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  • Harry Fane

Monte Carlo or Bust

Art Curial, Monte Carlo held three days of auctions this week and they certainly gave the vintage Cartier market a hefty shove into 2021.

We are now used to seeing high prices for rarities and all eyes were turned to this strange concoction from Paris, made in 1938. Of course, everyone knows the 'panther' is one of Cartier's most enduring emblems. A 'Panther' first appeared in 1914 in an advertisement for Cartier designed by George Barbier. Then, of course, there were many pieces of jewellery created with the spotted panther fur motif created with a white pave diamond ground set with black onyx spots. Finally, under the guidance of the remarkable Madame Toussaint (nickname 'Pan Pan' (panther)), there was the world-renowned panther jewellery of The Duchess of Windsor. So, when this item appeared last week, tongues started wagging! Personally, I did not find it that exciting. Yes, there's the 'panther motif' but it was just a thin-ish strap bracelet with a funny clasp set with a watch which must have been awkward to see. I like my Cartier pieces to be iconic but they must be spectacular as well....and whilst this watch/bracelet was certainly iconic, the most spectacular thing about it was the price, US $ 403,000. Isn't that a lot? There is one other point to note. This was made in 1938. The black and white 'panther' jewellery was really a 1920s thing until it was revived in the 1940s by Jeanne Toussaint. By 1938, Cartier was looking elsewhere for their designs so, to be staggering picky, it could be said this was a 'late' iteration.....but it would also be fair to say in defence, find another!!

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