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Mrs Snewing’s Earrings

11th November 2016

November’s jewel of the month is this wonderfully eccentric pair of Victorian earrings with a very special provenance…

They are specially commissioned one-off high carat gold earrings with kite registered design marks to base for 1862. The earrings depict three dimensional jockeys, enamelled in the colours of Mrs Snewing, owner of the bay colt Caractacus, who won the Derby in 1862. They wear golden jackets, white breeches and black caps. Mr Snewing, as a young man visiting the Great Exhibition of 1851, saw a magnificent statue of Caractacus being led captive to Rome. The beauty of the sculpture and the euphony of the name captivated him, and he vowed that if he ever owned a horse he believed could win the Derby he would call it Caractacus. Ten years later, on the eve of the opening of the Great Exhibition of 1862, Snewing had such a colt of unusual excellence, which he named Caractacus.

The 1862 Derby proved to be a race of great drama. Caractacus’s jockey was an inexperienced 16 year old stable boy, John Parsons. Though Caractacus was first to cross the finishing line, at the weigh-in afterwards Parsons failed to meet the minimum jockey weight requirement. The bridle was sent for and with its addition Parsons only just passed the weigh-in. To add to the suspense, Lord Stamford, owner of the colt Ensign, called for the disqualification of Carcatacus and the majority of the field for false starts. However as his objection was logged 5 minutes after the allotted 15 minute period for objections it was dismissed.
These gold earrings are a cryptic form of celebration for Caractacus’s Derby win.  The jockeys are seated on gold on scales suspended by gold chains from gold bead tops. The earrings are 1 and 1/8 inches long including gold wire, 1 inch long excluding wire and 1/3 of an inch wide. Exceptionally fine rendition of the jockeys, and in immaculate condition.