Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Sparkle: An Unusual Naturalistic Brooch, 1920-1930

Great Britain, 1920-1930
The Victoria & Albert Museum
By the 1920’s, botanical-themed jewelry was still quite popular in Britain, but had changed considerably from its Georgian and Victorian roots. We can see the stylistic changes in Naturalistic jewelry with this unusual brooch. Instead of full blooms, we see stylized mushrooms and bullrushes in brown enamels, highlighted by settings of gold and platinum and accentuated by a large baroque pearl, diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

While the design is clearly Art Deco, it differs from other pieces of the era because of its markedly rural feel as opposed to the skyscraper, urban look of most jewelry of the time.


Painting of the Day: Sickness and Health by Thomas Webster, 1843

Sickness and Health
Thomas Webster
The Victoria & Albert Museum
 This tender painting by Thomas Webster shows the early Victorian passion for peaceful family scenes. Young girls dance to the music of a hurdy gurdy while they are watched by other generations of the same family, one of whom is a young lady who is clearly infirm and watching with sadness. It’s a simple subject of real family life which a critic said was, “treated with infinite grace and pathos.”

When exhibited at the Royal Academy, Thomas Webster asked that a quotation from Wordsworth's poem “The Three Cottage Girls” should be placed next to it. It read, “The cheerfulness of innocence survives to mitigate distress.”

At the Music Hall: Roses of Picardy, 1916

Roses are shining in Picardy
In the hush of the silver dew
Roses are flowering in Picardy
But there's never a rose like you
And the roses will die with the summer time
And our roads may be far apart
But there's one rose that dies not in Picardy
'Tis the rose that I keep in my heart

Written by lyricist Frederick Weatherly, a military officer, and set to music by Haydn Wood in 1916, this popular ballad became a sentimental favorite during the Great War. British soldiers were known to sing the tune in unison as they embarked on their first voyages to France. The ballad was so beloved that even German soldiers had been recorded as singing it on their own way to France.

Some believe that the song was conceived after Weatherly developed an affection for a beautiful French widow in whose home he had sought sanctuary. So enduring was the song that it became a favorite swing number and has been recorded well into this century.

The Art of Play: A Musical Automaton Hurdy Gurdy, 1875

Musical Automaton
Hurdy Gurdy
The Victoria & Albert Museum
At first glance, this odd item appears to be simply a wooden box adorned with figures of two monkey musicians. However, it’s much, much more than that.

By means of a handle at the back of the organ, a magical animation begins. The handle operates the Papier Mache and fabric monkey figures which were supplied by the Parisian maker Alexandre Theroude to a retailer of musical instruments, Thibouville Lamy. Together, they play eight different tunes. Upon being accepted into the Victoria & Albert Museum, the monkeys were given new clothes as their originals were in a sad state. The new clothes were made using the originals as a pattern and are as close in color and texture as was possible.

This item is illustrated in a Silber and Fleming catalogue which dates between 1876 and 1877. Similar examples were also for sale in upscale specialty shops and elegant department stores. Such a thing was not meant for children, but rather sold as a novelty for adults to enjoy.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 273

Just what is it that you’re sayin’ to me?” Iolanthe narrowed her eyes. “Are you threatenin’ my boy?”

“No, Iolanthe, you can’t paint me with the same wicked brush that colors you all the color of bruises. No. I’d never threaten no livin’ soul, nor anything else, but ‘specially a child. When my girl was alive, she was my one and only thought. Now, I got my granddaughter and not a minute ticks by that I don’t have her behind my eyes, wonderin’ how she is and what she needs.” Marjani replied. “Ya see, when you’re a mama, it’s the only thing ya got what means anything. Yet, here you are, worried ‘bout revenge and who done what to who ‘stead of thinkin’ ‘bout what your poor boy might need.”

“You have no right to judge me!” Iolanthe said fiercely.

“I ain’t judgin’ no one. Ain’t my place.” Marjani shook her head. “I’m just makin’ an observation.”

“Stop listening to her chatter,” Ulrika moaned. “And, let’s return to the matter at hand.”

“What is the matter at hand, Miss Rittenhouse?” Robert interjected. “What business have we together?”

“You had this woman put in prison for murder!” Ulrika coughed. “A murder she didn’t commit!”

“Consider it a brief punishment for the many that she did.” Robert smiled. “Far too brief, indeed.”

“That’s the way to do it,” Mr. Punch responded. “Now listen, Iolanthe, maybe you ain’t got love in your heart for folk and maybe you got nothin’ what worries you, but we do. So, you’ll pardon us if we just go on ‘bout what we intend.”

“No.” Iolanthe spat.

“Coo!” Mr. Punch howled. “You are a corker!” He turned to Robert. “Come on, Chum.”

“Go to your boy, Iolanthe Evangeline, and let us attend to what we need to do.” Robert commanded.

“You can’t cast me ‘way so easily.” Iolanthe growled. “You done me wrong!”

“You reap what you sew,” Mr. Punch smiled.

“Julian!” A woman’s voice interrupted, piercing through the fog. “Julian!”

“Here, that’s Barbara.” Punch whispered.

“Ah, the errant Miss Allen,” Iolanthe grinned. “She sounds as if she’s in distress.”

“Julian! Dr. Halifax!” Barbara screamed.

Mr. Punch ran out into the fog in the direction of the voice.

“Punch!” Robert shouted.

“Let him go, Sir.” Marjani whispered.

“Yes, let him go.” Iolanthe smiled. “And, we’ll continue our discussion.”

At that very moment, Charles returned to the long, narrow flat above the dress shop. As he came up the stairs, he said. “I had a bit of a time at this hour, but I did manage to get some milk. For a moment, Madame, I thought I saw my brother in the mist. But, I couldn’t have. You’ll pardon me for being…”

Charles’ voice trailed off as he surveyed the apartment. Mama Routhe sat crying over Adrienne’s limp body.

“What’s happened?” Charles gasped.

“They done hurt the missus.” Mama Routhe wailed. “And they took the baby!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-272? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 274 of Punch's Cousin.

Card of the Day: Establishing the Parliament of Northern Island

The reign of King George V and Queen Mary was marked by some of the most important events in recent British history, both the triumphs and the tragedies. The thirteenth card in the series by Wills Cigarettes shows an important event in their reign. June 22, marks the ninetieth anniversary of the establishment of Parliament of Northern Ireland, a controversial event in the reign of the King.

The reverse of the card reads:


On June 22, 1921, the tenth anniversary of the Coronation, the King after a triumphal progress with the Queen through Belfast established the Parliament of Northern Ireland: and what he termed, ‘the age-long Irish problems which for generations embarrassed our forefathers,’ were in large measure settled. The new Legislature met at the City Hall and in that improvised Senate House was staged a dignified replica of the annual Parliamentary pageant of Westminster. The Sovereign is reading his memorable inaugural speech to the assembled Commons, the Speaker attending on his right.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Souvenir of the Coronation of King George V and Mary of Teck, 1911

Earthenware by Grimwades, 1911
The Victoria & Albert Museum
While not an exact match to the many examples in my collection of Royal memorabilia, this Staffordshire Earthenware mug by Grimwades is certainly in the same vein. Here, we see portraits of King George V and Mary of Teck surmounted by the Imperial Crown and joined together by flowers and a garland which states the date of their 1911 coronation.

King Edward VII, the successor of his mother, Queen Victoria, had a relatively short reign compared to other monarchs, and passed away in 1910, leaving his son and his bride of seventeen years to ascend.

The reverse of this transfer-ware mug is emblazoned with verses from “God Save the King.”

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mastery of Design: A Majestic Snuffbox, 1765

The Victoria & Albert Museum
A shimmering masterwork of carved chrysoprase; chased, pierced and engraved gold; set hardstones and diamonds with foil backing, this snuffbox is far grander than the stuff it once held.

This remarkable snuffbox is one small part of a collection of snuffboxes previously belonging to Frederick II, the Great, of Prussia. The box itself is green chrysoprase which was carved from a single stone. In and of itself a masterpiece, the base was then adorned with a setting of hardstones and diamonds which have been colored by being backed with pale pink, green and canary foils.

The sturdy stone chrysoprase was much admired by Frederick. This rare stone was mined in Silesia--the first territory to Prussia by Frederick in a conquest in 1740. Before Frederick’s death, as he lay ailing, he asked that his collection of jewels and boxes would be laid out before him so that he might view them all.

Friday Fun: Mr. Punch at Night

"Give us a kissy, Judy!"
Chris van der Craats
For as much as he’d disagree, Mr. Punch is a very hardworking fellow and performs his antics for fans of all ages both night and day. Here’s a rare glimpse at one of Mr. Punch’s evening performances, courtesy of Professor Whatsit (Melbourne’s Chris van der Craats).

If you get a chance, check our Whatsit’s remarkable Punch and Judy figures—all hand-crafted and quite lovely.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: A Mr. Punch Blotter Holder, 1900

Blotter Holder with Figure of Mr. Punch
Cast Brass
English, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Everybody loves Mr. Punch, and they’ve done so for centuries. In the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, in Britain, Punch was a household figure whose countenance appeared on a variety of everyday objects due to the popularity of Punch & Judy shows as well as Punch’s appearances in the magazine which bore his name.

This cast brass blotter holder shows the variety of objects to which Punch has lent his image. The work of an unknown maker, this object would have been used each day. Blotter paper was inserted into the curved bottom of the piece and used to absorb excess ink from written pages.

I rather imagine that our Mr. Punch would have enjoyed rocking back and forth, though I’m sure he’d have objected to being employed for something useful.

Antique Image of the Day: Frame with a photograph of King George V, 1896-1908

Framed Photo of King George V
The Royal Collection
This three-color gold, guilloché enamel, frame with half pearls and ivory by Fabergé was certainly the sort of thing that Queen Mary liked. We’re not quite sure how she came about owning the frame, but it is recorded in her collection as having been acquired both in 1896 and 1908.

The photograph was a later edition. The handsome portrait of Mary of Teck’s husband, King George V, is by Downey and dates to around 1911. Here, we see King George V donning the uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, along with a greatcoat, and wearing the Order of the Garter.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 272

What you two women want from us?” Marjani shouted into the mist.

“Much.” Iolanthe laughed as she approached. “How convenient of you to be so accessible. I suppose I should be shocked. Shouldn’t I, Ulrika?”

Ulrika nodded. Her eyes were bright, but her speech was slurred and she seemed unsteady on her large, mannish feet. “Shocked, really. Perhaps we should scream with fright. Seeing two ghosts like this.”

“I’d say so,” Iolanthe teased. “The spirits of the Duke of Fallbridge and the good doctor roaming the foggy streets of New Orleans.”

“Really, it’s just out of a tawdry broadside.” Ulrika slurred.

“Have you come out into the land of the living to punish me for killing you?” Iolanthe asked.

Neither Robert nor Mr. Punch said a word.

“Fine, women,” Marjani spat, her round face hardening into a mask of anger. “You done made yourselves clear. You know these men ain’t dead. Now, considerin’ what you already done to them, why don’t you just…”

Mr. Punch interrupted, “Shut yer gob!”

Robert gently touched Mr. Punch’s arm to indicate that they’d be better off if he said nothing.

“You done killed this man’s mother. You done murdered his man. You tortured them and their kin and ripped a child from his loving family. What they done to you ain’t nothin’ compared to what you done to them! So, I’m warnin’ ya now, you’d best stay away from us or you’ll get far worse than what you done already got.”

“I doubt that,” Iolanthe chuckled.

“Why are you so awful?” Mr. Punch spoke up, unable to contain himself any longer. “Is it cuz o’ your boy what’s so sick? Is that it? Did that sadness harden you so you ain’t got nothin’ but pain and torture in your heart?”

“You have no right to mention my son!” Iolanthe howled.

“Here, I got every right.” Punch shouted. “Where’s your boy now, Iolanthe?”

“Safe.” Iolanthe snarled.

“He’s at the Cages’ house…” Ulrika began.

Iolanthe slapped Ulrika’s arm vicisouly.

“I’m not myself yet,” Ulrika murmured.

“Is he, now?” Marjani smiled. “Your boy is in Edward Cage’s house?”

“What are you implying?” Iolanthe asked. “You’re implyin’ somethin’. I know you are, and I don’t want you thinkin’ that I don’t.”

“All I’m sayin’, Iolanthe,” Marjani grinned, “is that it’s good to know where your baby is.”

Meanwhile, at the Routhes’ flat above their dress shop, Adrienne took a deep breath and tried to appear calm.

“Nellie,” she began. “I’ve always held you dear and thought of you as my sister. We suffered so much together. I took you in, those few weeks ago, even though everyone warned me against it, and even when their suspicions proved true, I still defended and wished you help you.”

“Aren’t you the martyr?” Nellie scowled.

“Enough talk from you women!” The taller of Nellie’s two male companions shouted. “Get the boy and let’s go!”

“You’re a countryman of my husband’s.” Adrienne said. “I can tell by your voice. Would you really betray one of your own kind?”

“I ain’t no one’s kind.” The man laughed. “Where’s the boy?”

“He’s not here.” Adrienne lied.

Just then, a small stirring and the sound of a child’s cried arose from the rear of the apartment.

“Isn’t he?” Nellie growled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-271? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Three Princes at the Derby

After the First World War, the Royal Family made a point of showing the public that life could and should return to normal by making dozens of appearances at important, traditional events and by trying to seem as casual and well-adjusted as possible. King George V and Queen Mary led the way and relied heavily on their sons to do the same. The Prince of Wales (later, briefly, King Edward VIII) was always up for a party, The Duke of York (later, King George VI and father of the present Queen) wasn’t so keen on public appearances, The Duke of Kent (Prince Henry) had no problem mingling, and the Duke of Gloucester had an easy way with the people.

The twelfth in the Wills Cigarette Card series commemorating the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Mary of Teck shows three of the four Princes attending the Derby in June and demonstrates their role in rebuilding British moral.

The reverse of the card reads:


On June 1st, 1921, a perfect Derby Day, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Gloucester (then Prince Henry) watched Humorist fight out the last furlong with Lord Astor’s Craig an Eran and win by a neck. Mr. J.B. Joel thus scored his second triumph in the great race and Steve Donoghue began his record sequence of Derby successes. Before the start, the three Princes, with complete informality, mingled with the crowds in the paddock, and the King and Queen set a precedent by motoring down the course from Tattenham Corner. So great was the press of vehicles that the airship R 33 was employed to control the traffic by wireless.

Object of the Day: Museum Edition: A Souvenir of the Non-Coronation of King Edward VIII

Earthenware Mug
James Kent, 1937
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Commemorative coronation items for King Edward VIII are difficult to come by since he never technically had a coronation, having abdicated before the date. His brother, the Duke of York succeeded and became King George VI, having his coronation on the same date on which his brother was to have his.

I have a few Edward VIII items in my collection of Royal memorabilia. The Victoria and Albert Museum has two. Here’s one of them—a near twin to one in my own collection. This mug manufactured by James Kent in 1937 was among the many souvenirs which were produced and quickly pulled from public sale when the change-over occurred.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Stolen Kisses

"Excuse me!  I'm in the room!"

Image: My Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman, Charles Robert Leslie, 1831, The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Manchester Tiara, 1903

The Manchester Tiara
Cartier, 1903
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A dazzling mosaic of gold and diamonds created in 1903 by Cartier, the Manchester Tiara, has been drastically altered since its initial creation. The design of graduated “flaming hearts” and “C scrolls” is said to have been inspired by images of pre-Revolution France. Louis Cartier insisted that his designers replicate the look of Eighteenth-Century French ironwork and assorted architectural masterpieces around Paris and at Versailles in the design.

The tiara was created for Consuelo, Duchess of Manchester. Consuelo was a duchess by marriage. American by birth, she wed into the British nobility in 1876. The vivacious beauty was quickly embraced by high society. The Duke of Portland said of the Duchess that she, “took Society completely by storm by her beauty, wit and vivacity and it was soon at her very pretty feet.”

The Tiara with Paste Adaptations
Her charms notwithstanding, she wasn’t a good steward of her jewelry in my opinion. She had the diamond surmount which forms the centerpiece of the tiara removed so that the largest of the diamonds could be set into a ring. The tiara was rebuilt with paste set in silver, leaving the central heart and surmount to be eternally fake. Boo!

Curiously, this tiara came to the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2007 under unusual circumstances. It was accepted by Her Majesty’s Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Reverse showing alterations at center.


Precious Time: A Gorgeous Sèvres Clock and Garniture, 1770-1780

Clock and Garniture
The Victoria & Albert Museum
In 1740, in the royal château of Vincennes, the world’s most important porcelain company—at the time--was founded, enticing master craftsmen from the nearby factory at Chantilly. By 1745, Louis XV had granted the makers of this porcelain the privilege of producing designs “in the manner of Saxony, painted and gilded, with human figures.”

The patronage and protection of King Louis XV and his famed mistress, Madame de Pompadour, enabled Vincennes to produce objects of the highest quality. In 1756, the factory was so successful that it had outgrown its workshops in the château. They were moved to a new high-tech location at Sèvres (south-west of Paris). So enamored of the porcelain, in 1759 the king purchased the factory himself, producing works of unprecedented luxury specifically for the French court and the King's apartments at Versailles. Highly costly, the items manufactured for this group were only the stuff of the court and the upper-classes.

This clock and garniture set is the perfect example of the work of Vincennes. Glorious blue porcelain mounted in ormolu characterizes this unusual clock and garniture of covered vases. The clock features moveable dial bands set in an oviform vase which has been adorned with an ornate pattern in blue, black and gold. It is surmounted by a gilt-bronze figure of an armed cupid. The handles resemble floral festoons.

Mastery of Design: Lady Cory’s Sapphire and Diamond Necklace, 1850-1930

Sapphire and Diamond Necklace
Silver-set Diamonfs on gold mount
1850, altered in 1930
Cory Bequest
The Victoria & Albert Museum
European-cut diamonds set in silver and mounted around gold-set, marvelously clean, sapphires, this truly magnificent necklace was created in 1850 in England. Originally, the piece was one long necklace which was designed to be worn in conjunction with a jeweled stomacher.

When acquired by the aristocratic Lady Cory, it was treasured for the exceptional quality of its stones, but found to be an unflattering style. In 1930, Lady Cory had the necklace adapted into a shorter, double-strand piece. The excess links were made into earrings, making a valuable and gorgeous parure. Lady Cory bequeathed the necklace to the Victoria & Albert Museum along with the bulk of her impressive and celebrated collection of priceless gems.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 271

Nellie pulled back her lips into a grimace which only served to crinkle the ragged edges of her scars.

Adrienne shuddered.

“You look surprised, Adrienne.” Nellie boasted. “Have you forgotten about your old friend, Nellie?”

Adrienne gulped.

“It seems you have.” Nellie frowned. “It’s not been so terribly long since you’ve seen me. It’s only been since the change of the year. Don’t you recall when Iolanthe ruined my face and carried me off from the ball?”

“I do.” Adrienne nodded.

“I thought that I’d be stuck in that house forever again. That changed when Iolanthe was arrested. I had my chance to escape again. For that, I suppose I can thank you. But, I won’t. I went slightly mad, you see. Do you know what it’s like to have nowhere to go?”

“I do.” Adrienne whispered.

“Do you?” Nellie snapped.

The two men shifted uncomfortably, fiddling with their masks. “Patience, men. I have much to say to this woman!” Nellie snarled.

“Adrienne, you have always had somewhere to go. You had the love of your Englishman. You had strong arms to rescue you. I had no such thing. No such thing.”

“Where did you go?” Adrienne asked.

“Out of the frying pan,” Nellie grinned, her face pinching. “Into the fire.”

“What do you want with His Grace’s child?” Adrienne asked.

“His Grace’s sister’s child who was promised to another.” Nellie corrected her.

“What business is any of this of yours? For whom do you work?”

“Ask nothing more.” Nellie spat. “Just give the boy to me and I shall ensure that your beauty is not slashed as mine has been!”

Meanwhile, into the mist, Mr. Punch and Robert followed Marjani.

“Are you quite certain about this?” Robert asked.

“I am, Sir.” Marjani nodded. “You know I love you gentleman like you’re my own kin. I’d not put you in harm’s way.”

“I’m sorry, Marjani.” Robert said, glancing over his shoulder at their house which grew smaller in the distance. He could still see the figure of his brother—through the fog—watching through the window. “I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or distrustful.”

“I understand.” Marjani nodded.

“Cecil’ll be all right.” Punch whispered to Robert. “You know he had to stay with Fuller and we still got Gamilla what’s doin’ poorly.”

“I know.” Robert said.

Marjani paused and extended her arm so that Punch and Robert would not pass her.

“What is it?” Punch asked.

“Look ahead. Orange and violet.”

Punch sniffed the air. “Damn!”

“Come with me gentlemen. We’ll take care of them two women once and for all!” Marjani said sharply.

Did you miss Chapters 1-270? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The King at the Cenotaph

World War I was devastating to the British people whose moral had suffered terribly throughout the war. King George V and Queen Mary tried to encourage their people throughout despite their own fatigue. As the war ended, the British people needed time to grieve their losses as well as celebrate the end of the terrible affair. The Royal Family made sure to be present so that their subjects would know that they, too, were experiencing the same emotions, but were also looking to the future.

The eleventh in the series of Wills Cigarette Cards commemorating the Silver Jubilee of Queen Mary and King George V shows the King visiting the Cenotaph that had been erected in honor of those who lost their lives during the war.

The reverse of the card reads:

The Cenotaph at Whitehall as it is today.


On November 11, 1920, the Cenotaph commemorating all of the valour and loss of the Great War was unveiled by the King at Whitehall: and perhaps the capital of the Empire has never known a day of such spontaneous and deep emotion. The Unknown Warrior, with Admirals, Marshals, and Generals as pall-bearers was borne to the Cenotaph, where the King stood motionless at the salute. As the gun carriage halted, the King laid a wreath upon it. Then, the hour of eleven sounded, and the King with a quick movement, pressed the electric button that swept aside the veiling flags. He is seen at the end of the Silence, laying the first tribute.

Object of the Day: Museum Edition: A Display of Pins and Gem Settings, 1864

Pins and Settings
John Whenman of Clerkenwell
The Victoria and Albert Museum
We often look at jewelry here at Stalking the Belle Époque, and each week, I give you a look at my collection of antique stickpins. Gentlemen’s stickpins were a major source of business for jewelers well until the early Twentieth Century, and, as we’ve seen, the care and creativity that went into their manufacture was as great as the efforts put into women’s jewels. Jewelers took pride in their unique designs and their innovations in settings and cuts.

Here, we see one jeweler’s efforts to advertise his skills from the jewel collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. This unusual display shows three specimens of gem setting, preserved under a glass dome. A silver shield below the specimens is inscribed, “Specimen of Gem Setting Executed by John Whenman of Clerkenwell London 1864, No. of Stones 451.”

The display is surmounted by a lavish stickpin in the form of a bust of St. George bedecked in a plumed helmet. This masterpiece of gold and silver is set with rose-cut diamonds, rubies, pearls, and pavé-set turquoises. Another stickpin of gold, silver and precious stones with pearl accents, shows a bust of a man, also wearing a helmet, with a pivoted crest and cuirass. His torso has been ornamented with a star shaped decoration. And, finally, we see the silver feathers of the Prince of Wales set with diamonds which forms a third stickpin.

This assortment of his wares was shown by the maker at the North London Working Classes Industrial Exhibition of 1864, and earned John Whenman a first prize certificate.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Painting of the Day: A Miniature of King George IV, 1821

Miniature of George IV
Henry Pierce Bone
Copper, Enamel, Gold, Ormolu, Pearls
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Set against a brilliant green background, a resplendent head and shoulders portrait of King George IV makes this miniature seem all the more jewel-like. The work of master miniaturist, Henry Pierce Bone was part of an impressive collection of important miniatures collected by the Honorable Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert.

The miniature of enamel on copper is set in a frame of gold, enamel and ormolu set with pearls.

Gifts of Grandeur: Collar of the Order of the Garter, 1837

Collar of the Order of the Garter
Made for Queen Victoria
Rundell, Bridge & Rundell
Gold and Enamel
The Royal Collection
When Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, she became Sovereign of each of the six British orders of chivalry: the Orders of the Garter, Thistle, St Patrick, Bath, and St Michael and St George. A new Queen required new insignia, and therefore this collar was produced in a scale that matched Victoria’s diminutive size and stature as well as the styles of necklines of the time.

The size of the collar also allows the Queen to wear more than one at a time. The collar was commissioned from Rundell, Bridge & Co who made it to be worn from the upper arms rather than over the shoulders.

Unusual Artifacts: An Appliquéd Cover or Wall-Hanging, 1856-69

Cover Or Wall-Hanging
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This object is unusual for the simple fact that it’s so mysterious. What it is and where it came from are unknown. However, it’s an excellent example of the domestic arts enjoyed by young ladies of a certain class in the mid Nineteenth Century. Called a quilt, a cover, or a wall-hanging, this item consists of sixty-one panels. The Royal Coat of Arms stands proudly in the center, surrounded by figures symbolizing the four continents in each corner. The other panels include scenes from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, scenes of the four evangelists, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, celebrated military figures, as well as popular celebrities of the day and scenes from theatrical productions, each identified by a neatly embroidered caption.

It’s an extremely well-made creation and indicative of the skill of Nineteenth Century ladies. This is the equivalent to a blog or a fan Web site, only with more charm and skill.

Unfolding Pictures: The Garter Fan, 1805

The Garter Fan
The Royal Collection
This magnificent fan of blue plain weave silk leaf, is inscribed GR Royal, Windsor, Installation HONI. SOIT. QUI. MAL Y. PENSE April 23 1805 ; and features japanned wood guards and sticks. Though the fan was probably purchased by Queen Mary, as most things ultimately were, it was known to have been in the inventory of Frogmore House, Windsor, prior to Mary’s death in 1953, and has no documentation to support how it was returned to the Royal Collection.

The fan which features a painting of the Star of the Order of the Garter, has a Royal history. It may have been painted by one of the daughters of King George III in honor of the Garter Installation in 1805—an especially impressive and solemn occasion.

The size of the fan is typical of models from the early Nineteenth Century when accessories had been reduced in size in order to match the narrower silhouette of ladies’ gowns. Though much lost, the fan, at one time glittered with dozens of sequins, beads and golden threads.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 270

Mama Routhe gently placed her hand over the baby’s mouth as the crouched in the wardrobe at the rear of their little flat. The child sucked upon her finger and she smiled slightly despite the surging waves of fear she felt in her arms. With that fear came the tingles of guilt that often crop up in such situations, and she worried that, perhaps, she wasn’t doing the right thing.

“Gotta keep ya safe, Little One.” She whispered to the baby as she strained to listen to the raised voices outside. “That nice lady can take care o’ herself, I ‘spect.”

Adrienne, in fact, was doing a fine job taking care of herself. She leveled her eyes at the three masked, menacing figures.

“So, one of you is a woman?” She said sharply. “And, shall I guess which woman you are?”

“Who and what we are is none of your concern.” The tallest, lankiest of the men said.

“You’ve made it my business.” She spat. “Your accent is coarse. You’re clearly English, but you’re certainly not of noble birth. How queer that you’d take the time to disguise your gender, but not your voice.”

“How do you know, we ain’t?” The lanky man asked as he walked slowly forward.

“Because, you’re not that smart, Arthur.” Adrienne smiled.

“So, you think I’m Arthur, do ya?” The man laughed through his mask.

“Am I mistaken?”

“Could be.” The man replied. “Maybe I want ya to think I’m Arthur. Maybe I don’t. What if I am? Then who are these two?”

“Barbara Allen, of course, is the woman.” Adrienne growled. “That’s plain enough. To think, Charles has been espousing her great epiphany and her return to morality. That was all part of your clever plot to get your hands on the son you bore. Well, he’s not yours any longer, Barbara Allen.”

Adrienne stared at the slight figure which she believed to be a woman, specifically Julian’s sister.

The figure placed its hands on its hips.

“So, speak!” Adrienne said boldly. “You tricked my husband and your brother into telling you where we had taken the child so that you could come and get him yourself.”

“What if we did?” The shorter of the two men asked. He, too, had a rough, English accent.

“So you admit it?” Adrienne asked, looking to the “woman.”

“Don’t talk to her.” The taller man snarled.

“Then, she is a woman?” Adrienne smiled triumphantly.

“Yes, Miss.” The woman replied, removing her mask and grinning at Adrienne. “Or should I call you Adrienne since we’re such old friends.”

Adrienne gasped at the scarred face of the woman who stood before her.

“Nellie!” She said quickly.

Meanwhile, at their borrowed house on Royal Street, Mr. Punch struggled with his boots while Cecil and Robert argued with him.

“Damn that Charles!” Mr. Punch said. “What good is a valet what’s not never here?”

“He’s with Adrienne and ‘Colin,’ helping to keep them safe. So, in that regard, dear Punch, he offers us much benefit.”

“I ‘spose.” Punch grumbled. “Come on, then, get your cloak!”

“Punch, I’m not getting my cloak.”

“Then, you’ll be cold.” Punch shrugged. “Though I’d think, what with you being a doctor and all, you’d have more sense ‘bout such things. Don’t want to get your fever back, then?”

“No.” Robert shook his head. “Nor do you want a return of yours. Leave us not forget that only recently, you were abed with a raging fever, recovering from a gunshot wound.”

“I’m better now, I am.” Mr. Punch said.

“Still, would you risk your recovery to, once again, try to rescue that Barbara Allen?” Cecil interrupted. “Besides, we don’t know that she is with Arthur and his man.”

“And, we don’t know that she ain’t.” Punch shouted. He lowered his voice, recalling that Fuller was sleeping two doors down.

“Now, hold on,” He sighed. “Listen, chums, I made a promise to…well, that is to say that me master made a promise to his mum, and though she were a terrible, horrible lady, a promise is a promise, ‘specially one ya made to yer mum, and ‘specially when she were dead.”

Cecil and Robert stared at Mr. Punch.

“I’m right, you know.” Punch shrugged. “There ain’t no way ‘round it. Me master promised to look after Lady Barbara, and that’s what I aim to do. Julian can’t do it, but I can do it for him. It’s not so much for the sake of the late Duchess. No. It’s more for the sake of what’s right.”

“I shan’t argue with that.” Robert said.

“Robert!” Cecil snapped.

“He’s correct.” Robert threw up his hands.

“Well, so what if he is?” Cecil growled. “Right now, my wife, not to mention your nephew, is stranded in some lice-infested house in the Quarter, waiting with God knows what kind of people…”

“It ain’t got lice,” Marjani interrupted when she came into the room. “The Routhes are very clean folk.”

“Still…” Cecil grumbled.

“I got a solution, gentlemen.” Marjani smiled. “Don’t you worry none.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-269? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Unveiling of the Nurse Cavell Memorial

The duties of the Royal Family may seem unclear at times. However, they do serve the public in a variety of ways, and always have. As part of the set of commemorative cards produced by the Wills Cigarette Company in 1935, the makers of the set have included scenes from the various good works of the family of King George V and Mary of Teck. This card shows some of the wartime efforts of the Royal Family as the attempted to bolster the moral of the British people.

The reverse of the card reads:


The memorial to Edith Cavell which stands in St. Martin’s Place, close to Trafalgar Square, was unveiled by Queen Alexandra on 7th May, 1920. The monument is of Cornish granite, forty feet high, in front of which stands the figure of Nurse Cavell in marble. People of all classes contributed to its cost—mostly in small sums. A delegation from Brussels, led by the Belgian Ambassador, attended the ceremony, and Miss Cavell, sister of the Nurse, of whom the Queen Mother said, “met a martyr’s fate with calm courage and resignation,” was prominent in the distinguished company. Trumpeters of the Coldstream Guards are seen sounding the, “Last Post.”

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Souvenir of the Marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana

Commemorating the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales
and Lady Diana Spencer, 1981
China, Made in England
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Lately, I’ve enjoyed coming across items in the collections of museums which I also have in my own collection. I recently noticed, in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, this china mug commemorating the 1981 wedding of The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

A few weeks ago, during the Royal Wedding hoopla, I posted an image of my own “Charles and Diana” plate which has been printed with the same pattern. The cup at the V&A, a creation of bone china from Nanrich Pottery, was actually in use by a member of the museum’s staff for many years before being selected for display in the British Galleries and its formal acquisition by the V&A.

Such souvenirs generally fall into two categories. The first are functional object designed for daily use. The second set of objects are those which are created solely as keepsakes. Oddly enough, it’s those items which are used daily which seem to be the ones which survive the longest.