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The Delhi Durbar Pendant

7th October 2020.

An Edwardian Amethyst, Diamond and Enamel Pendant on Chain commemorating the 1911 Delhi Durbar is coming up for sale in the Fine Jewellery, Watches and Silver Sale on 14th November with an estimate of £1,000-1,500. The rare jewel comes from the descendants of Lady Frances Irene Campbell, who was presented with the pendant to mark the third Delhi Durbar or ‘Court of Delhi’, an Imperial gathering to celebrate the succession of George V as Emperor of India. The red enamel lettering on the pendant reads ‘CAMP MADRAS’, ‘DELHI DURBAR’ with the date ‘M.C.M.X.I’ in rose cut diamonds.

The 1911 Delhi Durbar was the third such event, and the only one that was attended by the sovereign. Designed to cement support for the British amongst the Indian Princes, the first Durbar was held in 1877 to mark the succession of Queen Victoria as Empress of India and was largely an official event. The second Durbar in 1903 to mark Edward VII’s succession was a lavish affair, with two weeks of dazzling festivities filled with pageants and maharajas on elephants attended by the masses. The 1911 Durbar attracted hordes of spectators and scores of Indian nobility to Coronation Park on 12th December, where George V and Mary of Teck appeared in Coronation robes, the King-Emperor sporting the Imperial Crown of India encrusted with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies.

Frances Campbell’s husband Archibald Campbell (later knighted), was Private Secretary to the Governor of Madras Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael at the time of the Durbar. Archibald Campbell later rose to become the Chief Secretary of Madras, admired for his financial acumen and organisational skills.

Two other similar pendants are known, having been sold by Bonhams. The first, which appeared in 2003, is believed to have been presented by Lord Carmichael to Mrs FF Elwes, wife of the Principal of the Madras Medical College Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Fenn Elwes. The second was sold in 2009 and is thought to have been presented by Lord Carmichael to his wife’s cousin Miss Edith Hamilton, who was in Delhi at the time of the Durbar. It was sold in a fitted Boucheron case, the exterior of which was inscribed ‘Delhi Durbar 1911’.

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