Saturday, December 31, 2011

Counting Down...

Mastery of Design: The Diamond Curb Chain Bracelet, 1895

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This bracelet is formed of gold curb-chain links (oval and flattened), some of which are ornamented in diamonds.

Made in Paris around 1890 by Léon Gariod, this bracelet shows the elegance for which the designer was known.  The firm was originally founded by Gaucher and Tonnelier in 1859. Later, Gaucher became sole partner until he was  joined by Léon Gariod in 1875. By, 1884, the firm belonded to Gariod alone.  By the time this bracelet was made, Gariod was celebrated throughout Paris for his  articulated bracelets and matt gold chains decorated, as we see here, with gem stones.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Cartier Flowerpot Earrings, 1930-5

The Victoria & Albert Museum

These elegant earrings take the form of flower pots from which stylized flowers are growing.  Made by Cartier, the designer made clever use of various shapes and cuts of diamonds.

These earrings were a stylistic nod to the “giardinetti” (little garden) rings of the Eighteenth Century, all the while taking a very Art Deco focus with the densely set diamonds.  

History's Runway: Lady Haig's Schiaperelli New Year's Gown, 1938

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Lady Alexandra Dacre (then Lady Alexandra Haig) wore this fascinating ensemble at a masked carol party in December 1938 to mark the change of the year to 1939. The gown was designed by Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) who was celebrated for her attractive, sophisticated, and whimsically designed evening clothes.

Salvador Dalí, Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau were among the contemporary artists who designed fabrics and accessories for Schiaperelli whose designs were largely influenced  by Cubism and Surrealism.In 1935, Schiaperelli was the first to introduce the motif of the exposed zipper—a trend that popular designers of today claim as their own original property.   

Schiaperelli’s masterful work is evident in this ensemble.  The evening jacket is of black satin backed marocain, with long sleeves--ffitted, collarless and single-breasted with two gathered patch pockets. The neck edge is decorated with a bold embroidered pattern.

The long black dress is crafted of satin backed marocain and features a low V neck, adorned with a ruffle. The back is low and square with the famous exposed zipper.  

At the Music Hall: Meet Me Tonight in Dreamlamd, 1910

Meet me tonight in dreamland,
Under the silv'ry moon.
Meet me tonight in dreamland,
Where love's sweet roses bloom.

Come with the love light gleaming
In your dear eyes of blue.
Meet me in dreamland,
Sweet, dreamy dreamland,
There let my dreams come true.

Meet me tonight in dreamland,
Under the silv'ry moon.
Meet me tonight in dreamland,
Where love's sweet roses bloom.

Come with the love light gleaming
In you dear eyes of blue.
Meet me in dreamland,
Sweet, dreamy dreamland,
There let my dreams come true.

This popular song ranked at the very top of the charts in November 1910. Popularized by singer Reine Davies, the song was a resounding success.  Davies was known as "The New American Beauty.”  Others of you may better know the song as sung by another American beauty--Judy Garland in the 1949 movie, "In the Good Old Summertime.”   

A waltz, with emotionally-chared lyrics, the song was written by Beth Slater Whitson and Leo Friedman who saw it published in Chicago in 1909. Friedman and Whitson sold the rights to the song to the largest publisher in Chicago, Will Rossiter.

An enduring favorite, “ Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland” will forever be connected, mistakenly, with the opening of Coney Island's Dreamland.  Coney Island’s Dreamland opened in 1904, five years before the song was written.  However, the location adopted the song as its own and many a crowd was known to have filled the air of Coney Island with the poignant lyrics.  

Punch's Cousin will Return Next Year

The next chapter of Punch’s Cousin will be posted on January 3, 2012.  It’s hard to believe we’ve gotten to Chapter 426.  If you’ve missed any chapters, you can access them in the Chapter Archive.

I want to thank all of you who have been reading Punch’s Cousin, and, for your kind comments and support.

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy 2012!  Let’s hope Mr. Punch finds some happiness, too.  

Antique Image of the Day: New Year's Eve at the Savoy Hotel, 1925

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a menu card from London’s famed Savoy Hotel which days to 1925.  The front bears an illustration depicting a group of clowns emerging from behind a curtain which is presently being drawn open by a chubby cherub, flying above. The drawing is signed “Kennedy North.”

The menu was printed specifically for the Savoy’s opulent New Year’s event and was meant to be taken as a souvenir.  

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A New Year Card, 1894

The Victoria & Albert Museum

The front of this handsome greeting card from 1894 depicts a girl in French Revolutionary costume, with a bicorne hat, blue coat and pink skirt.  The card is printed with the words:

This card is signed "With Julia's love to dear Amy Xmas /94.”  It comes from a collection of cards given to the V&A by the mother of the  “Amy” in question—Amy Piercey (b. 1882).  The card was printed in Germany for export to the English market.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Art of Play: Le Grand Terme ou Le Jeu des Temps, 1825

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a Continental version of the “Game of Human Life” which depicts the ages of man.

This version of the game from 1825, however, is vastly different from earlier English and French editions. This particular version was designed for the German and French market and uses only  those two languages. The players begin at a clock face numbered 1 and entitled “Temporellite” or “Zeirlichkeit” and the ending point is number 33,”Eternity.” 

The game play seems complicated to me, but I don’t have a head for games.  Some of the squares require the receiving or paying of a token.  Some squares send the player forwards or backwards. The game would have been played with dice.   At the end of the game, the winner would receive some sort of prize.  It’s too complicated.  But, that’s a lot like the life it represents. 

Gifts of Grandeur: The Roman Emperor's Watch, 1738

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a gilt metal clock-watch with a mother-of-pearl medallion set with onyx cameos of the Emperors Augustus and Vespasian, and a gold bust of the goddess Minerva with a crown of rose-cut diamonds.  The whole of the piece is luxuriously set with stones

Made in Germany by Johann Salomon Mayer, the piece is dated 1738.  The medallions of mother-of-pearl are mounted on a gilded copper into which the agate cameos of the Roman Emperors are set.   The bust of Minerva with her helmet is modeled from carnelian and her armor is gold, set with diamonds (mostly brilliant and table-cut),  almandine and hessonite garnets, and emeralds.  Enameling adds further color and dimension.  


Though the case was made in Germany, the watch movement was probably made in London in about 1690. This movement was used in another watch before being set into this piece.  The top plate of the movement bears the name of Du Thuillay of Halle.

Unusual Artifacts: The Tournai Porcelain Clockcase, 1770

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This clock case of soft-paste porcelain takes the form of a scrollwork pedestal on a rocky base.  Upon the case, a group of six cupids adds fluttering adornment. The leafy branches and trailing sprays of flowers bring further natural elegance to this piece made in Tournai around 1770 Nicholas Lecreux for the Tournai Porcelain Factory.

Precious Time: The Dancing Putti Clock, 1855

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Playfully elegant, this clock features a case of ormolu and enamel.  The upper part of the case is formed by a globe enameled in blue.  The base is punctuated by statuettes of dancing putti, representing the Seasons in ormolu.  An enamel frieze of putti adds whimsy and color to the base.

Made circa 1855, by France’s celebrated Levy Frères, this clock was bought at the Paris Exhibition of 1855 for £19 4s 0d. The clock speaks to the mid-Nineteenth Century French emergence of a neo-rococo style.  This distinct look featured pronounced curves and a excess of ornament.  However, unlike the true Rococo style, this resurgence was infinitely more symmetrical and composed--losing much of the exuberance and glee of the Eighteenth Century originals.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 425

Give me that baby, Odo!”  Punch said, bursting forward.

“Sure, sure,”  Odo grinned, handing the child to Mr. Punch.  “I don’t want him.”

Punch gently took Colin from Odo and hugged him.

“How’d you get him?”  Mr. Punch demanded.

“Seems your friend Mrs. Routhe, she got tired.”

“What’s going on?”  Robert panted as he approached, followed by Marjani.

“Marjani,”  Punch rasped, “will you take Colin over there with the others and watch over him?”

“Yes, Sir.”  Marjani said, taking the baby.  She turned to Odo before hurrying off with the boy, “If you done anything to Mama Routhe, you have no idea what harsh punishment will fall on your head, you yellow-eyed monster.”

“I ain’t done nothin’ to her.”  Odo grinned.

Alone with the man, Robert and Mr. Punch began to question him.  All the while, Odo grinned his slick, amber smile.

“Where’s Mrs. Routhe?”  Robert asked.

“She was tired, like I said.  She went off with a nice lady whose gonna look after her.”

“Who?”  Punch demanded.

“She didn’t tell me her name.  Jus’ tol’ me to take the baby to ya.”  Odo laughed.

“She didn’t tell you her name, this woman?”  Robert scowled.

“Didn’t have to.”  Odo winked.  “We all know her.”

“Iolanthe!”  Punch snapped.

“No!”  Odo shook his head. “I wouldn’t do nothin’ wit’ that Evangeline woman.  Can’t trust her.  No, this was Marie Laveau.”

Robert and Mr. Punch exchanged glances.

Odo nodded.  “Marie’ll take good care of your Mama Routhe.  Who knows?  The two might get on real well.  Maybe Mrs. Routhe can be a nanny for Marie’s new baby when it comes.”

“We can’t leave that nice lady with Marie Laveau,” Mr. Punch whispered to Robert.

“Oh, go on.”  Odo interrupted.  “Don’t you white men try to fool me.  You ain’t so concerned ‘bout no black woman.”

“Shut your mouth,”  Robert snarled.

“Now, now…”  Odo clucked his tongue.  “You got other things for to worry ‘bout.”

“Such as?”  Mr. Punch asked.

“Well, you got debts.”

“To whom?”  Robert spat.

“Me, for starts.  I done you a service.”

“By bringing…”

Odo stopped Robert by waving his hand.  “Now, you know full well, I coulda brought the boy to Mr. Cage.  He’s my master, after all.  But, no, I done brought him to you. Now, I ‘spect there’s gonna be some kind of reward.  Am I right?”

“What do you want, you beastie?”  Punch frowned.

“Nothin’ much.”  Odo grinned broadly.  “I jus’ want you to take me with ya to England.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-424?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Tuesday, January 3 for Chapter 426 of Punch’s Cousin.  

Drawing of the Day: The Bull Clock, 1770

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a design for a clock.  The timepiece is resting on the back of a bull standing on a plinth which is pierced to reveal a view of a palace above a walled pool inhabited by swans. The second tier is supported by carved and gilt hippocamps and is encrusted with rococo shells.   

According to the V&A, there’s, “a wonderful story” which “involves this drawing by an unknown designer from the workshop of the goldsmith and clock-maker, James Cox (active in London from 1749 to 1791). It shows a bull clock on a table-shaped stand. The bull resembles the one on the Buffalo clock made about 1770 in Cox's workshop although the rock-shaped base is different. The clock is [in] the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing. This drawing has been tentatively attributed to Charles Magniac, a craftsman trained as a chaser.” 

Well, you see, because of this drawing, museum workers were able to reunite the base of the above-mentioned buffalo clock with the timepiece.  Previously, the top and bottom were separated with no one realizing that these two fanciful items could possibly go together.  Upon seeing this sketch for a proposed similar clock, it became obvious that the Buffalo Clock and its odd plinth, were, in fact, a match. 

This drawing was made as a presentation for a client. However, we can’t be sure for whom the drawing was made.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Metzger Mirror Clock, 1564

The Victoria & Albert Museum

As we count down the new year, I thought today we’d look at clocks and other time-related objects.  This attractive clock was made in 1564 by the famous German clockmaker, Jeremias Metzger (or Metzker), of Augsburg.

A vertical, circular dial on a footed base, this form of clock is known as a “monstrance” or “mirror” clock due to its similarity in shape to those objects.  Mirror clocks were quite fashionable in Europe between 1580 and 1630. These clocks featured metal cases which were commonly gilded. 

This particular clock was assuredly a treasury piece which was bought more so for its craftsmanship and technical ingenuity than for its practical purposes. During this period, clocks were luxury items designed to impress as well as educate.

The low circular base of this chiming clock into the curved portion which is surmounted by a dome-shaped, pierced casing which protects the bell mechanism. A cast figure of Atlas sits astride the dome.   In his raised arms, he balances a shaped, engraved bracket which is adjoined to the clock case. The clock is fitted with 3 dials, (2 on the front, 1 on the back). The upper shoulders of the clock case are adorned each with a single cast putti astride a dolphin, each supporting a trident. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Stupid Human Tricks

"Aren't humans idiots?"

*Click Above Image to Enlarge*

Image:  The Butt: Shooting a Cherry, William Mulready,  (RA), 1822-1848 (painted),1848 (exhibited), The Victoria & Albert Museum

If you’re a fan of the Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture, you might be a fan of the “Gratuitous Bertie Dog Face” design available in our online shop.  

Mastery of Design: Queen Mary's Silver Jubilee , 16th-19th Centuries

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Truly a masterpiece, this necklace and earrings form part of a parure presented to Queen Mary in 1935 for her Silver Jubilee.  The necklace was originally made in the Sixteenth Century, but has visible Seventeenth and Nineteenth Century additions.

The necklace’s chain of snakes and crosses is gold enameled opaque white, pale-blue, light-green and translucent blue and green, set with pearls, rubies, and emeralds.  The earrings are also of enameled gold, set with pearls, and rubies.

The parure originally belonged to one Mary Seton (an attendant of Mary, Queen of Scots, by whom the necklace was given) who left the necklace to Archibald William, 13th Earl of Eglinton (1812-61); by whom bequeathed to his daughters, Egidia, Sybil and Hilda; by whom sold to Christie’s  February 22, 1894 (marked as part of lot 69).  The set was in turn acquired by Algernon Borthwick, 1st Baron Glenesk (1830-1908); by descent to his daughter, Lilias Countess Bathurst (d.1965); by whom presented to Queen Mary, the Silver Jubilee, May 1935.  A matching brooch completes the parure.

On an editorial note, knowing that this parure was once part of the Royal Collection—as owned by Mary Queen of Scots—it is my suspicion that Queen Mary (known for making sure anything that ever left the Royal Collection was returned to her) probably suggested that the Countess Bathurst make her a gift of the set for her Silver Jubilee.  But, no one can say for sure.

Are you as big an admirer of Queen Mary as I am?  Show your love with a new "Teck Support" item from our online shop.

Unusual Artifacts: A Souvenir of Victoria's Golden Jubilee, 1887

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s a mug that I don’t have.  Now, I have to find one.  This Queen Victoria Jubilee mug is crafted of cream-colored earthenware with brown transfer-printed bust-length portraits in medallions of Queen Victoria at the time of her accession and at the time of her Jubilee.  These appear under a crown with a ribbon inscribed “1837 VRI 1887.”   A laurel-wreath adorns the rim. 

The mug was made in Lambeth by Royal Doulton  and is marked "DOULTON BURSLEM” surrounding four interlaced D's within a shaped medallion on the bottom.

The Home Beautiful: Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Wallpaper, 1897

The Victoria & Albert Museum

We’ve seen other examples of wallpapers created expressly for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.  This is the most abstract and vibrantly-colored, indicative of the coming rise of the Arts and Crafts Movement. 

The design for the wallpaper depicts a crown, rose, thistle, shamrock and acanthus, in green, yellow and blue.  This sample is signed in ink by C. F. A. Voysey. Architect. 23, York Place W.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 424

Mr. Punch couldn’t contain his excitement and despite the fact that they meant to be inconspicuous, he couldn’t help but run toward the cart carrying Gamilla, Columbia, Gerard and Toby.  The mule eyed him suspiciously as he galloped toward them, whooping.

From their hidden spot by the docks, Robert put his hand over his face as Cecil, Adrienne and Marjani chuckled at Punch’s enthusiasm.

“Me chums!”  Punch squawked.  “Me chum Columbia!  Hullo!”

Columbia waved her little hand at Punch and smiled.  “I got Toby for ya, Mr. Punch.  And your puppet.”

“That’s wonderful, it is!  Now, you did like I said, right?  You talked to him.  Didn’t ya?  Puppets get lonely, too.”

“I did.  Toby and I both talked to him.”  Columbia said proudly.

“That’s fine.”  Punch nodded his approval.

“Me Chum, Gamilla, how are ya?”

“Very well, Sir.”  Gamilla smiled.  “Feelin’ good.”

“Good, good!  Good is good!  I got good news for all of ya.  We got the boys, we did.  Fuller’s here and Colin’s on his way!”

“Praise the Lord.”  Gamilla gasped.

“Which Lord?”  Punch asked.  “There’s lots of…”  He paused, chucking at himself.  “Oh, that Lord!  The big one what’s up there.”  He pointed to the sky.  “Right.  I learned all ‘bout him, I did.”  He looked at Gerard.  “Hullo, Gerry.  Ready to get back on a ship?”

“I am, Sir.”  Gerard smiled.  

“Now, listen.  Since we got no other valet, you’re gonna have to look after me and Dr. Halifax, both, you are.  Cecil—he don’t need a valet.  Don’t like havin’ one.  Robert’s used to it, he is, but, I gotta say, I need the most help.  Even if I was like every other man, the knowledge I got is that of a nobleman and they don’t know how to dress themselves, I ‘spose.”

“I don’t know much ‘bout bein’ a proper valet, Sir.”  Gerard blushed as he halted the mule. 

“But, I’ll learn as fast as I can and try my best.”

“I’ll help ya.”  Punch nodded eagerly.  “I learned some, I did.  We can help each other.  It’ll be a lark, and all.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Gerard smiled.

“Gamilla, you happy to go to England?”

“I am.”  Gamilla nodded.  “A little scared though.  They got folk like my kind there?”

“Some.”  Punch nodded.  “Indians, too.  It’s awful interestin’.  You’re gonna live in the city with me and Dr. Halifax—both of you are.  It’ll be a wonderful time.  There’s so much I want to show you.  All the pretty buildin’s and Covent Garden where I’m from and, oh, but it’s such a beautiful house in Belgravia—lovely big rooms and lots and lots of stairs.  Such a fine kitchen below stairs, too, and nice, comfortable rooms in the attics for you two and whoever else we get.  You’ll be so happy there.”

“What about me?”  Columbia asked.

“You, too!”  Punch whooped.  “You and your grandmamma will be there, too.  And, I’ll let you play all over the house.”

“Will I get to share a room with Gamilla and  Grandmama?”  Columbia asked.

“Sure—if you like.  Only when you get older, you can have a room of your own.”

“I’ll work real hard for you, Sir.”  Columbia smiled.  “I’ll look after Toby and help mind the babies.”

“You don’t gotta work.”  Punch smiled.  “You’re a young lady.  You got to learn things and play.”

“But, I gotta work.”

“Your work is gonna be to learn all you can,”  Punch winked.  “And grow up and be a fine lady.”

Robert approached the group.  “I hate to interrupt, but, we do need to stay hidden.”

“Sure, sure.”  Punch said manically.  “Come on, everybody.”  He reached into the cart and picked up Toby who was all tail wags and friendly licks.

“Your puppet’s in that basket, Sir.”  Gamilla pointed.  “Under a blanket, like he was asleep.”

“Fine.”  Punch nodded happily.

“Look, Uncle Punch!”  Columbia shouted.  “Somebody’s comin!  Somebody with a baby!”
Punch and Robert turned around to see a cloaked figure emerge from the mist—carrying a child.

“Colin!”  Punch rushed forward and as he approached the figure he instantly recognized his nephew, but was shocked to see that Colin was not in the arms of Mama Routhe. 

Odo removed the cloak from his head and smiled.  “We got business, Duke.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-423 of Punch’s Cousin?  If so, you can read them here.  

Antique Image of the Day: An Invitation to the Vauxhall Jubilee, 1786

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a printed ticket for the “Vauxhall Jubilee” of 1786.  This event was a celebration of Spring Gardens' history.  Spring Gardens, Vauxhall, were situated at the south bank of the River Thames, in London.  The location allowed a safe spot for visitors to stroll among the trees on warm evenings.  There, they could listen to music and admire sights such as paintings, sculpture and recreated ruins.  Food and drink were plentiful for all of the guests who represented a wide spectrum of society--from royalty to servants.

This ticket has been authenticated with a seal and was signed and dated by Jonathan Tyers--the proprietor of the gardens—the son of Jonathan Tyers (died 1767), who originally opened the gardens in 1732.

The image depicted on this ticket is of the “Dark Walk”--one of several avenues of trees that on the manicured grounds of Spring Gardens.  This avenue was close enough to the festivities that the music could be heard, but far enough removed that  it allowed for less wholesome activities.

Object of the Day: A Souvenir Mug for the 2012 Royal Jubilee

This is, certainly, the newest of my Royal memorabilia—not only because I just received it from my parents as a Christmas gift, but because it commemorates an event yet to come.  2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne) of Queen Elizabeth II.  The year-long event will be filled with a worldwide tribute to Her Majesty.

Made by Fortnum & Mason as part of the Diamond Jubilee collection, this mug is among the first souvenirs.  I love it!  All of the souvenirs produced by Fortnum & Mason depict the Queen’s Beasties (ten heraldic animals representing the Queen’s heritage) playing musical instruments in celebration of Her Majesty.  This mug shows the Falcon of the Plantagenets and the Lion of England playing a saxophone and triangle respectively.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Product in the Shop!

I'm pleased to announce some new designs in the Stalking the Belle Epoque Shop.   You can get any of these SEVEN new designs on a variety of items from fashion to home decor.  Take a look!  Perhaps a Mr. Punch, "That's the way to do it!" shirt is the perfect New Year's gift for your sweetie.  Or, maybe, a mug with Bertie as the Dog Toby is what your heart desires.  Who knows what fun treasure you might find!

Mastery of Design: The Church Fire Opal, 1800-69

This and all related images courtesy of
the Victoria & Albert Museum

This stunning fire opal of orange-red has been faceted and mounted in a gold ring with a coronet setting.  Not much is known about the setting.  It was originally set around 1800, and, then, probably altered circa 1869.

This ring, like those from the Townshend Collection at the V&A was made  to display the stone more so than for wear.  The important collection of 154 gems bequeathed by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet, represents some of the world’s rarest and finest jewels.  Sir A. H. Church gave donated additional specimens, including this amazing fire opal, in 1913.  Church was responsible for compiling the first catalog “Precious Stones: A Guide to the Townshend Collection” in 1883.   This stone is among the most unusual in the collection.

Opal naturally occurs when water containing microscopically small spheres of silica settles in cavities and veins in the Earth. Opal, like many other stones, occur in a wide range of colors, with those which display an iridescent play of color considered “precious.”  Fire opal is a variety of opal which is often reddish or orange. Due to its lower water content and comparative hardness, unlike other kinds of opal, it can be cut with facets.

A sampling of the unusual jewels in the Townshend Collection.
Of note, the first two in the top row are particularly fine--green and pink tourmaline respectively.

The Home Beautiful: The Neptune Candelabrum, 1818-1819

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Known for its triumphant depiction of the god Neptune, this magnificent candelabrum is adorned with a figure of the Roman god of the sea, depicted kneeling on a sea horse or hippocamp, on a rocky base cast and chased with shells and a host of other sea creatures. Neptune, as usual, bears a trident in his left hand and supports, with his right, a shell from which a hydra (that wacky mythical many-headed snake) springs out to form the branches which hold the candles.

Made between 1818-1819, this was just one part of a massive table garniture ordered by the Duke of York. In 1827, when the Duke of York’s silver was auctioned, the catalog listed the candelabrum as attributed to the antiquarian and silver retailer Kensington Lewis, whose trade card described him as “Silversmith and Jeweller to his R. H. the Duke of York.”

And, certainly, The Duke of York was Lewis’ most important patron.  Lewis’  business suffered enormously after the Duke’s death.

Unusual Artifacts: A Cast Iron Fireplace with Ceramic Tiles, 1905

The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum is filled with almost anything imaginable from toys to diapers and diamonds to entire rooms from houses.  So, it’s not surprising that we should see an entire fireplace from 1905 in their collection. 

This fireplace is an example of the sort of modern fireplace which came about in the early Twentieth Century--its raised grate was developed when coal replaced wood as the standard domestic fuel.

Like others of the era, this fireplace is made of cast iron and set with decorative ceramic tiles. Cast-iron fireplaces were made of flat plates cast in moulds and then assembled later.  Iron founders such as Carron and Coalbrookdale offered a large range of fireplaces in their catalogs in a variety of styles and tile colors.  The tiles serve as decoration, but also to reflect the heat efficiently. 

This particular cast-iron fireplace came from a house in Chiswick.  It is stamped with the name and address of the original founder, Planet Foundry Co. Ltd, Guide Bridge, Manchester.

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Bainbridge Firescreen, 1850

The Victoria & Albert Museum
This firescreen rests on trestle supports with turned and gilded uprights.  The frame is panel glazed and set with stuffed birds.  This unusual, yet handsome, piece comes from Great Britain and was made circa 1850. 

This is so very Victorian in design.  This was an era when taxidermy birds and animals were considered fashionable and appropriate accessories employed in a variety of uses.  Victorian artists were fascinated with nature and the culture as a whole was intrigued with the idea of exploring the natural world. 

Of course, as new animals were discovered, these same explorers were determined to find uses for their beautiful fur and plumage—not thinking that entire species would die out.  In one way, this use of animals is tragic, and, yet, we are somewhat fortunate in that many extinct species are still viewable because they’ve been preserved in works of art such as this. 

Many fire screens were employed to keep the direct heat of the fire off of those seated near the hearth.  This fire screen would not have been good for that.  Taxidermy and fire don’t mix.  Instead, this would have made a handsome showpiece in the summer, hiding an empty, unused hearth.   

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 423

Mr. Punch gently placed his coat over Adrienne’s shoulders, making sure to see that Fuller—still asleep in his mother’s arms—was also covered.

“But, you will be cold, dear Punch,” Adrienne shivered.

“Nah, I ain’t the sort what gets cold, I ain’t.  ‘Sides, I’m much too excited to feel nothin’ but happy.”

Cecil nodded, putting his arm around his wife and child.

“I don’t mean to be the voice of gloom,”  Robert began.

“Why not?”  Cecil winked.  “You always are.”

“But, we’re not quite out of harm’s way yet.”  Robert grumbled.

“Sure, we’re not.”  Punch shrugged, “but we’re closer than we ever were before.”  He pointed to the dock which began to dance with the light of the sunrise on the flickering water.   “Soon ‘nough we’ll be on a ship back to England.”

“Assuming that the others join us in time.”  Robert frowned.

“Listen, chum, I know we got lots ‘bout which we can fret, but, still, we got to think good thoughts.  If we think it’ll happen as we ‘xpect, then it will.”

“Mr. Punch has the right idea.”  Cecil nodded.  “Gerard and Gamilla have their orders.”

“I know they won’t let us down,”  Marjani smiled.  “They’ll be here.”

“And what of your friend with Colin?”  Robert asked.

“You’ll never find a more determined woman than Mama Routhe, you won’t.”  Punch interjected. “’Cept maybe Marjani and Adrienne here.”

“Thank you, dear Punch,”  Adrienne grinned.

Marjani blushed.

“And what of Iolanthe and Marie?”  Robert scowled.  “Are they not determined?”

“Well, sure they are.”  Punch sighed.  “But, we got the power of good on our side.  Listen, Marjani says that Mama Routhe will be here, and I believe her.  I was with the lady, I was.  She were right kind to us and she understood that she should be here with me nephew at sun-up.  Well, it ain’t all sun-up yet.  She’ll be here.  If it’s the Ogress and the Voodoo lady you’re worried, ‘bout.  Well, don’t you think they got other things goin’ on?  Don’t forget—Iolanthe’s wounded.  No doubt she’s wrapped up in her bed like some kind of old dead woman what’s found in them pointy buildings in Egypt—you know, like what me pa found.”

“A mummy.”  Robert smiled slightly.

“Sure, that were it.  Only I can’t figure why they’d get such a nice name as that.  Adrienne’s a mummy and she’s pretty and nice.  Them old dead ladies ain’t so much.  But, still.  As for Marie—ain’t it a fact that a woman what’s with-child ain’t gonna want to wander around in the cold?”

“I didn’t care to,”  Adrienne chuckled, “but, who can tell about Marie?”

“Well, we ain’t gonna think about it.”  Punch smiled.  “We’re only gonna think good things.  You hear?”

Robert nodded.

“Good.”  Punch grinned.  “I’ll bet ya that Mama Routhe is on her way here right now and that Gerry and Gamilla will be here with Columbia and Toby and me puppet and all our things the next we look over our shoulders.”

“You’re quite right,” Cecil said joyfully, pointing behind Mr. Punch as Gamilla and Gerard came forward in the distance, emerging from the mist of the docks in a cart pulled by a mule.

“There’s my girl,”  Marjani sniffed, her eyes filling with tears as she spotted her granddaughter in the cart.  “Who’d have ever thought Columbia’d see a fine place like London, England?  Who’d have ever thought I would?”

“Well, we’re all gonna.”  Punch whooped.  “Just as soon as Mama Routhe gets here.”

“Yes,”  Robert nodded, turning his head so that Punch would not see his nervous frown.  “Just as soon as she gets here.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-422?  If so, you can read them here.