Once upon a time, in a faraway-land called China, there lived a Emperor called Guangxu, who wanted to send a Jewel from his Crown to the beautiful Princess ‘Caroline’ who lived in a castle in a place many oceans and lands away called Germany.
The Emperor was a very clever man and he knew that many dangers existed between him and his Princess and to get the Jewel safely to her, he needed a secure method of transport for the Jewel.
Now he’d heard tales that knights existed in other kingdoms and they rode horses and boarded ships and hand delivered things of great importance. The Emperor pondered this for many days and unable to understand how they safely rode across the world he asked his trusted advisors “on what authority do these gallant knights have to leave and enter the kingdoms across the lands and the seas?”, and he was told of the emblems of authority the knights carried which were fixed to the treasure they delivered and these emblems were magnificent in detail and colour and bore the effigy of their King or Queen, and in some mystical places gods and goddess adorned these tiny motifs. They told the Emperor that many kingdoms called these small emblems ‘adhesives’, and they were printed on special paper and fixed to the valuable items carried by the knights. It was told that nobody dared intercept these brave knights because they possessed these adhesives of authority, and thus they feared the wrath of the powerful kingdoms from where the knights came.
So the Emperor devised a system of his own, and his finest servants were consulted on what should be the emblem of authority for the adhesives in his Imperial Kingdom. It was decided that the highest ranking creature in their land was The Large Dragon, and it was known that in other kingdoms they feared The Large Dragon more than any creature in any world. So the Emperor spared no expense in commissioning the design and production of adhesives which bore his Imperial authority and which had The Large Dragon as its effigy. The greatest minds and most skilled people in all of China were engaged and the best three were brought before the Emperor.
The Large Dragon of China
Now it is told that the Emperor was greatly pleased with the three adhesives and their design, and he felt it especially wise that each had a rating denoted by the measure of weight in his kingdom which was then known as Candarins. And he was delighted that in order to display the levels of his wealth, they also deemed three colours to be assigned to the different weights, reflecting increasing levels of honour in his Kingdom. He called these adhesives ‘The Large Dragons of China’, and they were the; 1 Candarin Green, the 3 Candarins Red and the most important, the 5 Candarins Yellow.
The Emperor was a perfectionist, and over time he ordered enhancements to be reproduced of The Large Dragons. Four different attempts were made each with a distinct characteristic; one was on ‘thin paper’, another had ‘wide margins’, and a third ‘thick paper with clean cut perforations’, and lastly the fourth version had ‘thick paper but with rough perforations’. All were magnificent and the Emperor spent many nights unable to sleep trying to decide which reproduction would be worthy for use on his planned dispatch to Princess Caroline.
In the year 1883, five years after the original adhesives were produced, the Emperor finally settled upon the second set, the Wide Margin Large Dragons which he felt were best to be used for the Princess. And knowing how far it was to travel, and the many dangers along the way, the Emperor ordered that nine 5 Candarins Yellow adhesives were fixed on the back of his envelope to ensure it had safe passage through the perils of the neighbouring lands, which were occupied by foreign merchants, and to journey across the seas and to the lands which were known as France, in order to get to the throne of Germany.
So the Emperor gave The Crown Jewel of China to the bravest man in all his kingdom and ordered that he carry it on his person to the castle in Munich where Princess Caroline resided.
Unknown to the Emperor, the brave man had spies throughout the lands of many kingdoms and he’d had word that it wasn’t possible to make the journey without interruption through the place known as Shanghai and if he was to be given safe passage throughout the dominion called Europe he would have to pay the French knight 1.25 Francs for adhesives which bore their gods.
The brave man was deeply concerned that The Crown Jewel of China wouldn’t be delivered safely and although he feared that the integrity of his package might be affected, he realised he’d have to comply. So the brave man agreed a compromise that the adhesives of the French gods would be placed on the front of the Emperor’s envelope, and this should enable him to pass through the many lands and seas between him and the Princess.
The front of the Crown Jewel of China, depicting the French gods of Peace and Commerce for safe passage over land and sea to Germany
To prove that the brave man had all the correct authority The Crown Jewel of China was checked for authenticity by officials in various ports and gateways that he traveled through, and they left their marks across the adhesives front and back. At first the brave man was saddened that the Emperor’s adhesives were struck with blue oval seals from the great city of Peking, and further black marks were left indiscriminately over the envelope such as circles with dates written in foreign numerals. But he was told that these had great meaning and carried even greater authority with those who managed the vast wealth of the French Empire and it was this empire that the brave man would need for his journey to Germany. The brave man was also a humble individual and although he possessed great strength and skill in battle he decided that the armies of the French were too great for him to fight alone. So, the brave man swallowed his pride and thinking only of the Princess and his master the Emperor’s wish, he bowed to the other kingdom’s rules. This was counted favourably upon him, and after a few days he was able to continue his journey.
The Peking Seal
During his time waiting for a ship, the brave man inspected The Crown Jewel of China and it was told much later that when he saw the marks left upon the envelope that he was pleased that the French adhesives to the front were marked by other French officials in Shanghai, and it brought a smile to his face that the blue ovals on his Emperor’s adhesives were of far greater beauty than those placed on the French gods.
As the brave man sailed across the seas he learned that The Large Dragons of China were respected by the knights from other kingdoms. And these knights were prepared to help the brave man take his message to the Princess. It wasn’t long before he made land once more, and yet again he was met by further officials who spoke in strange tongues from the Kingdom of France. They wanted to see the marks and additional adhesives The Crown Jewel of China had, and they agreed to give safe passage onward to Germany, leaving their mark also to the front, much to the pleasure of the brave man, who smiled once more that The Large Dragons of China remained the most beautiful of all the adhesives.
After eighteen days of travel the brave man arrived in the place known as Munich Germany. Sadly the officials there didn’t understand the brave man when he requested that they do not taint The Large Dragons with their mark. Their language was different to that of the French kingdom and there was confusion among the German’s as to why the brave man was upset at their black mark touching the yellow adhesives on the back of the brave man’s envelope. However, they directed The Crown Jewel of China to the castle where Caroline lived.
The brave man was not allowed to see the Princess in person, but after placing The Crown Jewel of China in the hands of the highest ranking member of the Princess’s staff he turned to make his way back across the foreign kingdoms home to China. As he rode away he sensed someone was watching him, and so he turned and there at the window of the tower was a lady, with beauty beyond any he had seen before, and he was sure the Princess smiled at him and there in her hand was The Crown Jewel of China.
Now the Princess did indeed watch the brave man ride away after she had received the envelope, and she was greatly pleased with The Crown Jewel of China and placed it in the safest corner of her castle, for she knew it was of great value.
Many years passed and she heard the sad news that the Emperor had died. Then more time passed, and long after the Princess herself had left this world, The Crown Jewel of China was discovered by a new realm called Philately, and people from this realm had established themselves as authorities across every major kingdom throughout the world. They recognised the great value of The Crown Jewel of China, and it wasn’t long before word got out regarding the Emperor’s Large Dragon adhesives and the incredible journey the brave man had taken with the envelope. Once news was received of its whereabouts, many of the greatest powers in Philately wanted to have The Crown Jewel of China in their castle.
So it was decided that a man from the kingdom of Switzerland, who at the time was the greatest authority at presenting such valuable items of interest in the Philatelic realm, should be asked to offer the envelope. His reputation went throughout the world, and he was connected to those with knowledge and wealth in Philately. And in 1984, 101 years after The Crown Jewel of China arrived in Germany, the man called David emerged from the great kingdom of Switzerland with The Crown Jewel of China in his hand. Many of the wealthiest members of Philately knew David by another name; ‘Feldman’, for he had many great achievements to his name, and it was known that Feld-Man meant the seller of the greatest treasures in all Philately.
So David Feldman was given the honour of presenting The Crown Jewel of China, and there was a great war to own it. Because of this war, a great price was paid. Legend has it that 340’000 Switzerland Francs were spilled over the fine furniture decorating Feldman’s castle.
After this many murmurings were heard around the realm of Philately of where the envelope had gone. For many years nothing was known of the whereabouts of the envelope until one day two Royal Philatelists rode out of the kingdom of Sweden heralding The Crown Jewel of China, and this gave them great riches in the realm of Philately, and they were bestowed with a great medal of honour in 1997, something which is called a Grand Prix.
It was thought these Royal members would then sell the envelope, but they refused for many years. This caused some from the realm of Philately to be envious and to covet the envelope even more. And with such pressure and after acquiring it 24 years before, the Swedish couple from the realm of Philately went back to the great man of Switzerland in the year 2008 and asked him if he could perform his mythical charm once more and present the envelope to the wisest members of the realm of Philately.
The victorious knight who spilled 340’000SFr for the Crown Jewel of China
Now in the intervening years, David Feldman had developed his knowledge further and his reputation was higher than any other in his region of dominion. So Feldman put his full might behind the request from the Swedish couple and he gathered all the top authorities and the rich and famous from Philately. For he saw that if these good and great members were to be contained within the walls of his castle they would see sense and want to acquire the envelope just as the Swedish couple had done. However, this caused an even greater war than that of 1984, and an even greater price had to be paid to take away The Crown Jewel of China. Legend has it that many were slain there in Feld-Man castle, and only one victor left successful, having bombarded David Feldman with 1’165’125 Euros, and so it was after this frenzied onslaught, The Crown Jewel of China was won.
The story of this great war became known as a world record. It was written that The Crown Jewel of China was the most expensive war ever to take a piece of China. News of this spread far and wide across all the lands of this world. Even to the faraway land of China. Where, although they had become a great, wealthy and mighty kingdom, possessing power beyond all other kingdoms, there no longer sat a clever Emperor on the throne. Because of this, they didn’t realise how rare and beautiful the envelope was.
That is not the end of the story, because it is written that another great and powerful Emperor will reign one day, and it is said that when he learns of the rare beauty of the envelope and the significance of The Large Dragons, as well as the journey taken by the brave man, the new Emperor will be deeply moved and saddened that The Crown Jewel of China belongs to someone other than an Emperor.
As a result it is said he will send his bravest soldier in all his kingdom, and ask him to travel across the lands and seas of the world, carrying not a Jewel from his Crown, but more treasure than has ever been seen in the realm of Philately. When this happens, it is thought a great war will breakout among those who also recognise the beauty of the envelope. It is said that this war will surpass all previous wars, because technology will be developed that enables the powerful and great to war for the envelope from the safety of their castles.
However, it is foreseen that in this future age, the Emperor will stop at nothing to restore The Crown Jewel of China to his Princess. When that day comes, the Emperor and the Princess will live happily ever after.
The Beckeman “String of Pearls” collection of China classic rarities, David Feldman, October 2008 (PDF to be uploaded shortly)