Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Fathers' Day

Mastery of Design: The Templier Bar Brooch, 1930

Raymond Templier, 1930
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Parisian jeweler Raymond Templier (1891-1968) was one of an elite group of Art Deco designers who helped proliferate a geometric style that looked towards Cubism and eventually defined the look of the era. In 1930 , Templier remarked in the “Goldsmiths' Journal,” “As I walk in the streets I see ideas for jewellery everywhere, the wheels, the cars, the machinery of today.” This inspiration is obvious in his work which relies on strong, simple forms. 

This brooch, dating to 1930, of white gold by Templier boasts a bar of brilliant-cut diamonds in the center and a diagonal line of three, domed discs of coral encircled by two curved sections of black onyx. It is wholly demonstrative of the style which dominated Templier’s work. 

Sculpture of the Day: St. Martin and the Beggar, 1320

St. Martin and the Beggar
Germany, 1320
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Ivory, though considered quite disgusting and barbarous now, was used all over Europe for religious works of art since antiquity--usually combined with precious metals. The material often was used for relief panels which adorned everything from book covers to portable altars and caskets. The use of ivory was especially rampant during the Roman and Byzantine Empires well into the 14th Century.  By the 1300s, the use of the medium became more sophisticated and free-standing pieces in full-relief were more common.

Here, from 1320, we have an ivory figure of St. Martin who is depicted bare-headed, turning in his saddle and dividing his cloak with his sword in order to share it with a beggar, who stands supporting himself on a crutch. The piece was made in Köln, Germany by an unknown sculptor. Traces of pigment and gilding still show, indicating that the piece was once wholly polychrome. 

At the Music Hall: Chili Bon Bon

Regular readers have grown accustomed to seeing the "At the Music Hall" feature on Saturdays.  Since I'm nothing if not predictable, I usually adhere to the same format with these posts.  I list the lyrics to the song first, then I add a little blurb about who wrote and/or performed the song and why it's important historically.  Then, I put up a video clip of the song being performed.

This week's song is a mystery.  I know nothing about it.  I can find nothing about it.  I don't know who wrote it.  I can't find the lyrics.  I can't even, really, find anything about the people performing it.  So...

Here it is anyway.  If you know anything at all about this, please post in the comments.  Thanks!

Print of the Day: Don't Distract Your Mates, 1942

"Don't Distract Your Mates"
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Ministry of Labour, 1942
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in 1942, during the Second World War, this poster was designed by Bruce Angrave as a bit of instructional propaganda. To be sure, it’s quite grim, but it serves its purpose quite well, acting as a reminder of the serious injury or death that could result from being distracted and not paying attention in the workplace. During this period, with much of Britain’s usual workforce fighting in the war, a good many people with little previous work experience had to take jobs for which they were not trained nor for which they had developed the necessary discipline. Since many of these jobs directly benefited the war effort, posters such as this were created to remind people to be vigilant while working in order to avoid accidents.

Angrave's image depicts a black tree laden with unusual fruit—the fruits of distraction: prosthetic limbs, crutches and a coffin.

The inscription reads: 

These are the fruits of horseplay 

The poster was printed by Loxley Bros. Ltd. for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, a division of the Ministry of Labour and National Service . 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 64

Chapter 64:
Something to Eat 

Robert smiled wearily as Speaight opened the front door.

“Sir?” Speaight chirped expectantly.

“It’s a boy, Speaight. Both mother and child are doing very well.” Robert nodded. “I heard the Prince Consort state that they intend to call him ‘Leopold’ after Their Majesties’ uncle.”

“How fitting,” Speaight smiled, taking Robert’s coat. “Were it not for King Leopold, Their Majesties might not have married.”

“Yes.” Robert yawned.

“Sir, you must be exhausted.” Speaight said quickly.

“Would you like something to eat? Mrs. Pepper has been keeping some lovely little things warm for you.”

“Ah, yes.” Robert nodded. “That would be delightful. Can you bring a tray up to His Grace’s room? I shall go there forthwith.”

“Very good, Sir.”

“How is the Duke?” Robert asked, climbing the first step.

“Gerard and Charles have spent the evening with him. At one point, His Grace was so soundly asleep that Charles and Gerard could not wake him. This caused them some concern, Sir, as you can imagine and they rang for me as well as called for Miss Barrett thinking that she might have some training as a nurse.”

“What happened?” Robert raised his eyebrows.

“His Grace awoke, and, though he is still quite weak and queasy, Sir, he seems well enough.”

“Good.” Robert nodded. “The men are still with him, then?”

“Yes, Sir.” Speaight smiled. “The last I checked on them, the boys were chatting with His Grace. They have long since put away their games.”

Robert smiled. “Thank you.”

“I shall arrive shortly with your dinner, Sir.”

With that, Robert mounted the stairs. Despite his great fatigue, he bounded up the two flights to the Duke’s bed chamber. Without knocking, he entered the room—making sure to smile broadly.

“Chum!” Punch chirped. “What is it? A Prince or a Princess?”

“A Prince.” Robert nodded. “Leopold.”

“Oh…” Punch frowned. “Ain’t that…German? But, I’m glad it’s a boy. Is he a good boy?”

“Very good.” Robert nodded. “If not a bit small. We had a bit of trouble getting that first wail out of him. He’s pale, but he’s loud.”

“Sir,” Charles spoke up, “you had said that the boy seemed small even before he was born. Is he sickly?”

“Well…” Robert looked at the floor.

“I understand,” Charles nodded.

“I don’t.” Gerard frowned. “Is there a problem?”

“Gerry, Dr. Halifax can’t talk ‘bout the Queen’s private business.” Charles hissed.

“Oh.” Gerard nodded.

“I think, gentlemen,” Robert said gently, “that it would be a good idea to keep Their Majesties and all of their children in our prayers, especially the new Prince.” He looked at Punch. “Now, how is my dearest?”

“I’m fine.” Punch nodded.

“How is His Grace really?” Robert looked to Charles and Gerard. “I’m told there was a scare.”

“His Grace is unchanged, Sir.” Charles answered. “He did sleep very soundly, to be sure. He’s vomited twice and he won’t take any nourishment.”

“But, his breathin’ is better, Sir.” Gerard added.

“Don’t talk ‘bout me like I ain’t here!” Mr. Punch spat.

“You’re well enough to argue,” Robert winked.

“We should leave you, Sirs.” Charles said, looking at Gerard.

“If you like,” Robert smiled. “Though I was going to offer you a glass of sherry in honor of the birth of the new Prince. Well, for you, Charles. Gerard will join His Grace in a cup of tea.”

“I’d be honored, Sir.” Gerard grinned.

“As would I.” Charles nodded.

“I’m terribly glad you two have been keeping His Grace company this evening.” Robert sighed, sitting down.

“Again—I’m here!” Mr. Punch grumbled. “I’m in the room.”

“I know.” Robert said. “I’m just thanking Charles and Gerard. Did you have a good time?”

“We did.” Punch smiled slightly. “’Cept for the bits where I had to unswallow me lunch.”

The others chuckled.

“But,” Punch continued. “We do have somethin’ what we’d like to talk ‘bout.”

“What’s that?” Robert asked his smile fading as he noticed Punch’s serious expression.

“Well…” Punch sniffed. “Know how you ain’t been able to figure what’s wrong wit’ me?”

“Yes.” Robert narrowed his eyes cautiously.

“I think it’s cuz there ain’t nothin’ wrong with me.” Punch said quickly.

“What do you mean?” Robert raised an eyebrow. He glanced at Charles and Gerard who shifted their weight uncomfortably.

“I think I been poisoned.” Punch explained.

“You think you’ve been poisoned or you’re being poisoned?” Robert stood up.

“Dunno.” Punch shrugged.

“What do you two think?” Robert asked the valets.

“It makes sense, Sir.” Gerard nodded. “When I were still ‘round Arthur, I saw him poison some folks—like he done to His Grace ‘fore I met ya both. When Arthur were poisonin’ blokes, they’d end up bein’ like His Grace is now.”

“What sort of poison did Arthur use?” Robert asked.

“I don’t know, Sir. Wasn’t my job to know. It was just my job to…well…”

Robert waved his hand. “You don’t have to continue.”

“Dr. Halifax,” Charles began. “I’ve had some experience with poison, too. My own brother used different poisons on several of his enemies. I think that His Grace is correct.”

“Who would be poisoning you?” Robert asked, sitting on the bed next to Mr. Punch.

“It’d have to be someone with access to the house.” Punch shrugged. “Who could touch me food. And, only me own food as no one else in the house is sick.”

“But, really, that could only be Mrs. Pepper, Speaight, Jenny, Ethel or Gerry and Charles here. They’re the only ones who handle the food.”

Gerard began to look quite nervous.

“No one is blaming you, Gerard.” Robert shook his head.

“I wouldn’t blame ya, if you did.” Gerard sighed.

“We know better than that.” Punch clucked his tongue. “You’re me chum, you are.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“The boys and I been talkin’, my Robert.” Punch leaned backward. “We think it were Tom.”

“Tom?” Robert tilted his head to one side. “Tom’s not been here in weeks.”

“Well, he coulda given me a poison what took time to show symptoms.” Punch suggested.

“There are poisons like that, Sir.” Charles said softly.

“I know, but…” Robert snorted.

“He’d do it for his mum, Sir. You heard the way she threatened His Grace. Since she never got what she wanted after her brother died, that Eudora Stover—she’d surely want revenge.” Gerard explained. “Or, for that matter Hortence.”

“It could even be that Hortence arranged with one of the vendors who brings supplies for Mrs. Pepper. Is there any one thing that His Grace eats that we don’t?”

“No.” Punch laughed. “I eat ever’thin’.”

“It’s true.” Robert nodded. “He does.” He sighed. “Still…I…” Suddenly, Robert’s face turned bright red.

“What is it, Sir?” Charles asked.

“Sugar!” Robert spat. “His Grace is the only person who takes sugar in his tea.”

“That’s true.” Punch nodded. “Them wee cubes what’s in the silver bowl with the lid.”

“Dear God!” Robert slammed his fist down on the bed.

“What is it, Chum?” Punch asked.

“I know who’s poisoned you!” Robert bellowed. “Charles! Go fetch Miss Barrett for me immediately!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-63? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday June 18, 2012, for Chapter 65 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

Antique Image of the Day: Cecil Leighton in Crutch and Toothpick, 1879

Lytton Sothern as Cecil Leighton in "Crutch and Toothpick."
April, 1879
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This photograph from the Guy Little Theatrical Photography Collection shows actor Lytton Sothern as Cecil Leighton in “Crutch and Toothpick” at the Royalty Theatre.

The image is an excellent example of the rage for cartes de visite which arose around 1854. During this period, popular actors and actresses had studio photographs taken, either in everyday dress or theatrical costume, for cartes de visite (and later, cabinet cards) which were collected by the public to keep in albums. Other subjects included scenic views, tourist attractions and works of art, as well as portraits. 

This carte de visite was produced by the London Stereoscopic Company and was one of thousands of such cards which were collected by Sir Guy Tristram Little. Sir Guy bequeathed this collection to the V&A in 1953. 

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Ayer's Sarsaparilla

This is one of several Ayers Sarsaparilla cards in my collection of Victorian trade cards. The company was quite prolific in their advertising and they produced a variety of cards ranging from the handsome to the comic.

This one depicts an old woman with a crutch. A little girl in a blue dress is whispering in her ear. Or—maybe she’s not whispering so much as she’s shouting into the woman’s ear because she’s deaf. Either way, the image is captioned:


At the top of the image, the Ayer’s Sarsaparilla logo is neatly printed. The artist has signed the image and included the Ayer’s company name as well as “Lowell, Mass. USA” in the lower corner.

On the reverse, we have the usual whacko ad copy—making all sorts of grand claims about something which amounts to ginger ale. Let’s see what they want us to believe.

OUR PICTURE REPRESENTS childhood and old age in happy contrast, and suggests one of the most appropriate gifts which can be made to an aged person. Ayer’s Sarsaparilla has cheered the declining years and prolonged the lives of many venerable men and women, and has proved a blessing to thousands of sufferers from debility. 

     Robert Barris (employed at S.E. & T. Stott’s), Lowell, a very old man, in whom the decrepitude of age was increased by debility caused by impoverished blood, found his vital forces rejuvenated through the effects of Ayer’s Sarsaparilla. 

     Hon. Francis Jewett, ex-Mayor of Lowell, ex-State Senator, and member of the great provision, exporting firm of Jewett & Swift, of Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Liverpool says: “Ayer’s Sarsaparilla is the only preparation of Sarsaparilla that seems to do me any real lasting good. It goes to the right spot every time. In cleansing the blood and expelling poisonous matter from the system its effects are wonderful.” 

     Mrs. Eliza Fleming, 63, of Brand St., Lowell, has been cured of fainting spells and dizziness, and her daughter of neuralgia and weakness, by Ayer’s Sarsaparilla. 

     A lady writes “I have used Ayer’s Sarsaparilla in my family for many years, and should not feel safe without it. For the relief of the pains consequent upon weakness and irregularities, I consider it without equal.” 

     Another lady says: “My daughter has taken the medicine faithfully, according to directions, and her health and spirits are now perfect. The humor is all gone from her face. I wish every anxious mother might know what a blessing Ayer’s Sarsaparilla is in such cases.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Fabergé Chick, 1907

Made for Queen Alexandra
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1862-1923) of Fabergé created this sweet little chalcedony chick in 1907. The eyes are set with cabochon rubies and she stands on chased red gold feet.

This was part of the famed Sandringham Commission wherein King Edward VII asked Fabergé to create a host of little, precious animals to add to Queen Alexandra’s growing menagerie of expensive barnyard friends. 

Though the chick is crafted of chalcedony, it still has a yellow chick-ish color to it. We’re accustomed to seeing chalcedony in its usual milky-blue-gray (almost moonstone-like) color. However, this silica-based mineral sometimes comes in a pale brownish color. This is an excellent example of that unusual hue.

Professor Pete Maggs Performs in Covent Garden

As pictures and videos trickle out from the 350th Birthday of Mr. Punch which was celebrated this past May, I'll be posting them.  In the meantime, thanks to fellow Punch and Judy Fellowship member Chris van der Craats, we have this video of the great Pete Maggs performing his show in Covent Garden last month.  Enjoy!

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...

Thirty-two white creatures
Upon a red hill.
They stamp and then champ
And then they stand still.

What are they?


And, the answer is...TEETH!
Many thanks to all those who answered.  We had some really clever and wonderful answers tonight.  Special mention to Dashwood, Darcy, April and Shawn for their witty responses.  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?

Print of the Day: Pulcinella in Rome, 1815

Click image to enlargePulcinella in Rome
Bartolomeo Pinelli, 1815
The Harry Beard Collection at
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the Harry Beard Collection at the V&A, here’s an etching of a Pulcinella Show (Mr. Punch’s Italian ancestor) being performed in Rome.

The etching was made in 1815 after a painting by Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781-1835). Pulcinella wears his traditional white robe and cap and his black half-mask. Like Mr. Punch, Pulcinella is often armed with a large stick, truncheon or cudgel which he uses to dispatch those who might prevent him from achieving his random goals.

Also interesting is the depiction of the crowd watching the show. Pulcinella, again, like Punch, is the great communicator—attracting people from all corners of life. Here, we see monks curious children, a maid, a gentleman, a middle-class mother and child, and, even a rake smoking a pipe.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 63

Chapter 63:

Bugger.” Mr. Punch snorted when he opened his eyes. “This again.” He looked around the too-familiar room—that room inside the body that he shared with Julian, the room that only the two of them could see, the elegant apartment where “Julian” passed his time as “Mr. Punch” lived life.

The room had changed slightly since the last time Punch had been called to it—it was cozier and more richly appointed than it had seemed previously. That had been before he and Robert left New Orleans for London. Since that time, Punch had lived with little interruption from Julian who seemed content to watch from inside their body, pausing every so often to make a comment which only Punch could hear.

“Well, well. That’s not the reaction that I expected. Aren’t you glad to see me?” Julian asked.

At first, Mr. Punch couldn’t see the Duke of Fallbridge. Julian was seated in a darkened corner of the ethereal “room” within their shared shell. Punch looked up and saw the Duke. He looked older than Punch remembered. He certainly looked older than the face which looked back at Punch each day when he studied his reflection in the glass.

“Here, what do I look like in here?” Punch asked.

“Don’t you remember?” Julian smiled.

“No…well, I dunno. I guess I don’t recall ever seein’ me-self when we were both together.”

“There.” Julian pointed to a mirror which Punch hadn’t noticed before. Perhaps it wasn’t there before. Maybe it was. It seemed that in that magical space of their own, whatever either could imagine could be true.

Punch grinned at his reflection. “Humpy-back.” He chuckled. “Red nose, curvy-chin.”

“See?” Julian nodded. “In here, you look as you ought to. You look exactly as you feel. In here, you are Mr. Punch.”

“Big belly.” Punch giggled, running his imaginary hands over his stout gut. “I gotta say, I enjoy lookin’ like you, Your Grace. I truly do. You got such a nice face. And, Robert likes it so, he does. But, every so often, it’s nice to look like me-self.”

“I’m glad,” Julian replied.

“Only, you look different.” Punch squinted, turning around. “You look older, you do. Older than our body looks. Why’s that?”

“I’m ill.” Julian sighed.

“We’re both ill.” Punch nodded slowly. “Well, at least, the body is, then. What’s it all ‘bout?”

“I don’t know, Punch.” Julian replied. “Not exactly. However, I have my suspicions.”

“What are they?” Punch’s eyes widened. “What you think, then?”

“Do you recall when we went to America?”

“Course.” Punch smiled.

“When we first met Robert…and he told us, well…he told us about “us”?”

“Certainly.” Punch nodded again.

“Arthur was still alive.” Julian frowned.

“Horrible man. I’ll never forgive him what he done. I hope he’s rottin’ in hell, that one.”

“I have no doubt that he is.” Julian sighed. “Do you recall, Punch, when he poisoned me--Arthur?”

“I do.” Punch answered. “How could I forget…oh…” Punch grunted. “You don’t think?”

Julian nodded.

“But, who?”

“That I cannot tell you, Mr. Punch, as I’m not entirely aware of all which happens outside of here. The longer you remain in control, the more comfortable I am. I don’t really care to pay too much attention, my dear. You’ve done quite well by us. I have no complaints—except for this illness. However, I recognize that this isn’t your doing. I’ve merely called you in here to see me so that I might share my idea. I leave it to you to sort out the details.”

“I see.” Punch sniffed. “Tell me, then. What do ya think?”


“’Bout our life?”

“What exactly about it?”

“Are ya happy?”

“Punch, I’ve never been happy. However, for the first time, I’m content. As I said, I approve of what you’ve been doing. Robert certainly was a wise choice for you, and, I must say he’s…” Julian paused, blushing slightly. “To be sure, he keeps things interesting. He has very nice hands and he’s quite gentle, which I appreciate. He’s quite handsome. I also rather like the way he smells. I know that must seem odd, but…well…it’s something that I notice. He smells quite good to me. His scent—it’s like soap, but also a bit like dinner. I can’t explain it. He has a nice scent about him.”

“I reckon he does.” Punch said slowly.

“Let’s not dwell on it.” Julian took a self-consciously deep breath. “As I was saying, I’m proud of the direction you’ve taken raising the child, my nephew. The household runs smoothly. Your designs and work are, frankly, more creative than anything I ever devised, and, you’ve found the continued favor of the Queen. So, I approve. Yes.”

“I ‘spose that’s all I can ask.” Punch shrugged.

“Let me ask you this, Mr. Punch.” Julian grinned. “Are you happy?”

“Oh, very…” Punch beamed.

“Then, we have no issues.” Julian nodded. “Now, you must awaken.”

“Why?” Punch asked. “I’ve not seen ya in months. Sure, I hear ya sometimes, I do, but it’s nice to chat with ya—like we did when you were a wee boy.”

“Charles and Gerard are concerned about you. They’ve summoned Miss Barrett.” Julian shook his head. “You must open your eyes and return to them.”

“As you wish.” Punch mumbled.

“You know I’m always in here with you,” Julian said quickly. “Never feel that you can’t speak with me.”

“Sure,” Punch winked.

“Mr. Punch?”

“Yes?” Punch asked.

“I’m proud of you.” Julian said softly. “I know I said it already, however, it’s worth repeating.”

“Thank you, Your Grace.” Punch chirped.

“Now, open your eyes.” Julian whispered.

Punch opened his eyes. Gone was the room—that private, phantom room—replaced with the sight of his own bedchamber in the house on Belgrave Square. Gone was Julian… Charles and Gerard stared down at their master, looking concerned.

“Oh, Your Grace,” Charles gasped. “Thank goodness.”

“You had us worried, Sir.” Gerard grinned down at Punch as he blinked his eyes quickly.

“Were you asleep, Your Grace?” Charles asked.

“No,” Punch mumbled. “I was inside.”

“Pardon?” Gerard tilted his head.

“Nothin’, Gerry.” Punch rasped. “Ain’t nothin’. I…were…I were really sleepy.”

“We’ll let you rest, Sir.” Charles smiled.

“No.” Punch answered. “Please, stay with me. Least ‘til Dr. Halifax comes.”

“Yes, Sir.” Gerard agreed. Charles nodded, too.

“I wanna talk with you two ‘bout somethin’.” Punch began.

“What’s that, Sir?” Charles asked.

“Poison.” Punch coughed. “I wanna talk ‘bout poison.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-62? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 64 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

Drawing of the Day: Hassall's Punch and Judy Show

Click Image to Enlarge--go ahead, it's pretty.Color Illustration on Paper by John Hassall
After an earlier, larger painting
Twentieth Century
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Created in the early Twentieth Century by John Hassall (1868-1948), this illustration depicts a crowd of people watching a Punch and Judy Show. 

Hassall actually created this color illustration on paper as a copy of a larger painting which he had finished earlier.  It's an interesting image--set in the Eighteenth Century, but drawn with facial features and expressions clearly out of the 1920s.  A young man, perhaps a teen, acts as the professor while an older man stands by as the bottler.  We see the young man in the fit-up, from behind, as he performs.  A real Dog Toby waits patiently, wearing his ruff and a jumbled basket of puppets awaits use.

Object of the Day: One of Cruikshank's Punch Drawings, 1828

Mr Punch with Jim Crow and the Blind Man
George Cruikshank, 1828
Engraving, 1859
Lacy & Larker, Ltd.
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The great George Cruikshank (1792-1859) created some of the most enduring images of Mr. Punch. In fact, Cruikshank’s illustrations of the traditional puppet show remain the benchmark for the look of Punch and his puppet friends.

Here, we see some illustration proofs (nos. 1437-1438) for the fourth edition of “Punch & Judy” which was first published by the firm of Lacy and Parker. This work contained the famed play “The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy” which was famously illustrated by George Cruikshank in 1828.

The two etchings are printed in black ink on India paper and both depict scenes from the traditional “Punch & Judy” show as performed in a puppet theatre or “fit-up.”

The top etching shows Jim Crow--Punch's servant—who has been defeated, killed and thrown off the stage by Punch. The etching below this shows Mr. Punch taking the Blind Man's staff prior to knocking him off the stage too.

This Mr. Punch hasn’t been civilized yet. But, that what makes him so lovable. 

These particular etchings, being from the fourth edition of “The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy,” were produced in 1859 based on Cruikshank’s 1828 illustrations. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: The Bertie Feeder

"Come on, it was just my birthday.  All I want is a sample.  You—you’re a chicken hog is what you are!"

Image:  The Poultry Seller,  Richard Heighway, 1787-1793, The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Since this is Bertie's birthday week, he'd like for me to remind you that our online store is full of beautiful Bertie Dog products just waiting for you to take them home.

Mastery of Design: The Dame Joan Evans Micromosaic Brooch, 1820-30

Micromosaic set in Silver-Gilt Filigree
Rome, 1820-30
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the 1820s to the 1890s, micromosaic panels of colored glass were popular souvenirs brought back by tourists to Rome. The panels were often set as jewelry, into the lids of boxes, into decorative items, or even into pieces of furniture.

Here we see such a micromosaic piece which was brought back from Italy to England by a tourist between 1820 and 1830. The octagonal Roman panel of a bird (maybe a pheasant) is comprised of tesserae (small pieces of glass) and was set into a brooch of silver-gilt filigree. The silver-gilt resembles volutes of string in a style which was quite fashionable in the late 1820s.

The piece forms part of the collection of Dame Joan Evans.

Painting of the Day: Bogdani's Birds and Fruit in a Landscape, c. 1708

Birds and Fruit in a Landscape
Jakob Bogdani, 1708-1710
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Jakob Bogdani (c. 1660-1720) created this lovely and colorful painting between 1708 and 1710 either for King William III or Queen Anne. The piece is done in the Dutch style. In Holland, Melchior de Hondecoeter (1636-95) had established the fashion for large-scale paintings devoted to showcasing exotic birds in the setting of a formal garden. Soon, the fashion spread and was emulated by artists like Bogdani for important aristocratic or royal clientele.

Bogdani was born in Hungary and moved to Amsterdam in 1684. There, he saw first-hand the works of Melchior de Hondecoeter and learned from the artist. Soon Bogdani had perfected his own specialty-- the depiction of plants, birds and animals. By 1688, Bogdani settled in England, where, according to George Vertue, he was }much encouraged” by Queen Anne as well as hired to work as a court artist for William III.

This piece is actually one of a pair of bird scenes created at the same time by Bogdani. Some say they were for Queen Anne, but they could have easily been commissioned by William III. The existence of the paintings was first recorded in the “Painted Staircase” at Kensington Palace during the reign of George I. On the left of this canvas, a large cockatoo is perched on a stone near a large tree trunk. Meanwhile, to the right, parrots and passerines gather around a cluster of peaches, grapes and fruits.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Fabergé Cockatoo on a Hanging Perch, 1900

Cockatoo on a Hanging Perch
Michael Perchin
Commissioned by King Edward VII, 1900
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (1860-1903) (also known as Michael Perchin) created this figure of agate, olivines, gold and enamel in 1900 for Fabergé. King Edward VII commissioned the figure for his consort, Queen “I can’t hear you, Bertie” Alexandra.

Alexandra passed the time collecting these Fabergé figures while Edward VII collected music hall girls and his friends’ wives. By her death in 1925, she had amassed a veritable menagerie of little jeweled animals, a collection which was further grown by her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary.

This cockatoo of agate with olivine eyes and gold claws is exceptionally fine and an excellent representation of Perchin’s work. The bird sits upon a silver gilt hanging perch and stand with a pole of green enamel.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 62

Chapter 62: 
Call Him Back 

Doctor,” Prince Albert gasped as Dr. Snow lumbered out of the Queen’s bedchamber. “How is Her Majesty?”

“I’ve given Her Majesty the chloroform.” Dr. Snow responded sharply.

“And?” The Prince spat.

“Her Majesty ejected me from the room.” Dr. Snow retorted.

“I don’t understand.” Prince Albert barked. “How is this possible? You’ve administered the chloroform.”

“Her Majesty is dissatisfied with me. She has been most clear about this, Prince Albert.” Dr. Snow replied curtly.

“So you will leave Your Queen?” Prince Albert’s eyes widened.

“The Queen does not want me, Your Majesty.” Dr. Snow bellowed.

“Who does she want, then?” Prince Albert snapped.

“Him!” Dr. Snow pointed to Robert who was sitting quietly and patiently in the corner of the anteroom.

“Very well, Dr. Snow.” Prince Albert growled. “You may wait here. Dr. Halifax, Your Queen has summoned you.”

Robert rose nervously from his chair. “Will you accompany me, Your Majesty?”

“Good heavens, no, man!” Prince Albert roared. “I cannot go in there!”

Robert nodded. Bracing himself, he walked toward the door to the Queen’s private chamber and knocked lightly on the door before entering. “It’s just a woman giving birth,” Robert thought to himself. “It’s no different than any other.”

He bowed upon entering the room. “Your Majesty asked for me?”

“Come here!” The Queen moaned. The effects of the chloroform were becoming evident. Her speech was slurred and her eyelids were heavy.

“Your Majesty,” Robert walked to the bed where the Queen lay, her legs spread and her knees up.

“Get it out of me.” The Queen moaned. “For God’s sake get the little beast out of me.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Robert nodded as the Queen drifted off.

Removing his jacket and rolling up his sleeves, Robert knew that the survival of the eighth child of the Queen and Prince Consort depended on him alone.

Meanwhile, back at No. 65 Belgrave Square, Gerard whooped with joy. “Ha! I won!”

“Yes, you did.” Punch said softly, leaning back from the game board which Charles and Gerard had set up on his bed.

Charles and Gerard exchanged glances.

“I’m sorry, Your Grace.” Gerard whispered.

“What for?” Punch asked, making himself smile.

“For winning, Sir.” Gerard smiled sheepishly.

“Ain’t that the point of playin’ a game?” Punch asked.

“I shouldn’t have beaten you, Sir.” Gerard continued.

“Why? Cuz I’m a Duke? Don’t be silly, Gerry.” Punch mumbled.

“Can we get you anything, Sir?” Charles asked, seeing that their master was feeling worse.

“No.” Punch shook his head feebly.

“Do you wanna play another round, then?” Gerard asked.

“Dunno.” Mr. Punch answered. “Maybe not.”

“We can let you rest, Sir.” Charles nodded.

“No.” Punch rasped. “Don’t leave me.”

“Yes, Sir.” Gerard nodded, clearing the game off of the bed. He and Gerard put the pieces of the complicated board game back in their wooden box.

Once they’d finished, Gerard smiled at the Duke. “May we sit, Sir?”

“Sure. I’d like that.” Punch mumbled weakly.

Charles nodded and Gerard pulled two of the upholstered chairs from near the mantel toward the side of the bed.

“Don’t forget a third one.” Punch muttered.

“Third one, Sir?” Charles asked.

“Sure.” Punch whispered.

“For who, Sir?” Charles said playfully. “Dog Toby’s on his cushion. Has been since Georgie brought him up. Don’t think he needs a chair, Sir.”

“Not for Dog Toby.” Punch rasped.

“For who, then?” Gerard asked seriously.

“For Naasir.” Punch squinted.

“Naasir?” Gerard raised his eyebrows.

“Naasir was His Grace’s man before me. The African bloke who was killed in New Orleans.” Charles whispered to Gerard.

“Well, I know that.” Gerard frowned. “Gamilla’s told me all ‘bout him. But…”

Charles shrugged.

“What are you two talkin’ ‘bout?” Punch grumbled.

“Your Grace,” Charles spoke up, “why do you think we need a chair for Naasir?”

“Cuz he’s here.” Punch said clearly.

“You see ‘im, Sir?” Gerard asked nervously.

“No.” Punch shrugged. “But, I know he’s here. Saw him, I did—once. He came to me. After he died. Saw him in me own thoughts. He spoke to me and helped me. He’s here now, too. Tryin’ to help. Make a place for him.”

Gerard and Charles looked at one another. Finally, Charles rose and dragged another chair over.

“I…” Punch coughed.

“What is it, Your Grace?” Charles asked gently. “I can’t see so well.”

“Shall I light some more candles?” Gerard asked quickly.

Charles shook his head. “Close your eyes, Your Grace. It’s time to rest.”

“It’s cold in here, it is.” Punch sighed.

Gerard rose to go stoke the fire.

“Ohhh…” Punch moaned.

“Your Grace?” Charles rose and leaned over his master.

Mr. Punch closed his eyes.

“Your Grace?” Charles repeated, gently touching his employer’s arm.

Mr. Punch did not respond.

“Sir?” Charles said urgently, shaking the Duke’s body slightly.

Still, no response.

“Charlie?” Gerard asked, walking closer.

“He’s not waking up.” Charles said, terror creeping into his voice.

“What do we do?” Gerard trembled. “The doctor’s at the palace!”

“Call for Miss Barrett, I think.” Charles said quickly. “Go on up to the nursery and get her. She’s got some trainin’ as a nurse. I’ll ring for Mr. Speaight.”

“Don’t worry, Your Grace.” Charles said from across the room. “We’ll help you. We’ll get you back.”

If only the two men knew where Mr. Punch had gone, they’d both have known that it was too late to call him back.

Did you miss Chapters 1-61? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 63 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

The Home Beautiful: The Cockatoo Fire Screen, c. 1850

Fire Screen of Berlin Woolwork
English, 1847
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This beauty is a masterful example of the popular embroidery technique of “Berlin Woolwork,” so-called because the first printed patterns and dyed wools came from Berlin. Berlin Woolwork was fashionable in Britain between 1830 and the 1870s. Patterns for these pieces were sold individually, or, they could be purchased as kits with the required wools. By 1847, fourteen thousand different Berlin Woolwork patterns were available to consumers in Britain.

This fire screen panel is created of Berlin Woolwork on a taupe linen canvas. The embroidered scene depicts a sulphur-crested cockatoo (a bird from Australia) perched atop a tipped basket overflowing with flowers. A garden background sets the scene with elegant statuary and trees. The background, however, is remains un-worked.

The person responsible for working the scene has shown incredible skill, and has created a sense of realism with the use of plush stitch for the plumage of the cockatoo and cross-stitch in other places for additional texture. The Woolwork was used for a fire screen. The whole piece was assembled in the early 1850s.

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Florida Water

Florida Water, an American Eau de Cologne, was introduced in 1808 by the New York City perfumer I. Murray who marketed the cologne as a light fragrance appropriate for use by both men and young ladies. The scent is citrus base with a dominant sweet orange aroma with added notes of lavender and clove. 

The bottle today.
In 1835, Mr. Murray was joined by David Trumbull Lanman and the Florida Water concern became known as “Murray & Lanman.” The company contends that their product still is made using the original 1808 formula, and that the current label is essentially the same artwork used in 1808 with only slight modifications.

Here’s a trade card from 1886 for Florida Water which I recently acquired with a large job lot of antique ephemera. It’s quite attractive, yes? The front shows a bottle of Florida Water being cooled in a clear lake. Upon its neck sits a handsome cockatoo who is framed by a luxurious background of palms, roses and exotic plants. All of this effectively puts one in mind of a cooling, fragrant product. Having recently seen a new bottle of Florida water for sale, I can attest that the marketing is essentially the same to this day. 

The reverse of the card reads:



The Universal Perfume



Professor Alexander Wassiliewitsch Poehl 

Analyzing Chemist for the Russian Gov- 

ernment, St. Petersburg: 

“Murray & Lanman’s FLORIDA WATER 
does not contain any integral parts 
which could be pernicious to health.” 

“The comparative investigation has 
shown that Murray & Lanman’s FLORIDA 
WATER possesses in a volatilized state 
a greater ability and power to purify 
the air than ‘Eau de Cologne;’ and in 
this respect Murray and Lanman’s FLORIDA 
WATER is far preferable to the well- 
Known Cologne Waters.” 

No. 6404 – Sept. 30th, 1886

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mastery of Design: A Mourning Ring for Matthew Arnold, 1742

Mourning Ring
Enamel, Rose-Cut Diamonds and Gold
England, 1742
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This attractive mourning ring, enameled in white, was made to commemorate the death of a baby, Matthew Arnold, who died at the age of eight months in 1742. The use of white enamel, rather than black, generally denotes that the piece was made as a memorial for a child, a spinster or a bachelor.  This example is set with rose-cut diamonds.

So, who was this child?  Matthew Arnold was possibly the son of Matthew Arnold, Sr. (born in 1711) and his wife Charity. The senior Matthew was a merchant, and an owner of boats in Lowestoft in Suffolk, and later in Wapping in London.  It is possible that this family was a distant relation to Matthew Arnold, the Nineteenth Century poet, whose family also had its origins in Lowestoft.