The holiday season is almost upon us, so you’ll likely be thinking about what you're going to buy as gifts for your nearest and dearest. We've already written about hidden treasures you could discover on your travels, so to give you some inspiration ahead of your Christmas shopping, we've decided to take a look at some others that would make fantastic presents. Of course, professional treasure hunters devote their lives to trying to track down these items, so we can't tell you how to bag the real deal for your friends and family. And we're not sure that "finders keepers" logic applies in these situations…But we hope we can give you an idea of how to go all out this Christmas.
Here are three of the world's lost treasures that would make great inspiration for your holiday shopping this year.
Irish Crown Jewels
The theft of the Irish Crown Jewels, which happened back in 1907, is one of the most famous and intriguing mysteries in Irish history. They disappeared from Dublin Castle on 6 July, 1907 and have never been found. It's thought they would be valued at around €3 million (~£2,717,910) today (Independent.ie).
The Crown Jewels consisted of 394 precious stones. These were taken from the English Crown Jewels of Queen Charlotte and the Order of the Bath star of her husband, George III, which showed his officer's rank. They also featured a green shamrock made up of emeralds and a red Saint Patrick's Saltire made up of rubies. The Jewels were also encrusted with Brazilian diamonds.
The Crown Jewels were last worn by the Lord Lieutenant, 7th Earl of Aberdeen, on 15 March, 1907 at a function to mark Saint Patrick's Day. They were kept in a safe in the office of Sir Arthur Vicars, the Ulster King of Arms, and seven keys to the office were held by him and his staff. Vicars had been known to have a tipple while on overnight duty and had once been found asleep with the jewels around his neck.
The last time the jewels are known to have been in the safe was on 11 June, 1907, when Vicars showed them to a visitor. We still don't know what happened to them.
If you're looking to buy someone a Christmas present inspired by the Irish Crown Jewels, some statement jewellery encrusted with coloured gemstones would be ideal. A bold necklace, some chandelier earrings, or an eye-catching bangle would all work wonderfully. This is a great way to help you friend or relative feel like royalty.
Works of art stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Back on 18 March, 1990, two thieves dressed as police officers broke into Boston's Isabella Steward Gardner Museum and stole 13 works of art. These were valued at around $500million (~£386,677,500) and included three pieces of artwork from the Dutch painter Rembrandt as well as five from the French artist Edgar Degas. The Concert, one of only 34 known paintings by Johannes Vermeer, was also stolen, and this is thought to be the most valuable unrecovered painting in the world.
No arrests have been made and none of the work has been recovered, but the museum is still offering a $10million reward for any information that leads to their discovery. This is the biggest bounty ever offered by a private institution.
The FBI believes the theft of these artworks was planned by a highly sophisticated criminal organisation. Unfortunately, the case offers very little physical evidence and police have relied on interrogations, undercover informants, and sting operations, but nothing has come of this so far.
Even if we knew where they were and you had a spare $500million lying around, these artworks wouldn't make the best gifts, because they are still stolen goods, and we're sure you aren't looking to buy your family a jail sentence for Christmas! However, you could still surprise your nearest and dearest with some more modern paintings or prints. The décor of a room can be completely refreshed with an injection of beautiful artwork, so let these pieces inspire your gift-giving!
Sappho's lost poems
Sapphos was a Greek poet from the island of Lesbos who is thought to have been born around 630 BC. In ancient times, she was widely thought of as one of the best lyrical poets around. However, very few of her poems have survived to the present day. Two notable exceptions include The Ode to Aphrodite and the Tithonus poem. Some other fragments of her work have also been recovered. It's believed that she wrote around 10,000 lines of poetry, but we only have 650 of those now.
People have different ideas about why her poems have been lost. Some believe that the church disapproved of her morals and demanded that her work was destroyed. Others think that the demand for her writing wasn't high enough for it to be copied onto parchment. We may never know.
This year, you could treat your nearest and dearest to presents inspired by this lost treasure. There are still some fantastic poets today who regularly release books of their work, or you could turn some particularly meaningful lines of your favourite poem into a print. If you consider yourself a bit of a wordsmith, you could even write your own poems for your friends and family. It's sure to show just how much love you have for them.
We hope we've been able to give you plenty of inspiration that will help you to pick out or create some truly unique gifts for your friends and family this holiday season. While you might not be able to surprise them with the real Irish Crown Jewels or Sappho's lost poems, you can still allow these valuables to inspire your Christmas shopping this year.