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[Tidbits] The Griffin


A creature with an eagle’s head and wings and talons and the body of
a lion. quite famous as a chatelaine piece of jewelry back in the
late 1890’s. This clasp often had a curved prong on the back used for
hanging a watch.

Lewis Carol called it a Gryphon and he brought it to life in The
Lobster-Quadrille in Alice in Wonderland. Imagine him if you will. He
spoke–I believe–with a cockney accent. And he was a bit dominating.
Who wouldn’t be with an eagle’s head and a lion’s body I always say.
Sh sh. Listen to him now. Here he is.

A quick sample if you please. an explanation of the Lobster-Quadrille
as described between the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle:

“Why,” said the Gryphon, “you first form into a line along the
sea-shore-” “Two lines!” cried the Mock Turtle. “Seals, turtles,
salmon, and so on: then, when you’ve cleared all the jelly-fish out of
the way-” “That generally takes some time,” interrupted the Gryphon.

“-you advance twice-” “Each with a lobster as a partner!” cried the

It’s a delight. especially when brought to life in a mind’s memory by
a gold Griffin brooch with a ruby eye created by Riker Brothers which
I am going to show you. It measures 1 5/8 x 1 1/8 inches and resides
today–I believe–in The Newark Museum. The time has come the Walrus
said. no no. Wrong poem. Same book. Caroll is taking over my soul.

Release me Lewis. that I may proceed. These Griffin ornaments were
quite popular towards the end of the 19th century. But they weren’t
the only winged creatures to drape themselves over the bodices of
those whose thirst for novelty items could not be slaked. There were
swallows and bats and owls and such.

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. Lewisss. Puhleeze. Griffins were
more popular than most would think. Listen. Imagine that you’ve
toiled over the years and amassed quite a fortune in precious metals
and gems. Scads of jewelry. Emeralds and pearls and sapphires and
such. All stored away in a great cavern situated high up in a remote
mountain lair. This treasure. it need a protector. A guardian if you
will. A creature fierce enough to ensure that nefarious no-gooders
will not dare to attempt to deplete that which you’ve worked so hard
to attain. Who better than a Griffin? Who’s going to mess with this
creature? Not I. Nor you.

And so it came to pass over the centuries that the Griffin was the
creature of choice for protection. Today we’re more civilized. We use
Rottweilers and German Shepherds. A little more civilization. and
we’ll be down to the fierce Chihuahuas and Yorkies. But back then…
when creatures were creatures and scary was scary. we used the

So. you wanna see. Sure you do. This is one gorgeous brooch.

Then go. You know where. Home page at … lower left
side of menu. click on Tidbits. and see a most magnificent example of
sculptured design which was–back then and even now–called a

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