There are pearls in the Cheapside Hoard! I just happened upon a post that showed pearls as part of the collection of the Cheapside Hoard and I am so tickled that pearls are among this stash of important antique jewels! Have you heard about the Cheapside Hoard? Going on display at the Museum of London on October 11, 2013, this collection features ancient jewels stashed in the Cheapside area of London sometime between 1640 and 1666.
Cheapside, London 1909
Picture it, in the 1600s, the area known as Cheapside, London was once full of jewelry stores. They were not all jewelry resellers as many of our stores are today. Most of them were true artisans. There were goldsmiths, jewelers, experts and more involved in the international gem trade and apprenticed in fine arts of cutting stones and creating jewelry. Many of the traditions of this time are now lost jewelry arts with materials and techniques that are unknown or unavailable today. Well, something happened in this area in the mid-1600s. What?
In 1642 there was a civil war in London. Many people entered the conflict while many others attempted to flee the conflict and go abroad. Also, in the first few days of September, 1666, a great fire swept through London. Could one of these incidences be reasons that someone stashed a large amount of jewels?
No one is sure why but during this time a large wooden box with over 500 pieces of jewelry was stashed in a London cellar. It took until 1912 to be discovered. A couple of workmen were demolishing the Wakefield House near St. Paul's Cathedral and they found this wooden box of jewels buried in the cellar. This treasure chest was full of Colombian emeralds, Indian rubies and diamonds, lapis lazuli, Red Sea peridot, opals, garnets and amethysts and, of course, pearls. The pearls most likely came from Bahrain. So, what did the workmen do with these gems? They put them in their pockets, under their caps and in their boots and left to try to sell them! (Can you blame them?)
There was a man at the time who wandered the streets of London and hung around construction sites buying up items of interest. His name was G.F. Lawrence and he owned an antiques store in Wandsworth. But, on the streets he was known as Stoney Jack. Stoney Jack was also involved with acquisitions for the brand new London Museum which was inaugurated March 21, 1912, the same year the workers found this hidden stash of gems! Stoney Jack bought as many of the pieces as he could find and retained all of them for the London Museum. This amazing foresight is what has led to this opening coming in October: Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels.
The London Museum was initially housed at Kensington Palace, was moved to Lancaster House, a mansion in the St. James's district in the West End of London, and then was moved back to Kensington Palace. In 1975 the London Museum was united with the City of London's Guildhall Museum to form the Museum of London which is now located at 150 London Wall.