Dix Noonan Webb
“One of the joys of working for an auction house is the unexpected discoveries,” said Frances Noble, head of Dix Noonan Webb’s jewellery department.
“Who would have thought that a coronet, black with dirt, would turn out to be commissioned by the Duke of Wellington himself.”
The Mayfair auctioneer was shown it by a direct descendant of Lady Mary Ann Jervis (1812-93), an unconventional aristocrat who was also an accomplished singer and composer. Family tradition connected it to the Iron Duke.
“The coronet was caked with dirt,” said Noble. “On first impressions, it looked to be just gilt metal, a bit of a novelty but nothing special.
“We had the coronet cleaned and it turned out to be stunning – made of silver with silver gilt detail, initialled to the front with a diamond-set ‘W’ beneath a ducal coronet. A full hallmark confirmed that the piece had been made in 1838 by Robert Garrard.”
Behind the silk lining a barely visible inscription was found which read: This crown was presented by Arthur Duke of Wellington to the Hon MA Jervis, designed by him and executed by Messrs Garrard August 16th 1838.
“It was one of those moments that takes your breath away,” said Noble. The Duke, then the nation’s most eligible widower, enjoyed his flirtation with ‘the Syren’, as he nicknamed her, adding: “What is the point of being 67 if one cannot speak to a young lady?” Lady Mary Ann Jervis married twice: in 1840 to David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre (the first MP of Asian descent) and in 1862 to George Weld-Forester, 3rd Baron Forester.
The coronet will be included in DNW’s auction of Jewellery, Watches and Objects of Vertu sale on March 27 with an estimate of £2000-3000.
Lyon & Turnbull
A Stuart period gold and rock crystal memento mori pendant carries an estimate of £1500-2000 at Lyon & Turnbull’s Jewellery, Silver & Watches auction in Edinburgh on March 13.
The facetted crystal includes typical iconography relating to life and death plus a monogram to the centre and a plaited lock of hair.
The fashion for this type of jewellery emerged following the execution of Charles I in 1649. After 1660 and the restoration of the monarchy, it became a fashion to wear them openly to remember loved ones or family.
Francois-Desire Froment-Meurice (1802- 1855) was influential in pioneering the Gothic, Renaissance and romantic style of jewellery in France from the 1850s.
Balzac named him ‘Mon Benvenuto’ and Victor Hugo dedicated a poem to him. This gold and diamond Renaissance revival brooch modelled as a chimera dragon wearing a coronet signed Froment Meurice c.1850, carries French import marks. It has an estimate of £500-700 at Roseberys in London on March 20.