Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Vision Crystals, French Chandeliers, and Poe
This is a completely amazing crystal from a chandelier that no longer exists, and it has a lovely back story. I have no way to verify the story, but I'll share it here anyway, and leave it to you to believe or not. I personally do believe the story, and I'll tell you this much - some of the crystals will leave some pretty freaky impressions with you after you hold them, and I've known several people - myself included - who've had some intensely vivid and strange dreams after handling them. Some of these dreams have involved terrifying images of fire, which will become a bit more interesting further on in the story... We're selling these, along with the faceted crystal beads and flowers, in our etsy shop, so I figured it was time to share the story. You can find links to the crystals on etsy when you click on the images of them.
I bought three tiers from the chandelier in 1996, in Virginia Beach, the day after Hurricane Fran had blown through. I found them - or they found me - in an office supply store that was located in one of the old, tall, multi-story buildings downtown, and the owner, an elderly man who no longer had much to do with the day to day running of his business, began a conversation with me about antiques when he saw me admiring some pieces in a case that was outside his office. He said the top two floors of his building were full of old things – and honey, he wasn’t kidding: he took me up there, and it was an episode right out of Hoarders. He had stuff up there that he’d been stashing since the 1940s and onward, including these crystal tiers.
He told me that the chandelier, a very expensive and very elaborate French import, had hung in one of the fanciest hotels in the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in the grand ballroom, and that Edgar Allan Poe had done some writing during the day in that ballroom, right under that fancy French chandelier. I was instantly captivated by the story, but didn’t think it was anything more than a pretty romantic fantasy at first, because I was under the impression that Poe had spent most of his time in Virginia in Richmond. But I was intrigued enough to think about the story each time I looked at these crystals over the years, and to do a little bit of research off and on, and I found that in September of 1849, Poe was doing readings in some Virginia cities, and one of them was Norfolk. He died later that year in Baltimore, MD, under mysterious circumstances, and there are many fascinating theories about how he actually died, all of which Poe, with his macabre way of looking at life, would have loved. The hotel later burned down, and some of the chandelier tiers were part of items recovered. My current theory is that the hotel might have been the Hygeia Hotel in Hampton, where Poe was known to have given a dramatic reading of "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee" on the Hygeia's porch one September evening, a month before he died. The Hygeia was partially demolished and rebuilt after the Civil War, during which time it had served as a hospital for wounded soldiers; imagine the horrors the chandelier's crystals witnessed then... It was rebuilt as the Chamberlain Hotel, and it burned down in 1920; a new Chamberlain Hotel was then erected on that same spot.
Thanks for reading. As always, love to hear your comments...