Planning a trip for one day in May

It was Saturday morning. James had gone into work to catch up with some paperwork. To be precise it was Saturday May 4th 2019. Melanie had run her heart out in Central Park and getting back to the apartment she had nothing planned.


Her home away from home the New York Public Library was closed on the weekend.

She showered and made herself a pot of coffee.

She thought about maybe doing some writing, but had decided to speak with Marie and have her permission before formally putting pen to paper.

She walked over to her jewellery case and took out the Queen Charlotte necklace that had changed their lives.

Taking out the documents from the handmade pouch that the Ching Dynasty Collection had provided, she flicked through the pages. She paused at the Auction cover document from Christie’s archives in London and the copy of the email from them that the Ching Dynasty Collection had received;. It read:-

Hello Bevan

Thanks for your interesting enquiry. We got the time to look through the 1819 catalogues last week and I have some news regarding the items that you are looking for.

I hadn’t realised that Queen Charlotte had quite so many fans inlaid with mother of pearl! So, we got excited every time ‘mother of pearl’ cropped up in the hundreds of lot descriptions in the sales held between May and August 1819. On the first day in the first portion of the sale ‘of oriental curiosities and porcelain &c., &c.’, as you will see on the attached title page, Queen Charlotte’s name was not published, a lot caught our eye.

A catalogue of the first part of a Magnificent Collection of Oriental Curiosities and Porcelain &c., &c…. and will be sold on Friday, May 7, 1819.

Lot 117 is catalogued as:

A card box of beautiful Japan lacquer, containing seven smaller boxes, with mother of pearl gaming counters and fish.

This is the only lot in the entire sale that mentions ‘counters’, there were many boxes some inlaid with mother of pearl. I have scanned both the title page and details of lot 117 as JPGs so that you might use them in your sale catalogue or for marketing purposes. The lot sold for £20 to Lord Wemys.

The Queen Charlotte sales took place in May and June 1819. The first one of ‘oriental curiosities and porcelain’ commenced on 7 May 1819, followed by a sale of ‘jewellery and [silver] plate’ on 17 May, with a third sale held on 24 May 1819 of ‘curiosities, porcelain, furniture and paintings’. There were 3 sales held over 10 days, with 1,276 lots, which fetched £39,915-7s-15 ½ d.

Kind Regards

Lynda McLeod

Associate Director, Librarian

Christie's Archives

8 King Street

St James's, London


Melanie held the necklace gazing at the exquisite hand carved mother of pearl centrepiece. Again, the question in here head was how could such precise detail have been achieved by hand in Canton in 1780. It was truly amazing.

Click on the image above to see what Melanie holds from 1780

As she now held the piece, held by Queen Charlotte in her chambers at Windsor, Melanie again felt the tingles of an adventure to come.

She remembered what she had said to Marie Antoinette when she asked.

“Avez-vous rencontré la reine?"

{“Have you met with the Queen?”} asked Marie

“Non, je n'ai pas eu le plaisir, mais un jour, j'espère que James et moi pourrons lui rendre visite, je sens que nous aurions un lien spécial."

{“No, I have not had the pleasure, but one day I hope James and I can visit her, I feel we would have a special bond.”}

James arrived home just after 3.

“Hi Mel what have you been up to?”

“Planning a trip.” she said, almost breaking into a laugh.

“Oh yeah, where are we off to now?”

“I thought we might attend an Auction.” James head tilting to the side as she went on. “It’s on May 7th at 1pm, I think it would be an adventure to go.”

“Where is it Mel?”

Queen Charlotte 7 May 1819 title page.jpg

“Christie’s Great Room, Pall Mall, St James’s London at 1pm on May 7th 1819!!”

She couldn’t control the laughter as James said.

“Right! I’ll just pop down to the travel agent now and book the tickets. They may have a good laugh too when I tell them our departure date to London is May 6th 1819!!”

Falling about laughing Melanie finished off with;

“Pussy cat, pussy cat where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the Queen!”

They didn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day.

Were they ‘Knocking on heavens door’, or just an open door to History?

Ching Dynasty Collection

We are the custodians of some of the most exquisite examples of hand carved artistry from 200 years ago, here as just a few for you to look at: