That’s all the info I could find attached to this photograph: that the chalice was said to have been “stolen or restored from the fairies.*” There is mystery here. There must be a story. A cup stolen from fairies? Surely someone wants it back. The only photo to be found is over 100-years-old. I can’t find either a more recent photo or any known location. Maybe the chalilce has been restolen?
More likely it’s collecting dust in someone’s attic many one-lane miles outside of Reykjavík. Or possibly (but crushingly for the Fantastic story aspect) the photographer made it up. But an object “stolen” or “restored from the fairies” would have some tale or legend attached to it, wouldn’t it? Even a brief one… not unlike The Luck of the Edenhall, or the MacLeod’s Fairy Flag (a tale coming to FairyRoom — stay tuned.) Alas, nothing.
I hunted for information about the Chalice’s photographer. The only reason the photo is even in circulation is probably not because of the actual chalice, but rather is due to the relative fame of the photographer and the series: Icelandic and Faroese Photographs of Frederick W.W. Howell. But documentation is thin, and mentions nothing more about the photo or its subject.
I thought to see if I could find a clue in the location. Cornell University Library owns the digital file (and makes it freely available, with photo credit, thank you), and their Flickr page for this photograph lists all the info I can find anywhere: The fairy chalice of Breiðabólsstaður, Fljótshlíð.
Fljótshlíð is a rural area in the far South of Iceland. Fljót means “river” and hlíð means “mountain side.” Google Maps choked at that point, declaring it “could not understand the location Breiðabólsstaður.” However, Wikipedia’s entry for Cities and Towns in Iceland linked me further to a small town with only 153 inhabitants in Eastern Iceland named Breiðdalsvík, in the municipality of Breiðdalshreppur, near the Breiðdalsá river. Breiðdalshreppur is nowhere near Fljótshlíð, but “Breið” means “wide”. I had hoped it meant Fairy. The Icelandic word for fairy is ævintýri.
I looked for additional photos, but this (above) is The Photo, and the chalice’s only reference. Every other reference to the chalice uses the same photo. It’s circa 1900. Cornell says the actual photo is a collodion print, which doesn’t help our quest for the folklore in the slightest.
Does anyone have any factual information on this artifact? And in the absence of actual information, if anyone would like to offer your own creative version of a story that could be behind it, we are all for that, too. (Identify if it’s your fiction or some researchable fact, however. Thanks).