Historical significance of the French Court Collection

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Historical significance of the French Court Collection

When the Ching Dynasty Collection acquired these exquisite gaming counters, we were told that some years ago the same collector had come across a wooden box in which there were several counters the same as the ones now proudly in our collection. He informed us that inside the box was the inscription of the craftsman from the Palais Royal {Royal Palace}. He researched the origin before selling the box and contents to a buyer in Rome Italy. Now several years on we were fortunate to be able to acquire these exquisite pieces.

So, could they have been used by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette?

The sad tail of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette is well known.

In October 2018 Sotheby’s were commissioned to put up for auction some of the Queens rare jewellery. Following is further detail from their media release.

excerpt: -

Jewellery that once belonged to Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution, will be going up for auction next month. (November 2018)

And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces.

The jewels once belonging to the ill-fated queen include a diamond and pearl pendant with a value estimated between $1 and $2 million, a pearl and diamond necklace valued between $200,000 to $300,000 and a diamond double-ribbon-bow brooch valued between $50,000 to $80,000.

There's also a diamond ring containing a lock of the queen's hair. It's worth an estimated $20,000 to $50,000.

The jewellery, never before seen in public, is part of a larger auction collection comprised of pieces from the Bourbon Parma family, one of Europe's most significant dynastic families. The family is linked to French royalty, including Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI, as well as kings of Spain, emperors of Austria and dukes of Parma.

Sotheby's, the luxury dealer managing the auction, calls the collection "one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever to come to auction," according to a press release.

With the revolution raging, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette plotted their escape from France. In March 1791, just months before her arrest, the queen placed a selection of her diamonds, rubies, and pearls in a wooden chest.

The collection made its way to Vienna by way of Brussels in the care of Florimond Claude, Comte de Mercy Argenteau, an Austrian diplomat and loyal retainer to the queen.

Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were imprisoned and executed by guillotine in 1793. Their son died in captivity shortly afterwards at the age of 10.

"Their last surviving child Marie-Thérèse, known as "Madame Royale," was released from three years of solitary confinement in 1795. Upon her eventual arrival in Vienna in 1796 she reclaimed her mother's jewels, which had been kept safe by her cousin, the Austrian Emperor," Sotheby's said.

The collection has been kept in the family for over 200 years and this is the first time the jewels are on public display.

"Every jewel is absolutely imbued with history," said Daniela Mascetti, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Jewellery Europe. "This extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years."

End excerpt

We learned that the November auction was a resounding success achieving CHF 53,522,875.

With Marie Antoinette’s single pearl pendant reaching a record-breaking CHF 36,427,000!

$32 million US. $44 million AUD

We know from her diaries that Queen Charlotte maintained a close relationship with Marie Antoinette, as they shared many interests including their love of music and the arts. We don’t know if an interest in card play was also a joint interest. But could it have been? And were these exotic gold inlayed gaming counters {displayed below} part of Marie Antoinette’s treasured possessions?

It was recorded that Queen Charlotte had prepared apartments ready to accommodate the refugee French Royal family. Sadly, events in France overtook them before they could accept the hospitality.

Were these Marie Antoinette’s? Sadly she is not around for us to ask.

Truly priceless artifacts.


Ching Dynasty Collection

We have some magnificent French Court Pieces available for you to look at here: