Lecture Programme 2019
Martin Henig and Helen Molesworth
Personal cameos of Roman date in the Content Family Collection
The Content family's collection of Roman personal cameos is special not merely because of its size, but also because of the taste and scholarly acumen evident in its assembly. Part of the collection was published by Martin Henig in 1990 but the much expanded collection has recently been fully researched in a new catalogue, The Complete Content Cameos, by Martin Henig and Helen Molesworth, with additional contributions by Christopher Cavey, Derek Content and Jeffrey Spier. This talk, based on their joint study, will highlight the diversity of the collection spanning several centuries and put it in its broader context of Roman art and culture.
AGM followed by
A Whiter Shade of Pale: Platinum in 19th-century Jewellery
Platinum jewellery is usually considered to be a twentieth-century phenomenon, with companies such as Cartier bringing it to the forefront. In truth, however, this intriguing and often intractable metal has a long history in jewellery, ranging from ancient Egypt and Pre-Colombian Ecuador through to the rapid advances in the eighteenth and nineteenth century with even beer and Coca Cola® playing a part alongside innovators such as Janety and Tiffany & Co. This presentation will consider this often neglected aspect of jewellery history, focusing on the nineteenth century, but closing with a brief look at the introduction of white gold alloys in the early twentieth.
The story behind ‘Hungarian’ opals
Of all precious stones, it is opal that presents the greatest difficulties of description. As Pliny the Elder said, it displays at once the piercing redness of garnet, the purple brilliance of amethyst and the sea-green of emerald, the whole blended together and glowing with a brightness that is quite incredible. Until about the end of the 19th century the Kingdom of Hungary was the principal supplier of this beautiful stone. In the past, however, it came to the market because of fraudulent trading as ‘Oriental Opal’. The aim was to increase the selling price and keep the source in the Carpathian mountains concealed. But the truth had to come out in the end.
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