Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 84

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Sunday & Monday April 26 & 27, 2009 (diary)

Garden lights leading to my cabin Sunday I notice our active host has installed new solar powered garden lights marking the way to my cabin and to the shower block for the caravan guests. They are nice but usually don't last that long.
In the evening I watch FanFan la Tulip. It is in the same happy mood as the original, but I did like the 1952 version better. Nostalgia I suppose.

One of the few drawback of living in Darwin are the Newspapers. Australia's National newspaper The Australian only arrives by mid to late afternoon (if you are lucky), it also cost $3.30 instead of the regular $1.20 price down South. I therefore get most of my news from the news bulletins on non commercial TV (ABC and SBS), but as I am now away four nights each week (playing bridge or painting) I only get to watch the news on Wednesdays and on the weekend.
I therefore picked up a copy of the weekly Newsweek magazine the other day and quite liked it. I enjoy their fast, incisive no nonsense (cut the crap) reporting and also prefer their visual layout style over say Time Magazine. I read several items of interest (April 20, 2009 issue). Here is one (page 19) :

Tulips along the Rhine in Boppard Our modern financial system is based on the one originally established in Holland in 1620, underpinning the Dutch commercial as well as artistic Gouden Eeuw ("The Golden Century").
The system was upgraded first by the English around 1700 and once more by the Americans in 1945 after WW2. The financial system has crashed several times throughout its history, the very first time in 1637 when the famous tulip bubble burst in the Netherlands.
In my younger years I was always fascinated by this event and read several historic novels on it at the time. The financial system has crashed many times since then (unable to curtail some human follies and greed), but still survives and on the whole, while growing with the ever more interconnected world, appears to have served us well over four successive Centuries.

On Monday I receive more Martinshof related materials from Wivica, including a newspaper photo of Maud Smit, our chief designer, and also of our superb craftsman and dear friend Eweg. I am most pleased. It will take me some time to photograph it all and arrange the material in an attractive presentable format.


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Tuesday & Wednesday April 28 & 29, 2009 (Martinshof)

Designed by Cor van Weele Martinshof - 10 continues from April 24
One of the objectives of Atelier Martinshof was to elevate the goldsmith to the same recognition and artistic level as other artists like painters, sculptors, composers etc. As part of this purpose my father published a specific goldsmiths magazine The Goudsmit en zijn Kunst ("The Goldsmith's Noble Art"). The name was later changed to Eloy after the Patron Saint of the goldsmiths' guild "St. Eiligius".

The text of the magazine was printed in four languages, Dutch, German, English and French and it presented work of artists from Holland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, France and even the USA (Adda Husted-Anderson from New York).

Cor van Weele from Amsterdam, the principal photographer for the Martinshof Collection, designed the attractive modern front covers for it.
Unfortunately, probably because of financial restraints, only two editions of the magazine (in the early 1950s) were ever published.

Edda Marie Dierkes Prinzessin zu Erback Schönberg Besides the core group of Dutch artists (Maud Smit, Eweg, Chris Steenbergen, Archibald Dumbar, plus the young addition Dea Mulder) several artists from outside the Netherlands also contributed with their work to the Martinshof Collection.
One was Edda Marie Dierkes Prinzessin zu Erbach Schönberg (a cousin of the then Dutch Queen Juliana) from Darmstadt in Germany. As a young student I visited her once with my father at her home in Darmstadt, a very beautiful and intelligent woman. She contributed regularly to the Martinshof Expositions with some bold very attractive work.
Other German contributors included Elisabeth Treskow from Köln and Otto Hahn from Bielefeld.

'Skäla och Ruta' by Sigurd Persson Sigurd Persson from Stockholm was a contributor from Sweden. Persson was especially famous for his modern serial production designs. He initially was the chief designer of the most progressive jewelry company in Sweden, Atelier Stigbert, but in 1952 started his own studio. He is another Martinshof contributor who won the prestigious European Goldsmith of the Year award.
Martinshof was the promoter and distributor of his 'Scla och Ruta' collection in Holland. This was designed using two simple shapes only, concave elliptical dishes and rectangular diamond shapes, all produced in silver. Unfortunately the general Dutch taste was at that time not ready to embrace the progressive modern Scandinavian style, and sales of this very affordable product were rather poor.

The yearly selection of a European Goldsmith of the Year was instigated by the German Gesellschaft für Goldschmiedekunst ("German Guild of Goldsmiths") after WW2 to promote the art of the goldsmith. The recipient received a Ring of Honour traditionally designed and crafted by the previous year's winner. A wonderful idea. It was internationally recognised as the highest ranking Goldsmith award in the world.


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Thursday April 30, 2009 (diary, finance)

Cartoon in Platinum's  Investment Report, April, 2009 My financial investments are starting to turn the corner, notably my "BT Asia" and "Platinum Asia" investment funds. BT improved modestly by 2.4%, but Platinum lifted twice that much, by 5.2% over the Quarter.
Interestingly Platinum, in line with their present philosophy of "emphasising those countries which have low government debt and high savings" have raised their holdings in China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) this Quarter from 42% to 48%.
At the same time their exposure to India has been halved from 2% to a mere 1%. A massive turn around from 5-6 years ago when they made spectacular gains from their holdings in India.   Platinum always includes some cartoons in their Quarterly Reports. The above, by Dave Granlund, is one of them.

I also pick up an interesting comment by Robert Swift, Head of Multi Strategies at BT Investment Management (in their Quarterly Newsletter) : "Countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain will find it hard to introduce the market reforms they need to make their economies competitive at the existing (high) Euro exchange rates - so something will have to crack. It may be the Euro."
A lower Euro would be bad news for my Dutch pension (although in the event partly compensated by an increase of my Aussie pension), but good news when visiting Wivica again next year.

The weather is great every day now, and the last few nights have become markedly cooler (below 20°C), making me reach for a cover through the middle of the night. Did I mention that I live here in a paradise on earth ? The mornings and evenings especially are so peaceful and wonderfully relaxing. I can just sit forever on my front vernada and contemplate the world, green nature all around me, birds swarming overhead, I can feel the earth breathe.
In the evening I play bridge with Mairead at the Palmerston Bridge Club. We have a very pleasant evening with a few glasses of red ("Cab Sav") and do quite OK.

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