Tag Archives: rich merchants

The Bracelet Thief: 1770s


An Adroit Thief

One evening, as Marie Antoinette sat quietly at her loge at the Theater, the wife of a wealthy tradesman of Paris, sitting nearly vis-à-vis to the Queen, made great parade of her toilet, and seemed peculiarly desirous of attracting attention to a pair of splendid bracelets, gleaming with the chaste contrast of emeralds and diamonds. She was not without success. A gentleman of elegant mien and graceful manner presented himself at the door of her loge; he delivered a message from the Queen. Her Majesty had remarked the singular beauty of the bracelets, and wished to inspect one of them more closely. What could be more gratifying? In the seventh heaven of delighted vanity, the tradesman’s wife unclasped the bracelet and gave it to the gentleman, who bowed himself out and left her—as you have doubtless divined he would—abundant leisure to learn of her loss.

Early the next morning, however, an officer form the department of police called at this lady’s house. The night before, a thief had been arrested leaving the theatre, and on his person were found many valuables, among others, a splendid bracelet. Being penitent he had told, to the best of his recollection, to whom the article belonged, and the lady called upon was indicated as the owner of the bracelet. If Madame possessed the mate to this singular bracelet, it was only necessary to intrust it to the officer, and if it was found to compare properly with the other, both would be immediately sent home, and Madame would have only a trifling fee to pay. The bracelet was given willingly, and, with the stiff courtesy inseparable from official dignity, the other took his leave, and at the next café joined his fellow, the gentleman of elegant mien and graceful manner. The bracelets were not found to compare properly and were not returned.

The Atlantic Vol. 5 1860

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is well aware of the pretensions of the nouveau riche in Trade as she was once in the unfortunate position of serving as a lady’s maid to a so-called “Dollar Princess.” That young person possessed ample resources , but her taste, which was far less excellent than her father’s letters of credit, required extensive moulding.  She lacked the calm insouciance one finds in a family who came over with the Conqueror, knows its pearls are genuine, and does not feel called upon to demonstrate the fact by carelessly leaving the jeweller’s bill where anyone may notice it. Still, one can say this about the meat-packing classes: they (or rather, their money) have been rather useful in saving and restoring many fine stately homes. Consuelo Vanderbilt’s dowry, for example, was used to restore Blenheim Palace to its former splendour.

As to the unfortunate lady whose bracelets were so cleverly purloined, one regrets the loss, but Mrs Daffodil suspects that the following week the tradesman’s wife reappeared at the theatre with a still more lavish set of bracelets.

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