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Four Vintage MOP Bethlehem Stars

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    Posted 1 year ago

    (14 items)

    These brooches have been popular souvenirs brought back from Israel for centuries. Every other visitor to Jerusalem has picked up at least one, and as a result they have, until recently, been ubiquitous—and inexpensive—on the ‘net. But I’ve noticed that lately that’s changing. A colleague in the UK sent me an auction-catalogue listing for an antique one which, though damaged, was up for 500 pounds. Plainly, these are good investment pieces.
    Most Bethlehem stars have 5 arms, some have 7 or 8; some are doves of peace; some are Stars of David, or crosses; there are even elaborate nativity scenes. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate these hand-carved beauties. No matter how simple or complex, they’re all quite special, and I’ve collected them for years without ever suspecting that one day they’d be hot properties.
    Mother-of-pearl carving is a traditional handicraft in Bethlehem, said to have been brought to the city by Franciscan friars from Italy in the 15th century. The first exhibition in the West of mother-of-pearl artifacts from Palestine was at The World’s Fair in New York in 1852. Two brothers, Giries and Ibrahim Mansur, exhibited their work and were a great success. Owing to the Mansur Brothers, the West discovered carved MOP and it has been popular ever since.
    In past times, most of the oysters for Israel’s mother-of-pearl supply came from the Red Sea, which as recently as 2009 had a robust mollusk population. Today, however, the Red Sea has suffered a sharp decline in species and many are endangered. Therefore Australia, California, New Zealand, and Brazil are the main source of the MOP used in many, but not all, recent Bethlehem stars.
    I cannot specify how old these are, but their (typically) unmarked pins are not oxidized, tho' their glue is slightly discolored, so I assume probably no earlier than mid-century. The brooches' simple pins are glued on with epoxy that won’t release unless you boil the star to loosen it. (I do this with clip- or screw-backs when I want to remove the findings so I can transform old medallions into new dangle earrings..)
    In essence, these represent the star that guided the Magi with their gifts to the birthplace of Christ. Look closely to see that the small carvings between some points are doves of peace. Ponder this: these brooches came all the way from the Holy Land, and possibly even the Red Sea. They are artifacts of millennia-old tradition and history, and there’s no telling where they may have traveled in the years before they reached me, all the way out here in California. Though they've seen some mileage, they're still as lustrous and radiant as the day they were carved. I display them in my cabinet of wonders.
    About 1.5" in diameter, or 1 & 7/8 wide.

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    1. apostata apostata, 9 months ago
      Red Sea, which as recently as 2009 had a robust mollusk population, is it or was the data what is called insufficient?
    2. FridaysJoy FridaysJoy, 9 months ago
      Dear Apostata,
      You are correct in your deduction that data is insufficient, but those data that we DO have aren't encouraging. This is from Sept. 2013 issue of Zoology in the Middle East: "Throughout their range, giant clams (family Tridacnidae) are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic impacts and natural disasters, but little is known about their population status. In this first assessment of the tridacnid population at Abu Sauatir in the northern Red Sea, a total of 491 m2 were surveyed and >200 clams recorded. Tridacna maxima was the only species found. The population's live:dead ratio was 3:1. Overall clam density was 0.08 ± 0.008 live and 0.02 ± 0.007 dead individuals per 0.25 m2. Greatest densities occurred on the reef flat in 1 m depth (live), and on the northern reef slope in deeper waters (dead). On the slope, live clam density decreased significantly, whereas dead clam density increased significantly with depth."
      If you have more thorough data indicating a revival of the mollusk poplation there, please do share it. It would be most heartening. Thank you for your comment!
    3. apostata apostata, 9 months ago
      i think the anthropogenic is biogically mostly the principle of eutrophication and oligotrophication, actually you can put pure intoxication out of equation , because in the end you always lose due to accumulation intoxication, and political interference is needed

      the data comes from gritt scrutinising, what happen is the results are modo grosso and the implementation needs an ad locus solution, there is conflict of interest

      for instance Soedan heeft thermic interests for conversion of energy

      and djedda got interests concerning residu discharge

      the only country, who actually cares are Israel ( funding and research ) and the Egyptions ( Marsla Alam )

      and probably in the future the shit hits the fan is the enhancement of tridacna maxima an modification or a new species by means of histology etc etc

      the discussions are endless , everything is going to the dogs , like i said . it,is always about the money

    4. FridaysJoy FridaysJoy, 8 months ago
      Dear Apostata,

      I've always been a fan, in a love/hate sort of way, of pedantic obfuscation, which isnot to say that it's a crime meriting defenestration. Oligarchies, schmoligarchies--it doesn't really matter whose garkies are in charge; of OURSE it's about the money—it's ALWAYS about the money. And one day the garkies at the top will have all the pie crust, but there will be nothing left to put in it, except crows. The feces are already impacting the proverbial wind vane.
      I showed you mine, you show me yours. Whattaya gots? And what's a nice, bolshy didactic doing in a place like this? Show? Put up or..
    5. apostata apostata, 8 months ago
      i am talking about oligotrophication the opposite of eutrophication, it does,not matter i like your engagement at least you tried, the reports are by international union conservation nature i believe
    6. apostata apostata, 8 months ago
      just contemplation ,still a few days on deprived arousal , that,s all, getting mellow happens with old farts haha

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