M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan

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Lot 29
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan

Sold for £ 21,312 (US$ 27,497) inc. premium
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
i) M.J Levy & Nephews copy of the 'Agreement for The Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond', dated 29 January 1908, nine pages, manuscript on paper, signed by The Right Honourable Baron Knollys and Sir Dighton Probyn as Private Secretaries to King Edward VII for Arthur and Alexander Levy, the London diamond brokers responsible for overseeing the cutting of the Cullinan

ii) Two collections of faceted paste stones imitating the size and cut of the nine principal diamonds cut from the Cullinan, one collection includes a replica of the original Cullinan in its rough form, with fitted cases

iii) 'The Cullinan', Joseph Asscher & Cie, a pamphlet of fifteen printed images documenting the various states of the Cullinan during the cutting process, and the Asscher workshop

iiii) 'Asscher's Diamond Works', printed by N.V Vereenigde Drukkerij Dico, Amsterdam, 1928. From The Asscher Company detailing the diamond cutting process and work with The Cullinan

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Sir Arthur and Alexander Levy of M.J Levy & Nephews
    Guy Tooth, who took ownership of M.J Levy & Nephews
    Thence by descent

    In 1905 the astonishing discovery of the legendary Cullinan diamond was made at the Premier Mine No 2, near Pretoria, South Africa. It weighed 3,106 carats, and was named after the Chairman of the mine, Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Cullinan. Having initially failed to find a buyer, the Cullinan was eventually sold to the South African Transvaal Colony government in 1907 for £150,000, who then presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday as a symbol of South Africa's loyalty to the Crown.

    On accepting such a stone, it was clear the Cullinan needed to be cleaved into smaller stones before being further cut and polished. This was enormously complex and involved significant risk for a stone valued in 1908 at £250,000, over £25,000,0000 today having adjusted for inflation, and for which insurance was taken out "against loss, theft and damage of every kind, excepting damaged caused by cutting".

    As a result, King Edward VII was advised by his Private Secretaries, The Right Honourable Baron Knollys and Sir Dighton Probyn, to consult the London diamond brokers Messrs M.J Levy & Nephews as to how such a diamond might be cut. Arthur (later Sir Arthur) and Alexander Levy of M.J Levy & Nephews brokered the diamond to be cut and polished with the renowned Asscher Company in Amsterdam, who in 1903, just a few years earlier, had undertaken the cutting of the previously largest known diamond discovered: the Excelsior, which weighed 995.2 carats.

    M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement For The Inspection of The Cullinan Diamond' here being offered for sale outlines this agreement between the Crown and Messrs M.J Levy & Nephews. This was signed by The Right Honourable Francis Baron Knollys and The Right Honourable Sir Dighton Probyn, who were named as the 'Crown Nominees', and has since been handed down to a descendant of the M.J Levy & Nephews business.

    The agreement, signed on 29th January 1908, appoints M.J Levy and Nephews as 'Inspectors' of the Cullinan and outlines the parameters and guidelines of how the Cullinan was to be handled throughout the cutting process, and the duties that each party would undertake. This agreement is also signed in conjunction with the 'Principal Agreement', which is copied into this document, between the Crown Nominees and the Asscher Company on 23rd January 1908, outlining the particulars on the cutting and polishing of the diamond, together with details of the remuneration to be owed to the Asscher Company which was to be made in 'chippings' or the cash equivalent.

    The cutting and polishing of the Cullinan was a success: after an extensive period of studying the stone, Joseph Asscher, recognised as the most gifted cleaver in the firm, created a relatively large incision in the diamond of approximately 6.5mm deep, and cleaved the Cullinan - initially into two principal parts, weighing 1,977 carats and 1,040 carats. Over the following months these diamonds were further polished and cut to create the 9 principal stones (of which replicas are sold in this lot), 96 smaller diamonds, and a quantity of polished 'ends'.

    Cullinan I and II are part of the collection of Crown Jewels, and the remaining seven principal diamonds are in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II, after Her Majesty inherited them from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953.

    For a full transcript of the Agreement please contact the department for further information.
Contacts
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
M.J Levy & Nephews Copy of the 'Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond' together with two replica sets of 'The Cullinan Diamonds', and other documentation and images relating to the cutting of The Cullinan
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