The images you'll see as you scroll down to the current text are all part of the story telling in my novel, Realms of Gold:Ritual to Romance.

Bianca Caldwell, pen name, Bianca Fiore, is a writer for an art magazine. In each of her monthly stories she describes an object used in ancient ritual.

Museum at Chatillon Features Realms of Gold!

                                Amis du Musée du Pays Châtillonnais
                                                                                                 Trésor de Vix
No oo1  Lettre aux Amis du Musée  Automne 2014
Fédération Française des Sociétés

d’Amis de Musée (FFSAM)

Notre association est adhérente à la FFSAM à l’instar de quelque 290 autres sociétés d’amis de Musée. En plus de son rôle d’interlocuteur des Pouvoirs Publics, la fédération est un organe de promotion des Sociétés d’Amis et par voie de conséquence des musées, une source de contacts et une occasion d’échanges d’expériences. C’est ainsi qu’un article sur l’AMPC est paru dans le dernier numéro de la revue de la FSAMM. Par ailleurs nous sommes entrain d’établir des relations avec nos collègues de Bourgogne en vue de donner un second souffle au groupement régional (Bourgogne) des sociétés d’amis de musée.
Affaire à suivre.

Un roman autour de la Dame de Vix :

Les royaumes dorés par Terry Stanfill.

La Dame de Vix a inspiré un roman original écrit par une Américaine résidant en Californie, Terry Stanfill.  A l’occasion d’une visite touristique de la région, cette écrivaine eut un véritable coup de cœur pour la Dame de Vix et tout ce qui l’entoure. L’ouvrage
"Les royaumes dorés" en Anglais "Realms of Gold " imagine les circonstances dans lesquelles le vase de Vix est arrivé dans notre Châtillonnais. Naturellement, c’est une fiction : elle met en scènes divers évènements et protagonistes réels ou imaginaires. Les versions françaises et anglaises sont en vente à la boutique du Musée (15€).  


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Celts - Gold Torque, Detail

Vix, France.
480 BC

This massive torque or diadem was found in the grave of a powerful woman, consisting of 40 individual parts. The two spheres at the ring terminals are held in the paws of lions. The two small winged horses are reminiscent of Pegasus from Greek mythology and bear witness to increased contact with the Mediterranean world. 

The Vix Krater and the Lady of Vix Was she Princess, Priestess, Queen?

The area around the village of Vix, in North east Burgundy is the site of an important prehistoric complex from the Celtic late Hallstatt period.(500 B.), the beginning of the Iron Age. Overlooking this tiny village (200 inhabitants) are traces of an important fortified settlement of an aristocratic, elitist society influenced by Greek and Etruscan culture. 

In 1953 the treasure of the of "the Lady of Vix was discovered, the site dating back to circa 500 BC. The site had never been looted and contained remarkably rich grave offerings, including important jewelry and the magnificent bronze Vix Krater the largest known metal vessel from antiquity. The wealth of this Celtic tribe was derived from farming (with the iron plough) from collecting tolls at the point on the Seine where the river became navigable for transport.They also exchanged tin and copper, salt, furs, and Baltic amber for luxury goods-- fine bronze objects, Greek ceramics, and coral. The cargos were shipped via the Rhone River, south to Massilia (Marseilles) , to finally reach other Mediterranean ports.

The spectacular jewels buried with the :"Lady of Vix," mark her social position. For these Celts gold was a symbol of power. The gold of the Lady (or Princess, or Priestess) of Vix was meant to show those dwelling in the Otherworld that she was important and therefore deserved special treatment. For this reason one could easily speculate that she was a princess or druidess who would display her power to the gods of the Afterlife. The great cauldron, in this case the krater, was the symbol of immortality and abundance to the ancient Celts. There are no records that indicate if druid burials included ornaments of any sort in their burial chambers or even if they were buried at all. However, since they held the highest places in society, it is likely that their burials were elaborate. Although there are few early references to druids in early history, one of the first known mention was in the works of Aristotle, the teacher of Alexander the Great.

The Last Two Faberge Eggs

In 1917 Carl Faberge had already fashioned the Birch Egg for the Dowager queen, Tsarina maria and was fashioning a beautiful Tsarevich Alexei Constellation egg that was supposed to represent the sky at the time of the birth of Prince Alexei ( the Tsarevich) Tsarina's Alexandra's favorite but ailing son. This was never completed.

Only recently were pictures and models were found during a Russian exhibition.

The turn of events leading to the bloody revolution meant that the eggs were never delivered and in the case of the latter not completed. Carl Fabergé escaped from Russia and settled in Switzerland only to die in 1920.

While the legacy of Carl Fabergé continues by the House of Faberge his genius has been laid to rest.

 The 1917 Birch Egg
The Birch Egg, also known as Karelian Birch Egg, is made of gold and Karelian Birch. The now missing Birch egg detailing miniature was possibly a miniature elephant, made of gold, silver, rose-cut diamonds and enamel. Karelian birch is a sort of birch that only grows in Russia, on Michael Perkhin's (the designer) native land, Karelia. Karelia is situated between St. Petersburg and Finland. The now lost surprise was a miniature elephant, decorated with gold and silver, 8 big and 61 small diamonds. It probably referred to the elephant of the Danish Order of the Elephant, Denmark being the country where Maria Feodorovna was born. The key to wind the elephant exists and is made of gold, set with diamonds.

This Egg was purchased by the privately owned Russian National Museum (a group of Russian collectors) and had not been exhibited on its native soil since 1927. The Museum purchased the Egg after it emerged from nearly 85 years of obscurity in 2001. Alexander Ivanov, the director of the Museum, declined to name the Egg's previous owner, who he said lives in London and is descended from a family of Russian emigres, saying only that the Egg cost the museum "millions of dollars". The Egg came with the key, the case and two documents, the authentic calculation of the firm Fabergé dated April 25, 1917.

The Constellation Egg is one of two Easter eggs designed under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé in 1917, for the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. It was the last Fabergé egg designed. It remains unfinished.

Due to the Russian Revolution of 1917, the egg was never finished or presented to Tsar Nicholas' wife, the Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna.

The egg, as it is known from 1917 document, was made of blue glass with a crystal base, and the Leo sign of the zodiac is engraved on the glass. (The heir to the Russian throne, Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia, was a Leo). There are stars that are marked by diamonds, and there is a clock mechanism inside the egg.

The Lost Fabergé Eggs

Peter the Great Egg, 1903. Presented by Nicholas II to Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna. Red, green, and yellow gold, platinum, diamonds, rubies, sapphire, ivory, bronze, rock crystal. Kept in Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection).

In 1885 Tsar Alexander III (House of Romanov) commissioned the production of the gold and enamel 'Hen Egg' for his wife the Empress Maria which she adored. Fabergé was made ‘Goldsmith by Special Appointment to the Imperial Crown’ and over the next 33 years 52 eggs were made for the Russian Royal Family as well as a further 15 for other private buyers.

First Imperial (Hen) Egg, 1885.

Presented by Alexander III to Czarina Maria Fyodorovna. Gold, rubies & diamonds. Kept in Svyaz' Vremyon Fund - Viktor Vekselberg collection - Moscow. Inside the hen there was a ruby crown and inside the crown a pendant. However, the diamond crown and a ruby pendant were "lost" when the egg was sold by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.

Egg from gold is covered in polished opaque white, simulating a shell, enamel; shutters keep on three bayonet locks. Inside – "yolk" of matte gold which, opening, Contains a figure of a gold chicken in a nest with a suede lining and the edges engraved on gold representing straw. The plumage is executed from alternating color gold, a head – from yellow, and a comb and ear rings – from red. All surfaces are carefully engraved, eyes are executed from rubies-cabochons. The case of a chicken opens by means of hidden at the tail-end of the hinge, on a paunch are engraved yellow gold of a pad. The chicken, in turn, contained other surprises (presumably imperial crown decorated with diamonds, And in it - a chain with two ruby coulombs), considered lost after sale of the egg by the Bolsheviks in 1920. ( Viktor Vekselberg collection, Moscow.)

The Lost Third Imperial Easter Egg by Carl Fabergé.

The Third Imperial Easter Egg is one of 50 delivered by Fabergé to Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II from 1885 to 1916, and until its recent discovery was one of eight lost eggs. Only two others of these lost eggs are thought to have survived the revolution.

The egg was the third of 54 Fabergé eggs owned by the Russian royal family and had been lost since 1922. It is recorded that in 1922 this egg was transferred from the Kremlin Armoury, which had confiscated the eggs in 1917 when the Tsar was overthrown, to the special plenipotentiary of the Council of People's Commissars, Ivan Gavrilovich Chinariov. Beyond the written records, a 1902 photograph of the egg on exhibition in St. Petersburg also survived.

Lost Faberge egg discovered – The diamond mechanism opens the egg to reveal a Vacheron Constantin watch inside. The gold watch with diamond hands is hinged to stand upright.
Two Fabergé experts, Vincent and Anna Palmade, found the catalog from a 1964 auction by Parke Bernet (an auction house later acquired by Sotheby's) and seeing the photograph they were able to identify an egg that sold for $2,450 as the missing Fabergé egg. We will probably never know how it ended up leaving the USSR and making it to the US, but we imagine it must be a pretty interesting story.

Lost Faberge egg discovered – Wartski's display of the Third Imperial Easter Egg in London will be only the second time it has been shown in public, the first being in a 1902 exhibition of the Russian royal family's Faberge collection in St. Petersburg.

This egg hasn’t been seen since 1902, and it might not be seen for another 100 years because it was bought by a private collector. Given by Alexander III Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias to Empress Marie Feodorovna for Easter 1887. 

The jeweled and ridged yellow gold Egg stands on its original tripod pedestal, which has chased lion paw feet and is encircled by colored gold garlands suspended from cabochon blue sapphires topped with rose diamond set bows.

It contains a surprise of a lady’s watch by Vacheron Constantin, with a white enamel dial and openwork diamond set gold hands. The watch has been taken from its case to be mounted in the Egg and is hinged, allowing it to stand upright. Made in the workshop of Fabergé’s Chief-Jeweller: August Holmström, St. Petersburg, 1886-1887.

In all likelihood, this is now the most expensive timepiece ever sold, surpassing the famous Rothschild egg sold in 2007 by Christie's for over $18 million. Of course, the most expensive watch (without extra components) ever sold was the Henry Graves Supercomplication made by Patek Philippe, which sold for $11 million in 1999.

The 1917 Russian Revolution toppled Tsar Nicholas II who was executed along with much of the royal family in July 1918. Fearing for his safety, Peter Carl Faberge abandoned Russia travelling first to Latvia then Germany and finally Switzerland where he died in Lausene in 1920.

The Fabergé eggs and many other treasures of the Royal family were confiscated and stored in the vaults of the Kremlin Armoury. Some were sold to raise funds for the new regime. Over time eight of the original 52 Imperial eggs have vanished and their whereabouts remain a mystery to this day. A full list of missing eggs is below. In 2007, just one egg, 'The Rothschild' was sold at Christies Auction House for $8.9 million.

The Missing Eggs:

(1886) The Hen Egg with Sapphire Pendant (1888) The Cherub with Chariot Egg (PPC-USA) (1889) The Nécessaire Egg (PPC-UK) (1896) The Egg with Alexander III Portraits (1897) The Mauve Egg (1902) Empire Nephrite Egg (Alexander III Medallion) (1903) The Royal Danish (Jubilee) Egg (1909) The Alexander III Commemorative Egg

The Hen Egg with Sapphire Pendant

Cherub with Chariot Egg behind Caucasus Egg

The 1888 Cherub with Chariot egg is behind the Caucasus egg on the far right of the bottom shelf. It is almost completely hidden by the Caucasus egg, which is why it has remained undetected for more than 100 years. The egg gradually reveals itself following long and patient scrutiny with a magnifying glass. One wheel of the Chariot appears just left of the Caucasus stand, the tip of the egg is just left of the tip of the Caucasus egg and the outline of the Cherub pulling the Chariot with his two hands can be seen just above and on the left of the wheel. There are also two reflections of the egg in the vitrine glasses - the outline of the chariot can be seen on the reflection in the vitrine to the right of the egg. There can be little doubt that this is indeed the Cherub with Chariot egg because its appearance is quite unique and matches perfectly the description in the account books of N. Petrov, assistant manager to the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty - Cherub pulling a chariot containing an egg. (Fabergé, Proler and Skurlov, 100; Lowes and McCanless, 24-5)

Alexander III Portraits Egg

This Egg was long thought to be the 1892 gift for the Imperial Couple's 25th wedding anniversary, but later research proved that the 12 Monogram Egg was presented to Maria Feodorovna at Easter in 1895, in memory of Tsar Alexander III, who had died the previous November.

In November 2008 new research proved that this Egg had to be one and the same egg as the missing Alexander III Portraits Egg, and was presented to Maria Feodorovna as remembrance to Alexander III and the fact that the Imperial couple's married 30 years earlier, in 1866.

The 1896 12 Monogram Egg / Alexander III Portraits Egg was the first in what would become no less than four Imperial Eggs directly commemorating Alexander III, either through miniature paintings or through sculptures. The other three Eggs are the 1902 Empire Nephrite Egg (missing), the 1909 Alexander III Commemorative Egg (missing) and the 1910 Alexander III Equestrian Egg.

In 1949, Marjorie Merriweather Post acquired the 1896 Alexander III Portraits Egg. Today the egg is part of a large Fabergé collection at the Hillwood Museum in Washington (DC). The surprise in the Fabergé egg has been missing and no photographs - only an invoice - were known to scholars until now. The egg was previously identified as the 1895 Twelve Monogram Egg, until Annemiek Wintraecken published a revised Fabergé egg timeline in the Fabergé Research Newsletter, November 2008. Based on the Fabergé invoice the surprise included six portraits of Alexander III and ten sapphires. The egg and its surprise were presented for Easter 1896 by Emperor Nicholas II to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, who wrote to her son:

    "I can't find words to express to you, my dear Nicky, how touched and moved I was on receiving your ideal egg with the charming portraits of your dear, adored Papa. It is all such a beautiful idea, with our monograms above it all." (von Habsburg, Fabergé: Treasures of Imperial Russia, 2004, 66)

In our auction catalog research we found four photographs of the surprise - a folding miniature frame. Whereabouts of the frame is currently unknown, however, we hope the surprise may be alive and well in the care of an unsuspecting collector.

The 1897 Mauve Egg, also known as Mauve Egg with 3 miniatures, was probably made of gold and mauve enamel. The heart-surprise is made of rose-cut diamonds, strawberry red, green and white enamel, pearls and watercolor, probably on ivory.

Research in the Russian State Historical Archives in Moscow shows that the surprise in the Mauve Egg was heart-shaped and there is a strong suggestion that it may be the heart-shaped frame included in the Forbes Magazine Collection, (now Vekselberg Foundation). The frame is set with the date 1897 in rose-cut diamonds and opens as a three-leaf clover with each leave holding a photograph, Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna and their baby daughter Grand Duchess Olga.

There is no mention of the Mauve Egg in either the 1917 or 1922 inventories of confiscated Imperial treasure. This suggests the Egg had been removed before 1917, perhaps by Maria Feodorovna herself.

The Nécessaire Egg
"A Fine Gold Egg, richly set with diamonds, cabochon rubies, emeralds, a large coloured diamond at top and a cabochon sapphire at point. The interior is designed as an Etui with thirteen gold and diamond set implements." This is the description of item 20 under the heading 'Lent Anonymously' from the catalogue of a loan exhibition of the works of Carl Fabergé held at Wartski, 138, Regent Street, London W1, November 8-25, 1949.

The story of this previously unidentified golden egg up until 1952 has now been pieced together by Kieran McCarthy of Wartski. His detective work was prompted by the opening up of the Russian archives in the 1990s, where a Fabergé invoice addressed to the Tsar for "Nécessaire Egg, Louis XV style, 1900 roubles, St. Petersburg 4th May 1889" was discovered in the Imperial ledgers. Two years later, an inventory of items in the Gatchina Palace recorded: "Egg decorated with stones, containing ladies toilet articles, 13 pieces." In 1917, items confiscated by the provisional government included a "gold nécessaire egg, decorated with precious stones", and, in 1922, "1 gold Nécessaire egg with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and 1 sapphire" was among the goods transferred to the Sovnarkom, the central agency in Moscow from where confiscated items were dispersed and sold off by the state.

Searching through Wartski's ledgers, Mr. McCarthy found an entry confirming that an object matching the description of the Nécessaire Egg was sold in 1952. The buyer was almost certainly British, and insisted on anonymity. Wartski observed absolute discretion and never recorded the name, and there is no record of it having being seen by anyone in the art world since.

in 2007 Mr. McCarthy discovered the photographs taken at the 1949 exhibition. "When I saw the object on the bottom shelf of the cabinet, I knew in an instant that it had to be it. The detective work was an intellectual exercise, but the effect was physical spine-tingling rush of adrenalin, all concentrated on that square centimetre of print." The grainy images, which have been scanned and magnified, are the only known visual record of the missing Nécessaire Egg.
 the "Royal Danish Jubilee"
Missing 1902 Alexander III Commemorative Egg

Treasure of Gourdon

The Treasure of Gourdon (Trésor de Gourdon), unearthed near Gourdon, Saône-et-Loire, in 1845, is a hoard of gold, the objects dating to the end of the fifth or beginning of the sixth century, which was secreted soon after 524. When it was found, the hoard comprised a chalice and a rectangular paten, that were similarly applied with garnets and turquoises in cloisonné compartments, together with about a hundred gold coins dating from the reigns of Byzantine emperors Leo I (457–474) through that of Justin I (518–527). The Merovingian king Clovis I converted to Christianity in 496; the chalice and paten might be called early Merovingian or late Gallo-Roman.

 In the sixth century, Gourdon was the site of a monastery, whence these objects may have come.

The paten from Gourdon
The treasure may have been hastily buried in anticipation of a raid. Its recovery was fortuitous: a shepherd girl, Louise Forest, discovered it below a Roman tile engraved with a cross. The treasure was sold at auction in Paris, 20 July 1846, when the paten and chalice were acquired by the State, whereas the documentary coins were dispersed and lost to view.

Gold chalice, with garnet and turquoise, from the Treasure of Gourdon Cabinet des Médailles, Paris

The treasure is preserved in the Cabinet des Médailles, Paris, a department of the Bibliothèque nationale.

The Sroda Treasure

The Środa Treasure is one of the most valuable archaeological finds of the 20th century. It was found in 1985 during renovation works in Środa Śląska, Poland. It is now agreed that the treasure belonged to the King (later Emperor) Charles IV of the House of Luxembourg. Around 1348, needing funds to support his claim to the King of the Romans, Charles pawned various items to the Jewish banker Muscho (Moshe, Mojżesz) in Środa. Soon afterwards, the black plague visited Środa. Muscho was not heard of again and it is believed that he either fled from the plague-struck town, died of plague, or perhaps fell victim to pogroms as Jews were blamed for spreading the plague. What is certain is that no one ever reclaimed the treasure, which was left hidden somewhere in the town for hundreds of years.

Blanche of Valois, first wife of the emperor Charles IV

Among the artifacts was a bejeweled golden crown thought to belong to Blanche of Valois, wife of Emperor Charles IV. The crown is topped by 7 eagles and buckled by 6 bodkins with fleurons a circular fibula with cameo.

A handful of pendants, rings, and a gold broach were also discovered amidst over 3,000 coins. Unfortunately, a large portion of the Svoda treasure was plundered by locals before authorities could secure it, and only a portion of the discovery was recovered. That which remains is now housed in Sroda’s Regional Museum.

Gold and silver coins were discovered during demolition of an old building. Much of the treasure is thought to have been lost to looting.

The hoard dates from the mid 14th century. Its largest component is silver coins, of which there are about 3,000 pieces The Sroda treasure takes the number one place on this list. It was uncovered in 1985 during renovations in that region of Poland.

Most of the more than 4,000 pieces in the treasure are coins, but they also include the crown, brooch and pendant. Crowns are rare and distinctive items, and it was this crown that allowed historians to pin down the treasure's origins.

The crown probably belonged to Charles' first wife, Blanche of Valois; the crow and some of the other pieces have wedding motifs, so they may have parts of her trousseau.

The golden crown with eagles-exceptional one, of no analogies with other medieval crowns - is the latest of alll jewels found in Sroda Slaska. It belongs to the group of short segmental crowns with fleurons formed in the 13th century. Trapezoid lower segments made of double tin plates (hachured and ornamental with open - work front side - opus interrasile) are topped by eagles with rings in their beaks and joined bodkins with fleurons. The crown was originally decorated by 193 precious stones: garnets, spinels, sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines, pearls and plaquette of cellular and fluted enamel in gold (so called de plique). The structure of segments decoration is based on alternation rule. This goldsmith masterpiece was probably made in Paris centre in the beginning of the 14th century, what can be proved by the analogies with French goldsmith. One can also take into account Prague court, where French and Italian goldsmiths worked. The crown was surely a female ceremonial jewel, probably made because of the wedding. The jewels made in the 1st. half of the 14th century are a ring with a sapphire and a band for decorating covers of reliquaries, books and jewel-cases (Prague).

The pendants decorated on both sides are the oldest in the whole set. They are decorated on obverse and reverse sides with filigree, set with garnets, sapphires and pearls. Semi-lunar laps with engraved decoration and use of enamel were added later on obverse sides. There are pressed laps in the form of stylized palmette surrounded by 3 lions on reverse sides. Large dimension (63x66 mm) and weigh (41-42 g) of the jewels prove their use as pendants for female head dresses (coifs, head - bands etc).

The second pair of pendants (ear-rings?) smaller (60,5x62,5 mm) and decorated only on one side, has the form similar to the one described above. On the obverse side, set with Chech garnets, the filigree in the form of scrolls is less precise that on the bigger pendants.

 This kind of circular pendants were often used on the territory of Bizantium and on the territories under the influence of Bizantium art. Goldsmith's analogies can point the Sicily as the place where the pendants were made, most probably in the 12th century.

The bracelet with nodules almost identical with pendant's ending and with a figure of a bird (eagle, falcon?) on the buckle probably comes from the same atelier. Both items - smaller pendants and bracelet (?) - were probably made in Hungary in the 2. half of the 13th century.

One of the most interesting parts of the treasure is the circular (diameter 129.3 mm) fibula with cameo cut in blue chalcedony, set with garnets, emeralds sapphires and pearls (22 precious stones are missing). Fibulas were used to brace ceremonial court coats or liturgical mantles on breast or arms. They had various forms (but the circular ones were most frequent) and were richly set with precious stones. The fibula of Sroda Slaska is the biggest one among all known fibulas of the hooped kind. It was probably made in Italy, in the goldsmith's circle of Stauf's court, in the 2, half of the 13th centuary. Its central element - cameo with the image of an eagle in aquila vitrix kind - was probably made in Sicilian goldsmith's atelier about 1240.

It is probable that the coins were also hidden with the jewels (the 2. half of the 13th c. and the 1. half of the 14th c.).

Florin from Środa treasure.

One of many mysteries connected with the jewels and coins found in Sroda Slaska is the basic question: who does the treasure belong to? and when was it hidden? Many data proves that the jewels could come from the Chech treasure from the times of Luxembourg dynasty and they constituted the security for money loan raised by Carl IV (1346 - 1378) from Jews of Sroda. The Wroclaw duchy, where Sroda Slaska was situated, was taken over by John of Luxembourg in virtue of a law of succesion in 1335. Sroda, trade centre of big importance, was specially connected with Prague court by person of John from Sroda, secretary, and later chancellor of Carl IV. Royal deposid was probably hidden during persecution of Jews in the period of pest called black death, which came to Silesia in the middle of the 14th century.