Woes and Wonders of Power…

When I was growing up, I had a neighbor who, for years, had owned an antique store in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and possessed what I still consider to be one of the most fantastic pieces of jewelry that I have ever seen.  It was a poison ring, a beetle with cabochon wings that lifted up with the click of its’ hind to reveal secret compartments beneath.  She told me, in what was possibly the truth and possibly a delicious fib, that the ring had been crafted before the Civil War and worn by her grandfather, so that in case he was captured, he would have arsenic awaiting him to commit suicide before he gave away army secrets.  A piece of jewelry that encouraged you to commit suicide?  The completely morbid sense of fascination was on.

You could also use the poison ring to discretely drop some poison into your enemy’s wine glass.  A pop of the clasp on the ring and, hey presto! It remains a rumor that Lucretia Borgia (yes, one of those Borgias) wore a poison ring for just that reason.


Poison was not the strict use of poison rings, however; many other uses were found for the compartments over the years: miniatures of loved ones, locks of their hair, notes, perfume, cocaine (a good way to hide it from the police-not for the record that I am advocating that…in fact, if any family member or law enforcement official is reading this, I don’t even know what that word means), and you know, tictacs.

But for some reason, it’s still the, “You can keep your tactics secret in case you are taken as a prisoner of war,” thing that I still find the most compelling.


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