Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Dame Joan Evans Greek Necklace, 200 B.C.

Hellenistic, Greek
Owned by Dame Joan Evans
The Victoria & Albert Museum

That Dame Joan Evans! She certainly had some great jewelry—and, thankfully, she left it to the V&A so that we can all enjoy it. Dame Joan’s collection wasn’t just limited to items made during her own lifetime, she collected jewels from antiquity onward. Here’s an exceptional example of a Hellenistic Greek piece from Dame Joan’s monumental collection.

By the Hellenistic period (323-27 BC), Greek jewelers were introducing more colorful stones in their work, slowly making color one of the most important aspects of the era. With settings of gold, the Greeks favored garnets above all other stones. They, however, also used emeralds, carnelian, rock crystal, agates, onyxes or lapis-lazuli. While the stones were not cut and faceted in the manner to which we are accustomed now, the stones were presented in their best possible light. The stones were pierced, cut, abraded and polished and carved. Some gems were left in their natural crystalline state in order to showcase their original beauty. Often, colored glass was used in imitation of stone. For example in this necklace, glass was used to imitate onyx and pearl. 

Hellenistic Greek necklaces, were typically worn tight around the neck, like a contemporary choker or ribbon. Sometimes, they were made to be worn in a looser fashion at the base of the neck. This necklace is a good example of the type of enclosure used--tied at the back by means of a cord. Greek ladies liked to wear their necklaces in multiples, especially alternating necklaces with simple beads with one of more a more elaborate form like this one which is comprised of female heads, gold with granulation, garnet, emerald, and the aforementioned glass in imitation of onyx and pearl. It was made between 200 and 100 B.C. 

History's Runway: The Pudding Safety Hat, 1775-1800

"Pudding" or "Safety" Hat
Britain, 1775-1800
The Victoria & Albert Museum

A “pudding” hat was essentially a safety hat designed for a young child to wear while learning to walk. The hat was designed to be fastened around the head, horizontally, above the ears. The name comes from the resemblance of the rolled part of the hat to the sort of English sausage known as “pudding.” This horseshoe-shaped roll of glazed cotton would feature four lightly padded triangular flaps attached at regular intervals. Two of these flaps fastened together over the head.

This type of “pudding” hat was very popular for children during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Not only was it cute, but it served to protect a tot’s soft, smooshy head for injury should he or she take a tumble while staggering about in that way that babies have. Clearly, I’m not a parent… 

The sausage-like horseshoe-shaped roll on this “pudding” hat is constructed of glazed pink cotton. This includes a padded white linen inner piece which has been stiffened with wire and card, and a black petersham ribbon tie at each end. The four lightly padded triangular flaps are also stiffened with card and attached to the roll at regular intervals (partly covering the crown of the head). The edges of the triangular flaps and the top seam of the roll are all edged with narrow black velvet ribbon. This hat was made in the U.K. between 1775 and 1800. 

The Art of Play: The Buhler Tin Monkey, c. 1950

Tin Monkey
Made in England
Circa 1950
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Tin Monkey! Yay! From the Michael Buhler collection of tin toys at the V&A, we have this English toy monkey which was made around 1950. The very first tin toys appeared in the U.S. in the Nineteenth Century, but the medium quickly spread to Europe where it was employed for decades. 

Chances are, this handsome monkey was designed to be part of a circus set. He has blue trousers painted on and a red and cream vest top with yellow ribbon edging Clearly, he is costumed for a circus act. At his left simian side, there is a hole on where a key or winder could fit. Winding the mechanism allowed for his arms and legs to spin all the way around--enabling the monkey to do a fine somersault.

Unusual Artifacts: The Coventry Town Ribbon, 1851

Coventry Town Ribbon
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This silk, jacquard-woven bonnet ribbon was not made for use, but rather was made to demonstrate the work of the manufacturer and their technical abilities. The piece was made specifically for the Great Exhibition of 1851 where it was praised for its intricate detail and the realism of the floral design.

Made in Coventry, England, sadly, the ribbon’s specific maker is unknown. However, it was designed by one M. Clack who was a pupil of Coventry School of Art. The people of Coventry were very proud of the honors which the ribbon received at the Great Exhibition and soon found that the appearance of this ribbon helped to increase the demand for Coventry-made ribbon products such as trimmings, bookmarks and other woven keepsakes. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 76

Chapter 76: 


Whatever do you mean, Miss Barrett?” Gamilla asked, stepping forward. “Where you been? The whole household’s gone out their heads lookin’ for ya. The masters and all.”

“Don’t come near me!” Ellen yelped, pressing her back against the door. “Don’t bring the baby near me!”

“Why-ever not?” Gamilla asked, stopping in her tracks.

“I’m ill, terribly, terribly ill.”

“Is ya?” Gamilla asked. “Poor dear, you did look poorly in the carriage. What’s troublin’ ya?”

“Everything. I think I have a horrible fever.” Ellen moaned.

“I’m so sorry for to hear it.” Gamilla said gently. “But, if you been sick, why not come to me or Mr. Speaight or Mrs. Pepper. Don’t ya think goin’ out on the moors would make it worse, Miss Ellen?”

“I don’t understand,” Ellen coughed.

“You done went out, Miss.” Gamilla answered.

“No. No, I didn’t.”

“Sure ya did.” Gamilla squinted. “That’s why everyone’s been lookin’ for ya.”

“I was in my room.”

“They done searched your room, Miss Ellen.” Gamilla shook her head.

“Are you calling me a liar?”

“Well, no, Miss Ellen. But, Mrs. North done looked in your room. Mrs. Pepper did, too.”

“Did they look under the bed?”

“Under the bed, Miss?” Gamilla raised her eyebrows.

“I must have fainted and rolled under the bed. That’s where I awoke.”

“That don’t make sense.” Gamilla frowned thoughtfully. “I done fainted before and I don’t recall fallin’ and rollin’.”

“Well, that’s what happened!” Ellen howled.

“As you say, Miss.” Gamilla nodded. She placed Collin in his cradle and walked forward.

“I told you not to come near me!” Ellen wailed.

“I ain’t, Miss Ellen. I’m goin’ for the bell for to ring for Mr. Speaight.”

“Why?” Ellen asked.

“So folks know to stop lookin’ for ya. The boys and Finlay are out roamin’ the estate. The stablemen is lookin’ for ya. The maids done crawled all over the castle and, even the masters is out lookin’.”

“I’m so sorry to have put everyone to so much trouble.” Ellen whispered. “If only they’d just looked under…”

“Yes, under the bed.” Gamilla nodded, ringing the bell. “Miss, I don’t wanna be impolite, but if you is ill, maybe you’d ought not be in the nursery.”

“Of course,” Ellen nodded, turning around the open the door. “How is Colin?”

“He’s a good boy, Miss.” Ellen smiled. “You heard him—he done said his first word. His pappy’s name.”

“Yes, I heard.” Ellen sniffed. “He must love his father very much.”

“Most folk do, Miss.”

“Most.” Ellen scowled.

“Why don’t we go out in the corridor, Miss?” Gamilla nodded.

“We?” Ellen shook her head. “You can’t leave Colin. With me in this condition, you’re going to have to look after him for awhile.”

“Oh, I know.” Gamilla smiled. “That’s fine, Miss. Only, I’m gonna step out into the corridor and stay with ya ‘til Mr. Speaight comes.”

“What if Colin needs something?”

“I’ll hear him through the door, Miss.” Gamilla said brightly.

“You don’t have to watch me.”

“Well, Miss Ellen, if you’re this poorly, I think I’d best. Mr. Speaight can help ya back to your room and, then, we can fetch Dr. Halifax to have a look at ya.”

“He can’t.” Ellen shook her head as Gamilla essentially forced her out into the passage.

“Why not?” Gamilla squinted. “The doctor done examines ladies all the time. You don’t think he’s gonna look at ya? Even if he did, he’s…well, it won’t be nothin’ to him.”

“It’s not that.” Ellen puffed. “If Dr. Halifax examines me, he could become contaminated. The Duke is just recovering. He’s already weakened. We can’t afford to spread this to His Grace.”

“I’m sure the doctor knows what to do.”

“Good Heavens!’ A man’s voice bellowed from the end of the passage. “Miss Barrett, what in the name of God have you been doing?”

Ellen and Gamilla turned around to see the Duke and the doctor followed by Speaight.

“Speaight said you’d rung, Gamilla.” Mr. Punch said as they got closer. “Dr. Halifac and I thought we’d come and check on Colin since we’d given up the search for Miss Barrett.”

“With good reason,” Robert growled. “How long have you been here.”

“Dr. Halifax,” Gamilla began. “Miss Ellen says she’s sick, Sir.”

“So you come to my infant son’s room?” Robert snapped. “Are you aware that every member of the staff has been searching for you?”

“I am now, Sir.” Ellen lowered her head.

“Where on Earth have you been?” Robert demanded.

“In my room, Sir.”

“The hell you were.” Robert scowled.

“Chum…” Punch whispered.

“Your Grace!” Robert moaned. “She’s lying…”

Punch shook his head. “Miss Barrett, you know your room was searched.”

“She says she fainted, Sirs, and rolled under the bed.” Gamilla explained.

Ellen frowned, but nodded.

“Is that so?” Punch asked. “I’ve fainted and I don’t think I rolled after I fell.”

“Honestly…” Robert shook his head.

“I know it sounds strange, Sir. But, I’m dreadfully ill.”

“We shall see if you are.” Robert snorted. He turned to Speaight. “Speaight, I’d like to borrow Gamilla for a few moments. I’d like her to attend while I examine Miss Barrett. Will you please ask Charles to sit with Colin?”

“Charles, Gerard and Finlay are still out looking for Miss Barrett, Sir.” Speaight answered softly.

“Oh, I’d forgotten…” Robert muttered.

“I’ll stay with me boy.” Punch chirped.

“Oh, thank you, my dear.” Robert nodded.

“He done said his first word, Your Grace.” Gamilla said proudly.

“Did he?” Punch whooped. “What was it?”

“It was ‘Punch,’ Sir.”

“How ‘bout that.” Punch beamed.

“I couldn’t be prouder.” Robert blushed. “I hate to think that we missed it. Actually,” he glowered at Ellen, “had we not been on a fool’s escapade, we wouldn’t have.”

“Dr. Halfax,” Ellen moaned. “I’m sorry to have caused this trouble, but…” Suddenly, her eyelids began to flutter.

“Miss Barrett…” Punch narrowed his eyes.

“I…” Ellen rasped just before she fell in a heap on the cold, stone floor. Her body shuddered for a moment, and with a great spasm, she rolled slightly to the right.

“Very dramatic.” Robert mumbled, stepping out of the way.

“Maybe she got that illness what gives a body fits. Ya know—all shakin’ and thrashin’ and such. Had an uncle like that on the Molliner side. Used to flop about like fish, he did. The Duchess hated him. But, it could ‘xplain why she found herself under the bed.”

“That’s interesting thinking, dear Punch. However, this is not quite how that illness presents itself, my dear.” Robert sighed.

“Oh.” Punch shrugged. “I got no idea, then.”

Punch, Speaight, Robert and Gamilla all stood looking at one another for a few seconds.

“Perhaps we should move her, Sir.” Speaight said after a bit.

“I suppose so.” Robert sighed.

“I’ll take her feet, Sir.” Speaight nodded. Together, he and Robert picked up the woman.

“Gamilla, will you come with us, please?” Robert asked.

“Of course.” Gamilla nodded.

“I’ll be with Colin,” Punch shrugged. “What you gonna do with Miss Barrett?”

“I’m going to examine her.” Robert said over his shoulder as they slowly carried her off. “And, if she’s ill, I will help her. If she’s not, she’s going to have to find her way back from Scotland on her own.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-75? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 77 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

Gifts of Grandeur: Prince Albert’s Bookmark, 1840

Book Mark of Gold and Gemstones
Given by the Duchess of Kent to Prince Albert at his 1840 Wedding to Queen Victoria
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This handsome bookmark was made in 1840 and was given as a gift by the Duchess of Kent (Queen Victoria’s Mother) to Prince Albert on the day of his marriage to Queen Victoria—February 10.

The gold bookmark was inserted into the prayer book which Prince Albert held on his wedding day. The structure of gold hangs from green silk ribbons. It is set with eight gemstones which spell out the name, “Victoria.” Let’s take a look at it, beginning with the deep red stone at the top, center.

V – Vermillion. This deep red stone is actually a garnet. At the time, it was commonly called “Vermeil” for vermillion as a description of its color. In modern jewelry terms, this can be quite confusing since the term now refers to silver which has been plated in a metallic blend of gold and other alloys. 
I – Jargoon. Yeah, I know. That doesn’t begin with an “I.” However, in 1840, a “J” was often used in place of an “I.” 
C – Chrysolite. Wow. This one actually means what it is and starts with the right letter. 
T – Turquoise. 
O – Opal 
R – Ruby 
I – Jargoon, again. By the way, this is a reddish-amber colored natural zircon. 
A – Amethyst

Object of the Day: An Antique Bookmark

Click picture for enlarged image.

Sometimes, trade cards were made to have a purpose beyond being glued in an album and reminding people about a company or product. This “Dakota” book store cleverly had these elongated cards printed to be used as bookmarks.

Clearly, the printing of the company’s information was an after-the-fact decision since it runs over the chromolithograph beneath, making the text somewhat unreadable with normal eyes. Over a scene of a happy bird family, the copy reads:

Place me in your book and when in need of 
Buy them from 
Max Fishel & Bro. 
Deadwood,                        Dak.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Fabergé Guinea Pig, 1907

Guinea Pig
Agate and Rubies
Made as part of the Sandringham Commission, 1907
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Here’s another of Queen Alexandra’s little Fabergé animals. Another creation from the Sandringham Commission of 1907, this critter was among the many that King Edward VII had made for his consort. 

Made of agate with eyes of cabochon rubies, this little fella, sitting on his haunches, is a guinea pig. And, he’s very cute. That’s about all there is to say about him. 

The Art of Play: The Arthur William Ford Punch, 1937

Mr. Punch Figure
Made in 1937 by Arthur Quisto
Used by Arthur William Ford
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This puppet figure of Mr. Punch is one of a set which was used by Punchman Arthur William Ford (1901-1974) who was known professionally as “Professor Gordon Bavister.” The figures were purchased by Ford in 1937 and were made by the master puppet-maker Arthur Quisto (1882-1960).

The glove puppet features a hand-painted and carved wooden face with inset blue glass eyes. He wears Punch’s traditional conical hat, tunic and breeches, however, he has been outfitted in a ruddy orange as opposed to the usual bright red.

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.  Yes, it's another long one.  Here we go... No cheating...

My form is beauteous to the ravish'd sight,
My habit gay, my color gold or white.
When ladies take the air, it is my pride
To walk with equal pace close by their side,
And, though no powdered beau, beau-like converse,
And in set speech I give an answer terse:
I near their person constantly remain,
A fav'rite slave bound in a golden chain;
The seaman by me plough the ocean wide,
Longitude measure, and latitude divide;
And though I can both speak and go alone,
Yet are my motions to myself unknown.

And, the answer is...

A Pocket Watch.

Thanks to all of you who answered.  Special mention to Darcy, Dashwood, Sam P., April and Gene for your very clever answers.  We learned a lot today about mimes and the ability of sheep to float.  So, a good day.  Come back next week 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?

Friday Fun: A Pulcinella Show in Covent Garden

At this year’s May Fayre in Covent Garden, people from all over the world gathered to celebrate Mr. Punch’s 35oth birthday, so it was only natural that among the human revelers, some of Punch’s puppet cousins would be in attendance. Since Mr. Punch is a descendant of Pulcinella, I’m glad to know that the black-masked puppet made an appearance at Punch’s birthday festivities. 

Here’s a Pulcinella show from the event as performed by Phillipe Saumont, Irene Vecchia and Gianluca Di Matteo. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 75

Chapter 75: 
First and Last 

Gamilla sat, cradling Colin, in the small nursery which Mrs. North had created in the former dressing room of the Duke of Fallbridge. The space was much smaller than the suite of rooms which comprised the nursery at No. 65 Belgrave Square. Still, Gamilla, concluded, it was equally luxurious.

There was something about the castle which Gamilla found enchanting. Perhaps it was because, with its turrets and spires, it reminded Gamilla of the stories she so enjoyed when she first learned to read. She looked down at Colin and smiled. “Look at all this, Master Colin. One day, all this will be yours.” She sighed, adding, “but not for a long, long time, I pray.”

As the tall, thickly-carved door scraped open, Gamilla rose, expecting the Duke and the doctor to come into the room.

“Mrs. Pepper.” Gamilla smiled.

“Thought I’d bring ya your tea.” Mrs. Pepper smiled, carrying in a large tray.

“Oh, you shouldn’t do that. Ain’t fit for you to carry.” Gamilla shook her head.

“Now, now, it’s good for me every so often. Besides, the whole household is at sixes and sevens lookin’ for Miss Barrett—foolish girl. I wonder if she knows what trouble she’s caused.”

“I hope she’s not fallen into harm,” Gamilla sighed, settling back onto the sofa.

“Much as I hate to say it, Gamilla,” Mrs. Pepper snorted, sitting down next to the girl, “She’d better be in some kind of danger to cause this much trouble. Just think. The masters, Mr. Speaight, the boys—even Mrs. North and the Grange’s staff, they’re all out there lookin’ for her. Meanwhile, the Duke and Dr. Halifax haven’t had their tea. Staff dinner will be later than it should, for sure, and certainly upstairs dinner will be very late. It ain’t fair.”

“I don’t think Miss Barrett would do this on purpose.” Gamilla shook her head. “Sure, I don’t. For true.”

“You like that girl, then?” Mrs. Pepper smiled.

“She been very nice to me, Mrs. Pepper.” Gamilla nodded.

“Well, then, you just go on likin’ her. I don’t know why. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that she’s not harmed. Maybe she’s just lost. But, she shouldn’t have wandered off without tellin’ no one. I don’t know what she’s like. I just don’t.”

“Thank you for the tea, Mrs. Pepper.” Gamilla smiled.

“My pleasure, dear.” Mrs. Pepper nodded, rising from the sofa. “I’d best get back to the kitchen. Never thought I’d say this, but I’m lost without my Jenny and Ethel.”

“When Miss Barrett returns, I’ll come in and help ya.” Gamilla offered. “I know my way ‘round a kitchen.”

“Wouldn’t be right,” Mrs. Pepper squinted. “Actin’ as a kitchen maid—it’s beneath you.”

“Makin’ sure our family eats ain’t beneath me. Besides, Mrs. Pepper, I’d like to help you.”

“Well, I may just take you up on it. God knows the cook won’t lift a finger for me.”


“She’s put out that the Duke brought me. Says she’s been feedin’ this house for ten years and she don’t need me. Says she could have fed His Grace and the doctor if she needed to without my uppity help.”

“But, didn’t you tell her that His Grace only brought you so as not to add to her burden?”

“I did. You know what she did, the sow? She called me a liar!”

“I never.” Gamilla shook her head. “Well, don’t let it bother ya, Mrs. Pepper.”

“Oh, I won’t.” Mrs. Pepper winked. “Now, will you be wantin’ your supper on a tray later? I can bring it to ya or send Gerry.”

“I hope to join the others in the servants’ hall. Providin’, of course, Miss Barrett comes back.”

“Let’s hope she does, dear.” Mrs. Pepper nodded. “You just ring if you need anything, then.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Pepper. You’re so kind.”

“We gotta stick together in these strange places. Ain’t gonna let these Scots tell us what to do. We’re His Grace’s primary staff, you know. Ain’t no way ‘round it.”

“No, Mrs. Pepper.” Gamilla nodded.

Mrs. Pepper offered one more nod of punctuation before leaving the room.

Alone with the baby, Gamilla giggled. “Poor Mrs. Pepper. She don’t like to be challenged, does she, Master Colin?”

The child looked up at her with wide eyes, gurgling a bit.

“You tryin’ to tell me somethin’?” Gamilla asked.

Colin put his lips together and puffed out air, making a “P” sound.

“Well, well, Master Colin! Ain’t that good?”

“Puh…puh…puh…” Colin repeated.

“Are you tryin’…?” Gamilla smiled.

“Puh…nnnnn” Colin replied carefully.

“That’s it, boy.” Gamilla chirped.

“Puh…nnnnn…ch.” Colin said slowly. “Punch.”

“Oh!” Gamilla whooped. “You done said your pappy’s name! What a good boy!”

Gamilla stood and twirled the child in the air.

“Punch!” He shrieked happily.

“Your first word, my big, big boy!” Gamilla laughed loudly.

So caught up in the joy and pride she was feeling, Gamilla didn’t notice that the door to the room had opened and closed.

“I’m so proud,” Gamilla chuckled, hugging the boy.

And, then, she looked up—her eyes widening in confusion.

“Miss!” Gamilla exclaimed upon seeing Ellen Barrett standing before her.

“He’s said his first word, then?” Ellen whispered.

“Yes.” Gamilla nodded.

“How appropriate since these, I’m sure, will be my last.” Ellen replied.

Did you miss Chapters 1-74? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 76.

Print of the Day: Il Carnevale in Roma, 18th C.

Il Carnavale in Roma
Eighteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Entitled “Il Carnevale in Roma,” this engraving was published by an unknown company sometime in the Eighteenth Century. 

The scene depicts a group of people dressed for a mask ball during carnival. From left to right there are two figures with who have donned costume horses’ heads, another figure wears a turkey head, there’s a clown, a Pulcinella--on a monkey--and two more masqueraders.

I must confess, I was tickled when reading the V&A's description of this piece.  They state that the Pulcinella is riding a "monkey."  Now, I know it was a typo and they meant "donkey," but I rather like the idea of a Pulcinella riding a monkey.  It seems like something one would do.

Object of the Day: A Set Theobald & Co. Punch & Judy Magic Lantern Slides

Click image for larger size.

Click image for larger size.

Click image for larger size.

Though they were one of Britain’s major manufacturers of Magic Lantern slides in the late Nineteenth Century, it’s very difficult to find information on Theobald & Co. In fact, most internet searches on the subject lead you right here to this site since I’ve spent a great deal of time writing about them. That happens here quite a lot. I’ll look for something and end up with an article that I wrote on the subject. That’s not helpful. I already know what I know. Errrr…something like that.

I’m not sure what else there could be to learn about the Magic Lantern manufacturer which started out as the J. Theobald & Co. I managed to find their 1890 catalog which is filled with over a dozen series of slides about then-current events, biblical themes and fairy tales.

The company first came to my attention because of the (incomplete) set of Theobald & Co. Magic Lantern Slides which were added to the George Speaight Punch & Judy Archive at the V&A. Of course, you’ve seen those over the last few weeks and regular readers know of my quest to collect the complete set of twelve, hand-colored slides depicting the traditional antics of Mr. Punch. I first added the slide of Mr. Punch’s introduction to Joey the Clown to my collection.

And, then…then…there were these.

Now, these slides, dating the about 1900, are not the larger, single Magic Lantern slides, instead, these scenes are presented on longer, narrow glass strips which were used for smaller Magic Lanterns. These smaller, hand-colored slides, as opposed to the larger ones which were inserted one at a time, were moved in front of the lens on a metal clip. You can see where the black paint (designed to block the light so that it only shone through the roundel with the scene) has scraped off from being slid back and forth in the holder.

This is almost the complete set. Almost.

We see here…

1. Only a fragment of the first scene remains. Sadly, the glass strip snapped long ago. Now that I think about it, I’ve NEVER seen the first slide. The larger set at the V&A doesn’t have one either. I suspect, however, that it was a title slide—showing the Punch and Judy Man and the bottler in front of the fit-up.

2. Mr. Punch and Judy dance a little jig.

3. Mr. Punch meets Dog Toby.

4. Dog Toby bites Mr. Punch’s “beautiful” nose.

5. Mr. Punch and his servant, Jim Crow, dance.

6. After a fall from a horse, Punch goes to the doctor and tells the medic that he’s dead.

7. Missing. However, this should be Mr. Punch with Judy and the Baby

8. Missing. This should be Mr. Punch getting back on the horse.

9. Missing. This would be Punch meeting Joey the Clown.

10. Mr. Punch and the Beadle

11. Mr. Punch in Jail with Jack Ketch the Hangman (“Please don’t hang me.”)

12. After defeating everyone, Mr. Punch bids us “Good night.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: An Allegory of Bertie

"Where are you gonna put the kitchen?"

Click Image to Enlarge

Image:  An Allegory of Architecture; L'Architecture, Carleton Vanloo (1705-1765)' Late Eighteenth to Early Nineteenth Centuries, The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Join Bertie on his romp through Art History by bringing a little Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture into your home each day.  Whether your prefer Bertie's sweet face or the Bertie Dog dressed as the Dog Toby, we have all manner of exciting products for you in our online store.  

Antique Image of the Day: Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, 20 December 1938

T.R.H. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose
Gilbert Adams, 1938
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Photographer Gilbert Adams (1906-96, the son of the famed photographer Marcus Adams) took this photograph of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister, Princess Margaret Rose, in 1938 on December 20. Adams processed a cellulose acetate film negative stuck onto glass plate to create the image. 

The photo-portrait was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The girls, photographed from behind, are pictured sitting at the piano in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace. The future Queen’s beloved dog, “Dookie” is by Margaret's feet.

Her Majesty's Furniture: A Piano Stool. 19th C.

Piano Stool
Mid-Nineteenth Century
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Made in England in the mid-Nineteenth Century specifically for use in Buckingham Palace, this piano stool was constructed of costly rosewood. Adjustable in height, the stool is upholstered in a hand-made floral needlework.

The stool stands on three turned supports which are joined by a triangular stretcher. The supports stand around a central column which was designed to conceal the threading mechanism which allows the height to be adjusted. The whole of it rests on outward splaying legs with block feet.

Gifts of Grandeur: A Miniature Fabergé Piano, c. 1896

Piano by Michael Perchin
Created before 1896
Collected by Queen Mary
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (1860-1903, frequently listed under the anglicized version of his name, Michael Perchin) was one of Fabergé’s chief workmasters, and, undoubtedly, alongside Viktor Aarne, one of the most brilliant and prolific artists under the employ of Carl Fabergé.

Here’s a nifty example of his work—a lovely miniature piano of nephrite, two-color gold and enamel. We’re not sure the exact year that Perchin made this, but it appears to match his pre-1896 work.

The piece didn’t join the other Fabergé in the Royal Collection until it was somehow acquired by Queen Mary, Consort of George V (1867-1953), sometime between 1922-1931
Queen Mary, like her mother-in-law, Queen Alexandra, before her, had a special fondness for Fabergé’s miniature “objets de fantasie.” These include several examples of miniature furniture in the form of bonbonnières (candy dishes).

This miniature piano of Siberian nephrite is carved and polished to resemble ebonized wood. It is a nearly exact replica of the real thing. The lid opens for use as a bonbonnière and the front drops down to reveal a miniature keyboard in gold and enamel, inscribed C. Fabergé.

The piano belonged originally to Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna—niece of Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII. The piece can be clearly seen in one of the display cases in photographs of the exhibition which Fabergé held in St Petersburg in 1902. We’ll never know how Queen Mary managed to get it, but I’m not surprised that she did. The former Mary of Teck was passionate about retrieving items which once belonged to the British Royal Family or other related Royal Families so that they might be preserved. 

Regular readers of this blog know how much of a fan I am of Her Majesty Queen Mary. If you, too, are a fan of Mary of Teck, you might enjoy our “Teck Support” products—available only in our online store.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 74

Chapter 74: 

Wax and Wick 

What is this place, then?” Gerard asked as he, Finlay and Charles approached a small stone cottage about a mile and a half from the main house.

“Huntin’ cottage,” Finlay explained. “Been here for centuries. First house on the land, actually. I remember the old master used to like to come out here. Funny thing is, he didn’t shoot.”

“Then, why’d he come out here?” Charles chuckled.

“To get away from the Duchess, I’d wager.”

“Never met the Duchess,” Charles shook his head.

“Gamilla did.” Gerard smiled. “Said the woman was a real terror.”

“That’s the truth, lads.” Finlay nodded. “Though last I saw her, I was a wee boy--maybe five, but I remember her like it was yesterday. She was fierce, the Duchess. I remember our pa told me to keep ‘way from her. Never could let the old master have a moment’s peace. No. Even here…” Finlay pointed to the cottage. “I recall that time she were here—just shoutin’ and eatin’ and growin’ fatter. She found the old master here one warm night. Don’t know how she made it all the way out here, she’d been stuffin’ herself so full o’ food. You could hear her screamin’ all the way up at the house. That was when she took the place over for herself. Said the Grange was too cold. Turned the whole household upside down movin’ her out here. At least, then, Sir Colin could get a little sleep in the main house on his own.”

“Did the Duchess always sleep in here after that visit?” Charles asked.

“Nah. She never came back after that time. Don’t think she ever returned to Scotland at all. Sir Colin and Lord Julian did many times. Well, he was Lord Julian, then. Still not used to callin’ him the Duke. Lady Barbara’d come sometimes, too. Not as much. She were too much like her ma.”

Charles nodded.

“Still,” Finlay continued. “She were a pretty lass. Is it true she’s dead?”

“We don’t know.” Gerard said quickly.

“But, the baby they call Colin…he’s her son?”

“Yes.” Charles replied softly.

“You…errrr…” Finlay winked at Charles. “You knew her, then?”

“I’d prefer not to talk about it.” Charles growled.

“Fine, fine. Sorry, lad.” Finlay nodded. “And, you, then, Gerry? You got eyes for the African girl, I see?”

“Maybe.” Gerard squinted.

“What about you, Finlay?” Charles smirked. “You got a girl?”

Finlay chuckled.

“Well?” Charles continued. “You seem to think you’re quite clever. Are you clever enough for a girl?”

“What do you think, Charles?” Finlay laughed.

“Don’t know, Finlay. That’s why I’m askin’. You aren’t the only one with questions.”

“Come on, Mate.” Gerard scolded Charles. “Don’t tease, ‘im. Maybe he’s like the masters, then. You know…”

“Oh, is that it?” Charles asked.

“Could be.” Finlay winked.

“Ah…” Charles and Gerard said in unison.

Finlay laughed. From his pocket he removed a large brass key which he used to open the cottage door.

“Sorry for pyring,” Charles mumbled.

“I ain’t got no secrets.” Finlay snickered. “Now, give the door a push, would ya?”

Gerry and Charles leaned on the door with their shoulders until it opened.

“Always sticks.” Finlay shook his head. “Don’t know why we bother to lock it.”

“If the door’s locked, I don’t see how Miss Barrett could have gotten in here.” Gerard grumbled. “’Specially if it’s so hard to open.”

“Aye, but if a strong-headed lass is lost out here, don’t ya think she’d find a way into a safe place like this—key or no?” Finlay responded.

“True.” Charles snorted. He stepped in the cottage and called out. “Miss Barrett?”

Hearing no response, Charles frowned. “Stupid cow. Got the whole household out lookin’ for her. Even the masters! She’s such a selfish bit of baggage, that one!”

Finlay looked at Gerard. “So, is it love or hate, then?”

“Pardon?” Gerard asked.

“All the time we been lookin’ for this lass, Charles here’s been grumblin’ ‘bout how cheeky she is and how rude and how useless. A man only says such things ‘bout a woman in two events. Either he loves her or he hates her. So, which is it?”

“Ask him.” Gerard grinned.

“Well, lad.” Finlay cocked his head to one side.

“I loathe her.” Charles growled.

“Sure ya do.” Finlay laughed.

“I do!” Charles scowled. “It’s not just me either. I know that Dr. Halifax hates her, too.”

“But, does the Duke?” Finlay asked.

“Dunno.” Gerard shrugged. “The Duke’s so nice to everyone, it’s hard to think he hates a soul. His Grace is always giving people a chance. Thankfully for both of us.”

“Sure, but Miss Barrett takes advantage.” Charles sputtered. “Look what she’s done! She’s made His Grace take care of her sick brother, but she’s rude right to his face. Right to his face! Kind as he is, too! And, she’s always doing selfish things like this. She thinks only of herself. Meanwhile, Gamilla is having to look after Colin on her own—she’s not even had a chance to get settled in her room, yet! But, does Miss Barrett care? No—she wanders out of the house all alone and, then, we all have to look for her!”

“Steady on, laddie.” Finlay chuckled. “Now, does His Grace know ‘bout this woman? Does he know she’s takin’ advantage?”

“I’m sure that the doctor’s spoken up ‘bout it.” Gerard nodded. “But, His Grace can’t imagine hurtin’ anyone’s feelin’s.”

“Killed a bloke not a month ago, though. Didn’t he?” Finlay smiled. “Maybe he don’t want to hurt no one’s feelin’s, but seems that he doesn’t mind hurtin’ a body.”

“How’d you know ‘bout that?”

“Folk talk.” Finlay shrugged. “I heard from one of the lads at Balmoral. So, did he do it? Did His Grace kill that fella?”

“He admitted to it.” Charles responded.

“That, to me, means he didn’t do it. Who’s he coverin’ for, then? That handsome doc? Is that it?” Finlay asked.

“What is it with you Scots?” Charles shook his head. “Don’t know your place.”

“Oh, look who’s talkin’!” Finlay laughed. “I saw you both with your masters—all smiles and jokes You’re more mates than you are valets. Who doesn’t know his place now?”

“Fine…” Gerard grumbled. “No, the Duke didn’t kill that fella. But, the doctor didn’t neither.”

“Gerry!” Charles spat.

“He were gonna keep at us ‘til he found out anyway.” Gerard shrugged. “Just like Mrs. North did ‘bout Colin.”

“You can trust us all.” Finlay said. “The folks in this house seen all sorts o’ things and ain’t said a word to no one. Maybe them lads at Bamoral are willin’ to talk ‘bout Their Majesties, but you’ll find us at the Grange to be a good deal more loyal.”

“I’m glad.” Charles replied, still looking around the cottage.

“She ain’t here.” Gerard shook his head. “Let’s keep lookin’.”

“Wait.” Charles squinted. He sniffed the air.

“What is it, lad?” Finlay asked.

“I smell wax and wick…” Charles walked over to a small candle stand and touched the taper. “This has been lit. It’s still soft.”

“No one’s been in here since two days ago when we readied the place for the master’s arrival.” Finlay raised his eyebrows. “Not one of us, anyway.”

“Miss Barrett has been in here.” Charles frowned. “I’m sure of it.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-73? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 75 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

Painting of the Day: The Interior of the Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert II

Watercolor by Edwin Aaron Penley, 1864
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Royal Yacht, not surprisingly called HMY The Victoria and Albert II (launched 1855, scrapped 1904), was as elegantly appointed as possible and was as neatly outfitted as any of the Royal residences. Always prepared for Queen Victoria, Princess Albert and their growing number of children, the yacht was kept in a constant state of readiness.

In 1864, Queen Victoria commissioned artists to create watercolors which would serve as color records of the interior decoration of the Royal residences, including the yacht. This watercolor drawing by Edwin Aaron Penley (1844-1890) shows the Queen’s Drawing Room on HMY The Victoria & Albert II. The furniture in this compartment was of maple. Against the wall to left is a piano by Erard. 

Since this was painted in 1864, we know that Victoria was already three years into her mourning the death of Prince Albert. Because of this, her special black-edged writing paper lies on the table in foreground. 

I can’t find any evidence of the Erard piano from this drawing. I’m not sure if it was preserved or if it’s still part of the Royal Collection. There are two upright pianos by Erard in the Royal Collection, and, I think, three grand pianos. Picture below is another piano by the same maker which is still rattling around Buckingham Palace somewhere.  

Piano by Erard
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Pianos and Organs

Click Image to Enlarge

In my growing collection of antique ephemera, I have several trade cards which are printed in monochromatic ink on a metallic ink background. The metallic backgrounds create a sense of motion in these scenes which usually involve children involved in sporting pursuits. For example, this American card printed in blue and silver shows a young man attempting the high vault. Sadly, his pole has snapped in half. I’m sure death is nigh.

So, this must be an advertisement for medicine or some sort of invigorating sarsaparilla. Yes? No. It’s an advertisement for pianos. Once again, this was a stock card which was selected by the business owner because he or she knew it would be the sort of thing which would be collectible and would end up bringing news of their concern into people’s homes.

Let’s take a look at the reverse.

It’s printed upside down. I don’t think that was intentional. It’s also oddly aggressive for a piano ad.

It reads: 

We are selling PIANOS and ORGANS 
At just Ten Dollars advance on the Whole- 
sale Prices. 



We sell an ORGAN for 50 Dollars as good 
as any other Dealer that employs Agents 
can Sell at 75 Dollars. 



To ALL at Wholesale Prices. 


Look to your interest and send for our 

          EAST SAGINAW , MICH. 
                                DEPEW. Manager.