Monday, September 23, 1889

Monday September 23d.

Today we visited the Exposition. Went all through the United States exhibit, and I must say Tiffany’s exhibit is choicer than anything in the way of jewelry at the Exposition. It is much smaller but more refined and unique. The United States otherwise might as well have staid at home. We visited Russia, Switzerland, all the states of Italy. Went back to the dolls and bought a pretty one for Lilian for her birthday. Came home at half past four.

Tonight Jennie is playing Newmarket in the parlor and such fun as they are having.

[Tiffany’s display appears from internet references to have included a large number of jewelry flowers. This 2006 JCK Magazine article about a then-contemporary Tiffany & Co. exhibit featuring some of their 1889 pieces says:

“These were the work of George Paulding Farnham, another legendary jewelry designer, who began working for Tiffany & Co. in 1885.

“The ‘Nature’ section of the exhibit is ‘exceptional in including seven orchid brooches made around the time of Tiffany’s celebrated orchid display at the Paris Exposition of 1889,’ says Clare Phillips. One, which depicts the orchid Odontoglossum wyattianum in gold, diamond, and enamel, has never been exhibited before.

“Farnham created 24 of these ultrarealistic matte enamel orchids—meant to be used as hair ornaments—and hung them from fine wire so they hovered over the Paris display. John Loring notes that the pieces were ‘universally acclaimed as the most original and finest jewels’ at the Paris fair, and they garnered the grand-prize gold medal for jewelry.”

It is no wonder Addie found the grand-prize-winning jewels the highlight of the jewelry section of the Exhibition. One of Tiffany’s 1889 exhibition pieces, “an iron, gold, and hardstone matchsafe,” was sold by the auction house Christie’s in January 2012; estimated to fetch $10,000 to $15,000, it actually sold for a stunning $146,000. Unfortunately the main source Christie’s cites, “American Jewelers to the Fore. Tiffany & Co.’s Exhibit for the Paris Exposition Placed on View” from The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review (April 1889, pp. 26-30), does not appear to be digitized.]

[Newmarket used to be a very popular card game, though as far as I am aware it is quite uncommon today. There are a number of brief online guides to the game, such as this one from The Guardian newspaper and this blog post.]

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