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Archduke Franz Ferdinand Imperial Presentation Brooch
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Archduke Franz Ferdinand Imperial Presentation Brooch

Circa 1913

Measurements: Height: 38mm (1.5in)

SOLD

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Blue guilloche enamel on yellow gold set with the F.E. cypher of Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’ Este, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne from 1889-1914, in white gold set with diamonds, the whole encircled by a yellow gold laurel leaf border bound with white gold diamond set ties and surmounted by the Austria-Este ducal coronet in white gold set with red guilloche enamel and diamonds. Marks to reverse for Vienna 1874-1922. Contained in the original red leather gilt tooled fitted case by the imperial court jeweller A.E. Köchert of Vienna.

Provenance:
Gift of H.I.H. Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este to Mrs Marshall, Head Housekeeper at Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire.
Bequeathed to Mary Ann Cormack, residual legatee and niece of Mary Marshall (1843-1930).

The present brooch was given to the Duke and Duchess of Portland’s Head Housekeeper at Welbeck Abbey by Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este (1863-1914) following a week long house party in November 1913, that included Austro-Hungarian Ambassador Count Mensdorff; the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire; the former Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon; the Marquis of Titchfield (the Portlands’ eldest son); Lord and Lady Salisbury; Lord Hugh and Lady Mary Cecil; and the former Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party Arthur Balfour. None of whom, it might be assumed, were oblivious to the tensions in the Balkans and the deadly network of international alliances that would lead to war less than a year later.

Hitherto, the suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria at his hunting lodge in Mayerling in 1889, and the death of Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria in 1896 had quite literally propelled Franz Ferdinand d’Este into the firing line from relative obscurity. As a son of the ruling Hapsburg dynasty he had been schooled in the Austro-Hungarian military from at an early age, and yet he frequently argued with hardliners in Vienna, advocating a careful approach to curbing Slavic ambitions.   

An inveterate hunter, Franz Ferdinand reportedly narrowly escaped death while at Welbeck during one of the four days of shooting that concluded his visit, when a loader tripped and discharged a gun, the shot passing close between the Archduke and his host. Eight months later destiny caught up with Franz Ferdinand when he famously fell at Sarajevo murdered by an assassin’s bullet directed by the Black Hand Gang, triggering the mobilisation of armies across Europe and global war.

Joachim Remak’s 1959 book Sarajevo: The Story of a Political Murder recalls the fateful moment. ‘One bullet pierced Franz Ferdinand's neck while the other pierced Sophie's abdomen. ... As the car was reversing (to go back to the Governor's residence because the entourage thought the Imperial couple were unhurt) a thin streak of blood shot from the Archduke's mouth onto Count Harrach's right cheek (he was standing on the car's running board). Harrach drew out a handkerchief to still the gushing blood. The Duchess, seeing this, called: "For Heaven's sake! What happened to you?" and sank from her seat, her face falling between her husband's knees.'

Mary Marshall (1843-1930) was housekeeper at Welbeck, the seat of the 6th Duke of Portland and one of Nottinghamshire's grandest country houses, from the 1890s until her retirement in 1923. As such she was an undisputed authority over the Welbeck Abbey's indoor servants and commanded the respect of a small army of outdoor servants, estate workers and local tradesmen. Her life at the Abbey brought her the acknowledgement of the great and the good including the kings of England, Spain and Norway - each of these monarchs presenting her with gem set brooches. She enjoyed the particular gratitude of the Portlands following a devastating fire in October 1900 which tore through the Oxford Wing of the Abbey and threatened to consume their three children. In the absence of the Duke and Duchess, it was due to the efforts of Mrs Marshall that the eight year old Lord Titchfield and his siblings were saved. Within a year of Franz Ferdinand's visit, Lord Titchfield was himself engaged in the struggle against the Central Powers, serving as a lieutenant on the Western Front with the Royal Horse Guards. Neither did the war leave the Abbey untouched, it's extensive kitchen block being given up to house a military hospital.

Sources:

Manchester Courier, 25 .11.1913

Will of Mary Marshall of Winchmore Hill, London.

Sold with a small archive of personal correspondence between Mary Marshall and the Duke and Duchess of Portland, and a bronze medal commemorating the coming of age of the Marquis of Titchfield and the Portland’s silver wedding anniversary in 1914.

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