I am working on a research project that centers around coins related to Alfonso XIII. I recently was told that his mother used coins to present/introduce him to the Nation> because he became a King the moment he was born. The first three issues of coins depict him as a 'Toddler', 'Baby', and then as a 'Child' which appears to support the idea.
Any information or available reference sources that relates to King Alfonso XIII's mother using coins to present/introduce him to the Nation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you... Joseph
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I thank you for the 'Pitt' History lesson, very entertaining, but this 'Charm' bracelet is the subject of my research:
The hand-made Sterling bracelet is purported to have been purchased in Spain. The panels were hand-cut from five (5) late 1800's Spanish 5 Peseta coins, which appear, according to condition of cut-outs, to have been in a high grade of Mint State. There are no signs of circulation under 30X magnification. The bracelet's safety chain guard and hand-made clasp tested at 0.925 fine silver content. The safety chain is stamped STERLING, but there are no other Hallmarks/Stamps related to maker. The panels of coin cut-outs tested 0.900 fine silver content. The links had a reaction to test, but results, at this time, are inconclusive. The style/design of clasp is called 'Fold-Over', and it most popularly and commonly used in the 1930's and 1940's, altho they are still in use today.
The subject matter of the bracelet is solely thematic of Alfonso XIII. Why would a jeweler decide to use such an odd subject for a charm bracelet? Was it a commissioned piece? By whom, a family member, a close friend, or Political associate? If the piece was made in the 1930's, prior to abdication of the Throne in 1941, would a jeweler make a piece like this in the middle of the 'Great Depression' on a whim, investing in the silver and silver coins, in the hopes someone would stop by and purchase it instead of a loaf of bread? I suspect not! The purchaser had to be affluent to consider such an extravagance at that time. I am searching for answers to these questions and others.
Anyway, any and all ides, conclusions, thoughts, and comments are welcome and will be helpful... Joseph
One of my goals is to try to get a handle on time frame of manufacture through elimination, logic, common sense, and History itself. Any thoughts on 'why' this would have been made or 'what' the motivation might have been to the purchaser to buy it once the King was no longer relevant?
My thoughts is, that it is a cottage craft jewelry piece. My guess is that it was made in Spain, by a village jeweler for commercial sale in his shop, perhaps near contemporary to the date ranges of the coin types used.
I belong to a gem faceting and craft precious metal (mainly silver) jewelry making club. I am a gem facetor, but there are members in our club that would be perfectly capable of making an item just like this. My favorite material for gem faceting is natural rough Australian yellow sapphire, which comes from Anakie in Central Queensland, Australia. I have cut about 80 stones.
There are two or three other members here in the CCF, that use silver coins to make coin jewelry.
Quote: 'My thoughts is, that it is a cottage craft jewelry piece. My guess is that it was made in Spain, by a village jeweler for commercial sale in his shop, perhaps near contemporary to the date ranges of the coin types used.
I belong to a gem faceting and craft precious metal (mainly silver) jewelry making club. I am a gem facetor, but there are members in our club that would be perfectly capable of making an item just like this. My favorite material for gem faceting is natural rough Australian yellow sapphire, which comes from Anakie in Central Queensland, Australia. I have cut about 80 stones. There are two or three other members here in the CCF, that use silver coins to make coin jewelry.'
Thank you for sharing your personal hobby. You sound like you are really into your Club and enjoying every minute of it.
Gem cutting and faceting definitely requires a high degree of skill, and the art of 'silversmithing' and a 'creative mind' always go hand-in-hand. I have learned much in the past month or so about the differences between Natural (mined), synthetic (lab grown), and Simulated gems, especially those involving chysoberyl or corundum. I finally got around to examining a ring my Dad had given me years ago. It is a Sterling setting by SIGI and had supposedly held an un-enhanceced, untreated Natural Alexandrite weighing in at over a whopping 9 carets. GIA dashed my son's hopes of a Howard Hugh's size inheritance... lol It turned out to be a rather high quality Lab grown color-change Sapphire. Still, the true value lies in the fact that it was my Dad's.
In response to your thoughts:
The piece being hand-made is no longer in question. Abundant evidence of hand-craftsmanship was very obvious.
I definitely agree with you that any capable enthusiast with a certain degree of skill could have made it, but not for the reason of a retail sale in a jewelry store, especially a contemporary one. The argument being.. if you were a contemporary jeweler with a small retail store, for example here in the States, would you indiscriminately design a bracelet thematic of 'Millard Fillmore' or 'Martin Van Buren' (ex-Presidents of the US, currently of no relevance, and of whom most of today's Citizens never even heard of) in the hopes of a buyer for it will eventually come along? It just does not make sense, UNLESS it was specifically commissioned.
Regarding the date of manufacture: the final portrait was used up to 1902, when it switched again, to a "young adult" portrait.
The portraiture on coins of the European monarchs tended to reflect an idealized view the monarchs had about themselves. They usually didn't change much during the reign (with some exceptions, such as George III of Britain who infamously disliked all the coinage portraits of himself), as most monarchs became monarch as a younger adult, and didn't necesarily want to look like they were getting older and weaker on their coins.
Alphonso XIII is unusual, in that he became king at birth. The Spanish evidently wanted the portraiture to accurately reflect his age (unlike certain Roman emperors, whose coinage of their infant sons sometimes looked surprisingly adult - including a beard!), yet a country with a child on the throne might be perceived as "weak". So they changed the portrait regularly, to reflect his growing maturity (and, one hopes, competence in statecraft).
Another observation about the bracelet: it s marked "Sterling", in English. This tells me the piece was either made in an English-speaking country, or imported into one. I would assume the country in question is America, since silver items made in or imported into Britain (and the rest of the British Empire in the late 19th / early 20th century) required items to be hallmarked by the jeweller doing the making or importing.
The coat of arms is of course the arms of the Monarchy, in whose name the Falangists (Spanish Fascists under Franco) later fought in the civil war. In the 1930s, Spanish monarchists were divided, between the Alfonsists who wished to restore Alfonso XIII and the Carlists who wished to see a rival branch of the royal house replace Alfonso as claimant to the throne. The Falangists unified the two Royalist camps, claiming to wait to sort out who the next king would be once the Republicans were ousted. Judging from the multiple portraits of Alfonso, this bracelet was not made to support the Carlist cause!
Finally, as to the origin and purpose: the king was deposed in a Republican coup in 1931 and went into exile, along with many of the Spanish nobility. The Spanish civil war polarized world opinion, being seen (more or less correctly) as a proxy war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany; in "neutral" countries such as America, people supported both sides. I would assume, therefore, that this item was commissioned for a pro-monarchy or Falangist supporter, sometime between 1931 and 1939. As you say, it wouldn't have been a mass-produced item, but a one-off commissioned piece. It seems likely that the royalist who commissioned it would have supplied the coins needed to make it, having brought them into exile when they fled Spain.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
This would have been a very controversial bracelet in Spain in the 1930s with Franco's civil war imminent. During and directly following the war, there was a massive exodus from Spain, especially from the Basque and Catalan areas, to France, England, the United States, Cuba, and other nations.
Coin bracelets were in vogue in the late 1930s and through the end of the 40s, especially with WWII veterans for which they served as souvenirs of the countries they fought in -- my grandfather's, who was at Normandy in June 1944, has coins from Belgium, Vichy France, and pre-war France. My grandmother also had one made of Canadian coins dated 1936-1939 after a trip to Canada in 1939, from nickel to half-dollar. I still have all of the coins from both bracelets.
Perhaps it was made from a supporter of the King, as a public display of allegiance, or in exile as a reminder of their loyalties. It could have been crafted to sell to tourists visiting Spain.
Maybe, instead, it was crafted by a British jeweller or refugee Spanish artisan to sell in Britain, France, or elsewhere to expats and citizens of those countries who were against the Franco regime, or even for those who were in favor of Franco and the Falangists.
Of course, it could also have been made well before that period in Spanish history; let's say the early 1900s; before the many disasters and setbacks which befell the Spanish Kingdom during Alfonso's reign (e.g. the Rif War) -- when Spain was still optimistic about its future and secure in its belief that it was still a major world power to be reckoned with, and that the losses of the Spanish-American war could be won back.
I would hazard a guess that this piece has an American origin and is of a style suggesting a 1920s-1930s date. If it were British I would expect to see three or four hallmarks on the clasp or clasp link -- maker, date, city, and assayer's. The unaccompanied STERLING mark is more in line with American silver. The workmanship is of fine quality but not ornate or ostentatious; the wide foldover clasp is unadorned. Pictures of the link attachment on the cutouts might be helpful to examine the solder technique, since that can help differentiate modern pieces from antiques.
Very interesting responses to say the least. My jeweler brought up a point yesterday that someone may have an idea about. He was wondering 'why' the maker would remove all signs of the filing/grinding on the reverses of panels and leave a polished finish, but not do the same with the filing/cutting marks on the coins edges?