command,” and he played.
I recall asking Duke Cariadoc and Duke Akbar to serve as my guards. We had a lot of byplay in those days over our personas’ religions (nowadays it might be more sensitive). I said approximately that although I was a Christian king I had found Saracen dukes very reliable.
There was a very small crown tourney –I believe there were five fighters entered (the minimum under SCA law at the time) and I asked Duke Akbar to enter so we would have even numbers for the first round. He did and ended by winning the crown, defeating Sir Finnvarr de Taahe, who had lately moved to the East from the Middle Kingdom (Barony of North Woods).
The next event I recall was a tourney in the Barony of Myrkwood (Baltimore), then led by Begum Sita of Oudh. The main point I remember was the tourney destroyed four swords (all those available in the barony at the time). I believe Middle-trained fighters tended to hit harder than Eastern ones (on average) –there were some exceptions, such as Shlomo and Garanhir. Sir Finnvarr and I met in the final, and I won. I believe one of the other fighters was Alain du Rocher.
I believe the next event was the Carolingian Yule Revel –the ancestor of the masked ball, though I am not sure it was masked at that time. All I recollect distinctly was that there was some elegant dancing and that I ended the event (or at least the formal part) with a quotation from Shakespeare “Our revels now are ended.”
During my reign, I did issue the first code of laws for the East Kingdom, all or nearly all of which have since been superseded. They included an attempt to have a representative of the Crown in each group to encourage communication –which was never implemented –and a law advocating (as it could not be required) that subjects who could not attend the wars should contribute to the costs of those who served (scutage). Although this was never enforceable, and has not been law for many years, I was told lately that one lady in the East still abided by it and contributed to her friends’ costs of going to war. My recollection is that I circulated these laws by postal mail (there being no email in those days) rather than discussing them in a live council.
I also reorganized the kingdom order of merit – as I understand the situation (it was before my time), Duke Akbar in one of his earlier reigns had created the Order of the Silver Crescent, and then Shogun Rakkurai had created an equivalent Order of the Golden Dragon . I merged the two orders into the one Order of the Silver Crescent (all members of the Golden Dragon becoming members of the SIlver Crescent). At that time, I believe that order was the only order beneath peerage level in the kingdom.
The last major event of my reign was Twelfth Night held in the Barony of Myrkwood. My queen Lauryon was unable to attend due to illness, and so I asked Countess Abrizhade al-Medina O.L. (who had been queen to Franz von Blickend-Lichten, second king of the Middle) to serve as my ceremonial consort, which she graciously did.
The guests at the event included members of the Maryland Medieval Mercenary Militia (later Markland) who contributed considerably to the liveliness of the occasion. Two of them staged a mock dagger fight (with steel daggers) and rolled around my feet as I was sitting at the feast. There was also an episode I never fully understood in which I remarked my drink tasted odd and one of the MMMM shouted “The king has been poisoned.” I am not sure whether someone had actually put something in the drink or it was just an improvised response.
More seriously, I did (as I mentioned before) knight Asbjorn the Fairhaired, chiefly for his valor at the First Pennsic War. Since he was squire to Duke (at the time Prince) Akbar, I asked Akbar if he would prefer to actually dub Asbjorn, but he replied that he wished me to do it, so I did. This was the only peerage granted in my reign.
Afterward I did crown Akbar as king (his third and last reign), and his lady Duchess Khadijah was crowned queen. Oddly enough, I do not recall the ceremony at all. There was no ceremony making me a count –I think the title was only developed a little later, though Atenveldt had Crown Barons and I believe Franz von Blickend-Lichten had been made a baron after serving as king of the Middle.
I do remember that the next morning El of the Two Knives asked me how it felt to be a duke, and I replied I was not a duke as I had only been king once. In fact, I never became a duke –I sometimes like to say “I only made one mistake” –though in fact I fought hard in several later crowns
Filed under: History, Interviews Tagged: History
About three dozen gentles gathered in the Canton of Steltonwald for an unusual event last Saturday. It featured classes with names like “Corset Making,” “The Dofuku — a Casual Men’s Japanese Jacket” and “Period Smocking,” but the most unusual thing about it was that it was held in modern dress.
The event was the brainchild of Lady Teresa Alvarez, who is apprenticed to Mistress Cassadoria Finniala and considers herself a student of historical costuming. Fourteen years ago she suggested to some friends that they hold something a little bigger and more formal than the weekly sewing circle, so they ran a costuming symposium. Then, as Teresa put it, “life happened” and she didn’t get back to the idea until the summer of 2013, when some friends suggested she revive the symposium. Last fall’s symposium was a big hit, so Teresa was persuaded to host the event again this year.
Why modern dress for attendees? Teresa said she’s just more comfortable in modern clothes, but also that she felt it would be less of a distraction if teachers and students weren’t in garb. Several attendees chimed in that some of the peers and other long-time members are less intimidating in modern clothes – they felt more at ease asking questions of their friend Chadd than they might of Duke Christopher Rawlyns (who taught a class on his reconstruction of the Jupon of the Black Prince).
In addition, to keep the event easy to run and informal, attendees were treated to doughnuts from a local bakery when they arrived, and takeout Chinese food for lunch.
The array of ten classes focused on clothing and needlework. Some were presentations of research while others were hands-on practice that permitted students to take home patterns or embroidery. Here are just a few samples:
Countess Aidan ni Leir taught a a class on making Elizabethan thread buttons from wooden beads. Participants spent about an hour learning the stitches and making their own buttons. These buttons are documented in hundreds of portraits and many extant garments in England and the continent. The ribbed buttons, shown here, are made from 12mm wooden beads with pearl cotton thread wrapped around them.
THLady Marguerite d’Honfleur presented an overview of the clothes owned by Queen Eléanore of France, wife of King François I, including an analysis of the types of fabric, weaving, and colors used in those clothes. Her presentation was based on an inventory the Queen’s gowns, kirtles, farthingales, and petticoats taken in 1532. Attendees learned that most of the Queen’s gowns and kirtles were red or black, probably because those dyes were expensive and showed off the wealth of the Royalty. Many were lined or edged in fur, including loup-cerviers, or lynx, another costly element. THL Marguerite also introduced her students to French terms like toile d’or frisée (cloth of gold with loops of gold thread or wire forming a pile on the surface of the brocade) and drap de soie (silk fabric).
Mistress Ysabel Graver walked participants through the process of drafting a sleeve pattern from The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant. Ysabel explained that it starts with a bodice that fits properly so the armscye is correctly positioned and shaped for the sleeve. Students spent two hours learning the concepts, measuring each other, and then drafting their patterns, with Mistress Ysabel offering examples of her own gowns with correct and incorrect sleeve placements.
Lady Rivka bat Daniyel provided students with information on how to research period uses of embroidery to match their personas, including methods for searching online. She recommended that students seek out academic articles or well-known museums like the Victoria and Albert and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Afterward, she guided students through some embroidery stitches.
Countess Elena d’Artois displayed an array of appliquéd clothing and discussed the uses of appliqué in period, from ecclesiastical furnishings and vestments to heraldic display and decorated clothing. She then gave each participant an item to hand appliqué, explaining how to couch pearl cotton thread around the edges of the decorative cloth pieces to affix them to the backing fabric.
In Duke Christopher Rawlyns’ class, he displayed his recreations of the Jupon of the Black Prince of England, who died in 1376, and discussed the history and construction of the garment. The original jupon (a kind of arming jacket) is on display in Canterbury Cathedral beside the Prince’s crypt, along with his helm, shield, gauntlets, and sword scabbard (the sword itself is missing, rumored to have been stolen by Oliver Cromwell). His Grace based his research in part on an examination of the jupon by the famed costume researcher Janet Arnold, done in 1985 and published in 1993. He reviewed some of the controversies surrounding the garment, including what the padding was made from (he concluded it was cotton, which was costly but available in the late 14th c.) and whether it originally had long or short sleeves. After making and wearing one of these jackets in combat he noted that it experienced stress at the armscye, resulting in the jacket sometimes ripping at that point. He attributed that structural failure to his elbow cops being affixed to the exterior of the sleeve, and twisting the fabric as he threw sword blows. Christopher examined multiple period manuscripts showing military men in such garments, and concluded that unlike Scadians, 14th c. knights probably wore their armor under the jacket rather than over it.
To cap off the day, Lady Teresa taught a class in how to do fittings on European garments, with assistance from Mistress Cassadoria. Teresa demonstrated fitting techniques on Her Majesty Queen Anna Leigh, for whom Teresa is sewing a new gown for 12th Night in the German style. Teresa emphasized the importance of making the initial adjustments to bodice patterns first at the shoulder, and then at the sides. She also addressed how to handle fit issues relating to the kind of fashion fabric being used – for example, how to keep wool or linen from stretching. After her class, she asked if people had fun at the event, to which the answer was a resounding “Yes!”
Other classes offered included Corset Making, taught by Lady Madeleine de l’Este, Period Smocking, taught by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora, An Overview of Japanese Costuming, from Loom to Garment, by Magariki Katsuichi no Koredono-sama, and The Dofuku — a Casual Men’s Japanese Jacket taught by Lady Hara Kikumatsu.
In addition to the formal classes, two workshops were available throughout the day: Mistress Alessandra d’Avignon helped participants create duct tape body doubles, while Lady Teresa taught period hand sewing techniques.
When asked if she wants to make any changes to the Symposium next year, Teresa said she might implement a suggestion from Mistress Aoibheil of Dun Holen to hold a fabric swap. She would also encourage merchants to attend, especially those selling goods relating to costuming. In addition, Teresa plans to put the word out to prospective teachers earlier in the hopes of attracting new classes, though she wants to keep the event “small enough to still be cozy.”
-submitted by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope
The massive hoard of Celtic coins that was raised in a single block from a field on the Channel Island of Jersey in 2012 is proving to be even more precious a treasure trove than was immediately obvious, and that’s saying a lot since the Le Catillon II treasure is the largest Celtic coin hoard ever discovered. The original estimate of the number of coins by volume was 30,000 to 50,000. As the Jersey Museum’s conservator Neil Mahrer has worked his way down the hoard, unsticking the corroded coin cluster, the estimated number has increased to 70,000.
Finders Richard Miles and Reg Mead first began to search for the hoard when a woman told them a story 30 years ago about a pot of silver coins found when her father uprooted a tree on their farm in Grouville parish. She didn’t know exactly where this fabled discovery had happened but she knew the general area and Miles and Mead secured permission from the current landowner to search the field with metal detectors during the brief window between harvest and planting. Over the decades they scanned the property with no success until in February of 2012 they found 60 Celtic coins. They dug a little deeper and encountered a large solid object. Mead grabbed a handful of the soil on top and found a few silver coins inside. Being extremely responsible and awesome people, they immediately filled in the hole and alerted Jersey Heritage to the find.
It’s because of their dogged determination spanning three decades and their respect for the archaeological context that the Le Catillon II hoard was archaeologically excavated from the site and is now being archaeologically excavated in an extremely cool glass-walled laboratory in public view at the Jersey Museum. Richard Miles and Reg Mead are part of the conservation team. They’ve been particularly helpful in coin identification, classification and cleaning, and of course they’re superstars to museum visitors.
The first gold peeked through the vertical face of the hoard in July of 2012. When the green corrosion from the silver and silver alloy coins was washed away, a thin sheet of flattened and twisted gold that had once been a torc was revealed. Later that month, conservators found another gold torc above and to the left of the first one. Only a couple of inches of it were visible at first, but the curve looked proper to the original curve around the neck and there was no evidence of twisting or flattening. This tendered the exciting prospect that there might be an intact gold torc amidst the layers of packed coins.
It has been two and a half years since the first glimpses of torc, and only now have conservators gotten down to the layers where they are nestled. It took close to two years to get all the permits and funding sorted. During that time, Mahrer and the conservation team removed 2,000 loose coins from the surface and cleaned them. This summer, they were finally able to start work on taking apart the coin block, laser scanning each coin in the mass and after its removal to ensure they have as detailed a record of the block and coins at every possible stage. The hoard is too big and dense for X-rays to give conservators an excavation road map, so they’re only discovering what’s in there as they go along.
In the beginning the finds were coins and organic material. To preserve the organic material (mainly peat and plant stalks), the team had to move very slowly during the unsticking process. They found that, as expected, most of the coins in the hoard were staters and quarter staters of the Coriosolitae tribe. Unexpectedly, they regularly encountered petit billons, a small denomination that is so rare a few tens of them were known before this hoard. They’re so rare that nobody knows what tribe made them or when. Other numismatic surprises are two coins from the Osismii tribe, the Coriosolitae’s western neighbors: one a five-sided stater that contains some gold, one is a solid gold quarter stater of the Bull Standard type.
In November, they reached the torc area. The solid gold torc was first revealed to have a join in the back, a hole through which a pin would be inserted to close the piece around the neck. Then they found another much larger torc.
At first it appeared to be a thick, tightly curved gold torc but when cleaned back a bit it was revealed as a pair of solid gold “wheels” at the end of a thick, curved, gold torc collar. The wheels are about 4cm accross and the collar part about 15mm thick. We’ve now cleaned back enough coins to see that the torc appears to be constructed from two semi circular parts which would have fitted together to be worn. We’ve think we’ve exposed about 90% of the first part with the wheels and about 50% of the second. We don’t know what the other ends of both are like yet. The sheer size of this piece is amazing in comparison to everything else we’ve seen yet and the torc surface appears to be in good condition and of a very pure gold.
And then they found even more:
In the same way that we found the large torc while clearing around another one, we have continued to find more new pieces as we cleared around it. We’ve found another of the sheet gold objects long visible on the hoard’s side. This new one seems very similar but is possibly in better condition. We have also partially uncovered two other smaller diameter possibly solid gold torc sections, one towards the rear of the hoard and another towards its centre. As such we just don’t know how far the rich area of jewellery extends throughout the hoard’s body, but it’s certainly further than we initially thought. What we are going to do over the next few months therefore is to extend the coin removal out from the torc area to a 5cm depth over the whole surface and see what we find.
That makes a total of six torcs — five gold, one gold-plated — found so far in an area the size of a shoebox. For more about the history of the coins, the hoard and its discovery, check out the Treasure Island page on the Jersey Heritage website. Keep your eye on Neil Mahrer’s Treasure Island Blog to follow the exciting developments as the conservation continues.
With the coming of the Advent season, the Barony of Delftwood held its annual Christmas season event this past weekend. Once again, this proved to a warm and friendly event. Held at the Rockefeller Memorial UMC in Syracuse, the Friðr Tourney (a name taken from the Old Norse, meaning “peace, tranquility, friendship, love”) featured two Arts & Sciences tourneys, an all-day sideboard, and much conversation and frivolity.
Their Excellencies, Benedict Fergus atte Mede and Helene al-Zarqa’, celebrated the Yule season by naming the A&S and Bardic champions of Delftwood. The new A&S champion is Lady Kalishka Perdeslava, for her stunning glass making. The new bardic champion is Lord Ixac Ben Simone, for a beautiful song and a wonderful poem which he wrote the day of the event.
There was also a tourney for the overall A&S and bardic entries. Lord Ixac also won the Bardic Tourney, with an honorable mention to Lady Genevieve du Chaumont. The Arts & Sciences field was full of lovely and tasty work. An honorable mention went to Illari of Delftwood for her splendid Elizabethan needle and wirework. The tourney winner was Lady Lasairfhiona ingen Aindriasa, for her delicious English feast dishes.
At the court, held in the afternoon in the lovely sanctuary, Their Excellencies named their champions, announced the tourney winners, and inducted several gentles into the Baronial orders. These included Lord Reinaldr Bjórtappr (Order of the Guard of the Mill), Baroness Clarice Roan and Lord Jan Langhe ten Walde (Order of the Capstan), THL Svana in Kyrra (Friend of the Windmill), and Lady Wylde Wysse (Order of the Windmill).
During the day, Baroness Clarice Roan and her dedicated kitchen staff provided the revelers with a delicious season side-board, including several fine meat dishes (venison and bear were both included), seasonal vegetables, quiches, and yummy cookies. The side-board was served throughout the day and sent everyone home well-fed.
All in all, the 70+ attendees enjoyed a wonderful day of fine food, friendship, and celebration of the peaceful arts in the Yule season. Many thanks to Baroness Othindisa Bykona and her staff for an excellent event.
respectfully submitted by Fridrikr Tomasson,
Lady Rowan of the Estrella War staff is seeking households willing to host EMTs for dinner at the upcoming War.
Currently open for commentary is a proposal by the Additional Peerage Exploratory Committee (“APEC”) for a new Rapier Peerage.
Greetings unto Fair Æthelmearc,
Gulf Wars looms in our future, and registration including Acceps online payments are now open for the war. If you plan to stay in the Royal Cabin
For those who will camp in tents you may also now go to the Gulf Wars
(photo by Maestro Augusto Giuseppe di San Donato)
Long an annual tradition, the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael held Masked Ball on Saturday the 6th of December.
The author of this missive spent the day in the kitchen cooking the feast (which was well received; battle was almost fought over the leftover cheese gnocchi and the pâté-filled hedgehogs were only remnants in their nests of greens at evening’s end), but news was heralded in from all activities.
Masked Ball is about the dancing, and this year was no exception. Dance mistress Lady Maeve Ni Siurtain reported, “With some hesitation, I agreed to teach and run dancing at Masked Ball. I was very surprised when a fairly large group showed up for the instruction time in the afternoon! The room allotted was even a bit small for all the people wanting to learn. Brief instruction was given on some basic steps and movements and then we tried dancing Sellenger’sRound, an English country dance. There was a bit of confusion and some funny moments. What I thought would be about an hour of class turned into one and a half hours!
After the tournaments were done, the main hall was available for dancing before court. We danced the Lorayne Almain, Hole in the Wall, and even Strip the Willow! Every one, especially Their Excellencies Carolus and Isolde, enjoyed themselves. Their were two gentles who traveled from the Midrealm to come and dance, and there was at least one newcomer dancing as well. I had great pleasure teaching and dancing with many good gentles, and would do so again if asked.”
Many deserving gentles received awards in Baronial Court, but the one award that brought the populace to their feet was the awarding of the Tangled Rose to Baroness Morgan Elandris. This is an award for those who have given almost a lifetime of service to the Barony. Baron Carolus and Baroness Isolde spoke movingly of her service to the Hael from its very beginnings, and the Vivats could be heard well beyond the hall.
As the lights went down for feast, we rejoiced in a day well spent with friends, and dinner to come with our Hael family.
~submitted by Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin,
(photos by Mikus)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Medieval Seals 12/10/2014
Hello, everyone. Today I received a notice via FaceBook that Robert The Bruce’s desk seal was up for sale, and expected to fetch approximately 120,000 pounds sterling. Being the curious person I am, this lead to an investigation into historic seals and signets.
Below, you will find the fruits of my labors, including examples of historic seals from many cultures, and a how-to-make-seals offering, one in video format. While I myself am not much of a card enthusiast, I find that this year I am making an exception. This would be a cool addition to your holiday cards. Keep in mind however, that the Post Office dislikes sealing wax on the outside of envelopes. The wax gums up the automated sorting machines.
Such seals might make an awesome present, along with a colored candle or stick of actual sealing wax. Rumor has it that a crayon in a low-temp hot glue gun also works well as sealing wax. Hand-penned or -drawn holiday wishes for your historically minded friends will be so much more impressive with a dangling ribbon and wax pendant. Or, if you have wee ones anticipating a visit from Pere Noel, they would be thrilled to find a personal response to their Santa letter or plate of cookies, sealed with an old-fashioned holiday themed signet.
Wishing you and your kin a very calm and crafty holiday season. Please feel free to share this missive freely with others.
Dame Aoife Finn m/k/a Lisbeth Gelatt,
Connelly, Tony. Rare Robert the Bruce seals to fetch up to £120k, The Scottsman Sunday, online. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:
Timeline Auctions in London is set to auction off this set of seals used in 1322 to stamp tax documents for Robert the Bruce of Scotland.
Like many intricate seals, it is necessary to see the positive image in order to appreciate the intricate carving. Most seals are created in negative image, so the wax seal would correctly register the imprint of letters and heraldic charges.
Trilling, Renee R. Medieval Seals. Medieval Institute Libray, Notre Dame University. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:
The beautiful seal to the right belonged to the Abbey of Royaumont in France. Intricate seals such as this one were a (then) high-tech way for historic documents to prove the authenticity of the message contained inside. The above link from Notre Dame will lead you to a collection of online images featuring animals, plants, people, coats of arms and ships, all from a variety of cultures.
National Archives UK. Seals. Retrieved 12/03/2014 from:
This website, created by the British Government’s National archives service, details how to effectively search both on and offline for the various and sometimes hard to find seals in collections across the UK.
Government of Norfolk, UK. Exhibition Guide to Seals and Sealing. Retrieved 12/03/2014 from:
This comprehensive guide to a curated exhibit on seals and sealing wax not only details in word and image the seals themselves, but also the different ways in which seals were used including types of paper, ribbons, wax, methods of stamping the image, etc.
Lang Antiques. Signet Rings. Antique Jewelry University. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:
Though this site details images such as the tailor’s signet, left, it also covers such marks and methods from early Mesopotamia through the 19th century. Please note the scholarly references at the bottom of the page for further research on the subject.
Victoria and Albert Museum. Search the Collections. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:
Search the collection of antique signets from this page. The ring to the right is engraved with the name Aufret, and was made in the 7th century. Originally it was thought to belong to King Alfred, though recent advances in scholarship put some doubt on this possible explanation.
Insecula. Anneau sigillaire dit “De Saint Louis”. Louvre Museum. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:
This museum website has images of several signet rings including the rings of Saint Louis, and The Black Prince. Several Merovingian signets are pictured. Search the page for seals reaching back throughout distant history.
Kalif, Will. Make a Medieval Seal. Retrieved 12/07/2014 from:
A marquetry inlaid mahogany corner washroom complete with all of its ceramic and steel interior fittings made for a sleeping car of the Simplon Orient Express around 1927 is going up for auction next week at Bonhams’ 20th Century Decorative Arts sale. This gem of architectural and iconic Art Deco geometric floral design has a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$15,000 which is really quite reasonable when you consider that a double cabin on the Paris-Istanbul run of the Orient Express today will set you back $9,270 per person, double occupancy, or $17,840 for a single traveler.
The washroom was created by René Prou, a design pioneer who helped midwife the birth of Art Deco in France. Born in Nantes and educated in Paris, by the time he was 23 in 1912, he was chief designer of furniture company Maison Gouffé and had earned a reputation as a visionary, a decorator for the “goût moderne” (modern taste). He exhibited at the 1925 Paris show of International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts that launched and named the Art Deco style and after that became the head of the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. Prou became famous for creating the most luxurious train, hotel and ocean liner interiors of the interwar years.
His signature touches were the lacquered panels carved with geometric flower accents. Between 1926 and 1929, Prou designed six different carriages for the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, the hotel and luxury travel company that operated the original Orient Express before World War I and the Simplon Orient Express after the war in its Art Deco heyday. His engraved panels were soon recognized as the quintessence of the “Orient Express Style,” sumptuous in material but with the streamlined elegance and smooth lines of the machine age.
He worked with masters like architect Paul Nelson and glassmaking genius René Lalique on the interior decoration of the Orient Express. Lalique carried the decorative motifs Prou engraved and inlaid on the mahogany and Finnish burr birch paneling into his glass panels. Prou also designed the polished bronze Art Deco lamps in the train and the armchairs that were soon widely copied for home use.
This particular washroom was made around 1927 from a model designed around 1926. A maquette, a scale model 24 inches tall and wide, of the sleeper car with the mahogany corner washroom is included in the auction lot. The washroom is 78.5 inches high, 36 inches wide (closed) and 29 inches deep. It is made of lacquered and marquetry inlaid Honduran and Cuban mahogany and opens to reveal a ceramic wash basin, round shaving mirror, four built-in holders for toiletries, one half-length mirror in each door and multiple compartments in the bottom for trash and accessories.
The provenance is unbeatable: the washroom and maquette come directly from the corporate archives of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits.
The Freer Gallery in Washington DC will showcase treasures from the Song and Yuan Dynasties this winter including ceramics and landscape paintings from the 13th and 14th centuries.
The Shire of Coppertree is looking for artisans from around the kingdom to demonstrate their craft at Winter Haven-To Warm the Cold Days Ahead on February 14! If you’re interested, please e-mail email@example.com by Dec. 17 and let us know what you would like to demonstrate.
In true Coppertree fashion, the event itself will be a laid-back day of fun and frivolity! Come as you “were” in your oldest garb. Show us your S.C.A.R.S. in our throwback A&S competition by submitting an older previous entry. Bring photos from early events to reminisce — and we’ll scan them for you to share with others (in reasonable quantities). Join in the silliness and fun of the tin hat competition (aluminum foil will be provided). We are also hoping to have some dancing in the afternoon.
Retired Ayrshire businessman Derek McLennan has made good use of his metal detector. In 2013, he discovered Scotland's biggest haul of medieval silver coins. Now he has unearthed a new hoard of more than 100 items, including a 9th century Christian cross and possibly the largest silver Carolingian pot ever discovered. (photos and video)
The Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City is celebrating the return of the Codex Chimalpahin, a three-volume, hand-written, indigenous account vividly documenting the history of Aztec Mexico in Pre-Hispanic and 16th Century New Spain. Dan Colen of Art Daily has a feature story (photo)
A team of archaeologists with France’s National Institute of Preventative Archaeological Research (INRAP) have unearthed shackled skeletons from a Gallo-Roman necropolis in Saintes, southwestern France. The property was slated for construction of a detached home and an archaeological survey of an adjacent plot last year found evidence of ancient funerary usage. From September to November of this year, the excavation discovered 100 graves dating to the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D.
These were very modest burials. Most of the graves contain double burials, two people buried head to toes in rectangular trenches. One grave was a multiple with five people, two of them adult women and two of them children. Only one of them included any grave goods: a small child buried with seven vases and a coin over each eye to pay the ferryman conveying him over the river into the underworld. The vases date to the second half of the 2nd century A.D. which makes this burial with a funerary practice entirely different from the others one of the later graves in the necropolis.
Perhaps the most intriguing discovery were the remains of five shackled individuals. Three of them are adult men, one is an adult of unknown gender and one is a child. Of the four adults, three had iron shackles hot riveted to their left ankles alone. The fourth had a shackle on the right ankle and a larger one, known as a “bondage collar” or “straitjacket,” around his neck. The child had a shackle on his or her left wrist that was more rudimentary than the ones the adults were made to wear into eternity. It’s flat and curved around the wrist where the ends are riveted together.
Individuals with shackles have been found before from this period in France, but this discovery is notable for having five of them. The adult shackled around the neck and ankle is also unusual. Researchers are hoping to find out more about these people’s lives and deaths by analyzing the human remains, artifacts and shackles. Ideally they’d like to discover the cause of death for all the interred, what kind of food they ate, what kind of work they did, whether they lived together in the same community. If they came from the same place, or at least lived in similar conditions, the bones and teeth will attest to that.
Saintes, known in antiquity as Mediolanum Santonum, was an important regional center in the Roman province of Aquitania. It was founded around 20 B.C. when the Roman roads connecting to Burdigala (modern-day Bordeaux) with its copious tin and lead trade to other towns in the region were expanded. Built at the western end of the Via Agrippa, the major artery that linked Lugdunum (Lyon) to the Atlantic coast, Saintes quickly became thoroughly Romanized with monumental public architecture and utilities.
The necropolis is 270 yards west of the great Roman amphitheater of Saintes. Large enough at its greatest extent to seat 12,000-18,000 people, the amphitheater is one of the largest and oldest in France today. Construction began during the reign of the emperor Tiberius (14-37 A.D.) and was finished around 41 A.D., under the reign of Claudius. As Roman amphitheaters generated significant death both in the construction phases and in their express purpose, it’s possible that the dead of the necropolis were somehow related to the amphitheater.
In July, archaeologists working on excavations in St John's Street in Northampton, England discovered a 13th century malting oven, used to roast grain for brewing. Now a second, even larger, oven has been found at the same site. (photo)
Four bronze angels created for the never-completed tomb of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, lost for centuries, could be scattered again if we can’t raise £1,540,247 by December 31st. As of right now, £3,459,753 has been raised, thanks to a £2 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £500,000 from the Art Fund and donations from individuals through the Victoria & Albert museum’s Wolsey Angels Appeal. I really cannot emphasize enough how much of a monstrous travesty losing the Wolsey Angels would be.
It was Cardinal Wolsey himself, at the peak of his power in 1524, 10 years after he was appointed Cardinal Archbishop of York, on his ninth year as Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII, who commissioned the angels from Florentine sculptor and architect Benedetto da Rovezzano. Benedetto was famous by then as a builder of tombs for the notables of the short-lived Florentine Republic, church reliefs, statues for sepulchral monuments to saints. His Republican sympathies and wholesale loss of patrons after the re-establishment of the Medici rule ultimately drove him out of Florence. In 1519 he moved to London and remained there for 24 years, making sculptures and tombs for the royal court.
Wolsey’s commission was for a monumental tomb in Renaissance style with an angel standing on pillars nine feet tall in each of the four corners, but his end would come before the tomb was completed and in any case his circumstances had changed, to put it mildly. When Wolsey was unable to secure an annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, he wasn’t just fired; he was arrested. In 1529, Henry confiscated Wolsey’s property, including the residence of Hampton Court thenceforth known as Hampton Court Palace and Benedetto da Rovezzano’s four bronze angels and other finished parts of the tomb including the striking black marble sarcophagus. Wolsey died on his way to London to answer to charges of treason in November of 1530.
Henry VIII decided he would use the elements of Wolsey’s tomb to make an even grander tomb for himself, and who better to commission than Benedetto da Rovezzano? Benedetto set up a workshop and foundry at Westminster and set to work on the king’s tomb. By 1543, the tomb still wasn’t finished and Benedetto’s health was suffering so he returned to Italy. According to Vasari, Benedetto experienced vertigo and sight impairment as a result of “standing too long over the fire in the founding of metals, or by some other reasons,” and eventually went completely blind. He died around 1554.
Henry VIII died in 1547 with the tomb incomplete. He was buried with his third wife and mother of his son, Jane Seymour, in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. His three children — Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I — each said they’d have the tomb completed and Henry interred in it, but it never happened. In 1565, Elizabeth moved the tomb parts to Windsor where they were still being kept 80 years later when the dislocation of Civil War struck them. With the Parliamentarian victories in 1645, most of the tomb was sold off. Only the black sarcophagus remained at Windsor. Charles I wanted to buried in it at Westminster Abbey, but the 59 Commissioners who found him guilty of high treason against himself refused permission. Instead he was buried in Henry VIII’s vault in St. George’s Chapel on February 9th, 1649. A suitable use was eventually found for the black coffin: in 1805, King George III gifted the Wolsey-Henry-Charles sarcophagus to serve as a final resting place for Admiral Lord Nelson’s body in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
As for the angels, they disappeared after the Civil War fire sale. It took 350 years for them to turn up again. Unmoored from their illustrious history and unrecognized by appraisal exports, two of the angels came up for auction at Sotheby’s in 1994. The catalogue described them as bronze angels “in the Renaissance style,” not realizing they were originals of major historical significance by a name artist. They didn’t even include a photograph accompanying the entry in the catalogue. The pair sold for £12,000. A few years ago, the auction pair were finally recognized. Italian art historian Francesco Caglioti came across them in the possession of a Paris antiques dealer. He researched the angels and found an exact description of them in a 1530 inventory of Wolsey’s property.
Caglioti didn’t stop there. He went on a quest to find the other two angels, and against every conceivable odds, he found them in 2008 at Harrowden Hall, a Northamptonshire estate that was acquired by the Wellingborough Golf Club in the 1970s. Nobody knows when the angels got there; they were already in place when the stately home became a clubhouse. All four of them were there, as a matter of fact, because the two that were sold at Sotheby’s in 1994 had actually been stolen from the Wellingborough Golf Club in 1988. The angels were standing on posts flanking the entrance gates back then. The golf club people just figured one pair had been stolen for their lead value (they had no idea the angels were even bronze) so they moved the surviving pair indoors and wrote off the loss. As soon as they found out they had Wolsey’s Angels, the club lent them to the V&A for safekeeping.
Now here is the crux of the travesty. Because of the statute of limitations and the many hands and countries with varying applicable laws the stolen angels have passed through, the Wellingborough Gold Club cannot get the angels back from the Paris dealer. Instead, he’s going to sell his pair to the Victoria & Albert for £2.5 million. He may donate some portion of his filthy lucre to the Golf Club, but then again he may not. The Wellingborough has made the same offer for its pair of angels (they can’t be sold to the highest bidder because they are part of the heritage listing of Harrowden Hall) which is why it will cost £5 million to save the four Wolsey Angels for the nation.
Hilary Mantel, author of the Tudor-era historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, had this to say about the rediscovery of the Wolsey Angels:
“Thanks to the discovery of Wolsey’s angels, a great Englishman we have forgotten may have his monument at last. The recovery of Wolsey’s angels is one of those miracles that historians pray for; something that seems irrevocably lost has been there all the time. To claim the angels for the nation would connect us to one of the liveliest eras of our history and one of its most remarkable men.”
I asked Brodie Lyon, the V&A’s Annual Fund and Appeals Manager, if there was another large grant in the works to make up for the alarming shortfall and there was none that he could announce publicly, which I hope means there are arrangements going on in the background but could just as well mean that there is no plan B. We need a last minute fundraising push because if this sale doesn’t go through, it looks like those two Paris angels could wind up anywhere in the world and there isn’t a damn thing the law can do about it even though there is no dispute about the fact that they’re stolen goods of immense cultural significance to Britain.
The Promotions Officer for Estrella War XXXII reports that organizers are seeking applicants for the position(s) of Main Steward(s).
Gunther Canon reports that at Their Mordenvale Malþing event, Their Majesties Niáll and Liadan, of the Kingdom of Lochac, offered elevation to the Order of the Pelican to Orri Vígleiksson.
Don Frasier MacLeod, East Kingdom’s Rapier Marshal, has announced the new Central Region Deputy Rapier Marshal.
“After much consideration I have decided to install Don Lotieri Malocchio as my new Deputy. I would ask you all to welcome him and give him whatever help he may need settling into his new position.”
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