Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Cory Diamond Earrings, 1860

Lady Cory's Diamond Rosette Earrings
England, 1860
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the collection of Lady Cory, we have this pair of earrings.  Open-set in silver backed in gold, we see brilliant-cut diamonds in a rosette design.  While the backs have been altered, the jewels themselves are unchanged from the time they were created, circa 1860.

During this period, distinctions of rank, age, occasion and dress determined what jewelry could be worn and when. Etiquette manuals dictated the appropriateness of fashion.  For instance, one popular manual stated that diamonds, pearls and emeralds were for full evening wear only and that during the daytime, women were expected to wear less elaborate jewelry.  So, naturally, these earrings would have been reserved for formal evening wear. 

Figure of the Day: The Hurdy Gurdy Girl , 1785

The Hurdy Gurdy Player
Derby Porcelain, 1785
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The work of the Derby Porcelain Factory, circa 1785, this figure in soft-paste porcelain is painted with enamels and gilded .  The figurine depicts a young musician, the standing figure of a girl, playing a hurdy-gurdy on a rococo scrolled base.

This is number ten of a set of ten which was designed to be displayed on the dining table during the dessert course. 

At the Music Hall: When the Right Girl Comes Along - Vesta Tilley

Since, the last few Saturdays, we’ve been listening to the work of the “male-impersonator” and music hall darling Vesta Tilley, I thought we’d continue with another one of her beloved hits.  Enjoy this early recording of Miss Tilley singing “When the Right Girl Comes Along.”  

Scrap of the Day: Burlesque and Pantomime, 1890

Burlesque and Pantomime
Hildesheimer & Co., 1890
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This Victorian scrap, dating to about 1890, is a full-color chromolithograph depicting the head of a brunette girl.  She is wearing an Asian-style blue head-dress which is decorated with strings of pearls, rubies and a pink feather.  She is holding a pink, green and white ostrich feather fan up to her face.

The scrap, titled “Burlesque and Pantomime,” was part of a decorative series by the English printer  Siegmund Hildesheimer & Co.  This series showed popular types of fashionable, “society” people.  The scraps were designed to be collected and used on cards or for decorative projects. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 47

Chapter 47:
With this Baggage

You got Gerry settled-in?”  Mr. Punch asked as Robert slipped into his bedroom.
Robert nodded.

“And, he still ain’t got no idea what happened to  ‘im, then?”

“Not even the slightest bit.”  Robert sighed, sitting on Punch’s bed.  “The best I can tell, he was attacked from behind, but he has no idea how, when or by whom.”

Mr. Punch snorted.  “Terrible night.”

“I concur.”  Robert grunted.  He smiled at Mr. Punch who wore his nightshirt over his breeches and stockings.  After such a stressful evening, Robert was glad to laugh a little.

“What are you wearing?”  He asked his companion.

“Well,” Mr. Punch smiled sheepishly.  “I managed to get me waistcoat, shirt, collar and vest off on me own, but without Charles, I couldn’t handle the rest of it.  Just put this nightshirt over the whole lot.  Figured no one would notice.”

Robert chuckled.  “No one is quite as helpless as an English nobleman.”

“This is true.”  Punch sighed.  

“So, Charles is upstairs?”  Robert asked.

“Sure.  He and Miss Barrett are stayin’ with Mr. Barrett in case he wakes up.”

“He won’t.”  Robert shook his head.  “Not until the morning.  So, they found nothing at Roger’s rooms?  No evidence of a struggle?”

“None.”  Punch shrugged.  “Just a note from Scottie sayin’ he’d be back in the mornin’.”

“I can’t believe that the man would leave Roger alone like that—knowing that he’s escape.”

“That’s why we wanted to replace the man.”  Punch grumbled.  “Wish we’d done it sooner.”

“It’s a moot point now.”  Robert said softly.

“Why?”  Punch asked.

“You know why, my dear.”  Robert said, rising from the bed and walking over to his companion.

“Chum, we can’t.”

“We don’t have a choice.”

“We can’t send Mr. Barrett to the constable.”  Punch said quickly.  “It ain’t right.  They’ll send him to an asylum and we promised Miss Barrett we wouldn’t let that happen.”

“That was before all of this.”  Robert argued.

“We don’t have no proof, we don’t.  We have no evidence that Mr. Barrett killed William Stover.”

“He entered our house unlawfully and was found by a maid covered in blood and hair.”  Robert threw up his hands.

“His own blood and hair.”  Mr. Punch shook his head.

“It’s highly likely he attached Gerard just as he attacked you the day you met him.”

“It’s also likely that he didn’t, Chum.”  Punch smiled.

Robert grunted. 

“Chum, ain’t too  long ago what I were tossin’ blokes over the sides of ships and hittin’ police officers over the head with statuettes.”  Punch began.

“Dear Punch…”  Robert frowned.

“No—it’s true, it is.”  Punch said quickly.  “You know it is.”

“What has that to do with anything?”

“Well, just like Mr. Barrett, it would be easy for anyone to look at anythin’ I done in the past and decide that I done this to Mr. Stover when we both know that I ain’t done nothin’.”

“Except no one is going to blame you.”  Robert replied.

“You don’t know that.”

“I do.”  Robert said firmly.  “You’re the Duke of Fallbridge.  You are relatively protected by your relationship with the Crown.”

“And you’re my companion.”  Punch smiled.  “You share in that protection.”

“No.”  Robert shook his head.  “I don’t. Dear Punch, don’t you see?  I threatened the man publicly.  I was the one who had a previous relationship with him.  I’m the middle class doctor whose position as companion to the Duke of Fallbridge would be threatened by this man.  I had motive.  I had opportunity.  And, furthermore, it’s easy enough to find out that my father was a debtor and my mother a mad woman.  Everything is against me.  Did you hear the constable?  He told me that I was ‘lucky’ to be with the Duke of Fallbridge.  They already suspect me.  It’s just a matter of time before they come for me.”

Mr. Punch’s eyes widened.  “You want to pin this on Mr. Barrett so it’ll be done with, then?  He’ll be put away and the issue will be closed.  No one would think to look at you.”

“It sounds infinitely cruel when you say it that way.”

“It is cruel.”  Mr. Punch sighed.  “That ain’t the way you are.”

“I’ve never been threatened like this before.”  Robert answered emotionally.  “I can’t risk losing you or Colin.  I will not survive without you.  I’ve I’m blamed for this murder, I’ll have no chance to live out my life with the two of you.”

“You…you… won’t lose us.  They can’t blame you for somethin’ you didn’t do!”  Punch said.

“Roger is dangerous!”  Robert argued.  “It won’t make a difference.”

“The same could have been said ‘bout me, Chum.  I could be in the same position, I could!”

“But, you’re not.”  Robert put his hands on Punch’s shoulders. 

“Chum, I see what you’re sayin’, I truly do.  But, I can’t let you blame Mr. Barrett for killin’ Mr. Stover.”

“So, you’re willing to wager our future to protect a stranger?”

“He ain’t a stranger.  He’s the brother of our friend…”

“Our governess.”

“Our friend what we promised to help.  You’re the man’s doctor!  You got an oath, you do.  You promised to protect him.”

“More importantly, I swore to protect our family!”  Robert shouted.  “I’ve already lost one family.  I can’t stand the idea of losing you.  You’re my world.  You and Colin.  Without you, I’ll die…” 

Mr. Punch embraced his companion.  “You ain’t gonna lose us.”

“How can I be sure?”  Robert moaned. “And, think…think…I treated Countess Hamish so horribly the other night.  She’ll talk.  She’’ll say I’m unstable.  It won’t be long before word gets out, dear Punch.  I assure you that I will be the primary suspect.”

“And if you are, I will protect you.”  Punch said comfortingly.  “Don’t you got no faith in me, Chum?”

“Of course, I have.”

“We got all the money in the world.”  Punch smiled.  “I have a close relationship with the Sovereign.  Chum, most of all I got all the love in the world—for you, for Colin.  I swear to you that nothing will happen to jeopardize our future.”

“I wish I could be sure.”  Robert coughed.

“Look at all we been through already.” Mr. Punch grinned.

“True.”  Robert nodded.

“We survived worse than this.”

“I’m so tired, Punch.”  Robert shook his head.

“So let me be your strength.”  Punch helped Robert sit down.  “Tomorrow, we’ll get Mr. Barrett back to his rooms and we’ll get a new caretaker for him.  And, then, we’ll got on ‘bout our life.  Whatever comes, we’ll see it together.  And, should anythin’ else arise from this William Stover business, we’’ll take care of it.  We don’t gotta sacrifice no one.  And, we ain’t gonna lose nothin’.  I promise you.”

“You’re right.”  Robert nodded.

“Course I am.”  Mr. Punch winked.  “Ain’t I usually?”

“I’m truly sorry.”  Robert shook his head.

“For what?” 

“For bringing this sadness into our lives.”

“You didn’t.  You didn’t invite William Stover here.  He came by himself, he did.”

“I also hope I haven’t disappointed you.”  Robert whispered.  “What I wanted to do with Roger…”

“Nah.”  Mr. Punch grinned.  “Only thin’ that disappoints me is that I can’t figure out how to unlace these breeches.”

“I think we can figure that out.”  Robert laughed.

“Then, we got not worries, Chum.”  Mr. Punch ruffled Robert’s dark hair.

“I don’t know why I ever doubted it.”  Robert answered softly.

As the two embraced, downstairs, Speaight was putting on his jacket as he climbed the stairs to answer the front door.

Opening the door, Speaight frowned immediately upon seeing Hortence, Eudora Stover and Tom.

“Mr. Speaight, ain’t it tragic?”  Hortence asked.

“What are you doing?”  Speaight snapped. “How dare you come to the front door with this baggage?  And, you, Tom, what are you doing with the likes of these women?”

“This one’s me ma!”  Tom spat.

“That I am, Mr. Speaight.  And, a good friend of your Hortence, too.”

“She’s not my Hortence.”  Speaight snarled.  “Now, get out of here—the  lot of you—before I call for the beadle.  And, Tom, consider yourself dismissed!”

“Not so fast, Mr. Speaight.”  Hortence smiled.  “You’re welcome to call for the beadle, if you like.  But, not for the reason you think.”

“We want to see your masters.”  Eudora smiled.


“To discuss the death of my brother,”  Eudora said.  “And just how the Duke intends to help me.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-46 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them hereCome back on Tuesday for Chapter 48.  

Painting of the Day: Cecil van Haanen's Head of a Young Girl, c. 1870

Head of a Young Girl
Cecil can Haanen
Venice, 1870
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Cecil van Haanen ((1844-after 1873) was a Dutch painter who was actually born in Vienna.  The son of the painter Remigius van Haanen (1812-1894), Cecil trained with his father and Joseph Henri François van Lerius (1823-1876) in Antwerp and at the Academy in Karlsruhe in 1863-64. In 1873, Cecil is known to have returned  to Venice and , then, subsequently lived in England and Vienna.  His date of death remains unknown.

This attractive painting is a fine example of Cecil van Haanen's oeuvre--genre scenes especially those of Venetian country life with many collective or single portraits of young Venetian woman.  These portraits were Cecil’s main point of interest and he created a good many of them—trying to capture the naturalness and spontaneity of these young women.

Here, we see the head of a dark-haired, brown-eyed Venetian girl who is depicted looking towards the spectator. She is adorned in a pinkish hat which has been tied under her chin with red ribbons.  Across her shoulders has been draped a white garment.

The broken brushwork is typical of can Haanen’s work., as is the overall brownish red palette.  Touches of pure black, white, and light yellow add interest.

Happy Birthday to Queen Mary!

Happy birthday to my favorite deceased Royal, Her Majesty Queen Mary, the one-time Princess Mary of Teck, Duchess of York, Princess of Wales.  The consort of King George V, she was the mother of two kings--one brief and selfish (the Great Kerfuffler™, King Edward VIII) and one who led the empire through the Second World War (King George VI).  Queen Mary died just before her beloved granddaughter ascended the throne as Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Show your love for Queen Mary with one of our exclusive "Teck Support" designs, available only in our online store.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Dame Joan Evans Filigree Necklace, 1825-30

Click Image to Enlarge
Necklace of Gold Mesh, chrysoprase, rubies and diamonds.
France, c. 1825
From the Collection of Dame Joan Evans
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the 1820s, gold was put to good use in a variety of new ways--mesh necklaces and bracelets, gold chain and wire work became the fashion. Colored golds also became quite popular.  Goldsmith experimented with colors.  For example:  in gold alloy more copper gives a redder gold, while extra zinc or zinc and silver will result in a pale yellow gold.

The technique of filigree with spirals and granules (cannetille and grainti) was revived in France then copied in England. While consumers appreciated the intricacy of the style, jewelers liked the economical nature of the designs which appeared to be weighty, but actually used less gold. 

From the important jewelry collection of Dame Joan Evans, we have this necklace with pendant of gold mesh and filigree with cannetille and grainti decoration.  Made in France between 1825 and 1830, it is set with chrysoprases, brilliant-cut diamonds and rubies.

Drawing of the Day: Punch & Judy from "The Studio," 1905

"Punch and Judy"
Margaret Lloyd
"The Studio," 1905
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From Britain’s “The Studio” magazine, in 1905, we see this color print depicting a Punch and Judy performance in front of a crowd of children.
Physical description

The image is circular at the top of page, and the credits are written at the bottom of the page. A sheet of tissue paper folds over to cover the page and protect the image.  The original drawing was the work of Margaret Lloyd. 

Antique Image of the Day: Fallen Judy, 18th to 19th C.

Punch Killing Judy
17th-19th Centuries
Part of a Set in an Album
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This hand-colored engraving portrays the traditional scene of Punch killing Judy.  In the earliest versions of the British Punch and Judy tradition, Judy egged Punch on by first nagging him, and then, beating him. 

It’s hard to date this image.  The original drawing is by an unknown artist and this engraving was produced by an unspecified publisher.  It could date anywhere between the later Seventeenth and Mid-Nineteenth Centuries. 

This image is part of a set depicting scenes from the puppet show along with a description of the action.  The cards were long-ago pasted into an album along with some unrelated prints of buildings.

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

Once, again, 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.  We ask that you don't Google the answer.  Mr. Punch would not find that sporting at all.  Give it a shot and see what you can come up with.  Here we go... No cheating...

Why have chickens no fear of a future state?

And the answer is:

Because they have their next world (necks twirled) in this.

Yes, that's right.  It's a barnyard slaughter joke.  Hooray!  Thanks to all of you who answered.  I think we've officially all given up trying to come up with the "right" answer.  All the better!  Your responses are far more amusing!
Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles.  

Mr. Punch wants you to always know “the way to do it,” so why not check out our “That’s the way to do it!” products which are available only at our online store?

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 46

Chapter 46:
The Latter

You have a lot of cheek, you do.” Charles frowned at Ellen who was seated across from him in the Duke’s carriage.

“Really?”  Ellen scowled.

“Yes, really.  The way you spoke to His Grace was deplorable.  You take advantage of his kindness.”

“I do?” Ellen’s eyes widened.  “Is that so?  I’m not the one with all the sly smiles and winks.  I’ve seen you with the Duke!  You pathetic sycophant.  You’re a flirt.  With His Grace and the doctor both!  You act more as if you’re the Duke’s friend than you are his valet.”

“We are friends!”

“You’re a servant.” Ellen spat. 

“I see.”  Charles nodded stiffly.

They sat in silence.

“At least I never tried to put a wedge between them for my own selfish purposes.”  Charles mumbled.

“What was that?”  Ellen snapped.

“You heard me, Miss.”

“At least I never had relations with the Duke’s sister.”  Ellen grinned wickedly.

“How dare you?”  Charles snarled.

“So, tell me?  We know that Colin is really His Grace’s nephew.  Are you the boy’s father?”

“You do have an ugly side!”  Charles barked.

“I’ve had to grow one.  Do you know why?  Because of men!  Men just like you!”

“What have I ever done to you?”  Charles said.

“Given the opportunity, I’m sure you would do plenty.”  Ellen growled.

“Don’t flatter yourself, Governess.”  Charles smirked.  “You’re a little too brittle for me.”


“Sure.  You know your kind—governesses.  Dried out spinsters, the lot of you.”

“I’m younger than you are, I’d wager!”  Ellen gasped.

“Who could tell?”

“Why are you speaking to me so?”  Ellen asked.

“You started it.”


“Back at the house.  When you implied the Duke was mad.  How could you do that?  And, it ain’t the first time either.  I’ll tell you this.  I’ve got you figured out.  You act all sweet to the masters so they’ll take care of you, but you’re only out for yourself and your damn brother.”

“Who else is going to look after us?”  Ellen bellowed as the carriage clattered on.

“You’ve got other brothers.”

“They gave up on Roger long ago!”  Ellen said.  “I’m all he’s got.  Should I cast him aside as you did with your brother?”

“Do you think that was easy for me to do?  Do you think I enjoyed realizing that my only brother is a murderer and a thief?”

“No.  I don’t.”  Ellen sighed.

“Well, I’ll tell…” Charles paused.  “Oh.”

Charles and Ellen stared at one another for a moment.  Finally, Ellen shook her head. 

“I’m so sorry.”  She said.  “Whenever Roger is in trouble, I get my back up.  I’ll lash out at whoever I think is in my way.  You don’t deserve this.  I apologize.”

“I understand.”  Charles muttered.

“I owe the Duke another apology.”

“I’m certain he understands, too.”  Charles nodded.

“Still.  The hurt look in his eyes…”

“He’s given me that look, too.”  Charles shrugged.

“I thought you were ‘friends.’”

“Well…not always.”  Charles shook his head.  “It seems you know more than I told you about my relationship with the Duke’s sister.”

“Yes.”  Ellen replied.  “Gamilla told me about it after you mentioned it to me  the once.  Charles, I’m not in a position to judge you.  I’m sorry I said anything about it.  I really don’t know what gets into me.  Sometimes I think that maybe I’m the one who’s mad.”

“You’re not.”  Charles chuckled.  “You’re just—taking care of yourself.”

“I’m glad you see it that way.”  Ellen sighed.  “I really just want Roger to be safe.”

“But, Miss, if he…”

“He didn’t kill William Stover!”  Ellen said firmly.

“How can you be sure?”

“I’m just sure.  He’s not a killer.”

“And, when we get to his rooms,” Charles began.  “What if we find that he’s murdered his keeper in order to escape?”

“We won’t.”  Ellen replied.

“How’d he get out?”

“Well, I don’t know.”  Ellen grumbled.  “That’s why His Grace sent us to investigate, isn’t it?”

“You really don’t think he did it?”

“No.”  Ellen answered.

“Even though he tried to kill the Duke—for no reason at all?”


“Fine, Miss Barrett.”  Charles nodded.  “I believe you.”

“Do you?”

“I do.”  Charles said.  “Well, at least I want to.  We can either carry on like we just were or we can be friends.”

“I’d prefer the latter.”

“So would I.  But, you’ve got to keep your temper.”

“I’ll try.”  Ellen smiled gently.  “And, you’ve got to be less quick to criticize.”

“I’ll try as well.”  Charles nodded.  “We owe it to His Grace and Dr. Halifax to try to get along.  Our bickering won’t help them through this.”

“No, no, certainly not.”  Ellen answered quickly.

“Besides, you’re rather pretty…for a dried-up governess.”

“And, you’re rather handsome for a pathetic sycophant.”

Again, they sat in silence as the carriage rolled to a stop outside of Roger’s rooming house.

Did you miss Chapters 1-45 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 47.