On December 12th, a select number of jewels formerly the property of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor will hit the auction block for a second time at Sotheby’s in London as part of the auction house’s Fine Jewels sale.
A number of cigarette cases, snuff boxes, cuff links and other jeweled possessions, many of which have personal engravings and messages, offer an intimate glimpse into the private life of the former Prince of Wales and his relationships with his parents, King George V and Queen Mary, grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and, of course, Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.
The real highlights of the Windsor jewels are the Duchess’s gorgeous custom Cartier pieces, which include an amethyst and turquoise bracelet set and matching ring, a coral bead torsade necklace with an ornate gold and carved emerald clasp and an elegant sapphire oval link bracelet. Remembered for her cutting edge sense of style and exquisite taste in jewelry, the Duchess was also known for her intense, brazen character, which is easily illustrated by her vibrantly colored jewels featured in the sale.
A number of the items were earlier sold at auction at Sotheby’s in the The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor sale in Geneva in April 1987, a sale which all told fetched a then record-breaking sale total of £31 million (or $50 million).
Lot 459 – Sapphire Bracelet, Cartier, circa 1945
Estimate: $210,210 – 291,060 USD
Designed as a series of oval links set with cushion-shaped sapphires in alternating light and dark shades of blue, length approximately 220mm, signed Cartier, case stamped Cartier.
Sotheby’s, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Thursday 2nd April 1987, Lot 34.
Lot 457 – Amethyst, Turquoise and Diamond Bracelet, Cartier, 1954
Estimate: 32,392 — 48,588 USD
Designed as five rows of amethyst and two rows of turquoise beads, to a star-shaped clasp, set at the centre with an hexagonal amethyst within a turquoise and diamond border, accented with circular-cut diamonds, length approximately 210mm, signed Cartier, numbered, French assay marks.
Sotheby’s, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Friday 3rd April 1987, Lot 139.
The Duchess had a love for the colour combination of amethyst and turquoise. In the 1987 sale there were five lots which used these stones, dating from 1947 to 1950, all created by Cartier. Possibly the most recognisable of all these lots was a bib necklace by Cartier which she was pictured wearing at the Gala ball in Versailles, in June 1953.
This lot is accompanied by a photograph of the Duchess of Windsor wearing lot 457, signed by Ralph Destino, Chairman of Cartier Inc. in 1997. This was presented to the owner upon the commission of lot 458.
Lot 458 – Amethyst, Turquoise and Diamond Ring, Cartier 1989
Estimate: $11,337 — 14,576 USD
Centring on a hexagonal amethyst within a star frame set with cabochon turquoise, the shoulders set with brilliant-cut diamonds, size J, signed Cartier, numbered, French assay and maker’s marks.
This ring was commissioned by the owner from Cartier and designed to match the amethyst bracelet purchased from the sale of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels lot 139 in 1987. Cartier referenced the origianl archive drawings used to create the amethyst bracelet for the Duchess of Windsor to create the amethyst ring.
Lot 456 – Coral, Emerald and Diamond Choker, Cartier 1949
Estimate: 64,680 – 97,020 USD
Of torsade design, composed of twenty three rows of coral beads, to an open work tubular clasp set with carved emeralds and single-cut diamonds, the centre set with a row of brilliant-cut diamonds, length approximately 330mm, signed Cartier, Paris, French assay and maker’s marks.
Sotheby’s, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Friday 3rd April 1987, Lot 96.
Lot 455 – Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond Pill Box, Van Cleef & Arpels, 1940s
Estimate: 9,702 – 12,936 USD
The square case decorated with a ballerina, the skirt and hairpiece inset with calibré-cut sapphires, the corset with a heart-shaped ruby and the face with a rose diamond, measuring approximately 25 x 25 x 10mm, signed Van Cleef & Arpels, NY, numbered.
It is understood that this item was purchased by private treaty from the Windsor Estate.
As icons of fashion and style, the Duke and Duchess enjoyed a strong relationship with Van Cleef & Arples, collaborating with the elegant jewellery maison on many of the pieces they commissioned, as well as enjoying some of Van Cleef & Arpels most innovative and now famous designs.
The first of the celebrated ‘Ballerinas’ appeared in the early 1940s in America and may well have been influenced by Louis Arpels’ love of the classical ballet and by his close friendship with George Balachine, co-founder of the School of American Ballet. From 1945 the ballerinas were created in the Paris workshops. The graceful movement and delicacy of the dancers were well positioned in the sober post war environment but also added an element of much missed joy in their lightness of step.
In 1961 Claude Arpels asked George Balachine to arrange a ballet in three acts callJewels. The first act was an illustration of France, symbolised by emeralds; the second an illustration of New York, symbolised by rubies and the third an illustration of Imperial Russia, symbolised by diamonds.
Numerous variations of the Ballerina brooch continued to be created in the following years, positioning the design as one of the most cherished and recognisable motifs, particularly in the Duchess’ native America.
Lot 454 – Pair of Enamel, Coral and Diamond Clips, Van Cleef & Arpels, 1937
Estimate: 24,255 – 32,340 USD
Each designed as a court jester’s staff, the bells represented by coral beads, the ruff inset with single-cut diamonds, accented with translucent green enamel,each signed Van Cleef & Arpels, numbered, maker’s marks.
Sotheby’s, The Property of Miss Anne Seagrim, London Thursday 8th October, 1987, lot 160.
These brooches were a Christmas gift from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Miss Anne Seagrim. Miss Seagrim 1914-2007 was employed as the Duke’s private secretary from 1950 to 1954, during which time her main task was to assist him with his autobiography The King’s Story. According to Van Cleef & Arpels, the jester brooches were made by them in 1937 and purchased by the Duke of Windsor on 28th February 1939.
Lot 452 – Emerald, Ruby and Diamond Brooch, Cartier, Paris, 1930s
Estimate: 24,255 – 32,340 USD
Designed as a 20 pesos gold coin, 1918, within a border of brilliant-cut diamonds, calibré-cut rubies and emeralds, suspended from a similarly set scrolling brooch surmount, signed Cartier.
Sotheby’s, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Friday 3rd April 1987, Lot 162.
The tasteful design created by Cartier and exhibited in this superb gem set brooch is one favoured by the Duchess. When the brooch was offered in the 1987 sale, it sat alongside a slightly larger example, decorated entirely with diamonds and set similarly with a Mexican medallion.The Duchess can be seen wearing both brooches in the image on the right.
The Duke and Duchess travelled extensively during their lives and enjoyed the diversities of other cultures, suitably reflected in their varied and elegant sense of style.
The Mexico City Mint, the oldest in North America, produced gold pesos from the early years of the twentieth century until the 1970s in denominations ranging from two pesos to fifty. The Mexican Coat of Arms, an eagle with a serpent in its beak, perched on a cactus, features on the front of each of the coins. The 20 pesos coin, incorporated by Cartier into the design of this brooch, depicts the Aztec Calendar Sun Stone to its reverse, more accurately named Cuauhxicalli or Eagle Bowl. The original stone, dedicated to the principal Aztec deity, the sun, is believed to have been carved in 1479 and holds both mythological and astrological significance.
Lot 430 – Royal Tortoiseshell Snuff Box with Jewelled Enamel and Gold Mounts, London, Circa 1815
Estimate: 12,936 – 19,404 USD
Rectangular with waisted sides, the lid centring on an oval blue enamel medallion applied with the Prince of Wales feathers and motto Ich Dien (I serve), for George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, later King George IV, set with rose diamonds, on an engine-turned gold ground, reeded gold mounts, gold lining, unmarked but probably made by John Northam and supplied by the Royal Goldsmiths, Rundell Bridge & Rundell.
Sotheby’s, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Friday 3rd April 1987, Lot 201.
Although the box is unmarked, it is most probable that it was supplied by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell who had been appointed Royal Goldsmiths in 1797. The Prince of Wales was well-known as a collector of objets de luxe and lover of extravagant magnificence, tastes which John Bridge was only too happy to supply, dubbing the prince, our ‘greatest patron & best friend’. For a rectangular tortoiseshell snuff box in the Royal Collection, supplied by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell in 1816 and decorated in gold with a profile bust of the Prince of Wales below his badge, with enamelled inscription and patriotic emblems, see exhibition catalogue, Royal Goldsmiths: the Art of Rundell & Bridge 1797-1843, ed. Christopher Hartop, London, 2005, p. 71, fig. 61.
Rundell’s commissioned gold boxes from several of the most prominent makers of the day such as Morisset & Wirgman, Ray & Montague, Alexander James Strachan and John Northam (see Charles Truman, ‘Rundell’s and their gold box suppliers’, op. cit., London, 2005, pp. 40-45). On stylistic grounds, it is possible to attribute the present box to the workshop of John Northam (fl. 1792-1835) who specialised in creating gold-mounted tortoiseshell boxes, often with fine engine-turned ornament.
Lot 431 – Silver and Enamel Cigarette Case, German, Early 20th Century
Estimate: 12,936 – 19,404 USD
The front applied with a jewelled crest depicting a gold heraldic lion rampant, crowned within a rose-diamond and ruby garter, enamelled in translucent scarlet on a textured ground, apparently unmarked, in a blue velvet case gilt with a royal crown.
Commissioned by the House of Hesse.
The crest is that of the House of Hesse. Queen Victoria’s third child and second daughter, Princess Alice, married into the Hesse family in 1862.
Lot 432 – Gold and Enamel Tobacco Box, Geneva, circa 1820
Estimate: 12,936 – 19,404 USD
Rectangular with rounded ends, decorated in black and white taille d’épargne enamels, the lid centred with initials AF within the motto of the Order of the Garter and below a Royal Ducal coronet, for Prince Adolphus Frederick, 1st Duke of Cambridge, on a ground of swirling flowers and foliage, the sides similarly decorated with urns of flowers within narrow leafy borders, the base enamelled to imitate engine-turning, within similar flower basket borders, apparently unmarked.
Commissioned by Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge.
The cipher appears to be that of Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850), youngest son of George III and Queen Charlotte to survive childhood. His elder brother Augustus Frederick (1773-1843), with the same initials, appears to have used an ‘S’ below a princely crown as his cipher after 1801 when he was created Duke of Sussex.
The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded by King Edward III in 1348. It is the senior British Order of Knighthood and one of the oldest and most esteemed in the world. The motto Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense in Old French translates as ‘Shame to him, who evil thinks’. This statement is thought to have originated from an incident at a reception where the Countess of Salisbury’s garter broke and fell to the floor. King Edward is supposed to have picked it up and noticing the onlookers comments and expressions rebuked them with the words, “Dishonoured be he who thinks evil of it.” Membership of the Order of the Garter is limited to the reigning monarch, the Prince of Wales and twenty-four Christian Knights and ladies. Selected Royal Heads of State are admitted and known as Extra Knights and Ladies of the Garter. A garter of dark blue velvet is worn by the British Sovereign. Gentlemen wear it on the left leg below the knee and lady members on the left arm above the elbow.
For an example of the Duke of Cambridge’s use of this monogram, see a silver tray, Paul Storr, London, 1812/13, in the Royal Collection, no. 47335.
Lot 436 – Enamel and Diamond Lapel Pin, circa 1905
Estimate: 8,085 – 11,319 USD
Designed as the cypher of King Edward VII, applied with polychrome enamel, accented with rose diamonds.
Commissioned by King Edward VII.
A royal cypher is a monogram of a country’s reigning sovereign and typically consists of the monarch’s name and title interwoven and surmounted by a crown. This pin would have been worn during King Edward VII’s reign from 1901 to 1910.
When Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901, Prince Edward became King of the United Kingdom, Emperor of India and King of the British Dominions. He chose to reign under the name Edward VII, instead of Albert Edward the name his mother had intended for him to use, in deferance to his father, declaring that he did not wish to “undervalue the name of Albert” and diminish the status of his father with whom the “name should stand alone”.
Edward was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 9th August 1902 by Archbishop of Canterbury, Frederick Temple. The coronation had originally been scheduled for 26thJune, but was delayed untill August when Edward was diagnosed with a burst ulcer. Edward refurbished the royal palaces, reintroducing the traditional ceremonies, such as the State Opening of Parliament, that his mother had forgone, and founded new orders of honours, such as the Order of Merit, to recognise contributions to the arts and sciences.
Lot 438 – Silver Photograph Frame, 1897
Estimate: 9,702 – 16,170 USD
The front displaying a photograph of Queen Alexandra, inscribed to reverse, ‘From The Queen, 24th May 1897’, opening to reveal hinged fold-out wings containing photographs of Queen Mary, Queen Victoria, Princess Beatrice (later Princess Henry of Battenberg, Queen Victoria’s fifth daughter and youngest child) and Prince Henry of Battenberg.
Commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1897.
On 23 September 1896, Queen Victoria surpassed her grandfather George III as the longest-reigning monarch in English, Scottish, and British history. The Queen requested that any special celebrations be delayed until 1897, to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee, which was made a festival of the British Empire at the suggestion of Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain.
The prime ministers of all the self-governing dominions were invited, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee procession through London included troops from all over the empire. The parade paused for an open-air service of thanksgiving held outside St Paul’s Cathedral, throughout which Victoria sat in her open carriage. The celebration was marked by great outpourings of affection for the Queen.
The inscription refers to the 78th Birthday of Queen Victoria on the 24th May during her Diamond Jubilee year in 1897. This would have been presented as a gift to a member of the Royal Family.
Lot 439 – Silver Pocket Photograph Frame, Maker’s Mark of W.R. Wright for Wright & Davis, circa 1898
Estimate: 9,702 – 16,170 USD
The rectangular case engraved ‘From Great Grandmama V.R.I. 24th May 1899’, applied with an entwined gold 80, the slide-action cover concealing an oval photograph of Queen Victoria seated, measuring approximately 75 x 50 x 5mm, British hallmark.
Sotheby’s, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Friday 3rd April 1987, Lot 191.
It seems the Edward had a warm relationship with Queen Victoria, whom he affectionately called ‘Gangan’. However at about the time this photograph was taken, Edward as a young boy and his brother Albert were summoned to see their great grandmother, an event that must have been fairly daunting for a boy of about four or five who promptly burst into tears upon seeing the seemingly intimidating regal figure, dressed all in black.
Queen Victoria is photographed dressed in black which she wore for the remainder of her life after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. This present was gifted just under two years before her death in January, 1901, when Edward was 4 years old and on the occasion of her 80th birthday.
In 1897, Victoria had written instructions for her funeral, which was to be military as befitting a soldier’s daughter and the head of the army. On 25 January, Edward VII, the Kaiser and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, helped lift her into the coffin.She was dressed in a white dress with her wedding veil. Mementos commemorating her extended family, friends and servants were laid in the coffin with her, at her request, by her doctor and dressers. One of Albert’s dressing gowns was placed by her side, with a plaster cast of his hand, while a lock of John Brown’s hair, along with a picture of him, were placed in her left hand concealed from the view of the family by a carefully positioned bunch of flowers. Items of jewellery placed on Victoria included the wedding ring of John Brown’s mother, given to her by Brown in 1883. Her funeral was held on Saturday, 2 February, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and after two days of lying-in-state, she was interred beside Prince Albert in the Royal Mausoleum at Windsor Home Park.
With a reign of 63 years, seven months and two days, Victoria is the longest-reigning British monarch and the longest-reigning queen in world history. She was the last monarch of Britain from the House of Hanover. Her son and heir Edward VII belonged to her husband’s House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Lot 441 – Silver and Enamel Cigarette Case, H S Benzie, 1925
Estimate: 6,468 – 9,702 USD
Of curved pocket fitting form, the lid enamelled in translucent blue with the crowned cipher of King George V, frosted gilt interior, inscribed, ‘For David from his devoted father June 23rd 1925’, British hallmarks for London.
Presented as a gift from King George V to Edward when he was Prince of Wales.
Prince Edward started to smoke regularly during his 3 month sea voyage from August in 1911. He recalls how he was called back to Windsor on the occasion of his 18thbirthday, a memory he savours mostly for the fact that it was the first time his father gave him permission to smoke. Smoking, he felt gave him more self-assurance, particularly during public occasions.
Prince Edward was called David by his close family and it is likely this cigarette case was given as a gift to Edward from his father on the occasion of his 31st birthday.
Lot 444 – Enamel and Diamond Case, Lacloche Frères, Circa 1922
Estimate: 4,851 – 8,085 USD
The rectangular case applied with a crest for the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars, accented with rose diamonds, the case decorated with black enamel, opening to reveal inscription, ‘ “Out of sight out of mind?” Edward’, measuring approximately 82 x 43 x 8mm, signed Lacloche Frères, numbered, French assay mark, British import mark for 1922.
Presented as a gift from Edward when he was Prince of Wales. The most likely recipiect of this gift was Freda Dudley Ward.
From 1918 Edward was romantically involved with Freda Dudley Ward for several years. Freda was married to The Right Honourable Willian Dudley Ward, Liberal MP for Southampton in 1913. During these years Edward was Prince of Wales, spending much of his time travelling the Empire, and thus wrote Freda countless letters declaring his love for her and supposedly a few gifts were bestowed as well. We can therefore presume this case was gifted by Edward to Freda during this time.
The 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars was a cavalry regiment in the British Army, first raised in 1693. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated intoThe Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in 1958.
The regiment was first raised in Ireland as Henry Conyngham’s Regiment of Dragoons in Derry in 1693, and ranked as the 8th Dragoons. It was briefly disbanded from 1714 to 1715, and 1716 to 1719, reforming each time without any loss of precedence. In 1751, it was formally titled as the 8th Regiment of Dragoons, and designated light dragoons in 1775 as the 8th Regiment of Light Dragoons.
The regiment was renamed in 1777 for George IIIas the 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons, and became hussars in 1822, as the 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars). The title was simplified in 1861 to the 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Hussars. After service in the First World War, the regiment retitled as the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in 1921, and was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1939.