Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Great Book of Jewels, A casual review

The Great Book of Jewels, by Ernest A. and Jean Heiniger, 1974

Are you kidding me?  This is so fantastic!  Can you imagine wearing this tiara?

This book is impressive; it is heavy as a bowling ball and full of diamonds almost as big.  It has large colorful pictures of amazing adornments, spanning the history of jewelry making, and is accompanied by interesting and informed text. 

This beast is over 300 pages!

 The story of how a book came to be written can be very interesting.  Flipping through The Great Book of Jewels, one is immediately aware that this was a labor of love for the Heinigers.  In the table of contents, note that each section of book (divided more of less by time rather than by style, though of course these two often evolve together) is curated by a foremost leader in that particular field at the time of publishing.  For instance, the section titled "Modern Jewelry" is written by the curator of the Museum of Modern Art. 

Every chapter is written by a respected scholar

The Heinigers, very impressively, traveled back and forth across three continents over the course of five years, not only as editors but as diplomats, obtaining permission to photograph obscure and fantastic jewels. 

Many of these pieces had not been admired by human eyes for centuries, as they were in well guarded basements of museums and religious buildings, dark bank vaults, and private collections.  Each piece was photographed anew for this project, with stunning results!

Circa 935 B.C.!

This beautiful Turkish dagger dates from the 18th century.

Wow, 330 carats of diamonds!  circa 1824.

I tried to photograph the captions if possible, as they are more thorough than me.  This brooch is
so fantastic!  Dating from the 13th century, it is of two lovers holding hands.

I love everything about this!  Diamonds, topaz, amethysts, silver.
18th Century, Italian.

I snatched this book up at an antique store for the criminal price of $5. My copy is the first Switzerland edition (which is also the first printed edition). The dust jacket is in almost perfect condition, and no pages are ripped/bent.

If you would like a copy of your own, one can be found at a wide range of price points at my favorite site, Biblio Books. Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment