A Very Fine & Rare French Rock Crystal Ball On a Fine Ormolu Stand c.1900

Origin: French
Period: 3rd Republic
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900
Height: 8.25” (Overall)
Stand Height: 5.5”
Base Width: 4”
Diameter: 3.5” (The Sphere)

The very fine quality sphere of rock crystal, of extraordinary purity, cradled on a wonderful ornate gilt brass ormuolu stand with avian (probably cockerel) monopodia supports, ribbon cresting and hung with lustres, the whole on a rose quartz triform base, and surviving from the zeniths of nineteenth century France.

The condition as a whole entity would be described as good. The sphere is believed to be original to the stand, which is important. There are two internal blemish chips where the ball has obviously been dropped at some stage but the whole is not compromised in any way and it is of the finest clarity possible for a sphere like this. The stand is in mainly super order, there is one drop lustre missing (which could be reproduced) but this aside she is in totally original condition. There doesn’t appear to be any marks. The stand has some similarities in its design, material use and colours to that of Russian made egg-stands crafted by Faberge.

The use of avian supports here is symbolistic. They are most likely cockerels or roosters which other than being the symbol of France have plentiful meaning in scrying culture. For example Celtic and Norse lore describe the Rooster as a creature of the Underworld. Specifically, the cock served as a messenger of the Underworld, screeching out warnings in danger, and calling out for the souls of the fallen in battle. In dreams, the Rooster is considered a time-keeper and is a sign of time passing in our lives. In a more general sense birds themselves are known for its eyesight and with scrying being all about vision this is probably the most tangible link; a clarity of vision. The Celts also held birds in this way with them being able to see the waters clearly from enormous heights, it became naturally associated with scrying in their culture.

The history of the crystal ball as a device can be traced as far back as to the Medieval Period in central Europe (between 500 – 1500 AD) and in Scandinavia (1050 – 1500 AD). The very ancient art of using reflective surfaces in divination is called scrying and is almost as old as man himself. Queen Elizabeth I consulted Dr John Dee, philosopher, mathematician and alchemist for advice in government and a smoky quartz ball that belonged to Dee is now in the British Museum. Any antique crystal spheres are very desirable especially if a well-known reader has used them. This is the best one we have ever seen quite simply and it must have belonged to someone who took their craft incredibly seriously as it would have been tremendously expensive to make at the time.

“We could stand for a century, staring, with our heads cocked, in the board daylight at this thing”.