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World’s Largest Freshwater Pearl Formerly Owned by Catherine the Great Sold At $374,000

The Sleeping Lion was one of the famed empress’ prized jewels.


A freshwater pearl once owned by Catherine the Great was sold for an astounding $374,000 on May 31, 2018. The auction was done by the Amsterdam Pearl Society and was held at The Hague.

Considered as the world’s largest pearl, the “Sleeping Lion” (noting its unusual shape) weighs 5.4 ounces and is 2.75 inches in length. According to the Venduehuis auction house catalogue, it was sold below its estimated value, which was was between $397,000 and $630,000.

The unusual shape is responsible for the pearl’s name.

Source: BBC

It was classified as a blister pearl, also known as half-pearl. It’s a type of pearl which formed while still attached to the inner surface of a mollusk’s shell. Pearls usually grow within the oyster’s tissue. According to Pure Pearls, blister pearls “can be grown in Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian and Freshwater mollusks, however the most popular varieties to use are the Ptera sterna, Ptera penguin and Pinctada maxima mollusks.”

The Sleeping Lion was bought by a Japanese trader, according to an Agence France-Presse report. It comes with its own custom-made brass case.

The pearl was believed to have formed in China between 1700 and 1760. It was found in the Southeast, most likely in the Pearl River, during the Qing Dynasty. During that time, Emperor Qianlong banned the exportation of large pearls, but somehow the Sleeping Lion was shipped to Europe via the Dutch Each India Company. Hendrik Coenraad Sander, an accountant for the company, became the first European owner of the prized pearl.

The pearl at the public viewing at The Hague.

Source: Finance AU

The Sleeping Lion was aunctioned off in Amsterdam in 1778 after Sander’s death. It was acquired by the Russian empress Catherine the Great. She placed the pearl at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, where it was available for public viewing until 1796.

Catherine the Great was the pearl’s most famous owner.

Source: Getty

The next owner was Lodewijk Willem van Kooten, a goldsmith working for the Italian court jeweler Catellani. He purchased the pearl in 1865 and brought it to Amsterdam after a couple of years.

It was in 1979 when the Amsterdam Pearl Society finally got its hands on the Sleeping Lion.


Why Is Iceland Green and Why Is Greenland Icy?

This is why I have trust issues…

Countries have interesting origin stories about how they get their names. Generally speaking, country names are either based on the land’s features, a tribe, a person, or even a directional description.

Bahrain, for example, literally means “Two Seas” while United States of America was named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. On the other hand, Norway, as its name implies, means “The Way North” or “The Northern Way” while Mauritania is based on the Mauris, the country’s largest ethnic group.

It’s when we reach Greenland and Iceland that things get really interesting - and a bit confusing!

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Why Sin Eating Was Once The Worst Job In The World

Technically, it was a thankless job.

If you think you are unfortunate for having to hold on to a job that you think sucks, bear in mind that at one point in history, there were people who went the extent of risking their salvation just for money. For the so-called Sin Eaters then, it did not matter if they had to suffer eternal damnation in hell for as long they could eat and have some coins in their pockets.

While a Sin Eater is already a thing of the past, there is no questioning that it held the notion as being the worst job in England, Scotland, and Wales where it was practiced from the Middle Ages until the early 1900s. You see, a Sin Eater had to eat a piece of bread placed on the chest of a dying person, otherwise known as a sin-soaked bread, while the family of the would-be departing person watched, prayed, and drank a flagon of ale.

By eating the sin-soaked bread, it was believed then that a Sin Eater could absolve the dying person from his sins, and his chances of entering heaven would improve.

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Touching Plane Crash Memorial Site Spotted via Google Maps

The incident claimed 170 lives and its memorial is beautifully haunting.

On September 19, 1989, international passenger plane UTA Flight 772 was en route from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. Tragically, the aircraft never made it to its destination as a bomb in the cargo hold blew up, causing it to break up over the Sahara desert.

The explosion, which later became known as the deadliest plane-related incidents in Niger, claimed the lives of all the 156 passengers and 14 crew members. French investigators later confirmed that it was an attack by Libyan terrorists.

Fast forward to 2007, Les Familles de l’Attentat du DC-10 d’UTA, an associated of the victims’ families, created a beautiful memorial for their departed loved ones. Now the said memorial is visible via Google Maps and Google Earth.

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