Jewellery has fascinated and enthralled civilisations for centuries and possesses a timeless longevity other items rarely own. While in ancient cultures jewellery was as much an adornment as men as women, in modern society jewels are considered to be more of a woman’s pleasure.
Focusing on jewellery which decorates the bodies of men rather than women is the Tomfoolery Exhibition, a black and white photography display at the Museum of London and is part of the museum’s jewellery season.
The exhibition includes numerable portraits evidential of the long standing relationship between men and jewellery, including photographs of the contemporary man and his love affair with jewellery by the acclaimed photographer, Ross Trevail.. Men wearing gold chains and signet rings take pride position at the exhibition, as do men with severe body piercing type jewellery.
The centrepiece of this unique exhibition is the ‘Cheapside Hoard’, extraordinary and priceless treasures of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The hoard gained its name as it was found buried in a cellar on Cheapside in the City of London in 1912. Workmen levered up part of a cellar floor revealing a box containing 400 pieces of magnificent jewellery.
There are a couple of theories as to why the hoard was buried in Cheapside. One explanation is that the house belonged to a Jacobean goldsmith who simply hid his stock away during the English Civil War. The other theory suggests that the hoard was on its way back to England from the East Indies in 1631 but the Dutch jeweller who owned it died on the boat journey. The stash then became the possession of the jeweller’s mate, Christopher Adams.
The treasurer of the East India company did not allow Adams to own the booty for long and forced him to surrender it. The treasurer’s name was Robert Berrti, the first Earl of Lindsey. Poor Christopher Adams could have befriended the Dutchman and have been entitled to a dying man’s gift but the pomp and splendour of Berti’s title meant Adams would have had no chance of retaining the jewels against such a determined rich man, who wanted to become even richer.
In 1912 the workmen who discovered the hoard sold it on to a character called “Stoney Jack” who in turn sold the pieces on to the Museum of London. If you are lucky enough to see the jewellery exhibition at the you will be witnessing the first time in more than 100 years that the hoard has been displayed as it was found buried under the cellar floor in Cheapside.
The Jewellery Season is on at the Museum of London until the 16th March 2014 and the Cheapside Hoard will be on display until 27 April 2014. Entrance is free for all. For more information on the Museum of London’s forthcoming events click HERE.