Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Goldstein Bubble Necklace, 1960-70

Necklace of Gold and Diamonds
United States, Circa 1960
The Victoria & Albert Museum

For several years, after the Second World War, gemstones were so expensive as to be prohibitive and their trade was extremely rare in Europe. Gold jewelry therefore became fashionable for those who could not afford pieces which were encrusted with gemstones.

A trick employed by many jewelers to make their gold jewelry more affordable was to reduce the amount of precious metal that was used by using wire, often corded in ornamental patterns.  These pieces appeared heavy and chunky, but were often hollow.  Small diamonds were set into these playful pieces in order to create the illusion of sparkle and color on a greater scale.

Here’s a great example of this practice.  Made around 1960, this necklace of gold is set with small diamonds. It was made in the United States.

History's Runway: A Balenciaga Evening Dress, 1955

Gown of Yellow Satin, Embroidered
Balenciaga, 1955
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

A masterpiece of yellow satin, this gown is embroidered with matching silk thread and gold pailletes (spangles).  It is lined with a matching chiffon with a separate, inner-lining of white silk.

Designed in Paris by Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972) in 1955, the dress features  a strapless, boned bodice joined to a skirt which has been tightly gathered at the back in the center as was the style of the time. A bustle effect is achieved with a series of ruffles.

This gown was worn (with matching gloves) by one Mrs. Fern Bedaux who famously always kept several elegant dresses with her at all times, just in case she was invited to a grand party.  Mrs. Bedaux purchased her entire wardrobe from Balenciaga, amassing a huge collection of his gowns.  Bedaux-an extremely wealthy widow of American millionaire office systems pioneer Charles Bedaux, lived at the Sixteenth Century Chateau de Cand in France where the Duke of Windsor was married after the Abdication Kerfuffle ™ of 1936.

A documentary film was produced about Mrs. Bedaux.  Entitled "The Champagne Safari,” it follows the Bedauxs on their famous expedition through Canada. It also revealed that Charles Bedaux had some ties with the Nazi party—not surprising given his association with Wallis Simpson and the former King Edward VIII. 

If you want to be as fashionable as Mrs. Bedaux without the Balenciaga price tag and Nazi ties, you might want to visit our online store and take a look at our always-stylish, exclusive designs.  

Antique Image of the Day: Champagne Hau & Co. Reims, 1894

Poster for Champagne Hau
Color Lithograph
Walter Crane, 1894
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Issued in 1894, this color lithograph poster was designed to advertise Hau Champagne.  The bold image depicts an allegorical female figure entwined with vines.  She carries a jug on her shoulder and holds an outstretched chalice.

The poster was designed by Walter Crane, RWS (1845-1915) in Britain.  

At the Music Hall: Champagne Charlie, 1867

I've seen a deal of gaiety through out my noisy life
With all my grand accomplishments I ne'er could get a wife,
The thing I most excel in is the P. R. F. G. game,
A noise all night in bed all day, and swimming in Champagne.

For Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name.
Good for any game at night, my boys.
Good for any game at night, my boys,
Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name.
Good for any game at night, boys, who'll come and join me in a spree?

The way I gain'd my title's by a hobby which I've got
Of never letting others pay, however long the shot.
Whoever drinks at my expense are treated all the same;
From Dukes and Lords to Cabmen down, I make them drink Champagne.


From Coffee and from supper rooms, from Poplar to Pall Mall,
The girls on seeing me exclaim "Oh! what a Champagne swell!"
The notion 'tis of ev'ry one, if 'twere not for my name.
And causing so much to be drunk, they'd never make Champagne.


Some epicures like Burgundy, Hock, Claret, and Moselle,
But Moët's Vintage only satisfies this Champagne swell.
What matter if to bed I go, and head is muddled thick?
A bottle in the morning sets me right then very quick.


Perhaps you fancy what I say is nothing else but chaff.
And only done, like other songs, to merely raise a laugh.
To prove that I am not in jest each man a bottle of Cham.
I'll stand fizz round - yes that I will, and stand it - like a lamb.


“Champagne Charlie” is a music hall song composed by Alfred Lee with lyrics by George Leybourne. It was popularized in the Nineteenth Century by the celebrated performer George Leybourne who first performed at the Sun Music Hall, Knightsbridge in 1867. Leybourne  famously made his entrance in top hat and tails—in the style of a "swell" with the requisite dress gloves, cane, and scarf.  As Champagne Charlie, he carried a bottle of vintage Moët et Chandon.

The Music Hall business was full of fierce competition between acts.  Leybourne's main rival, Alfred Vance, that same year introduced a similar number called “Cliquot” much to the continued chagrin of Leybourne. 

The song has had a long and varied life.  It’s melody was later adapted by the Salvation Army for their song “Bless His Name He Sets Me Free,” intended for the exact opposite purpose of the original good-times-loving version.  The original song became the centerpiece of the play “Champagne Charlie” and the subsequent film of the same which featured Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway. Leon Redbone featured the song, with altered lyrics, on his album of the same name in 1978. 

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 478

Mr. Punch looked around Marie Laveau’s cramped,  disheveled front parlor.  “Coo!  What happened in here?  Looks like you had a fire.”

“Yes,”  Marie sighed, greeting her namesake daughter with a hug.

“Here, we had enough fire for one day, I’d say.”  Punch frowned.

“Ain’t that the truth?”  Gamilla muttered to herself.

“Marie,”  The elder Laveau said to her daughter, “these folks gonna be stayin’ with us ‘til they can get on another ship.”

Young Marie nodded in confusion, her eyes darting across the rather weary and worn looking group. 

“I know what you’re thinkin’, honey.”  Marie whispered to her daughter.  “But, it’s all fine.  We done made friends.”

“Mama, how you feelin’?”  Young Marie whispered.

“Powerful tired, honey.”  Marie answered her daughter.  “I gotta get a bath and get out of this…”  She shuddered a little when she looked down at her blood-stained dress.  Clearing her throat, she added, “I ‘spect these folk’s gonna want to bathe, too.  Now, you go get the girls and try to make a couple of the rooms nice for these people.”

She turned to Mr. Punch and his party.  “I’m ‘fraid you’re gonna be cramped.  We can clear up a couple rooms—one for the men, one for the ladies.  But, you’ll be on top of each other ‘til ya can get home.  Still, I reckon this is the safest place for ya.”

“It is, and we do certainly appreciate your hospitality.”  Robert smiled.  “The captain of the ship told us there’d be another vessel ready in a few days.  We won’t be here long.  Still, I can’t imagine what we’d do if you hadn’t opened your home to us.”

“Ain’t nothin’.”  Marie waved her hand in the air.  “Now, if ya’ll will excuse me.  Come on, Marie.”  With that, Marie Laveau and Young Marie left the room.

For a moment, Punch and his group stood in silence, looking around Marie’s house.

“Well, I’ll say it,”  Charles spoke up.  “I never thought we’d be staying the night in Marie Laveau’s house.”

Cecil chuckled.  “It wasn’t on my list of desired destinations.  However, we have little choice.  Not only are the authorities after us, but Edward Cage, and…well, God knows who else.”
Robert nodded.  “We’ll just have to make the best of it.  Now,”  He took attendance.  “We have His Grace, me, Cecil, Charles, Gerard, the two children, Adrienne, Marjani, Gamilla, Columbia, a dog and a puppet.  Not to mention Pete and his five companions.”

“It’ll be tight.”  Cecil nodded.

Pete, who had joined the group while his friends waited outside stepped forward.  “Me and my boys can find somewhere else.”

“No, no.”  Cecil said.  “I’m quite serious in my offer.  When we get back to England, you and your companions will all find employment with me.  We’d rather you stay with us.  We owe you so much.”

“Aw, Sir.”  Pete replied sheepishly.  “We don’t wanna be in the way.”

“We’ll find a spot for you.”  Cecil shook his head.

“We don’t need much.  Jus’ a spot for to lay our heads.”  Pete answered.

“You’ll have more than that.”  Cecil smiled.

Adrienne had been watching Mr. Punch for quite some time, finally she spoke.  “You’re awfully quiet, Your Grace.”

“Am I?”  Punch shrugged.  “Only I’m tired, I’d guess.”

“Is something on your mind?”  Robert asked his friend.

“Sure.”  Punch nodded.  “Lots o’ things.”

“I know what you’re thinkin’.”  Marjani sniffed.

“I’m sure you do.”  Punch chuckled.

“The Duke’s worried that Mr. Cage is gonna find us.”  Marjani continued.

“I am.”  Punch nodded.

“If dat man comes near ya,”  Pete spoke up, “he’s gonna have to answer to me.”

“Here, I ‘preciate that, big Chum.”  Punch grinned.  “Only, it ain’t your fight.  When they time comes, it’ll be me what has to contend with it.”

Little did Punch know, but that fight was coming sooner than he thought.  Cloaked in the growing darkness, Ty Odo peered into the side window of Marie’s parlor.  Licking his lips, he raced home to his employer, Edward Cage, with the news that the boy he called “Holt” was still in New Orleans.

Did you miss Chapters 1-477?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Monday for Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 479.  

The Home Beautiful: An Eighteenth Century Champagne Glass

Champagne Flute
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The “flute” glass of the mid-Eighteenth century was developed both for strong ale and for champagne.  Here, we see an example adorned with elaborate and expensive engraving.  It has been decorated with scrolling vines and leaves which indicate that it was intended for sparkling wine.

Tall flute glasses such as this first became popular in the late Seventeenth Century.  Set high on a glass stem, the high bowl allowed the beauty of the wine to be admired while remaining cool from the warming touch of the hands. Furthermore, when champagne became fashionable, the narrow flute glass was the ideal vessel due to its ability to preserve the bubbles.

Champagne was the stuff of the upper classes, especially among young men who had the opportunity to travel the European continent.  The drink was a mark of wealth since, naturally, there was the expense of importing the spirit from France in bottles rather than in barrels.

This flute was made between 1750-1760 by an unknown manufacturer.  It was most likely made in England or in Belgium and features crisp engraving and a fanciful air-twist stem. 

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Union Sewing Machines

...if after a thorough inspection of the machine and its work, you are not convinced that it is the BEST, we do not want you to buy it.

Here, we see a girl in red stockings being attached by a cat as her greyhound looks on.  The scene of terror unfolds beneath a sampler which reads, “God Bless Our Home.”  I can only imagine that the cat has been made murderous by the fact that, across the chair to the left, the young lady has thrown the pelt of one of the cat’s ancestors.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but the illustration on this trade card (dating to the late Nineteenth Century) for Union Sewing Machines is a bit odd.

Let’s take a look at the reverse:  It reads (weird caps, punctuation and all):

….It has all the very latest Improvements.
Are you thinking of buying a Sewing Machine?  It will cost you nothing to try a

We will deliver one at your home anywhere in the United States, free of charge.
Examine our Embroidery and Fancy Work as well as the Plain White Work, without any extra attachments, except those furnished with each machine.
We claim the NEW HOME is the BEST Family Sewing machine on the market, and invite the closest inspection of experts and comparison with others, and if after a thorough inspection of the machine and its work, you are not convinced that it is the BEST, we do not want you to buy it.  But, if you are so convinced, do not be induced to buy any other, but insist on having a NEW HOME.
 The New Home is for sale by dealers everywhere.
 If you would like to try a NEW HOME, call or send a postal card to the nearest agent or direct to the
248 State Street,                      Chicago, Ill.

It is stamped with the name of a dealer:  “Jerome Risher” and the address is now illegible.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Joseph Hodel Comb, 1906

Arts and Crafts Comb of Silver, Gemstones and Ivory
Joseph Hodel, 1906
Purchased by May Morris
The VIctoria & Albert Museum

Each Friday, I try, for the “Mastery of Design” offering, to pick a piece of jewelry that puts one in mind of Mr. Punch.  After all, Friday’s are Punch-days, overall.  This week, I’ve selected this Arts and Crafts-style comb by Joseph Hodel of the Bromsgrove Guild.

Hodel showed the comb at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition in 1906 in London.  There, it was purchased by May Morris--the younger daughter of the artist and socialist William Morris, a fine jeweler in her own right.

The comb is set with cabochon-cut stones—a hallmark of much Arts and Crafts jewelry.  Here, the silver comb’s back takes the form of stylized foliage set with mother-of-pearl, sapphires, green-stained chalcedony and a fire opal matrix.  The teeth are crafted of ivory and a large baroque pearl surmounts the piece.

So, why does  it remind me of Mr. Punch?  The shape of the cabochon stones makes me think of his belly, and the colors are Punch-like.  Maybe, it’s a stretch, but that’s what I’ve got today.  

Unusual Artifacts: A Magic Lantern Slide of Punch and the Doctor

Punch and the Doctor
Glass Magic Lantern Slide
Theobald & Co., Nineteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Number six of twelve in the series of hand-colored glass Magic Lanterns slides by Theobald & Co. depicting Mr. Punch in scenes from his famous puppet show.  Here, we see Punch being examined by the doctor.

The following text accompanies the slide during a magic lantern show:

Punch: Oh dear, I been thrown off my donkey. What an ass he is. I believe I’m killed. Doctor, dear doctor, feel my pulse; try to save me for dear old Judy’s sake. What, nothing the matter with me? Don’t gammon me, I know I must be killed, I feel like it.

Mr. Punch's Puzzles: The Riddle of the Week

I'd like to introduce a new weekly feature--Mr. Punch's Puzzles--wherein, each Friday, Mr. Punch, with my help, presents a true Victorian riddle.  The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.  Be on the look-out!  Sometimes--not today, because, frankly, I don't feel like it--the winner will receive a fabulous prize from our online store.

So, here's this week's riddle.  And, for the love of Punch, don't Google the answer.  That's not cool, and most of all, it's very un-Victorian.  Must be sporting, Chums, what.

Overall, what are gentlemen's opinions of bloomers?


The answer...

They are divided.

Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles.  Thanks to everyone who answered.  I hope you had fun.

And, remember Mr. Punch wants you to never forget that, "That's the way to do it!"  A good way to recall that is with one of our exclusive Mr. Punch products, available only in our online store.  

Antique Image of the Day: The Family Punch, 19th C.

Embossed Chromolithograph
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This beautiful embossed chromolithograph depicts Mr. Punch, his wife, Judy, and his dog, Toby.  This was originally a picture sheet which was meant to be preserved in an album.  Here, it has been mounted on a thick sheet of pink paper. 

This image differs from the many other depictions of Mr. Punch in the George Speaight Collection at the V&A.  Here, Mr. Punch is wearing a multi-colored suit as opposed to his usual crimson outfit.  Clearly, the artist has been inspired by the sorts of costumes worn by Italian Commedia dell’Arte performers.  

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 477

Zettie smiled at Mrs. Cage who slowly opened her eyes.  Removing the damp cloth from Mrs. Cage’s head, Zettie said gently.  “Your fever done broke, Mrs. Cage.  It’s a miracle.  The doctor done said so.”

“Miracle?”  Mrs. Cage whispered.  “That’s a word that’s never been used to describe me before.”

“Ain’t just no one gonna beat the Yellow Jack.  I ‘spect the angel’s is on your side.”  Zettie nodded.  “Doc said you must be one strong lady.”

“I’m not.”  Mrs. Cage responded.

“Sure you is.”  Zettie continued.  “But, you’re modest.  That’s what a gentle lady should be.  Now, you just rest.”

Mrs. Cage nodded slowly.

“Go on, close your eyes.”  Zettie said firmly.  “You may not be feverish, but you still weak.”

“Zettie, thank you for all you’ve done for me.”

“Ain’t nothin’.”  Zettie smiled sweetly.  “It’s my pleasure to take care of ya.”

“And, what of Mr. Cage?  Is it a pleasure to look after him?”

“Well, ma’am.  Ain’t my place for to take care of Mr. Cage.  That’s Odo’s lot.”

“How is my husband?”

“Odo’s with him now.  Just got back.”

“From where?”  Mrs. Cage asked.

“Don’t rightly know.”  Zettie said.  “It ain’t nothin’ for you to fret ‘bout.”

“Is he very angry—Mr. Cage?”


“Well, it’s not usually considered good form for a woman to shoot her husband.”

“Aw, he’s knows you didn’t mean nothin’.”  Zettie answered.  “You was all ate up with the fever.  Ain’t nobody gonna blame ya for what ya done.”

Mrs. Cage chuckled sadly.  “How’s my boy?”

“Master Orman’s been up and about today.”

“Causing trouble?”

“No more than usual.”  Zettie looked away.  “Poor boy.  He’s just spirited.  Pity he ain’t got a brother for to play with no more.”

“Yes.”  Mrs. Cage sighed.  “You know that that baby is better off with the Duke.”

“I know that jus’ fine, Missus.  I don’t think Mr. Cage feels the same.”

“No, he doesn’t.”  Mrs. Cage said.

“Don’t you worry none.”  Zettie patted Mrs. Cage’s hand.  “You done the right thing.”

“Thank you, Zettie.”

“Ain’t nothin’.”  Zettie smiled.  “You rest.  I’ll be back in a spell.”

Zettie left the room and as she did, she walked past Mr. Cage’s door just in time to see Odo exiting.

“You leavin’ already?”  Zettie snapped at Ty Odo.

“Done my bit.”  Odo nodded.

“Sure you done.”  Zettie scowled.

“You hush.  I got  ‘portant business for to do for the master.”

“Like what?”  Zettie growled.

“I’m goin’ to get his baby for him.”  Odo winked.

Did you miss Chapters 1-476?  If so, you can read them here.  

Print of the Day: The Langlumé Pick-pocket Punch, 19th C.

Lithograph, hand-colored
Nineteenth Century
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This print depicts a sadly common scene of a man being pick-pocketed while watching a Punch and Judy show.  Hand colored with watercolor, the print was published in Paris by Nöel et Dauty in the mid-to-late Nineteenth Century.  The lithographer is listed as J. Langlumé.

Object of the Day: "Our Boy,"A Trade Card for Scott's Emulsion

 Unfortunately in every household some of the little ones are the victims of a wasting disorder.  For some reason, their food fails to nourish them and they finally fade and die. 

Printed by Alfred Knapf in the late Nineteenth Century, this Victoria Trade Card advertises Scott’s Emulsion, a medicinal elixir (cod liver oil) which was produced by New York-based Scott and Bowne.  The card depicts a healthy, rosy-cheeked lad who is labeled “Our Boy” and is stamped with the name of a supplier of the emulsion, “A.K. Henderson,”  a druggist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The story of this blue-eyed lad is printed on the reverse.  I’ve copied it exactly as it is printed, odd caps and all.  It reads:

Whose picture appears on the other side of this card, is  a perfect type of health and beauty.  It is a delight to look upon such a beautiful picture; but how sad to behold the suffering of a mother when her darling is smitten with disease and his rounded, dimpled cheeks become pale and wan, and the bright eyes lusterless, and she sees day by day her little one wasting away.  Unfortunately in every household some of the little ones are the victims of a wasting disorder.  For some reason, their food fails to nourish them and they finally fade and die.  We are glad that we have a food and remedy of unequaled potency in all conditions of wasting, of whatever character, in children as well as in adults.  SCOTT’S EMULSION OF COD LIVER OIL WITH THE HYPOPHOSPHITES OF LIME AND SODA is really a marvelous remedy in producing flesh and strength.  It is surprising how quickly it checks the waste and decline in flesh.  It is so prepared that the most sickly child can digest and assimilate it readily, even when the stomac will not tolerate ordinary food.  In addition to its great flesh-producing and strengthening powers, IT IS THE BEST REMEDY IN EXISTENCE for Consumption, Scrofula, Colds and Chronic Coughs, Anemia and General Debility.  It heals the irritation of the lungs and throat, cures the cough and gives strength in a manner surprising both to physician and patient.  For ordinary Colds and Coughs no specific or cough remedy equals it.  It not only cures the cold at once, but builds up and strengthens the system.  IT IS ALMST AS PALATABLE AS MILK.  Do not fail to try this invaluable remedy for any condition of wasting, either in children or adults.
Sold by All Druggists.                           SCOTT & BOWNE, New York

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Appetites

"This isn't going to end well."

Image:  Courtship, Henry Singleton, born 1766 - died 1839, The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Admit it, you can't resist the Bertie Dog.  If you want to see Bertie's adorable face every day, you can always visit our online store where you'll find our exclusive "Gratuitous Bertie Dog" designs and Bertie as Mr. Punch's Dog Toby.  These images are available on a wide range of products.  Take a look!

Mastery of Design: A Colored Gold Fan Brooch, 1880

Brooch of Colored Gold
England, 1880
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This colored gold brooch takes the form of a Japanese fan.  It was made in Britain around 1880 by an unknown jeweler.  At this time, Asian themes were at the height of their fashion and such little jewels would have been highly sought-after as casual accessories.  

Painting of the Day: Girl with a Fan, 1864

Girl with a Fan, 1864
William Dobson
Watercolor and gouache.
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Influenced by the tastes and styles of their Queen, the Victorian public preferred idealized portraits of young girls.  Such depictions arose beginning with Queen Victoria's reign as the fresh-faced young woman took the throne.  Since the queen was an attractive young lady, similarly innocent faces became the subject of oil paintings, watercolors and prints of all kinds.

This painting by William Charles Thomas Dobson (RA, RWS, 1817-1898) is rendered in watercolor and gouache.  It  was described in the words of a contemporary as having “a roundness and sweetness which is never sensual.”

William Dobson began his career as a prolific painter of religious themes.  His greatest hope was to revive popular interest religious art.  Nevertheless, the audience was limited and Dobson went on to paint less ponderous subjects like this attractive picture.  Dobson often peppered his works with a stylized orientalism which successfully increased their public appeal.  From 1842 until 1894 he exhibited many paintings in this style at the Royal Academy.

Here, we see Dobson’s rather inaccurate depiction of an Asian girl in a turban and a striped silk brocade robe.  It was painted in 1864, not from life, but in his studio, using props which Dobson thought would seem authentically Asian.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Buckler Chinese Fan, 1850-60

Chinese Fan with Lacquer Box
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made between 1850 and 1860, this fan is supported by sticks of gold-painted lacquer.  The leaf is a blend of paper and silk.  Each side of the leaf features a different scene: on one side, flowers and birds are depicted; while on the other, a fantastical Chinese garden scene has been rendered. The faces of the figures are of applied ivory with applied silk for their clothes.

This fan was exported to England from either Canton (Guangzhou) or India.  Such fans were brought into Europe in the tens of thousands, and the more expensive examples were supplied with their own box.   In this case, the box of lacquered wood is more luxurious than the fan itself.  

Fans like this one were made for the mass market and were often produced in an assembly line style of manufacture.  The speed with which this fan was manufactured is  are clear when one notices that the tiny ivory faces have been haphazardly applied to the fan.  In fact,  in some cases, the female faces have been stuck on to male bodies.