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[Tidbits] Calatrava Cross and an old Jewelry Shop

Civitecchia. port to Rome. Get off the boat. find a remote route up
a winding path. through the hills. then into the gardened entryway of
an ancient abode. and step into the musty ambience of a nostalgic
past. If. as it happens. you are a member of an elite group of those
in the business of jewelry and its attendant industries. you will
feel a chill in your bones as the ghosts of past compatriots pervade
your senses.

You are in the home of a jeweler. And as you wander about… you
will see machinery, which you suspect might be still functional. You
can touch it. You can feel it. You can lift it. You can manipulate
it. not recklessly of course. and you can get a feel of what
yesterdays were like. Actually. you are now sure the tools are or
could still be in use today. There’s a rolling mill. A wire drawing
machine. A melting oven. A torch. A bench. A press. And. in some
showcases not shown in my picture. there’s jewelry.

Look carefully at the imagery. You’re standing in front of that old
bench with the disconnected torch lying on its side. You’re getting
ready to mix gold and alloy to make karat gold. Look at your paper
work. How much alloy for how much gold to produce 18 karat. your
choice for today’s production by special order. Seventy-five percent
gold. Twenty five percent alloy. You tighten your apron around your
waist. You pause for a microsecond to breathe it all in. And you
pick up that small crucible. And you begin.

One of the details above is from memory. It’s the port of
Civitecchia. Was it Civitecchia. or another stop? Not sure. Don’t
remember accurately. though there is a bit of a familiar lingering
in the synapses. All the rest is–however–is on target. And I took
pictures of it all for you folks. I even took pictures of some of
the jewelry. and I chose one for this week’s viewing pleasure. It’s a
Sterling Silver Calatrava Cross bracelet. Hunh? Yes. Well. Shall I

The Calatrava Cross was the highest ranking symbol of the Iberian
Orders of the Knighthood of Spain and Portugal. its origins going
back to the 12th century Military Order of Calatrava in Spain.

From this was formed the Knights of Templar. a somewhat obscure group
whose job it was to guarantee the safe trip of pilgrims to and from
Jerusalem. Ah. however… there’s a fly in the soup. There’s a bug in
the ointment. There’s a cockroach on the kitchen floor. How does one
define obscurity? Romance? Famous imagery? Movies? Novels? Yes.
well… that’s why they call it Fiction. Anyone out there remember
Leslie Charteris? A British-Chinese first rate author of detective
stories. the creator of The Saint. aka Simon Templar. I well remember
Roger Moore and George Sanders playing the role. Suave and
sophisticated. Simon Templar always got his man. But the books were
always better than the movies. I know. I read scads of them.

The Knights of Templar grew in numbers and strength. till they were
invited in 1147 by the King of Castille to protect a castle he had
taken from the Moors-- a northwestern African Muslim people of mixed
Berber and Arab descent. The structure took its name from the Arabic
Qal’at Rabah: ‘fortress of Rabah’. And Qal’at Rabah became the castle
known as Calatrava. Etymology 101 anybody?

So here it is. the first Tidbits of the New Year. Enjoy. Forty nine
more to go till the next New Year. Time doth fly. doth it not?

Okay. You know where. Yes? No? The visit to the image… also known
as the viewing experience. You know where. Home page. Scroll down. Left side. Tidbits. Click.
And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will see a Sterling
Silver Calatrava Cross bracelet and an old Jewelry Shop. all to
titillate your sensory pleasures.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark


Thank you for this fascinating history lesson. I am so grateful that
I came into this world a couple of hundred years later.

Gratefully, MA