on 27 December 2013
Having read glowing reviews of the 'Cheapside Hoard' exhibition at the City of London Museum, I've already bought a timed ticket to see it on one of my rare visits to the capital. As I believe strongly that an exhibition is far more interesting if you've read the guide book before you go, I was delighted to find LONDON'S LOST JEWELS available on Amazon. It's far exceeded my expectations, however, as despite author Hazel Forsyth being curator of the exhibition this is far more than just a guide book, albeit a beautifully illustrated one.
Briefly, the 'Hoard' comprises thousands of jewels and pieces of jewellery buried under Goldsmith's Row (just east of St Pauls Cathedral) sometime between 1640 and 1666. No-one knows who buried them, why, or -- perhaps most intriguingly -- why they never retrieved them. Those 26 years which saw the Civil War, the Great Plague and the Fire of London are among the most traumatic that London has ever known (only rivalled by the Blitz), and any of those -- or something entirely different -- could provide the answer. We'll probably never know. What the reader of LONDON'S LOST JEWELS will know by the time they reach page 223, however, is a great deal about the jewellery trade of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, a good deal about individual named jewellers and their wealthy patrons, and a fair bit about the political and social climate of the times.
Did I already remark that the book is beautifully illustrated? Printed on high-quality paper in full colour (except for a few mono prints and cuttings) the sheer beauty of many of the jewels dominates the page. Although some of the pieces appear to have been damaged before they were hidden -- perhaps they'd been brought to a jeweller for repair? -- and most of the pearls have degraded with time, many other pieces are perfect, their 350 or so years underground having left their gold and stones unmarked. Jem cutting and setting styles have changed with time, leaving the majority of the pieces unique, though similar ones can be seen paintings of the period, many of which are reproduced here.
All in all, I was left wondering who I admired the most -- the 17th century craftsmen who created such beautiful work, or the 21st century author who had made it possible for so many of us non-Londoners to admire them. Highly recommended, whether or not you have a chance to visit the exhibition before it closes in April 2014.
on 16 December 2013
Firstly this book is more than just a catalog of an exhibition taking place in London.
It's a book rich with historical detail on the hoard, jewellery making processes and London.
Lots of pictures of the jewellery from the hoard but also, plenty of text, background info about each piece.
I really can not praise this book enough. As a jewellery designer maker, with plenty of books on the subject, this one is in my top 10.
The author has really done their homework in producing this great book, and I love the inclusion of original historical documents the author has been able to source and share.
I would highly recommend this book.
on 21 January 2014
I have been waiting for this book to come out for years. I bought her earlier book on the Hoard, but it was only a very small book with small illustrations. Living in the depths of Northumberland I will not be able to view the exhibition, but this book brought it to my door. Wonderful photographs and great descriptions and historical information. Anybody interested in jewellery should buy this book. Anyone interested in the 17th century should also think about adding it to their library. I reenact a 17th century character with a penchant for finery and this book gives me further insight into the period. Many congratulations to the authoress on an excellent work.
on 15 May 2014
I went to the museum to see the hoard, it was amazing. I decidied not to buy the book at the time as I would have had to carry it for the rest of the day, but when I got home I just had to have it. there is a lot of information in the book but not particularly about the Hoard as there isn't the info. I think some of the photos could be a little better, but oveerall, it's great and i'm pleased I bought it.