The sale at Cheffins (22.5% buyer’s premium) in Cambridge on June 25 included a late 19th century French fringe necklace for which a detailed provenance can be compiled.
Fashioned in amethyst beads and terminals of either lapis lazuli, cornelian or chrysoprase, it came with a label stating it was a reproduction of a 12th Dynasty jewel discovered at Dahshur (a royal necropolis on the west bank of the Nile approximately 25 miles south of Cairo) par Mr J. de Morgan, les 15 et 16 Fèvrier 1895. Jean-Jacques de Morgan (1857-1924) was a French mining engineer, geologist, and archaeologist who worked as director-general of the Egyptian Antiquities Service from 1892-97.
An additional label to the box stated that it was made from cedar taken from the coffer in which the jewels of Princess Ita, daughter of ‘Usertensen’ [in fact Amenemhat II], were found. It carried the maker’s mark of a vulture and the name G Parvis, Cairo, probably for the cabinetmaker Giuseppe Parvis (1831-1909).
A very wearable piece from the first of the Egyptian revivals (more would follow in the wake of Howard Carter, Tutankhamun, 1923 and all that), it was offered for sale together with two enamel Egyptian style eagle brooches, one in silver gilt, the other testing as gold, with an estimate of £1500-2500.
It attracted a huge number of admirers in the weeks it was featured online (the sale had been rescheduled from April and was on the watchlist of more than 50 potential bidders on thesaleroom.com). It eventually sold for £7500.