03 September 2014

Jewel History: Find Crown Jewels of Bohemia Safe (1911)

"Find Crown Jewels of Bohemia Safe"
(originally appeared in the New York Times, 3 Sep 1911)

Carlsbad, Aug. 18 -- Alarming reports have been lately current in Austria that the crown jewels of Bohemia had been stolen from the holy shrine of St. Vitus's Cathedral, Prague. The question was considered whether to open the crown chamber and examine the casket in which the jewels are kept.

This was not an easy task, because the iron door of St. Wenceslaus at Prague, behind which is the chamber in which the jewels are hidden, is protected by seven large steel locks, and each key is in the possession of one of the seven highest dignitaries of the kingdom of Bohemia. One of these keys is kept by the Governor of Bohemia, another by the Archbishop of Prague, a third by the Lord Mayor of Prague.

After obtaining the necessary consent from Emperor Francis Joseph, these seven high dignitaries met yesterday at the cathedral, but the condition of the iron door to the chamber was so bad on account of the thick layers of rust on the seven locks that experts had to be sent for, who, after great trouble, succeeded in opening the door.

Thereupon the seven dignitaries applied their keys, and for the first time since the year 1867 the door was opened. The dignitaries climbed up on a secret serpentine staircase to the chamber, which they found richly and artistically decorated and in a tolerably good condition.

The shrine in which the jewels are kept was found covered with dust and mortar, also protected by seven locks, and, with the same seven keys with which the door had been opened, it was opened, and on a crimson cushion the crown jewels of Bohemia, which are of immense value and 700 years old, were found. A golden diadem which was thought to be lost was on the top. The others were the crown, sceptre, imperial globe, the crown cloak of Bohemia, and all the insignia which belong to it.

The jewels were sparkling. The golden settings were rather dim, but in good shape. After the minutes of the meeting were written down, the casket was closed again with the seven keys and the door of the crown chamber also closed with the same keys.