Friday, May 7, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - A Pearl of Wisdom

"Pearl " by artist Millicent Sowerby 1878-1967

This beautiful postcard is part of a set and was illustrated by Millicent Sowerby a noted artist who also illustrated many children's books. Born in North Umberland, England, She was the daughter of the illustrator and designer, John G. Sowerby.

I chose this card because it seems a perfect one to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day!

It was also chosen because Today in History celebrates the finding on May 7, 1934, of the largest pearl in the world.

The Pearl of Allah

The Pearl of Allah was found, not in an oyster, but in a giant clam. It was found off the coast of the Philippines by a Muslim diver who thought it bore the features of a turbaned woman. The pearl is 9 1/2 inches long and weighs 14 lbs and is valued at $40 -60 million dollars. You will notice that it lacks the nacreous glow found in oyster pearls. Instead it resembles porcelain. Like many other large and famous gems, the Pearl of Allah has a very interesting history.

Oyster Pearls

The word "pearl' comes from the Old French, perle. It is one of many organic gems including coral, jet, ivory and amber that have been valued and used as an ornament since ancient times. The Chinese pearl trade was recorded as early as 2500 B.C. Pearls are mentioned in The Bible at least 5 times. The pearl is the June birthstone. It is associated with the moon and signifies truth and beauty.

Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia

Empress Marie, the mother of Tsar Nicholas II, shown here in her coronation gown and cloak, is wearing a headdress and necklaces made with pearls and diamonds. Her amazing 3 piece gown, consisting of the bodice, skirt and train and designed in the Russian Court style, is made of silver thread. The gown was on display with the "Treasures of the Tsars" exhibit in St. Petersburg Florida in 1995. As a volunteer docent I was able to spend intimate hours with this amazing (size 8, petite) gown. The cloak is lilac velvet, silver thread and silk.

But I digress!

The drop shaped pearls are the size of quail eggs!

Interestingly enough, freshwater pearls, from freshwater oysters were so abundant in the rivers of Russia that peasant women wore head dresses and vests sewn with hundreds of pearls.

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

Pearls, a natural work of art are often the subject of man made works of art. Vermeer's painting is as much about the earrings as the girl who wears them. Tracy Chevalier's highly acclaimed historical novel, Girl with a pearl Earring, is a must read. It tells us the story of this young servant girl, Griet who lives in the tumultuous Vermeer household. Vermeer is at first annoyed when she asks if she should wash the windows in his studio and then astounded when she explains that the washing would change the play of light in his paintings. The movie, starring Scarlett Johansson is a beautifully told version of the book and is delightfully filmed in the bright play of light and colors of Vermeer. Read and see for yourself!

Stop by Beth's The Best Hearts are Crunchy for more pearls of Postcard Friendship Friday!


viridian said...

Pearls the size of quail's eggs! goodness!
I think pearls may be undervalued today because there are cheaper freshwater pearls on the market, as well as a number of simulants, making pearl jewelry very cheap/

MuseSwings said...

Like everything that has a value, there is and always has been a knockoff and a cheap imitation that devalues the good stuff and cause tiny brained people to ask you "is that real?" When you dash off to buy your $20,000 golden South Seas pearl necklace, just make sure you are dealing with a reputable jeweler.

Snap said...

I love your posts ... so clever! I learned a lot about pearls today! I, too, thought that is a wonderful card for Mother's Day. Happy PFF!

Shaunna said...

What a neat history! And I love that dress - the one you got to work intimately with. Shame I'm not a size 8! And definitely not petite. :) Happy PFF!

Joy said...

Millicent Sowerby was a beautiful illustrator but the whole family appeared to be gifted. I chuckled at your typo of Northumberland, made it sound like a mythic northern place of artists paint. Although Gateshead where they lived is probably not as romantic, but nice beaches on the coast.
How wonderful to be around a dress so beautiful, how many hours must have it taken to make. Fascinating post.

papel1 said...

Great information, especially about the pearls. I did not realize til a few years ago that the freshwater pearls found in the Mississippi River in Iowa were used for "pearl" buttons.

Stacey said...

What a wonderful post. I greatly enjoyed learning more about pearls and seeing that lovely post card...And how neat that you were able to see such a magnificent dress up close and personal!

Postcardy said...

I loved the information about pearls. That big one is especially amazing.

CafebyJW said...

She looks adorable, the first one is very impressive.

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Bob of Holland said...

What a huge pearl, interesting but ugly. A real gem is The Girl With the Pearl Earring. The painting, the book and the film as well. Great post.

Lyneen said...

WOW it's BIG!!!!! love the petite dress, as I was reading I wondered how heavy it must be. PFF. thanks for sharing.

Debs @ Vintage Postcard Gallery said...

fascinating post as ever...although the pearl of allah looks frighteningly like a giant buffalo milk mozzarella that you find here in rome, italy!

i too LOVED the tracy chevalier book...

Debby said...

The pearl of Allah is one ugly pearl. I guess that my tastes are not so cultivated. Pearls the size of quail eggs? Cripes. I'll stick to my more modest collection of jewels.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

Such a pretty card! I have to agree with the others, the Pearl of Allah is not so pretty. I haven't seen the film but I've noticed many people praising it. I may give it a try as it's so long since I read the book.

Beth Niquette said...

Oh,what a delightful post! That postcard with the little girl looks so much like one of my nieces, it is startling!

I loved the story about Vermeer. I was listening to a lecture about him last night of all things!

I enjoyed every word of this post--happy PFF! Cna you imagine! Pearls that big--wow.

I love pearls.

Carole said...

That is a beautiful card. :-)