Town mouse admires a golden exhibition

In 1816, an antiquarian noticed something about the loop of wire fastening a Welsh farm gate. It was a gold torc, made in the Bronze Age-one of the earliest pieces of goldsmithing in Britain. You can see it in the superb exhibition of some 400 golden objects at the Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, until July 28. As well as William Beckford’s gold teapot and Winston Churchill’s gold dentures, it has gold medals from the Olympic Games. Only three-or was it four?-Games used pure gold to cast them.

If I forget the details, it’s because the evening was sponsored by Royal Tokaji, whose tokaji wines are ancient in history, as well as golden hued. The London Arts Orchestra, by contrast, is young; formed three years ago, its members come from London’s great music colleges and, as an audience that must have had one or two bankers among it was told, play for love.

Their programme was an aural reflection of the prevailing theme, comprising suites from Rimsky-Korkasov’s Le Coq d’Or, Shostakovich’s Golden Age and Stravinsky’s Fire-bird. Afterwards, we watched men in gloves putting away the magnificent golden chargers that had been displayed at one end of the hall. The Goldsmiths’ familiarity has not bred contempt.

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