Silversmith’s Secrets

I found a funny article through twitter this week about the Swedish Football League trophy.

This years winners Malmo were asked to hand back the trophy only a few days after receiving it. The Swedish Football Association (SvFF) wanted to end the rumours about a secret engraving made by a Stockholm based silversmith, Ingemar Ekland. A football mad engraver, he told a friend he had engraved ‘Bajen Forever’ (the nickname of his favourite club Hammerby IF) on the inside of the silver trophy. So begins the painstaking job of removing trophy from its plinth and investigating inside it with a miniature camera.

Swedish Soccer League Trophy
Swedish Soccer League Trophy

I’d love to say this is an isolated incident but having worked in a few different workshops I have to concur that engravers love to leave their mark! So I went in search of other famous stories of ‘vandalism’!

I had heard a story about secret inscriptions on Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch but it was only when I looked into it further I discovered an Irish connection. The watch has been in the possession of the National Museum of American History since 1958 but it was only last year they were told about the story of the secret engraving on the workings of the watch. The great-great grandson of Jonathan Dillon a watchmaker in Pennsylvania contacted the museum about a story which had been passed down through his family about Lincoln’s watch. Curiosity got the better of the museum who opened the watch last year to discover the inscription “Jonathan Dillon April 13 – 1861 Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date” The second part repeats same date, states the location as Washington and says, “Thank God we have a government.”

Inside Lincoln's Pocket Watch
Inside Lincoln's Pocket Watch

This Irish immigrant from Waterford, had Lincoln’s pocket watch in his hands when he heard the first shots of the Civil War had been fired in South Carolina and felt compelled to mark the event. At aged 84, Dillon was interviewed by the New York Times (1906), he told of the story saying that Lincoln never knew of the inscription.

Considering the amount of important pieces that pass through a silversmiths bench who knows what other secrets lay hidden!

Link to the Swedish Story

Link to the Lincoln Story

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