Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Nelson Ethelred Dawson Necklace, 1900

Nelson Ethelred Dawson, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A gold chain necklace with pendant is surmounted by a cast gold cherub and set with a painted enamel plaque with lilies-of-the-valley surrounded by pearls in openwork is hung with a drop set with a sapphire which matches the sapphires and pearls on the chain.

The enameled plaque is oval shaped. Depth is given to the enamel spray of lilies of the valley, the leaves by the use of translucent enamel over foil. The enamel is held by four claws in the pierced gold frame which is in the form of a cartouche with stepped edges. A scrolling band of pierced openwork gold is set with pearls leading up to the winged cherub and gold fleur-de-lis.

Made in 1900, this is the work of Nelson Dawson who learned enameling from the distinguished teacher and enameller Alexander Fisher. Dawson shared his knowledge to his wife Edith, a skilled watercolorist who went on to do most of the enameling in their joint work. They preferred subtle botanical themes.

The Art of Play: Le Gai Violiniste, 1900

Le Gai Violiniste
1900, Paris
The Victoria and Albert Museum
With the dawn of the Twentieth Century, the rich would amuse themselves with playthings such as music boxes and automata. Here we see an example of such an object. This mechanical figure of a man playing a violin contains a clockwork mechanism. It is covered in cloth and features a key on the left side.

While many automata are constructed of papier mache, composition or other materials, this figure features a painted metal head, top hat and hands with metal strips for arms and legs, and black-painted lead feet. In his hand, he holds a metal violin and bow. When wound, he plays the instrument, however, curiously, there is no sound save the click of the mechanism. The automaton retains its original box which has a picture of the violinist on the outside.

Manufactured in Paris around 1900, this is the work of Fernand Martin.

At the Music Hall: The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery

Marie Lloyd
I'm a young girl, and have just come over,
Over from the country where they do things big,
And amongst the boys I've got a lover,
And since I've got a lover, why I don't care a fig.

The boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me,
There he is, can't you see, waving his handkerchief,
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree.

The boy that I love, they call him a cobbler,
But he's not a cobbler, allow me to state.
For Johnny is a tradesman and he works in the Boro'1
Where they sole and heel them, whilst you wait.

The boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me,
There he is, can't you see, waving his handkerchief,
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree.

Now, If I were a Duchess and had a lot of money,
I'd give it to the boy that's going to marry me.
But I haven't got a penny, so we'll live on love and kisses,
And be just as happy as the birds on the tree.

The boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me,
There he is, can't you see, waving his handkerchief,
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree.

Written by George Ware for music hall star, Miss Nelly Power, in 1895, "The Boy I Love Is Up in the Gallery" was made famous by the celrbated Marie Lloyd. What makes this song stand out from others of the period is that it places the singer in the actual setting of the theatre.

The singer appears to be delivering these words of love directly to a member of the audience. This technique proved to be wildly popular with the young men who would frequent Nineteenth Century Music Halls.

Saturday Sparkle: A Spanish Breast Ornament, Seventeenth Century

Breast Ornament
Spain, Portugal
Seventeenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum
By the Seventeenth Century, Spanish and Portuguese jewelers were beginning to match, and often rival, the works of the Italian, French and English jewelers whose works had long dominated the growing International market.

This can be seen in this pendant or breast ornament of three parts composed of table-cut diamonds set in scrolling, gold foliated openwork which comes from Spain about 1650-1690.

When originally produced, the ornament consisted solely of the middle section which appears to be a couple of decades earlier than the rest which was added later as styles became more ornate. Some believe that the additional work was made by a Portuguese jeweler who altered the piece after it had been exported.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 345

Marjani neither sweated nor strained as she carried Julian’s body away from the Place Congo. Her face—which had been heavy with dread since she witnessed Marie Laveau’s brutal attack on her friend and employer, finally brightened when she caught a glimpse of Cecil and Robert hurrying toward her.

“This is your fault!” Robert rasped at his brother as they approached. “All of your arguments! If you’d just kept quiet, I would have gone with them.”

“Perhaps you should keep quiet,” Cecil said sternly.

As they reached Marjani, Robert put his hand on Julian’s head and saw the large bruise which was beginning to form.

“Marie Laveau done hit him with a rock.” Marjani croaked.

“Put him down over here,” Robert pointed to a patch of grass which was illuminated by the moonlight which had finally begun to be revealed as the clouds and mist of the evening began to break.

Marjani did as instructed.

“He’s bound!” Robert gasped as he examined Julian.

“It was awful, Sir.” Marjani said, tears welling in her eyes.

“Take my knife,” Cecil said gently.

“My hands are shaking,” Robert answered.

“I’ll free him,” Cecil whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

“As am I.” Robert sighed. He studied Marjani’s face.

“Your cheek is swollen. Did she strike you, too?”

“No.” Marjani shook her head. “That was Iolanthe Evangeline. I’ll explain it all later, Sir. Now, we gotta look over His Grace.”

“He’s breathing,” Robert said, plaving his ear on Julian’s chest, but his heartbeat is slow. “Has he said anything?”

“Not a word. Neither His Grace nor Mr. Punch nor even Scaramouche.”


“He came out for awhile, Sir.” Marjani nodded. “I reckon His Grace thought perhaps Scaramouche’s madness would help somehow.”

“Is he lost to us?” Cecil whispered.

“I don’t know.” Robert shook his head. “Julian?” He said leaning into his friend. “Mr. Punch? Come back to us!”

Meanwhile, deep within his body, Julian was following the vision of Prince Albert through a cobweb lined maze of gray walls which were flecked with strange bits of color—pink, red, gold, orange and violet.

“Where are we?” Julian asked.

“We are venturing through layers of neglect.” Prince Albert replied coldly, his German accent growing thicker.


“Much neglect, Your Grace.” The Prince nodded gravely. “Ah, here we are. Help me, will you?” The Prince began to swat at the cobwebs which lined a door which was obscured by dust and soot.

“To where does this lead?” Julian asked.

Albert strained against the door handle, using his shoulder to push the door open.

Julian’s eyes widened as he saw the room within.

“Your nursery, Julian.” Prince Albert smiled. “After you…”

Did you miss Chapters 1-344? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday, September 19, 2011 for Chapter 346 of Punch’s Cousin.

Card of the Day: The City’s Submission, Ceremony of the Sword

As we continue through the Churchman Cigarette Company 1935 Silver Jubilee Series, we see another moment from the coronation ceremony. This one is illustrated with a moment from the coronation of King George V whose Silver Jubilee is commemorated by these cards.

This is the moment of the Ceremony of the Sword also known as the Blessings of the Sword. In this part of the ceremony, the king’s sword is blessed and the king takes the same sword from the bishops and girds himself with it. According to the order of the coronation, “After that he shall be clothed with a kingly and stately cloth upon which is woven four square golden eagles.”

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Small Jeweled Court Sword and Sheath, 1757

Not intended to slice the ears off of enemies, this sword was designed in England in 1757 for wear as a court or dress accessory. The hilt of this small ceremonial sword is silver gilt and set with table-cut and rose-cut diamonds, rubies and emeralds in a foliate pattern.

From around 1640, light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades appeared. These were created for use in the court as part of a dress uniform, and also were made in response to new fencing techniques. Such weapons were worn with both civilian clothes as well as dress uniforms as “small swords” to denote status.

These were considered items of male jewelry. By the time this sword was made, elaborate swords with gold and silver hilts, mounted with precious stones and fine enameling, were actually being produced by jewelers as opposed to weapon-masters. Very often these were presented by a monarch for distinguished military and naval service.

This sword has long been believed to have been owned by Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham (1726-1813). Middleton’s long career included service in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and acting as First Lord of the Admiralty during the Trafalgar Campaign (1805).

English, 1757
This and all related images:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Crouzet Diamond and Pearl Brooch, 1860-70

Crouzet, 1860-70
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Here we see an brooch of openwork gold, enameled in black set with diamonds and pearls, and dripping with pearls and diamond pendants

The brooch is attributed to Crouzet, a master jeweler who worked for all the major Parisian goldsmiths, and who was celebrated for his jewels of fine quality and unique design and his reliance on pieces in the Moroccan taste. This particular example of his work brooch seems to have been inspired by the " moresque " work of the renowned Parisian goldsmith Alphonse Fouquet. As with many of Crouzet’s pieces during this period, this brooch was designed to be worn during a period of mourning or half-mourning.

Antique Image of the Day: The Coronation Procession of Edward VII

Coronation Progress
Bejamin Stone, 1902
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Taken in 1902 by Sir Benjamin Stone, this rarely-seen photograph shows part of the procession following the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902. Here, we see the carriage of their Royal Highnesses, the Duke of Cambridge, Princess Louise and Princess Victoria on the occasion of the Royal Progress through London,. I wonder what those three were thinking as they made their way back to Buckingham Palace following the coronation of their dissolute older brother, “Bertie.”

Edward VII, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (and father of King George V) was something of a thorn in his mother’s side, especially later in life. But, even at birth, she was somewhat bored with him. For as often as she was pregnant, Queen Victoria loathed pregnancy and childbirth and often wrote long missives detailing how uncomfortable and awful she thought being pregnant was. Once her children were born and until their adulthood, she had little to do with them. Though this may sound cruel and cold, one must consider the parenting style of the time and the fact that, as Queen, she had other things to do.

Victoria detested distractions from her two great loves: being Queen and her husband, Albert. Even her own children, it seems, were something of a nuisance.

Precious Time: The Jerome Gregory Coach Clock, 1660-70

Clock Watch
Silver, 1660-70
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The handsome timepiece features a silver case engraved by Hallam with a sea battle during the Anglo-Dutch wars. The movement by Jeremie (or Jerome) Gregory of the Royal Exchange. London, about 1660-70.

Larger than a typical pocket watch, this object would still have fit neatly in a gentleman’s pocket, but was also big enough that it could be seen by others riding in a coach should the clock be displayed on a hook or strap. While mostly meant to be a utilitarian device, it loses none of its attractiveness in favor or usefulness.

Which Watch?
Such Watch.

Friday Fun: Mr. Punch and the Devil

"Sometimes me brothers get sleepy, they do."
This clip of a performance by an unspecified Professor seems almost like Mr. Punch on valium. The puppets and fit-up are quite attractive, but the reactions are rather slow and the slap-sticking, unimpassioned. There’s no particular zest or zeal about this. I show it to you for comparison. Throughout the last year and a half, we’ve seen a lot of very raucous, joyful shows. While this one’s not bad, it’s not the best representation of the wild joy of a Punch and Judy Show.

Perhaps that’s why we hear no screaming from the audience.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 344

Marjani broke free of the iron grasp of the man who restrained her and rushed, once again, toward Mr. Punch—this time, his body, or more accurately Julian’s body, unconscious.

“You done struck him!” Marjani screamed at a laughing Marie Laveau.

“Did I?” Marie chortled. “Maybe a blow to the head will put him right.”

“How could you do such a thing?” Marjani cried, kneeling down next to Punch. She looked up at Barbara Allen’s slumped figure and shouted, “And you, have you no sympathy for your own brother?”

Barbara only babbled incoherently.

Marjani ran her fingers across Julian’s head, looking for injury or traces of blood, but found none.

“That ain’t good. That ain’t good.” Marjani muttered. She knew that if Julian had not been visibly hurt, chances were that he was injured internally.

“You can have him now.” Marie snorted. “Take him out of here.”

Marjani, as she’d done before, lifted Julian’s body in her arms and carried him away from the fire. Her small frame didn’t strain under the weight of the man. Once again, she showed a strength that one would never expect from her.

“Go on!” Marie snarled. “Take him from here. I got what I needed from him.”

Marjani wondered if Marie thought that Julian was dead. Either way, she wasn’t going to argue.

“You’ll come back to us,” Marjani whispered to Julian’s limp body. “From wherever you are.”

Marjani would never have guessed where Julian was. While Mr. Punch yelped and whimpered in confusion from his lonely spot somewhere inside Julian’s body, Julian—or his spirit, or thoughts, at least—were elsewhere guided by an unlikely presence, Albert, the Prince Consort.

Prince Albert looked wearily at Julian who strained to hear what was going on outside of him.

“I asked you a question, Your Grace,” The Prince snapped.

“My apologies, Your Majesty,” Julian replied politely. “I’m attempting to assess the situation outside.”

“That doesn’t matter presently.” Albert barked.

“I fear that it does. I suspect something has gone awry.”

“More has gone awry in here than out there. Now, will you answer my question?”

“Will you repeat it?”

“Are you ready to move forward?”

“I suppose. You said that in order to do so, I’ll need to go backward. You’re not suggesting something tawdry like revisiting the people and places of my past, are you?”

“In a manner of speaking.” The Prince grinned.

“Like Mr. Dickens and his Ebenezer Scrooge? Such sentiment failed to move me ten years ago when I first saw it. Do you think I’ll be moved by it now? Are you a spirit, Your Majesty?”

“I detect an attempt at humor.” Albert smirked. “When I was a boy, I was often given over to humor. I enjoyed trickery and jokes.”

“And, now?”


“I’m sorry.” Julian replied softly.

“And you should be. However, your apology should come, not for your humor, but for being a liar.”

“I beg your pardon, Sir.”

“A liar, I said. How many times in the last decade have you secretly re-read those pages by Mr. Dickens? Do you not weep for poor Scrooge? Are you not overjoyed when he hoists the boy upon his shoulders and promises to be true in his life? Are you not, yourself, Scrooge? No, you’re not, perhaps, a miser with your wealth. In fact, if anything, you’re far too generous. You, Sir, are a miser with something far more precious than gold. You are a miser of spirit and affection. That’s a sin far greater than greed.”

“I had never given it thought, Your Majesty.”

“And, now, you shall.” Prince Albert grinned. “Whether you like it or not. Follow me.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-343? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: Returning from the Coronation

The next card in the 1935 Silver Jubilee Series by Churchman Cigarette Company depicts King George and Queen Mary as they returned to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey in the “Glass Coach” after their coronation.

The procession back to whatever Royal Residence that was in use at the time was and is an important part of the coronation ceremony as it gives the public their first chance to see their official, new monarch.

Some of these processions often employed regal new coaches. Queen Victoria had a taste for reusing coaches—as she did for her wedding in 1840 (much to the shock of her ministers who found the procession “shabby”)—in an effort to save money.

This particular coach is still in use today, and, when not being used, is on display to the public.

And since we're doing video today...

Object of the Day: A Guignol Stamp from Lyon, 1914

French, 1914
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The V&A describes this stamp as depicting “a scene from a Punch and Judy Show.” That’s partially correct. As we can see, this is not Mr. Punch. This puppet fellow with his long braid of hair and square hat is Guignol (pronounced Geen-yol), Mr. Punch’s Cousin from France.

While Punch has his immediate roots in the Italian tradition of Commedia dell’ Arte, Guignol has his roots in necessity. Guignol was the creation of a French dentist, Laurent Mourguet, from Lyon who used puppets to try to calm the nerves of his rightfully terrified patients. After awhile, the dentist turned his full-time attention to puppetry creating the characters of Gnafron and Guignol. As time went on, Guignol became a celebrity in his own right, and the tradition of Guignol shows grew just as the tradition of Mr. Punch was growing in England. Guignol began to borrow bits of business and characters from both Commedia dell’ Arte and Mr. Punch. Now, in France, the word Guignol is used in close association with any puppet or puppet show, and curiously, as a vague insult, meaning “Buffoon.” Guignol also lent his name to a theatre and a particular style of grotesque story-telling, “Grand Guignol.”

This stamp from Lyon shows a scene of Guignol with his wife Madelon and the gendarme Flagéolet.  And, here's something in French...  Who knows?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: I Won’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me.

“So, are we trying to attract the tarantulas or…”

Click image to enlarge.

Image: An Italian Mother Teaching Her Child the Tarantella, Thomas Uwins, 1842, The Victoria and Albert Museum

Mastery of Design: The Prince Albert Miniature, 1840

Magdalena Dalton after
William Ross
Diamonds, Gold, Ivory
The Royal Collection
From the time of their marriage in 1840 until her death, Queen Victoria cherished nothing more than she did the love she felt for her husband. She surrounded herself with images of Prince Albert and even commissioned jewelry to commemorate her love for him. Take this brooch, for example.

A frame of diamonds is set with a miniature on ivory by Magdalena Dalton after Sir William Ross' profile portrait of Prince Albert. At first, this was originally set as a bracelet, but later a brooch clasp was added. Queen Victoria’s personal inventory of her jewels records this brooch as follows: “a portrait after Ross set in diamonds and fastened by a Diamond band of 4 rows, supplied by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.”

The Queen wore this portrait often both as a bracelet and a brooch. It is clearly visible in several portraits including her portrait by John Partridge. The faded condition of the miniature owes to the fact that it was worn constantly by the Queen, from their marriage until her death.

Her Majesty’s Furniture: The Prince Albert Chair, 1851

The Prince Albert Chair
English, 1851
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Prince Albert’s role in the Great Exhibition of 1851 cannot be discounted. This chair commemorates the Prince Consort’s leadership. This large armchair of carved and inlaid walnut with its painted porcelain plaque and arms and seat covered in fringed pink cotton velvet was designed as a companion to a light, feminine chair representing the Queen.

The porcelain plaque depicts the Prince Consort and serves as a reminder of his tireless work in the planning the Great Exhibition. Further homage to the Prince comes from carved emblems such as the lion, rose, shamrock and thistle on the back of the chair.

This is the work of Henry Eyles who displayed the chair with other examples of his work in Class XXVI (Furniture). Eyles was an upholsterer in Bath with premises at 31 Broad Street whose work was received favorable by the Queen and her consort.

Gifts of Grandeur: A Souvenir of the Wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1840

Pencil Case
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Made in England in 1840, this pencil case commemorates the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The gold case for a propelling pencil is lined with a gilded copper alloy, and engine-turned, engraved and enameled on the exterior. It has been set with turquoise, and a lapis lazuli intaglio and medallion portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Such pencil cases were crafted to be given as gifts to commemorate important days.

The marriage of Victoria to her first cousin, Albert (son of her mother’s brother, Ernest) was long-anticipated and long-rumored. In fact, the marriage had been in the works since the cousins were children. However, the Queen wasn’t too keen on the idea at first. When she first met her German cousin, he seemed disinterested in her and, frankly, she didn’t find him at all interesting either. Though he possessed a handsome face and figure, he was shy and somewhat dull. However, upon their second meeting, once Victoria was already Queen and she had her choice of many eligible bachelors, Albert had undergone years of study and intense grooming for the role of Prince Consort and Victoria declared him the most perfect man she’d ever seen.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 343

The writhing, fiery, angry world outside of Julian’s body was obliterated by the image which stood before him in the calm, cool, private world within his own mind.

For once, the chatter of Mr. Punch, the resentment of Scaramouche, the nagging of Guignol and the other voices which usually weighed heavily in Julian’s ears (real or imagined) were silent and he was able to focus entirely on the regal figure which told him gently, “You may rise.”

“Pardon me, Your Majesty,” Julian began.

The figure raised one gloved hand and interrupted Julian. “Ask only what is necessary.”

“This, Your Majesty, seems to be a necessary question.” Julian replied.

“You wish to know how I am able to stand before you now?” The man smiled, his words thick with the molasses of a German accent.

“I do.” Julian nodded meekly.

“I am, as you might say, imaginary. I am a creature of your memory, and your expectations, come to offer you what I may because you require it. Any authority or status you assign me is of your own design for I am not really here.”

“I see.” Julian said, drawing in a sharp breath. “Since you are not real, what shall I call you, Your Majesty?”

“Albert.” He smiled. “Or Prince Albert. Whatever you wish.”

“You’ll forgive my impertinence, then,” Julian continued. “If I speak plainly.”

“There’s no impertinence,” Prince Albert frowned. “Your Grace, you are speaking to yourself. You may not wish to recognize it, but you are.”

“I’m not a well man,” Julian sighed.

“You’re more well than you realize.” Prince Albert chuckled. “You are given to fits of emotion. This is something I understand, you know. Recall, if you will, Your Grace, the moments we spent together at Balmoral or at the Palace. Did I not bellow and sigh just as you do? Was I not as entranced by the sparkle of the diamonds as you? Was I not as enthralled by the fire of the rubies. Do you recall how I shared—even briefly—memories of my brother, Ernest, and how I told you that I longed for his companionship—that deep oneness of understanding that he and I once shared and that, for a moment, the way we talked reminded me of the conversations that I wished I could have with him?”

“I do.”

“Though embarrassed, were you not comforted by the thought? You who have, until recently, had the companionship of no one, and certainly no familial connection?”


“Well then, you answer your own question. I come to you as a source of comfort—a vision of your own creation to guide you.” Prince Albert responded.

“Guide me through what?”

“You must ask?” The prince frowned.

“Why then, did I imagine you and not Naasir or Robert?” Julian asked.

“You can answer that yourself.”

“I suppose I don’t wish to trouble Robert.” Julian sniffed. “Any further than I already have, I imagine. You know, I didn’t trust him at first.”

“I know. And now?” The Prince squinted.

“Now, I do. Wholly.”

“Yet, you feel guilt that you’ve led him to such confusion.”

“I do.”

“And what of Naasir?”

“Naasir was very loyal. He died for me, you know.”

“Of course, I know.” The Prince snapped.

“Yes, of course.” Julian nodded. “Yet, what he said often troubled me so. All of his talk of what was meant to be and his premonitions. I could never really accept them. Isn’t that sad and curious? A man who gave his own life for me, and yet, I don’t know that I trusted him fully.”

“The things Naasir said made no sense to you. You? A man who is occupied by so many others. A man who, for many weeks now, has allowed his body and mind to be controlled by the phantom figure of a puppet—another creature of your own making?”

“I suppose none of it makes much sense.” Julian sighed.

“In its way, it does.” Prince Albert shook his head. “Perhaps, Your Grace, you ask too much.”

“Perhaps.” Julian answered nervously, twisting the imaginary ring on his phantom index finger. “You say you’ve come to guide me. Through what?”

“More questions. You’re asking yourself more questions. Don’t you know?” The prince snapped.

“We’re in a spot of trouble again.” Julian replied, flustered.

“I should say so. Mr. Punch is frenzied and powerless. You’ve given control to Scaramouche. Not wise, Your Grace, not wise. Your friends and family are in peril. And, yet, you’re in here with an imaginary prince.”

“You make it sound ridiculous.” Julian scowled.

“Isn’t it?” The Prince replied disgustedly. “You yourself know the enormity of what’s ahead of you. And, yet, you’re unwilling to face it. Are you a coward?”

“I am not.”

“Aren’t you? How many times have the minds that you created within yourself tried to push you forward? How many times have you resisted?”

“I’ve…” Julian began. “I’ve tried to move forward. I have, earnestly. Why do you think I’ve given my life over to Mr. Punch? It’s Punch who now occupies the body predominately. It’s Punch who is living. It is Mr. Punch who eats and sleeps and feels and laughs.”

“And feels love?”


“Are you able to love, Julian?”

“I don’t know.” Julian shook his head.

“Do you love the dog?”

“The dog? Toby?” Julian sputtered. “Yes. Very much.”

And, the infant? Colin. Your nephew?”

“I adore him.” Julian responded.

“And Fuller, Cecil and Adrienne?”

“Of course,” Julian replied, beginning to anger.

“And Marjani and Columbia?”

“I do.”

“What of Robert?”

“Yes,” Julian whispered.

“What of yourself?”

Julian didn’t answer.

“What of yourself? Julian, the Duke of Fallbridge?”

“I suppose I must.”

“You must or you do?” Prince Albert shouted.

“I don’t know.”

“Perhaps, then, you’re not ready for my guidance.” Albert answered. “Farewell.”

“Wait!” Julian called out. “Your Majesty, please wait. I’m ready.”

“Then, follow me.” Prince Albert smiled.


“Backward, Your Grace. In order to go forward, we must first go back.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-342? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Coronation Ceremony, Paying Homage

In this series of commemorative card by the Churchman Cigarette Company from 1935, we’ve seen several scenes of the order of the coronation ceremony. Here, we see the moment directly after the proper crowning when members of the court pay homage to the new Monarch. Pictured here is George V. That’s appropriate since these cards were manufactured for his Silver Jubilee.

I always like to back these things up with additional images when I can. In searching for photos or other images from the coronation of King George V, most roads, it seems, lead back to me and this Web site. This is interesting to me from a vanity standpoint, but not very helpful since I don’t have any more images of people paying homage to King George V. So, I’ll simply add this very jolly and handsome photo of George V and my favorite dead Royal, Mary of Teck, looking quite content around this same time period. I honestly don’t know where I got this, but I’m sure it’s in the public domain.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: An Odd Souvenir from the 1937 Coronation that Didn’t Happen

I ask you.  Would you disturb this sleeping baby?
As I write this, it’s 3:30 in the morning and I’ve been awake all night with a fever and general malaise from a stupid cold that I shouldn’t have gotten because I very, very rarely ever leave my house. Nonetheless, I’m up and have been for many, many hours. Bertie, on the other hand—literally, as you’ll see in a moment—has been asleep for at least ten hours, only waking up for a moment to bark at the thunderstorm that blew through my hometown and to glance at me with contempt when I got up to get my laptop. I should also note that I’m typing this with one hand since Bertie is sleeping on the other one. This is a habit he’s gotten into since his surgery. He likes to have his healing leg resting on some part of me while he sleeps. And, being a sucker for a cute dog, I haven’t the heart to move him.

So, what’s a boy to do? I could lie here awake and wish for someone to bring me ice cream. Of course, I know that that won’t happen since the only other occupants of this house are: A. Bertie who has no thumbs and B. Mr. Punch who is a puppet and doesn’t function independently (thank God). I can’t imagine either of them will bring me ice cream. So, I might as well show my readers—many of whom are in the U.K. and are presently awake—some new old stuff. And, since I’ll no doubt be useless for the rest of the day, let’s dive right in.

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Let’s begin the day—since I’m feverish—with something that both attracts and confuses me.

This mug attracts me for reasons that are obvious to those of you who come here every day. It’s a coronation mug, so it’s no surprise that I like it. That’s evidenced by the fact that there are about fifty of them in my office on the other side of the house. This one’s not here. It’s in England, in the V&A. I like it despite the fact that it was made for Edward VIII who, in my opinion—feverish or otherwise—just messed up a lot and broke his mama’s heart.

It’s a fun design, brightly colored in the way that things were in 1937. I always think it’s quite funny when people say to me how surprised they were that things of previous eras were in color. The world was in color! Color didn’t just start with the advent of color film, and even if it did, color film was being used in 1937. But, I digress.

What confuses me is that the V&A states that this mug was made in Etruria. Come again? Yes, that’s right—Etruria. Now, just to shed some light on why that’s odd, let’s examine where and what Etruria is or was or might have been. In my understanding, Etruria was the name given to the land that once was in Southern Italy (now Tuscany) from whence the Etruscans came. Wacky Napoleon I of France fancifully revived the name “Etruria” for this region from 1801 to 1807, but, as far as I know, that didn’t stick and by the time Edward VIII was making Queen Mary bellow Cockney phrases of disgust when she learned that her son would not give up that pesky Simpson woman, it was not a term that was in use.

But, yet, the V&A says this comes from Etruria, and so it must have. It was painted with a design incorporating “E.R.,” the Royal Arms, the date of 1937, and a representation of fireworks, designed by Eric Ravilious, and made by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd.

Two Words...
Abdication.  Kerfuffle.
It’s a pretty thing, but kind of a moot point, too.

And, so, let’s conclude this with a quote from Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor:

Perhaps one of the only positive pieces of advice that I was ever given was that supplied by an old courtier who observed: Only two rules really count. Never miss an opportunity to relieve yourself; never miss a chance to sit down and rest your feet.

And, yes, I suspect that was the only somewhat useful thing Edward had to offer. Sad, really. Bertie (my terrier friend, not, Eddie's nephew, King George VI, who was also quite intelligent) is capable of more complex thought.


I have since been told that Etruria was also the name of a large Staffordshire estate that was acquired in 1765 by Josiah Wedgewood as his home and a factory site.  This became the family home known as Etruria Hall.  I was not in a mindset--at 3:30 in the morning--to come up with that conclusion initially.  So, clearly Bertie is also capable of more complex thought than even I am. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Charles Boit Miniature, 1720

Charles Boit
Enamel, Gold, Diamonds
1720, France
The Victoria & Albert Museum
 This oval miniature bust length portrait depicts an attractive young lady wearing a pink shawl, her hair adorned with several blue ribbons. The portrait on enamel is set into a frame of rose-cut diamonds which dates to approximately the 1720 creation of the miniature.

Portrait miniatures in enamels became quite popular in the Eighteenth Century. They developed from the decorative work of goldsmiths and watchmakers in the French cities of Blois, Châteaudun and Paris and are a continuation of the fashionable portrait plaques which had been made in the enameling workshops of Limoges in central France during the Sixteenth Century.

In the 1630s, Jean Toutin adapted new techniques of enameling which produced subtle, translucent colors. These techniques are still in practice today and allow for an impressive delicacy of detail. These portraits often were applied to small objects such as watches or snuffboxes, but usually stood alone in jeweled frames such as this.

This particular example is the work of enamel artist Charles Boit who was well respected for his ability to create light and shade in his miniatures. Boit’s subjects often showed an openness of expression due to their large eyes. Though this miniature is not signed, we can tell by the figure that this was the work of Boit’s hand.

Unfolding Pictures: The Jannin Fan, 1840-1860

The Janin Fan
French, 1840-1860
The Victoria & Albert Museum
As printing technology advanced, printed lithographic fans became the most popular type from about 1840 to 1870, surpassing more expensive hand-painted fans. Though most of the leaves of these fans were printed, they did feature watercolor washes as decoration. These elaborate leaves were supported by ornate sticks of bone, ivory, mother-of-pearl, lacquered wood or papier maché.

French manufacturers produced the majority of these fans, and most of them were exported in great numbers to other European countries. Very often, these printed fans depicted romantic scenes set in the Eighteenth Century, as you can see in this fan which boasts a lithograph by H. Jannin. This bucolic image has been mounted on lacquered sticks. Scenes of this type imitate the Rococo style and pastoral subject-matter of many earlier Eighteenth-Century fans. These were part of the great Rococo Revival which dominated fashions for two decades.

Unusual Artifacts: The Baffo Harpsichord, 1574

The Baffo Harpsichord
Italy, 1574
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Putting aside any preconceived notions of harpsichords that we might have based on Lurch, let’s take a look at one from 1574 which was made in Italy. This harpsichord was built by Giovanni Baffo who was the leading maker of harpsichords in Venice. During the Sixteenth Century, Venice was one of the main instrument-producing centers in Europe. This magnificent instrument is decorated with traditional Islamic patterns. Such patterns were then widely used in Venice. But, the instrument also features the classical motifs, such as Apollo and the Muses--suitable themes for musical instruments—which were fashionable at the time. Through the centuries, this harpsichord has endured a number of changes--including the altering of the range of the notes. This alteration was a sign that even if musical fashions and ranges changed during the next century, the prestige of Baffo's instruments remained intact.

The harpsichord features a pine case with an inner face veneered with rosewood, and is partly inlaid with boxwood with a cypress soundboard. The edges of the instrument, jack rail and base of the keyboard are decorated with ivory studs while the nameboard and inner sides above the sound board, are veneered with rosewood, and decorated with gilt moresques and inlaid with patterns of ivory and boxwood. The maker has signed and dated the instrument on the nameboard.

The inside of the lid is elaborately adorned with a grotesque ornament and two winged putti holding up the three-crescent emblem of the Strozzi family, for whom the instrument was made. The main part of the lid is dominated with a cartouche containing Apollo and the Muses. Further adornment includes masks, bat-wing lunettes and sphinxes and other grotesques. Curiously, the decoration is crudely cut off at a later date.