Imagine, if you will, a room. It is a yellow room. From ceiling to
floor the walls are of a color intermediate between green and orange.
They are made of a translucent fossil resin. Over there… in the
upper part of one of the panels… is a mask. Be attentive. Be aware.
You are about to take an irreversible leap into the Amber Room of The
Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Rod Serling anyone? The Twilight Zone? Ah… the remembrance of
things past… with many thanks to Mr. Proust. As to stone cutters
and lapidaries… and to the rest of us in this industry that
requires more knowledge to make a product than most others, to you
I say raise your fists to the heavens in a victory stance for the
Amber Room is considered by some to be not only the eighth wonder of
the world… but also the culminating achievement of our collective
art from the beginning of time to today. Astro-physicists can’t hold
a candle to what those of our trade can do. As to Michelangelo and
DaVinci and Rodin and the rest of them… pish-posh I say. Moderate
accomplishments at best when compared to what our tradesmen can do.
The Amber Room was a gift… from King Frederick William I of Prussia
to Peter the Great of Russia. In return Freddy got a small ship… 55
grenadiers… a lathe… and an ivory goblet. That’s one heck of an
exchange for a room manufactured with such magnificence as to be
considered among the world’s great wonders. Pete got the deal of the
century. He gave Freddy some soldiers which now Freddy had to feed
and clothe while nothing is mentioned of arms and ammunition. A
soldier without a saber and a rifle is like a jeweler without a
file… or a torch … or a pretty young thing waiting in the wings
oohing and ahhing over every bit of work flowing from said jeweler’s
hands. We all have one of those… do we not? What kind of
compensatory gift on Petey’s part was that, I ask you?
Gottfried Wolfram–amber cutter supreme–took six years to finish one
wall and prepare another. We’re talking from 1701 to 1706… when
equipment available wasn’t up to the snuff of today’s techie world.
Then constructing stopped. Death in the family and all that. No
boring details here. Suffice it to say… finishing panels… storing
panels … moving panels hither and thither and yon (A quick
parenthetical aside… which is further away: Hither? Thither?..or
Yon? Get back to me on this. I’m dyin’ to know.)…a revolution
here… a revolt there… I do not know when the whole room was
finished… but I’m guessing 1171 for that is when the over-door
decorations were done. My instincts tell me that when one is working
on a room… one leaves the over-door decorations for last.
Wealth–especially the obscene kind–is not always easy to define.
But being the brave adventurous soul I am easily recognized by most
to be… I shall give it a shot. So Benjamin… how much amber went
into the making of this room… hmmm? The answer is I have no clue.
However … I can tell you this. 450 kilograms of amber went into the
decoration of the amber pedestals supporting the mirror pilasters.
So… if one kilogram equals roughly 2.2 pounds and you take the
square root of the distance to the mood and back and multiply it by
pi… well… anyway… you get the idea. It’s a lot of amber.
As to the mask of which I speak… it is only a small portion of a
vast array of sculptures inhabiting this great chamber… and I show
it to you as a minute example of an amazing accomplishment. Hope you
For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at http://www.tyler-adam.com where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… click it… and you will see represented on
our pages an image of an Amber Mask that defies verbal description.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.