Modern Talismanic Jewels
One of the best collections of stories concerning the magic of talismanic jewels in strictly modern times is contained in a chapter of Geo. H. Bratley’s “Power of Gems and Charms.” In it we read the following interesting paragraphs: “Emperor William of Germany [this was written in 1906] possesses a ring which has a very curious history. It is the talisman of the family. Legend relates that since the time of the Elector John of Brandenburg, every ruler of the House of Hohenzollern has, when dying, if possible, handed a sealed packet to his successor. This packet contains a ring in which is set a black stone that was dropped by an enormous toad upon the bed of the wife of the Elector immediately after she had given birth to a son, the toad afterwards mysteriously disappearing. The stone was zealously taken care of, and the father of Frederick the Great had it set in a ring. Schneider, the librarian of William I., declares that he witnessed the handing over of the precious packet by Geiling, the treasurer, to his royal master on his succession; and he further asserts that he read the full account of the stone to the Emperor, who fully confirmed it. The ring has ever since been worn by the head of the House of Hohenzollern. William II wears it on all great occasions, and he has great respect, like every Hohenzollern, for the curious old jewel. In the archives at Berlin are many documents of that time referring to it…
[The author then tells the story of the cursed Spanish opal, which we have previously visited in these pages.]
The Czar of Russia is said to be very superstitious [remember this was written in 1906] and to have great confidence in relics. He wears a ring in which is imbedded a piece of the true cross, and it is said to have the virtue of shielding its wearer from any physical danger. It was originally one of the treasures of the Vatican, and was presented to an ancestor of the Czar for diplomatic reasons. The value which its owner sets upon the ring is shown by the fact that he will never, if possible, move any distance without it. Some years ago he was traveling from St. Petersburg to Moscow when he suddenly discovered he had forgotten the ring. The train was stopped immediately, and a special messenger sent back in an express for it; nor would the Czar allow the train to move until eight hours afterwards, when the messenger returned with the ring. It is said that when his grandfather was so cruelly assassinated he had left the ring behind him. The Czar has also another ring with a more pleasant history to it; the story is both pretty and romantic. It is a plain ring and of a quaint Gothic design. The ring was given to Princess Charlotte of Prussia, daughter of Frederick William III., by her governess, while the princess was still a schoolgirl. On the inside of it in faint characters the words ‘Russia’s Czarina’ are just legible. Many years later Prince Nicholas of Russia, then without any hope of succeeding to the throne, saw and fell in love with the young princess, and, during dinner, on the first evening of their meeting, begged her to give him a little remembrance as a sign that his love was returned. ‘Pray give me that little ring,’ he whispered; and secretly it was handed to him. Eight years later the prophetic words engraved within the ring came true. Nicholas became Czar of Russia and Charlotte its Czarina. [Where were these rings during the bloody assassination in the Ekaterinenburg cellar?] [Mrs Daffodil’s note: This ring belonged to Czar Nicholas I. (d. 1855)]
But it is not only royalty who believe in the magic of charms, for we find the great composer, Haydn, had a ring which was his source of inspiration. Without the ring he could rack his brain in vain for melodies: with it the music would leap to his fingers. Mr. Rider Haggard, the novelist, wears a quaint signet ring which once adorned the finger of that Pharaoh who made Israel captive, and to this ornament the novelist ascribes many virtues.
The well-known jeweler, Mr. Streeter of Bond St., though not afraid to walk under ladders, spill salt, and do other unlucky things, always carries attached to his watch chain a small, quaint, sharply carved seal which was originally found in an Egyptian coffin. He has worn it for many years and would not be without it for anything.
The clever black-and-white artist, Mr. Austin Osman Spare, once picked up a golden skull bearing the word ‘One’ in opals. On the night he picked it up he dreamed that as long as he kept the trinket he would be lucky. So far his dream has come true. It is for this reason that he signs his drawings ‘One.’
Madame [Alice] Esty [the opera singer] never appears in public without a small green heart, which is attached to a delicate necklace of gold. She also values highly an antique topaz trophy, which she has converted into a brooch. This stone was once possessed by a famous Indian necromancer. By appealing to its power he was able to command the appearance of food and drink. One night he lay by the side of a suffering comrade on the battlefield. He himself was wounded by a dart. He heard his comrade moaning in an agony of thirst, and, taking the charm from his bosom, threw it to the side of the sufferer, saying, ‘Wear it near thy heart if thy parched throat would find relief,’ and fell back dead. The strange command was obeyed, and when at dawn the grateful soldier looked for his benefactor, no trace could be found.
Mrs. Nicholas Longworth’s [née Alice Roosevelt] favorite ornament is a beautiful jade necklace, which was given to her when she visited the Empress of China. The empress herself decorated Miss Roosevelt with the necklace, and told her that the linked bits of stone were very old; that they had been cut by an artist who had the reputation of being one-half wizard, and that the ornament would bring to its owner her heart’s desire. After her engagement to Congressman Nicholas Longworth was made public she confided to some friends that she believed there really was virtue in the necklace. The Jewelers’ Circular, Volume 83, Issue 1, 1921
Other rulers with protective talismans:
The Shah of Persia always wears a belt set with a superb emerald, to which he ascribes the same virtue as the Czar attributes to his sacred ring. The belt is filled with onion peelings, the object of which is said to be to move any would-be assassin to tears. When the late Shah visited this country he was never seen in public without his protecting belt and gem. He thoroughly believed that if he traveled without the emerald disaster would overtake him, and by a strange coincidence it actually did. It will be remembered that this Persian monarch was foully assassinated not many years ago, and it was a singular fact that he was not wearing the gem at the time.
King George of Greece possesses a talisman, which is also a grim reminder of an attempt on his life. Just at the conclusion of the war with Turkey he was waylaid and shot at several times, one of the bullets embedding itself in the box of his carriage. His Majesty’s escape was so miraculous that he had this bullet extracted and made into a charm for his watch-chain. He would not part with it for a kingdom, firmly believing that as it mercifully missed him when directed at him, it was designed to insure him immunity from assassination.
The Sultan of Turkey, who lives in constant dread of what has been described as the “happy dispatch,” would not be an Oriental if he did not believe in the efficacy of charms. His own particular talisman is said to be a richly bejeweled miniature dagger which he invariably carries about with him. Despite its virtues, however, he takes the precaution of insisting on one of his ministers tasting every dish prepared for him before partaking of it himself.
When the late German Emperor [Frederick III] was lying desperately ill at San Remo, a remarkable amulet was sent to him by the Sultan. It consisted of a string of nine stones of the size of hazel nuts, each of which bore an inscription from the Koran and had been prayed over by a Moslem priest. Accompanying this royal talisman was a letter assuring the Emperor that if he only wore it his health would be at once restored. [Alas, for Europe, the talisman did not work and his son, the blood-thirsty Kaiser Wilhelm, succeeded him.]
The Ameer of Afghanistan wears a beautiful gold ring, to which he ascribes the fact of his having survived so long the machinations of his enemies. He has been a good many times reported dead, but thanks to the magic of his golden ring he still lives to praise its protecting virtues.
No Chinese potentate has ever been without his precious amulet. It is recorded of a former Son of Heaven that his talisman was a bracelet which he wore upon his forearm. The result was that, when His Celestial Majesty was stricken with paralysis, the use of that particular arm was preserved to him, and he was able to issue his decrees as usual. But the full extent of the amulet’s mystic power was only revealed at the Emperor’s death. Three days after that event, when the priests were viewing the body, the removal of the bracelet was suggested. Instantly the hand was lifted up in deprecation at the proposal, which was thereupon abandoned. At least, so runs the story.
The talisman of the sorrow-stricken ex-Empress Eugenie is an artistically jeweled breastpin, fashioned in the shape of a clover-leaf. That has been her companion throughout her checkered career, albeit it has not always brought her happiness. She is said to have pinned it on her bosom before bidding farewell to her beloved son, the late Prince Imperial, when he left this country to meet his death in South Africa. London Tit-Bits 1900
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The belief in the magical properties of jewels is a constant in the history of mankind. Perhaps the confidence engendered by a talisman really does have a stimulating effect on the wearer, hence the saying, “Fortune favours the brave.” Or, the obverse, as Mrs Daffodil has often found helpful: “Accidents visit the anxious.” There is certainly a magical correlation between jewels and personal attraction: hence the plethora of diamond bracelets presented to chorus girls by wealthy older gentlemen, who instantly take on a new glamour as they pull a velvet-lined jewel-case from their pockets.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.