Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Brogden Cameo Necklace, 1867

Cameo necklace
John Brogden, 1867
The Victoria & Albert Museum







This necklace, in the archaeological style features layered agate cameos inspired by the fashionable classical hardstone gems. The piece was made by the jeweler John Brogden and purchased by the V&A from the International Exhibition in Paris of 1867.

Brogden won a number of awards at the International Exhibitions in London and Paris from 1851-1878. Brogden is known for his pieces rendered in ancient styles.  He is recorded as having studied the archeological finds at Nineveh and Pompeian where he used the wall paintings for as inspiration for his jewels. He also famously worked in the Rennaissance style.  A collection of drawings by Brogden showing the original designs for many of his gems also lives at the V&A along with many of the finished pieces.

This particular example, a lovely enameled gold necklace is hung with cameos of classical masks in layered agate, chalcedony and onyx, which Brogden created based on ancient specimens.  He altered the source material by presenting the masks in the late 18th century Neoclassical manner. An applied plaque with the maker's mark of John Brogden, reads 'JB' in Roman capitals.  This came from Brogden's Covent Garden, on Henrietta Street, workshop and dates to 1867.







At the Music Hall: Just Like the Ivy, 1903



 Just watch the ivy on that old garden wall
   Clinging so tightly what e'er may befall;
   As you grow older I'll be constant and true,
   And just like the ivy I'll cling to you.

 

With lyrics by A. J. Mills and music by Harry Castling, this song first appeared in 1903.  It’s sentimental theme of love and devotion quickly made it a hit on the music hall boards.  These enduring themes have given the song a lasting appeal and it’s still remembered fondly to this day.





Painting of the Day: Head of an Italian Boy, 1875

Head of an Italian Boy
Adriano Bonifazi, 1875
The Victoria & Albert Museum





Adriano Bonifazi (1858-1914) was an Italian painter who worked in Capri and Rome and is best remembered for his portraits of young boys and girls, often in rustic dress. Usually these were finished as "pendants," in this case, meaning paired paintings with one depicting a young girl and, the other, a young boy.  Bonifazi painted in the Romantic vein with his subjects often depicted offering flowers to their beloved or looking whistfully out of the picture space.

Bonifazi's paintings, as the curators of the V&A tell us, speak of beautiful children and young adults attempting to capture an idea of innocence or amorous emotion more so than being depictions particular individuals.

In this work, Bonifazi represents one of his typical subjects--a bust length 'portrait' of a young boy, turned towards the right, with dark curly hair and wearing a hat decorated with ribbons and flowers, a white shirt, brown tunic and animal skin.  He sports a leather strap across his right shoulder amd is posed against a pale blue ground.  It was created in Rome in 1875 as evidenced by the signature:  "A. Bonifazi Roma 75."


Gifts of Grandeur: The Veronese Vase, 1922-1935

"Veronese"
Vase by Zecchin for Cappellin, Venini & Co.
1922-1935
The Victoria & Albert Museum





This handsome vase was named after the Italian painter Paolo Caliari who was known as "Veronese."  The design was inspired by his painting of "The Annunciation" which is now in the Accademia, Venice.

The composition of this vase was, for many years, the symbol of the Venini glassworks in Venice. This masterpiece was first shown at the Autumn Salon, Paris, 1922.

The design is still being produced today. When this vase was presented to the V&A in 1971, the donor suggested that it was an 'early' version of the design--created by Vittorio Zecchin, for Cappellin, Venini & Co., and made by Venini & Co. of Murano, Italy. Though designed in 1922,' this piece was probably made between 1930 and 1935.


Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 17


Chapter 17:
The Language of Flowers

Ellen Barrett smiled as she felt her way down the staff staircase.  She tiptoed into the servants’ hall and listened as Speight read to the group.

“Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.”

She squinted, coming deeper into the dimly-lit room—illuminated only by the light of the fire, two oil lamps and three candles by which Vi and Gamilla sat with their mending.  Mrs. Pepper sat in the plushest chair by the fire, her tired feet raised up on a poof, a cup of chocolate nestled in her hands.  Gerard and Charles sat at the long dining table which they’d covered with an oil-cloth.  They buffed the masters’ boots, in unison, in the light of one of the oil lamps.  Gerard wasn’t looking at his work, his eyes were fixed on Speaight, absorbing every word from “The Adventures of Oliver Twist.”

At Speaight’s feet, in front of the fire, Jenny and Ethel sat cross-legged, like children, drowsily hearing the words of Boz.  Ethel slowly munched a butter biscuit.  In a dark corner, Tom, the page, sat in a small wooden chair—Ellen couldn’t tell if he was awake or not.
Ellen’s grin broadened—it was a happy family scene.  Mrs. Pepper and Mr. Speaight—the mother and father—protecting their “children.”

Quietly, Ellen took a seat next to Gerard.  Gamilla looked up and smiled from across the servant’' hall.

Speaight paused in his reading, causing Gerard to grunt.  Looking up, Gerard noticed that Ellen had sat next to him.  He nodded a friendly greeting.

“Will you be joining us this evening, Miss Barrett?”  Speaight asked gently.

“If you don’t mind.”  Ellen replied.

“Of course not, we welcome you.”  Speaight answered.  “Is the little master asleep?”

“Yes,”  Ellen nodded.  “Master Colin is quite soundly asleep.”

“Shall I go stay with him?”  Gamilla asked.  She took her duties as Nursery Maid quite seriously for she loved the child very deeply.

“I wouldn’t want you to miss your rest,”  Ellen shook her head.  “I’ll return to him in a few moments.  I just thought I’d like to hear Mr. Speaight read for awhile.”

“We just begun ‘Oliver Twist,’ Miss.”  Gerard informed the governess.

“So, I heard.”  Ellen nodded.  “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“You’ve not,” Speaight replied, taking a sip of his chocolate.  On the small table next to Speaight’s rocking chair, a small vase of fresh spring flowers sat.

“What lovely flowers.”  Ellen smiled.

“Glad you think so,”  Mrs. Pepper said dryly.  “They’re yours.”

“Pardon?”

“Sure,”  Ethel spoke up, “Jenny found ‘em.”

“I don’t understand.”

Shyly, Jenny explained.  “When I went to answer the service door earlier, a young man was there.  I ‘xpected the butcher.  But, it weren’t him.  It were a young man, handsome, too.  He handed me them flowers and said I should give them to you.”

“Me?”  Ellen’s eyes widened.

“Yes, Miss.”  Jenny giggled.  Ethel giggled, too.

“Did he leave a name?”

“Victor, miss.”  Jenny whispered.

“Victor?”

“Looks as if you got an admirer, Miss.”  Charles teased.

“There’s jonquils.”  Jenny giggled. 

“Means someone wants you to return their affection, Miss.”  Ethel added seriously.

“And, Iris,”  Jenny continued. “What means good news.”

“And lavender,”  Mrs. Pepper growled.

“That stands for devotion, Miss.”  Jenny said.

“Or distrust…”  Mrs. Pepper added.

“Miss Barrett, do you know this young ‘Victor’?”  Speaight said.

“I think that I do.”  Ellen nodded slowly.

“Perhaps you should tell him that’s it’s not proper for a gentleman to visit the servants’ hall door to leave tokens of affection for the young governess.”

“If I see him, Sir, I most certainly will do so.”  Ellen replied firmly.

“Are we gonna hear ‘bout Oliver Twist, then?”  Gerard asked softly.

“Patience, my friend,”  Charles whispered.  “It’s not every day that our governess is courted by a young man.”  Charles grinned slyly.  “What’d he look like, Jenny?”

“Ginger.”  Jenny replied.  “Ever-so covered in handsome freckles.  Fine, broad shoulders and a nice…”  She stopped.  “Even in the dim light, they could all see that she was blushing.

“Did you say he was ginger?” Ellen asked. 

“Yes, miss.  Bright ginger.  Not like His Grace’s hair what’s dark.  But, bright…”

“Like a carrot, no doubt.”  Mrs. Pepper chuckled.

“And he told you that he was called ‘Victor’?”

“Yes, Miss.”  Jenny nodded resolutely.  “Had a bit of the Scotch in his voice, like me pa.”

“Is this not the man you thought?”  Speaight asked.

“No,” Ellen muttered.

Gerard sighed.

“I’m sorry,”  Ellen nodded.  “Mr. Speaight, do carry on with your reading.”

“Shall I?”  Speagith grinned.

“Oh, yes, Sir.”  Gerard spoke up.

“Sure you don’t want to hear more of Miss Barrett’s Scottish lad?”  Charles teased.

Gerard drew in breath impatiently.

“Charles…”  Speaight warned.

“Sorry, Sir.”  Charles smiled.

“I’d best return to Master Colin.”  Ellen rose from her chair.

“Don’t you want to take your flowers, Miss?”  Jenny asked.

“No, let’s leave them here for all of us to enjoy.”  Ellen answered quickly.

“Oh, how nice.”  Ethel chirped.  “Thank you.”

“Good night, all.”  Ellen nodded. “Enjoy your story.”

“We will.”  Gerard snorted.

“Good night, Miss.”  Gamilla added.  “I’ll come up shortly to check on you both.”

“Thank you, Gamilla.”  Ellen said—with that, she hurried up the stairs.

“Queer.”  Mrs. Pepper muttered.

“I should say so.”  Speaight nodded.  “Now, where was I?”  He looked at his book and began again.

“For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child could survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country.

Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred…”

Once upstairs, Ellen paused in the opulent front hall.  She tried to catch her breath but her heart was racing.  She steadied herself by sitting briefly on one of the French gilt chairs which were nestled in the dramatic curve of the grand staircase.  Then, suddenly, she heard a rustling from outside.
At first she thought the sound was coming from the vestibule which separated the foyer from the front door—the little space with its marble floor and walls of brightly-colored stained glass.  But, surely, there was no one there.  All that stood in the vestibule was a fine, ebonized, mirrored hall tree and a low, deeply-carved bench.
She rose, walking to the ebonized wood and stained glass door of the vestibule and opened it.  Someone was outside the front door.  Slowly and cautiously, she placed her hand on the large, bronze door handle and with her other hand unlatched the door. 
Ellen flung the door open quickly.  She found no one there.  Yet, on the steps to the street lay a peculiar thing—a cream-colored envelope bound with black ribbon which held to the paper a single flower—a yellow carnation.
“Disappointment.” Ellen whispered to herself as she picked up the parcel.
Holding the envelope up to the lamp above the door she saw there written in a childish hand, “Julian, Duke of Fallbridge.”
Ellen’s hands shook so that she could hardly hold it. 

Did you miss Chapters 1-16 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them hereCome back on Monday for Chapter 18.

The Home Beautiful: The Minton Prometheus Vase, 1867

The Prometheus Vase
Minton, 1867
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum







This rather substantial vase and cover were made specifically for the Paris International Exhibition of 1867 to demonstrate the technical and artistic superiority of their makers, Minton & Co. of Stoke-on-Trent.  Such an ambitious vase would have been made for such an exhibition as purchasing it would have been rather impossible for the average household.  Only museums and the wealthiest collectors could have afforded such a purchase, or, even had the room to display it.

This vase is actually one of a gigantic pair.  Each was painted with a different scene. Both were purchased by the V&A. 

The modeler of this vase was Victor Simyan (sometimes spelt Simian, and yes, I did just ook like a monkey when I typed this).  Simian was a French sculptor who moved to Britain in about 1860. The painter was a Thomas Allen who studied at the Stoke-on-Trent School of Design from 1849 and joined Minton's, staying there until 1875. 

Both vases were decorated in an imitation of maiolica, though the base is decorated with snakes in the manner of the 16th century French ceramicist, Bernard Palissy. According to the V&A, "The scenes on the bowl of the vase are taken from prints after works by the Rubens, The Calydonaian Boar Hunt, of which the original painting is now lost, and a second Boar Hunt, now in Marseilles. This vase and its companion took their name however from the cover, where Prometheus is having removed by an eagle, a punishment he was set by Zeus for stealing fire from the gods and bringing it back to earth."










Object of the Day: Papillion Blood Cure Trade Card






I confess, I don't think about my liver a lot, if ever.  I know it's in there, doing its thing, and I just leave it alone.  Never once have I ever gotten sick and thought, "Ah, must be a liver complaint." That's not to say that people don't have liver problems and serious liver illnesses, because I know they do.  However, as a collector of Victorian Trade cards, I must say that it seems to me that the liver was unjustly blamed for a lot of ailments in the Nineteenth Century.  Well, the liver and the blood.

This trade card advertises for a Blood and Liver cure.  The manufacturers want you to know that it is ABSOLUTELY vegetable-based and not comprised of tar and mummy wrapping and beetles and monkey hair like, i guess, every cure of the era.

Here's other weird medicine that claims to cure everything from zits to Catarrh.  Again, I can't imagine drinking the same thing for a cold that I'm rubbing on my skin for a rash, but, apparently, most Victorian cures were multi-purpose.  And, it was expensive!  A dollar for a bottle was a lot of money in 1890 when you could buy a whole pie for 5¢ or an entire dinner for 10¢.

The front of the card depicts a child--a usual.  She's crammed herself into vase which, frankly must have snapped over a leg when she wedged herself in there.  Still, she seems happy enough in there, and, once she's out, she can smear some Papillion Blood cure on the stump.

The reverse of the card reads:

PAPILLION 

BLOOD CURE

A specific cure for all diseases of the Blood, Liver, Stomach, Bowels and Kidneys.  This medicine is absolutely vegetable.  It is the prescription of an eminent physician who has used it in his special practice for thirty years.  For all diseases originating in impairment of the blood, as Anemia, Sick Headache, Nervousness, Female Weakness, Liver Complaint, Dyspepsia, Jaundice, Biliousness, and Kidney Diseases, this medicine is absolutely sure. It does not contain any mineral, is absolutely vegetable, restores the blood to a healthy condition, regulating excesses, supplying deficiencies, and preventing disease.



------------------------------------------------------

PAPILLION COUGH CURE

Does not contain drugs or chemicals, is a harmless vegetable syrup, very delicious to the taste, and cures that distressing affection--Whooping Cough.  It acts promptly upon infants, also upon adults.



------------------------------------------------------

PAPILLION SKIN CURE


Destroys the animalculae which cause those unsightly, irritable and painful affections and produces clear, healthy skin.  It relieves the pain of wounds or burns.



------------------------------------------------------
 

PAPILLION CATARRH CURE

allays inflammation, prevents accumulation of matter and permits free breathing.  It relieves this malady so thoroughly, that it is a pleasure to use.



------------------------------------------------------
Sold in this city.  Price $1.00 per bottle, six for $5.00.  Directions in ten languages accompany every bottle.

PAPILLION MFG. CO., CHICAGO

FOR SALE IN CHICAGO BY

SMITH & HOGEY
          349 South Clark St.




Friday, April 20, 2012

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




And, now, for the eighth time, Mr. Punch, with my help, is offering up a true Victorian riddle.  The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.  

So, here's this week's riddle.  Mr. Punch demands that you don't Google the answer as that would be cheating, chums.   Give it a shot and see what you can come up with.  Here we go... No googling… “That’s the way to do it!”



Why are sheep the most dissipated of animals?



UPDATE:
And the answer is...




Because they gamble (gambol) all their youth.
Many thanks for all of the wonderfully entertaining answers!  Look for more fun next week!



And, speaking of the way to do it, you can show the world Mr. Punch’s famous catchphrase with one of the exclusive products which are available only in our online store.

The Art of Play: Make Your Own Punch & Judy, 20th C.


Punch and Judy Cut-Out Theatre and Puppets
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum




This is by no means antique, nor even vintage.  In fact, it was made in the late Twentieth Century.  Produced by Phil Spellacy Puppets, Ltd. of Leeds, this cut-out set gives everyone a chance to stage their own Punch and Judy Show.  The set consists of cut-out paper puppets, assembly instructions, rods and split pins.
It is marked:

“Conforms to BS 5665 / PUNCH and JUDY / A beautifully designed set of puppet figures for children / to cut-out and colour - recommended age range / 7 years and above / *contains small parts which may be hazardous for / children under 3 years of age.”

'CONTENTS / Ten different card cut-out and / colour characters plus instructions / Control sticks and fasteners for / swivel joints / Mini-history and book list for further study / Script - a non-violent, non-sexist / version / PUPPET CHARACTERS FEATURED / Punch and Judy Set No.1 / Baby and Joey Set No. 2 / Doctor and Crocodile Set No. 3 / Toby and Ghost Set No. 4 / Policewoman and Jailor Set No.5 / Plus / Card cut-out Theatre Proscenium / Set No. 6 / '

In the late Twentieth Century as the world grew uglier and people looked for scapegoats, Mr. Punch and his antics came under fire by groups who called the centuries-old tradition, “violent” and “sexist.”  Of course, we know that it was no such thing as anyone who was familiar with the tradition knows that Judy gives as good as she gets and that the “violence” is clearly meant as a parody to urge others NOT to act that way.  While we are more sensible about these things now, in the 1990s this set made sure to note that it contained a “non-sexist” and “non-violent” script for the impression youngsters who would play with this for a few moments before playing a video game where they could steal cars and beat-up hookers or watch a TV show filled with sexual humor and innuendo.  Sure, Mr. Punch was the problem.  Always blame the puppets, right?




Mastery of Design: The Carlo Giuliano Pendant, 1867


Pendant
Carlo Giuliano for Harry Emanuel
C. 1867
The Victoria & Albert Museum




Let’s take a look at this attractive pendant upon the back of which the V&A has written the museum number.  Why do they do this?

This pendant was made by Italian jeweler Carlo Giuliano.  It is believed that it may have been shown at the international exhibition in Paris in 1867. An identical pendant was displayed at the 1867 exhibition by the jeweler and silversmith, Harry Emanuel.  This fact was  illustrated in the Art Journal magazine at the time.  Giuliano, who launched his own firm in 1874, worked almost exclusively for Harry Emanuel at the time, so it’s a safe bet that this was the pendant that was displayed in 1867.

The vase-shaped pendant of enameled gold is decorated with table-cut rubies and features three enameled cherubs and three pendant drops set with diamond chips and hung with river pearls. A glass locket fitting at the back would have allowed the insertion of hair or other mementos. 







Antique Image of the Day: The Punch and Judy Show, 19th C.


Punch and Judy Show
Hand-colored Print
19th Century
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum




Hand-colored with watercolor, this Nineteenth-Century print depicts a crowd of people at a Punch and Judy show.  However, there’s a lot more going on in the scene than just the antics of Mr. Punch.  We see young Artful Dodgers picking pockets, a curious dog about to take a drink from a man’s pail, and the amorous embrace of a young couple.

Mr. Punch has long been the voice of the people, and here, we see that this unknown artist was aware of the power of Punchinello to draw a crowd from all walks of life.  Laborer and gentleman alike have paused in their days to unite—for a moment—in a shared drama of their own.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 16


Chapter 16:
From Workhouse to Townhouse

Robert wearily opened his bedroom door to find Gerard carefully curling freshly starched collars into the velvet-lined leather box in which they waited to be worn.

“Sir,” Gerard smiled, tucking the box into a drawer.  “You’ll pardon me sayin’ it, but you look awful tired.”

“I am,” Robert nodded.

“How’s the Honorable Mrs. Potts, then?”  Gerard asked.

“Resting comfortably.”  Robert sighed.

“Is she terrible ill, Sir?”

“No.  She’s terribly full.”  Robert chuckled.  “If either of us had eaten as much as she has this evening, we, too, would have stomach pains.”

Gerard smiled.  “Well, Sir, better that than if she were really sick.”

“True.”  Robert nodded, loosening his cravat.  “What goes on here?”

“Well, Sir, Charles has already gotten His Grace undressed and left him in his room with his puppet and Dog Toby.”

“Good.  And Colin?”

“Master Colin is dreamin’ of toy boats and summer days.”

“So, all is right in our little world, then.”  Robert sighed contentedly, sitting on the bed so that Gerard could help him off with his boots.

“Yes, Sir.”  Gerard nodded, kneeling to undo his master’s boots.

“And, what’s the atmosphere downstairs?”

“Quite jolly, Sir.”  Gerard answered.

“No further discussion of Hortence?”

“No, Sir.” Gerard shook his head. “Mrs. Pepper told us not to speak her name less she pop back up like a bad penny.”

“Wise thinking.”

“It’s better without her, Sir.”  Gerard continued. 

“I take it that she was not well-liked?”

“Oh, no, Sir.”  Gerard replied firmly, rising up to place Robert’s boots by the side of the door.  He would take them downstairs later to polish them.  “She weren’t too kind, that one.  Always so sour and complainin’.  It’s easier without her.”

“Well, we’ll replace her in the next few days.  I’d hate to think that Violet and Gamilla would have to endure an added burden.”

“We’ll make do.”  Gerard answered pleasantly. 

“So, may I ask, what do you all do in the evenings?”

“Downstairs, Sir?”

“Yes.”

“Evenings are awful nice, Sir.  More so tonight what with…her…gone.  Once we got you and His Grace all settled in, we sit by the fire.  The girls work on their mending and Charles and me, well, we sometimes do the boots or other things.  Mrs. Pepper, she’s ever so nice, Sir, she makes a pot of chocolate and puts a plate of butter biscuits on the table.   Now that Miss Barrett’s here, she joins us sometimes.  We talk ‘bout where we been.  Gamilla tells us about America and Miss Barrett tells us about the time she spent in Scotland when she was small.  But, best of all, Mr. Speaight will read to us, Sir.  And, we listen.  I like it.”

“What does he read to you?”

“Sometimes from the News, Sir.  That’s fine, it is.  But, I like it best when he reads us stories.  Tonight he’s startin’ a new one.  Mr. Dickens’ ‘The Adventures of Oliver Twist.’  It’s about a poor, orphan boy from the workhouse, Sir.”

“I’ve read the novelization.” Robert smiled.  “I think you’ll enjoy it.”

“I will.”  Gerard responded.  “Though it may make me a little sad.”

“Oh?”

“See, I were in the workhouse, Sir.”

“Were you?”  Robert studied the man.  He wasn't bad-looking, just a bit rough.  In fact, at certain angles, he was rather handsome--broad-shouldered with sandy-blond hair, his face looked older than its almost thirty years, a leathery and tanned visage from which two light blue eyes twinkled.    

“I didn’t know that.  We don’t know much about your past, Gerard.”

“Ain’t no use in you knowin’, Sir.  I’ve had some troubles.  But, it’s all over now.”

“I’m glad of that.”

“It’s thanks to you, Sir.  You and His Grace.  If you’d not taken a chance on me, I’d…”  He shook his head.  “It don’t matter.”

“We’re happy that you’re part of our household.”

“And, I’m happy to be in it, Sir.”  Gerard nodded.  “See, I were an orphan.  Me sis and me.  Me mum, she died when I was born. And, our pa—he weren’t no good.  We got sent to the workhouse.  I never saw me sis again after that.  Told she died, Sir.”

“I’m sorry.”  Robert shook his head.

“She were an angel on this earth, Sir, and now she’s an angel in heaven.  When I got out of the workhouse, Sir, I found the drink, and well…that’s when me troubles started and I found myself in bad company…like when you and His Grace found me.  But, I ain’t touched a drop of the stuff since and I don’t aim to do so again.”

“Good for you.”  Robert smiled as Gerard helped him out of his coat.

“I never thought, Sir, that I’d live in a house like this with all these fine folk and two fine masters like you and His Grace.  When I were a boy, I dreamed of bein’ in service in a fine house.  Me mum would be so proud, she would.”

“I’m sure she would.”  Robert nodded.  “Gerard,” he began, “if it helps you to know it—I never dreamed I’d live on Belgrave Square either.  When I was a boy in Wimbledon, my mother was very ill.  My brother, Cecil, and I almost ended up in the workhouse, too.”

“Is that so?”  Gerard’s eyes widened.  “Was your pa bad, too?”

“No.”  Robert shook his head.  “He wasn’t bad.  He was just…too generous, or perhaps just careless.  He spent his money freely, not worried about where he’d  get more.  He mounted considerable debt.  Consequently, he went to prison for it.”

“Oh, sir.”

“But, Cecil and I—we managed to work.  Cecil more so than I.  He worked so that I could take care of our mother and so that I could study.  Thanks to him, I was able to get an education.  Actually, we both were.”

“And, that’s how you was able to be a doctor, then?”

“Yes.”

“And, look at you now—a fine gentleman in a grand house.  Everyone in Belgravia knows that you’re the best doctor here.  Startin’ to, anyway.”

“Thank you for that, Gerard.”

“And, you made a fine, smart match for yourself, too.”  Gerard smiled. “If you’ll pardon me sayin’ so.”

“I don’t mind.”  Robert nodded.  “I know I did.  I appreciate that you see it.  Some would think that I hadn’t.”

“Why?  Cuz His Grace is a fella?  That don’t matter.  Does it, Sir?  Long as you’re happy.”

“And, I am.”

“That’s why I got so angry when Hortence said those unkind things ‘bout you.”  Gerard continued.  He paused and frowned.  “Let’s not tell Mrs. Pepper I said her name.”

“I won’t.”  Robert smiled.  “We’ll never mention her again.”

“Sure, we’re through with her.”  Gerard grinned, handing Robert’s nightshirt to him.

“I hope so.”  Robert mumbled.

“Will you be wantin’ anything else, Sir?  I can bring up a tray for ya.”  Gerard asked.

“No.  I think that will be all for tonight.  You go downstairs now.  I don’t want to keep you from Oliver Twist.”

“Thank you, Sir.”  Gerard grinned.  “Good night.”

“Good night, Gerard,”

Wrapping his dressing gown around himself, Robert waited for a few moments after Gerard departed and, then, quietly opened the door to Mr. Punch’s room which adjoined his own.

He paused in the doorway and watched Mr. Punch who stood in his nightshirt in front of the pier mirror.  Robert smiled watching Punch making faces at himself, hunching his shoulders and lumbering in front of the glass like a simian.

After awhile, Robert cleared his throat.

Mr. Punch spun around and chirped happily.  “Chum!  I’m a monkey!”

“I see that.”

Punch pointed to the bed where the terrier was curled up, sleeping.  “Dog Toby’s snorin’.”

“He always does.”  Robert nodded.  “I think it’s time for us to do the same.”

“’Spose.”  Punch nodded.  “I’m through bein’ a monkey for tonight.  Had a nice chat with me puppet, too.”

“That’s nice.”  Robert smiled.  “I’m sure you both enjoyed that.”

“We did.  Here, did Mrs. Potts die?”

“No, she just ate too much.”

“Oh.”  Punch’s eyes widened.  “A person can eat too much?”

“It appears so.”  Robert leaned against the door frame.

“Huh…”  Punch shrugged.  He then giggled, “Ain’t got nothin’ on your feet.”  He pointed.

“I haven’t.”  Robert looked down.

“Too chilly for that.” Punch said, walking over to Robert and taking his hand.  “Come sit by the fire with me.”

“Very well,” Robert grinned.

“Can we talk for a bit before bed?”  Punch asked.

“If you like.  About what would you like to talk?”

“Tell me a story.”

“What sort of story?”

“Whatever you like.”  Punch chirped.  “Don’t matter none, just like hearin’ you talk.”

“Well, then, let me tell you a story about two little boys from Wimbledon…”

“You and Cecil?”

“Perhaps.”  Robert winked.

“Does it have a happy ending?”

“Very, dear Punch.”  Robert grinned. “Very happy, indeed.”



Did you miss Chapters 1-15 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them hereCome back tomorrow for Chapter 17.


Print of the Day: Sheet Music Cover for 'Le Petit Carnaval,' 19th C.


Sheet Music Cover
Mid Nineteenth Century
English
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum




Our Mr. Punch inspired many a composer, it seems, and, similarly, he has appeared on a host of sheet music covers.  Here’s one such cover for “Le Petit Carnaval” a “quadrille facile,” depicting Mr. Punch among a group of people at a carnival in a tent.

I imagine that Punch would rather enjoy a carnival, and, this is a rather posh carnival in a heavily draped tent, festooned with garlands of flowers and hung with a brilliant chandelier.  The attendees, aside from the clowns, and, of course, Mr. Punch, are attired in court dress.  Punch is greeting an elegant young lady.

This print was created in the mid Nineteenth Century with artwork by John Brandard (1812-1863).

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for J.J. Early & Co. Clothiers




This little Victorian card has quickly become one of my favorites from my collection.  The card is an advertisement for:

J.J. Early & Co
MEN’S & BOYS’ CLOTHIERS
456 & 461 Broadway
Cor. Grand St., N.Y.

But, it’s the image which thrills me.  Depicted is a little boy seated in a tree.  He is dressed as Mr. Punch complete with portly belly and hunchback.  The boy, in his left hand holds two feathers and a champagne bottle and, from his right, he lifts a champagne flute from which a dove is taking a sip.  Yay!
The reverse reads:

NOBBY

Overcoats and Suits for young men; Suitable Overcoats and Suits for older men; all kinds of Overcoats and Suits for boys and children.  Reliable Goods, Latest Styles and Lowest Prices in New York.
-------
J.J. Early & C0.,
459 & 461 Broadway
S.W. Corner of Grand Street,
NEW YORK

I’m not quite sure about the “Nobby.”  Nobby had a variety of meanings.  It’s an affectionate name for Norbert or, oddly enough, for Clark.  The nickname for Clark comes from London where “clerks” (pronounced “clarks,” just as Derby is pronounced “Darby”) wore the bolwer hats known as “nobby” hats.  Nob, in Victorian England, among other things, referred to a “posh” man. I’m guessing this could simply be “Nobby” as in Posh, but it’s American.  So, I just don’t know what this is all about.