Throwback Thursday: A white gold crane in flight

Throwback Thursdays took a hiatus but now they're back.

This week’s gift of yesteryear is this brooch.

Designed by Cartier and made in 18k white gold, this crane in flight dates back to the 1930s.

The brooch is engraved with the words 'NO FLOWERS' on the back.

It belonged to Amelia Earhart the record-breaking pilot. 

It was found in the back of a New Jersey van which transported Earhart's belongings from the airport. The company owner tried to return it, but shortly after, Earhart disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean during a round the world flight. She was 41.

It's not possible to say with certainty what 'NO FLOWERS' meant to Earhart but in a 1931 New York Times article about Amelia’s wedding to George P. Putnam, the ceremony was described as being very simple. It mentioned that there were 'no flowers.' 

To me, 'no flowers' sounds morbid, it's the kind of thing you hear when you read details for a funeral. 

Christies, the auction house handling the sale of the brooch, writes: "Perhaps the brooch was a wedding gift to Earhart and the phrase a witticism between the couple? Whatever the significance of “No Flowers” may have been, this brooch is atypical of what Cartier was producing at the time and was most likely a special order for the first woman of aviation around the time of her nuptials. "

Bidding for the brooch starts at $7,000. 


Throwback Thursday: Lauren Bacall's Tiffany & Co. Chain

This week’s gift of yesteryear is probably the most generous gift a boss has given an employee.

Although, on reflection, I’m not sure you can call the relationship between actor and director a boss and employee relationship, more like sports coach and athlete.

This 14k yellow gold chain by Tiffany & Co. was given to the actress Lauren Bacall by Ron Field, who directed her in the musical Applause.

Each heart is engraved with a letter which spell out: ‘To my own beautiful star from her proud director Ron’

New Yorker Bacall was born Betty Perskein in 1924. She worked as a model and was soon encouraged to try her hand at acting in Hollywood.

She went on to star in To Have and Have Not and How to Marry a Millionaire. She also voiced the part of Evelyn in Family Guy.

The necklace certainly reflects the success of her performance. In 1970, Bacall won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and the show won Best Musical.

Last year the chain was sold at auction in New York for $52,500. 

Throwback Thursday: The original care package

I recently came across the phrase: ‘hurt people hurt people’. Without knowingly carrying out research, I’ve found this to be true.

Thankfully, we are prevented from living lives which constantly alternate between terror and trauma because there are people in the world who do not repay hurt with hurt. These people cheerfully interrupt the vicious cycle by showing love.

Which brings me to this week’s Throwback Thursday gift, the CARE package.

Care Package | Laughing Heart

In late 1945, when much of Europe was broken and barely recovering from the Second World War, an organisation called CARE, the Co-operative for American Remittances to Europe was formed. Made up of an host of different charities, CARE provided food to those starving and displaced by conflict in Europe.

It was officially established by President Harry S. Truman, after receiving pressure from the American people who wanted to provide poor relief to those suffering.

Americans paid $10 and a care package was assembled and sent on their behalf, originally to family members living in Europe. Donations and demands increased to the point where Americans could donate a package to a stranger.

Some packages were addressed to ‘a hungry occupant of a thatched cottage’ and ‘a school teacher in Germany’. The packages were initially made up of food supplies donated by American companies. They were later assembled to include other items like blankets and clothes.

© CARE International

Millions of packages were sent until 1955. Over half of all packages were sent to Germany. The last package was sent to the UK.

Gillian Roberts, 73, from Kent recalls receiving a care package as a child: “We must have gone back to our bombed out bungalow which was still being repaired from the war. Then the absolute joy and disbelief, and I can remember a huge tin of peaches, a bag of flour in a muslin bag, and I think a tin of butter. My grandmother, she just sat in the middle of the floor, just sobbing. We were just opened mouthed.

“It was the thought of somebody being so kind. The impact that it had on us was indescribable. Because my grandmother was crying so much she couldn’t see any logic in it. She said, ‘well it’s from people a long way away, and they realise that we’ve got problems and we need help, and they were kind enough to send it to us.”

During war and after it, ideas of 'otherness' surface. Usually from the mouths of politicians but perpetuated in the media. You hear phrases like 'the enemy', 'the opposition' and 'the bad guys'. The CARE packages demonstrate that strong-minded and loving people were able to recognise human suffering in people just like them, looked past 'otherness' and were moved to do something useful about it.

CARE became CARE International, which now provides life-saving assistance across the world in Syria, Yemen, Ecuador and Nepal to name a few.


Throwback Thursday: A Gift from President to Granddaughter

Last Friday in Hyde Park, I ran next to a woman pushing her baby son in a pram. As she ran, she sang the names of all the American presidents.

I couldn’t decide whether this was an impressive vision of motherhood or of madness.  All I knew was that I had to keep up with her. Not only was this woman able to run and sing at the same time, she bravely chose to compose a song with pretty challenging creative ingredients. I mean, presidential surnames include Van Buren, Hoover and Eisenhower. 

I ran just behind the woman long enough to hear her bellow the chorus a few times: ‘GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS THE FIRST PRESIDENT!’ 

Yes, he was. I knew that, but that was pretty much all I knew. We studied the American War of Independence at school but for some reason I’ve blurred early American history with the plot of Sleepy Hollow.

I googled George Washington and the image search yielded this portrait of him, a miniature. 

George Washington Laughing Heart

When George Washington’s step granddaughter, Martha (Patty) Parke Custis became engaged, she wrote to her step-grandfather asking him to sit for a miniature as a wedding gift.

He replied by saying he couldn’t believe the wish nearest a young lady’s heart was to possess an old man’s picture, but consented nonetheless. 

This is the result, a watercolour on ivory, by Walter Robertson set in gold. 

San Fran, The Beats & A Gift For Laurie

I am not a daring person. I never swim out of my depth, I am always several hours early for flights and I won’t let a dog lick my face.

On that last point, I don’t hate dogs. It’s just that I once witnessed a dog jump in and out of a pond and then lick his owner's eye. His wide-open eye. I'm 100% sure that can cause blindness.

Being risk-averse means that traveling alone isn’t something which appeals to me. But inspired by the wisdom in Kylie Jenner’s video, I’m trying to make 2016 the year of realising and doing stuff.

So last week, I threw caution to the wind and flew to San Francisco. I'm 'into' American poetry from the 1950s onward. I wanted to visit the home of the Beat Generation, see Vesuvio Café where the writer Allen Ginsberg drank with Jack Kerouac and visit City Lights Bookstore.

I contacted my friend Laurie who lives in San Francisco to ask if she was around to meet up. Without a second thought, she invited me to stay at her flat and booked a day off work to hang out. That's the kind of excellent-hearted person she is. 

I told her about the literary sights I wanted to see. She hadn’t come across the Beats before which was great for me because it meant that I got to talk about it at length. It occurred to me that it had been a long time since I had confidently talked about something which actually mattered to me without saying: ‘Sorry, I’ve been talking for ages’ or ‘Sorry, I'm being geeky’ or 'Sorry, this probably isn't interesting'. 

It also occurred to me that it had been a long time since I’d found someone willing to listen. Unlucky, Laurie!

So together we went to City Lights and read some poems, bought some books and had a drink at Vesuvio. 

To thank her for hosting me and for being a good friend (one who can bear to be a tourist when she is really a local) I decided on a trio of Jo Malone gifts, a jumper, fresh flowers selected by a lovely lady called Courtney from the Floral Loft and a meal at AQ (which I'd heard was awesome - confirmed).

I'm glad I found and embraced my pioneer spirit in San Francisco, if only for a few days. 

It seems appropriate to end the post with a quote from Kerouac's Desolation Angels:

— Jack Kerouac


Here are some pictures from my visit. They include stops at City Lights, The Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park, Alamo Square, Twitter HQ and Pier 39.