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  • Harry Fane

Not alphabet soup. This is aristocrat soup.

Do you remember Alphabet Soup? A thick broth full of numerous pasta letters making up the alphabet. The diary of Henry 'Chips' Channon (1918-1938) is another thick broth but this one, instead of letters, is full of gossip and tales of real-life aristocrats and other grandees living their day to day lives. This is not a book for many I would have thought, but here is a real insight into the world of the very people who were customers of Cartier in the golden years of the 1920s and 1930s. Through the daily entries, one gets a very intimate view of just how these particular people lived and partied and travelled. Early, when Channon was only about 20, he received a small amount of money from his father which he promptly spent on a platinum wristwatch from Cartier. Only a year or two later, he was bemoaning his situation in life explaining to his diary that all he had to show for himself ‘was a beautiful wristwatch’. The diary entries are full of stories of shopping for gifts at Cartier and running into friends who were doing the same including, on one occasion, meeting the then Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII. The book is huge and the entries fairly repetitive but if one wishes to understand where and how the jewellery that Cartier was producing in those years was being worn and by whom, this book is worth a peruse.

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