Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Macklin Watch, c. 1795


Watch and Pair Case
James Macklin and Rundell, Bridge and Rudnell
1790-1795
This and all related images from
the Victoria & Albert Museum



Made in London between 1790 and 1795, this watch features an enameled gold case set with pearls. The case bears the mark of James Macklin. Meanwhile the movement with verge escapement was made by the firm of Rundell & Bridge (also known as Rundell, Bridge and Rundell). 



Painting of the Day: Capriccio with Two Bridges and Figures, 1740-1747

Click on image to be capricious.
Capriccio with Two Bridges and Figures
Bernardo Belloto, c. 1747
The Townshend Collection at
The Victoria & Albert Museum




Eighteenth-Century Venetian painter Bernardo Belloto (1721-1780) is best remembered for his association with his famous uncle, the view painter Giovan Antonio Canal, known as being called Canaletto (1693-1768) under whom Belloto studied.

Belloto, in 1747, was summoned to Dresden by Frederick-Augustus II, King of Poland (as Augustus III). For the next twenty years he divided his time between Dresden, Munich and Austria. He made a good reputation for himself with his “capriccios”—elaborate views of fantasy towns and cities which he based on sketches of real places. This capriccio appears to have been inspired by scenery around Italy’s Verona and Padua. This piece was finished between 1740 and 1747 in Venice—before the artist’s move to Dresden. It’s the sort of piece which most appealed to collectors. Indeed, Belloto’s capriccios had a lasting appeal which endured for decades after his death, allowing his works to be included in some of the finest art collections in the world. 

The Reverend Chauncey Hare Townshend
The V&A
This painting was once part of the Townshend Collection, and, owing this, now lives in the V&A with the many, many others collected by the Reverend Townshend. The Reverend Chauncey Hare Townshend (1798-1868) enjoyed a leisurely life of wealth and privilege. Though he took holy orders, he never practiced as a clergyman and, instead, made his vocation the collecting of art and jewelry. Townshend (who for some unknown reason added the extra “h” to his original family name, “Townsend,” after inheriting the family’s vast estates in 1827; also, his first name seems to have no standard spelling--sometimes using an "e" before the "y" and sometimes not) spent much of his time living amongst those of the highest social circle. One of Townshend’s companions described the “Reverend” as a man of “elegant rest, travel, lots of money—and he is always ill and melancholy.” Yet, Townshend’s friends would note, he much enjoyed his collections—mostly watercolors, British and continental oil paintings—the majority of which are landscapes, and the finest jewels in the world. He was also one of the earliest enthusiasts of photography—a passion he shared with Prince Albert, Consort of Queen Victoria. In addition to the enduring beauty of the collections which he left to the V&A, Townshend will forever be immortalized because of his long and intimate relationship with Charles Dickens who dedicated “Great Expectations” to the Reverend. The two spent many hours engaged in a shared interest in “mesmerism.” 

One hour…just one hour. I’d like to be able to pop back to, say, 1835 for just an hour and have tea with those two. I have no doubt that they’d both loathe me intensely. 

Saturday Silliness: Historical Footage of Vaudeville Acts from 1898-1910




Don't blame me.




At the Music Hall: Down by the Old Mill Stream, 1908


My darling I am dreaming of the days gone by,
When you and I were sweethearts beneath the summer sky;
Your hair has turned to silver the gold has faded too;
But still I will remember, where I first met you.

The old mill wheel is silent and has fallen down,
The old oak tree has withered and lies there on the ground;
While you and I are sweethearts the same as days of yore;
Although we've been together, forty years and more.

Down by the old mill stream where I first met you,
With your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham too,
It was there I knew that you loved me true,
You were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream.



Known to many today as a punch-line or comic Barbershop song in the style of Moe Howard, “Down by the Old Mill Stream” was written in 1908 by Tell Taylor and remained one of the most popular songs in the U.S. in the first decades of the Twentieth Century.

As the story goes, Taylor was sitting on the banks of Ohio’s Blanchard River. Taylor was advised by friends not to try to publish the song which they deemed simple and of little value. Taylor took their advice, but, two years later decided to go ahead and publish the song. It debuted in 1910, performed by the vaudeville quartet known as “The Orpheus Comedy Four.” It quickly became a hit.



Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 152


Chapter 152: 
A Good Boy 


Robert nodded as he entered the Duke’s bedroom through the door from the nursery.

“Sir?” Mrs. Pepper looked up. “Where’s His Grace, then?”

“And, Charles?” Jenny asked.

“Charles is waiting in the passage and His Grace is speaking with Miss Barrett.” Robert explained.

“All alone, Sir?” Ethel chirped.

“Don’t fear, Ethel.” Robert said as calmly as he could. “I shall stand just here at the door and listen. Furthermore, with Charles standing guard in the passage, we have no worries. No harm will come to the Duke.”

“Can’t be sure, Sir.” Ethel shook her head.

“Quiet, Girl!” Mrs. Pepper snapped.

“It’s true, ain’t it?” Ethel argued. “Look what she done to our Gerry here.” Ethel pointed toward the bed which contained the sleeping footman who still grasped Gamilla’s hand in his own. Gamilla, still in the chair next to Gerard’s bed, looked up and silently nodded.

“It may be true, but it ain’t your place.” Mrs. Pepper whispered.

“I encourage all of you to speak your mind.” Robert said. “And, I don’t disagree with you at all, Ethel. However, His Grace asked me to leave him with Miss Barrett so that they might speak to one another privately, and I must obey him.”

“The Duke’s no fool.” Mrs. Pepper nodded confidently. “He ain’t gonna let nothin’ happen.”

“That’s correct, Mrs. Pepper.” Robert answered. “And, to be sure, might I ask Georgie to stand here with me at the door? Just in the event that we might need to intercede quickly.”

“Yes, Sir.” Georgie nodded.

As Georgie walked across the Duke’s chamber to join Dr. Halifax at the door to the nursery, a soft knock at the chamber door startled everyone in the room.

“Who is it?” Robert asked as Georgie approached him from the side.

“Doctor,” Mr. Speaight said from the other side. “It is I—Speaight, Sir.”

Robert opened the door quickly.

The occupants of the room (with the exception of the exhausted and slumbering Gerard) gasped to see Mr. Speaight holding a long plait of blonde hair in his trembling hands.

“Merciful heavens, Mr. Speaight!” Mrs. Pepper chirped. “What is that you’ve got there?”

“I think it’s Violet’s braid.” Speaight responded.

“Wherever did you find it?” Robert asked.

“Just in the passage.” Mr. Speaight replied. “I…” Suddenly, the man dropped the plaited hair to the floor and clutched his arm, stumbling forward.

Robert and Georgie hurried forth to catch the butler before he fell.

“What’s happened to him, Doctor?” George Pepper asked.

“I don’t know.” Robert began… “Charles!” He called.

George and Robert gently lowered Speaight to the floor. Georgie loosened the butler’s tie.

“Charles!” Robert shouted again.

Georgie scrambled to the door and looked around the corner. “He ain’t there, Sir!”

“Where could he have gone?” Robert muttered.

Georgie knelt down next to Mr. Speaight. “Poor fella, what’s come of him?”

“It’s poison.” Finlay smiled as he walked up to the open door. “And, it’s not too late to keep the old bastard from dyin’. Just give me my sister and we’ll see that he doesn’t meet his maker just yet.”

Georgie sprung up and lunged for Finlay. “I’ll kill ya dead, you scum.”

“Now, now, lad.” Finlay scoffed. “Stay back. You don’t want your Mr. Speaight to die, do you? And, I don’t suppose you want Charles to either.”

Meanwhile, in the adjoining room, Ellen smiled at Mr. Punch/The Duke of Fallbridge.

“So, you wish to welcome me to the family?”

“I do.” Mr. Punch nodded slowly.

“Isn’t that sweet?” Ellen grinned. “I’m finally going to be accepted as having Fallbridge blood in my veins.”

“Oh…no.” Mr. Punch shook his head. “I ain’t gonna welcome ya as the Duke of Fallbridge.”

“No?” Ellen narrowed her eyes. “What else, then. I’ve no Molliner blood. Only you and Barbara…”

“Nor am I gonna welcome ya as a Molliner.” Mr. Punch interrupted. He paused by the hearth and took the bed-warmer in his hand.

“I don’t understand.” Ellen raised an eyebrow.

“I ain’t really neither o’ them things.” Mr. Punch shrugged.

“Of course you are.”

“No, no. Just the body is. I’m somethin’ else. Remember?”

“Well—that…you just think…” Ellen stammered.

“Don’t fret, sister.” Mr. Punch shook his head. “Like I said, I just wanna welcome ya nice and proper.”

“I…” Ellen began.

“I wanna welcome ya to me own family. The family Punchinello.”

And, with that, Punch quickly and swiftly—and with all his might—smashed Ellen Barrett across the skull with the bed-warmer. She fell to the floor in a heap.

“That’s the way to do it,” Mr. Punch sighed. “I’m a good boy, I am.”



Did you miss Chapters 1-151 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 153.


Sculpture of the Day: The Tower Bridge Medal, 1894

Tower Bridge Medal
June, 1894
The Victoria & Albert Museum



This medal of bronze is one of a series which was issued by the Corporation of the City of London to commemorate the June, 1894 opening of the famous Tower Bridge by His Majesty Prince Albert, The Prince of Wales (this is Prince Albert Edward who would become King Edward VII following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901).

The face of the medal shows busts of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra) superimposed with a crowned head of Queen Victoria.

On the reverse, it reads:

TOWER BRIDGE OPENED 30th JUNE 1894 ON BEHALF OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA BY H.R.H THE PRINCE OF WALES The bridge is pictured in perspective, and, above is the mark of the Bridge House Estates of the Corportion. The arms of the City of London are shown below. The medal is signed, “F. BOWCHER. FECIT.” Medalist Frank Bowcher (1864-1938) designed the piece. 



Object of the Day: Dr. Arnold's Balsam

Click image for the sake of your bowels.



Well, this is one of the oldest of the trade cards in my collection—dated to 1859. So, what does this pre-Civil War, American card advertise?

Diarrhœa.

Well, not just Diarrhœa, but diarrhea with an extra “œ” thing. Okay, it’s not really as much pro-Diarrhœa as it is against it. It’s an ad for Balsam Tonic. Essentially, this was an Eastern European herbal liqueur which was used for stomach complaints and gave folks a good excuse to get lit--all in the name of happy bowels.

The age of the card is evident. The obverse shows a rather smoky scene of a towered-bridge which is something of a staircase and walkway to an observatory. There’s a figure evident on the stairs. He appears to be going in search of something.

Beneath this image reads:

Where is the Yacht of the Sailor cured by using Dr. SETH ARNOLD’S BALSAM? 

The reverse says:

DR. SETH ARNOLD’S BALSAM, 
The Best Remedy for all Bowel Complaints. 

Dr. Seth Arnold                                       Pawtuxet, April 4, 1859

     Dear Sir,--Permit me to acknowledge the benefit of your
valuable medicine. In 1854, while on the coast of Africa, I was
taken with the Diarrhœa, which lasted me sic or seven months, and
then became Chronic Diarrhœa, which lasted me until I got a couple
of bottles of your Balsam, which has completely cured me. This was
in September, 1858. I had been to several doctors and did not
receive any benefit until I took your Balsam. Since that time
I have been perfectly well, and have not taken and medicine since.
                                                Yours, &c., JOSEPH R. SHEPARD.



Friday, September 28, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Knyvett Seal, 1580


Seal and Case
1580
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This beauitful engraved sapphire seal mounted in enamelled gold dates to about 1580 and was most likely the seal of Sir Thomas Knyvett (1539-1618). Kynvett was the grandson of Sir Thomas Knyvett, Master of the Horse to Henry VIII. Sir Thomas the younger was knighted 1579/80 and was created the High Sheriff of Norfolk. Sir Thomas later married Muriel, the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr, Treasurer of the Household to Queen Elizabeth.


While such a household was not considered Royal or even aristocratic, such close association with the monarch ensured that the family would want for nothing. Their position is evident in the quality of this seal with its enamelled gold case. An object such as this one would, most likely, have been a gift from the Royal Family—given for loyalty. 







Antique Image of the Day: Pray remember the Puppet Shew Man, 19th C.



Pray Remember the Puppet Shew Man
Nineteenth Century
George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum


This Nineteenth Century, hand-etching is inscribed “Pray remember the Puppet Shew Man (sic.) and depicts, fittingly, a crowd at a puppet show as the bottler (money collector) works his way through the crowd.
The caricature-style image is meant to reinforce the roughness of the characters and the inscription is written in common London-street parlance of the Nineteenth Century.

And, that, frankly, is all we know. It’s not signed nor has it been attributed to anyone, and, frankly, the date of creation is difficult to pin down. However, it’s a fine image which very neatly serves its purpose.

 It lives in the George Speaight Archive at the V&A.

Friday Fun: Professor Mark Poulton by the Seaside



Mark Poulton
This week’s “Friday Fun,” is another Punch & Judy show—this time performed by the talented Professor Mark Poulton. Professor Poulton brings decades of experience to the art form. Enjoy his version of Mr. Punch as “Old Red Nose” is introduced by Joey the Clown.

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...


Two bodies have I, though both join'd in one;
The stiller I stand, the faster I run.


UPDATE:

And, the answer is:

AN HOURGLASS

Public congratulations to Dashwood who came back with the right answer!  But, also, public congratulations to our many other posters who continue to keep me smiling each Friday.  Make sure to come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles.  That's the way to do it!



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 151


Chapter 151:
Welcome to the Family 


Mr. Punch’s eyes narrowed and his face hardened. “Get up off the floor.”

“Mercy, Your Grace.” Ellen lowered her head.

“I’m tellin’ ya,” Mr. Punch repeated slowly. “You’d best get up off the floor.”

Ellen did as instructed.

“How can you stand there before me, before Dr. Halifax and Charles and say what you’re sayin’?”

“I’m trying to protect you—you, my brother.” Ellen whispered.

“You lie.” Mr. Punch snapped. “You’re a liar. You always been a liar. Ever since the first day we saw ya. You came into me house and tricked me. You came to my family with this scheme in mind. You let me leave you alone with our child! He’s just a baby! What’d he ever do to deserve such a thing?”

“I never harmed my nephew.”

“He ain’t your nephew!”

“He is, Your Grace. I’m your sister. Just as much as Lady Barbara. And, if I’m not mistaken, Colin is her son. Yes? You, Barbara, me—we all have the same mother.”

Punch curled his hands into fists. “Don’t speak of him. Don’t speak of my son. He’s my son. Mine and Robert’s.”

Ellen looked with mock innocence to Dr. Halifax. “Doctor, he doesn’t really believe that you and he sired the boy together. If he does, perhaps he’s more ill than ever we thought.”

“How dare you?” Robert growled.

“You…you…” Punch muttered. “You’re just horrible. I know Colin ain’t really me son. But, he is in my heart. And though you may be my sister, in my heart you’re nothin’. Do ya hear? Nothin’. Nothin’ good, at any rate.”

“Your Grace,” Ellen began.

“You came to my home and plotted against me. Why…why the whole reason I’m here in the first place is because of you, ain’t it? You…you poisoned me! Didn’t ya? You tried to make me sick—just sick enough so I’d have to get away to rest. You knew we wasn’t goin’ to come here ‘til after Colin’s christenin’. But, you couldn’t wait. So, you make it go faster. Didn’t ya?”

“Sir…” Ellen sighed.

“Answer me!” Punch yelled.

“Yes.” Ellen frowned. “I did.”

“And, then you acted like you was ill so you could sneak ‘round.”

“Yes.” Ellen nodded. “Your doctor isn’t very good if he can’t recognize a real fever from a hot water bottle.”

“I suspected you were faking it.” Robert muttered.

“Of course—the great doctor.” Ellen replied.

“Enough!” Punch spat. “All the woes we had these past weeks is cuz of you. You fooled Gamilla and tried to do the same to Charles—but, but he didn’t believe ya. He hated ya all along. He tried to tell me. And…”

Punch began to tremble.

“Do calm yourself, my dear.” Robert whispered.

“You…” Punch continued. “You let me pay to support the man you said was your brother. How did you repay me? You killed a poor old woman what never done nothin’ to ya. Why? Did she figure ya out.”

“Finlay did that.” Ellen replied.

“On his own?” Robert snarled.

Ellen shrugged.

“And you stabbed Gerard.” Charles barked.

“He’s not going to die.” Ellen replied plainly. “Charles, don’t you worry. Your little friend will be just fine. I didn’t know you cared so much for him. Perhaps all those nights in close quarters have made you like my brother…well, both of my brothers.”

Charles swallowed and pressed his hands together. “If I were, I would not mind. But, all I know is that I have a heart which can feel affection where clearly yours cannot.”

Robert glanced at Mr. Punch who could immediately tell that something had occurred to him.

“What is it, Chum?”

“Stover.” Robert mumbled. He looked to Ellen. “You took advantage of the strife with William Stover and killed him in order to have me accused of the murder. You wanted to separate me from the Duke.”

Ellen smiled. “Family should be close.”

“Why did you kill the Countess?” Robert asked.

“That wasn’t me.” Ellen answered casually.

“Of course it was.” Charles shouted.

“No. Really.” Ellen nodded. “I didn’t have anything to do with that.”

“We don’t believe a word you say.” Robert scowled.

“I don’t much care.” Ellen chuckled.

“You should.” Mr. Punch snapped.

“No.” Ellen shook her head. “You see, what you think of me doesn’t matter.”

“You’ll soon see how wrong that statement is.” Robert stepped forward.

“I don’t think so.” Ellen replied. “You see, I’m in control of this.”

“You are?” Punch scoffed.

“Yes.” Ellen nodded.

“Without your assistant?” Charles asked. “You say Finlay is dead.”

“Of course he’s not dead.” Ellen laughed. “I was stalling for time, as they say. By now, he’s likely on his way to London.”

“Here, what for?” Punch asked.

“With a message for the Queen, of course. You remember the Queen, Your Grace? She’s so very fond of you.”

“What are you saying?” Robert demanded.

“I’m saying that if anything happens to me, Finlay is prepared to tell Their Majesties just how mad their little favorite is and, furthermore, all about the scandalous illegitimate daughter of the late Duchess of Fallbridge. Not only the Queen, but, also the newspapers. They’ll relish a story like that.”

“Bring her in the room.” Mr. Punch said in a low, deep, angry voice.

Charles reached forward and grabbed Ellen by her hands, pulling her into the room.

“Now, leave us.” Mr. Punch ordered.

“My dear…” Robert began.

“Chum, go into my chamber, please.” Punch said quickly. “Charles, wait outside the door to the nursery. I’ll call for you both when I’ve finished.”

“What will you do, Sir?” Charles asked.

“You shall see.” Mr. Punch smiled. “I just want to welcome my sister to the family.”



Did you miss Chapters 1-150 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 152.

Print of the Day: The Wire Master & His Puppets, c. 1740

The Wire Master and His Puppets
English, c. 1740
The George Speaight Archive at
The Victoria & Albert Museum


"The Puppets blindly led away
Are made to act for ends unknown."

                                                                     -- a variation on Swift

Printed in about 1740, “The Wire Master & His Puppets” depicts a wooden platform upon which a variety of men from differing professions are standing. We have clergy, we have a judge, we have tradesmen, among others. Each of them appears to be manipulated by a guide wire attached to his head. Above them, a larger man in a Harlequin-like coat controls the wires. Near his left, the puppet master is pleaded by a bizarre mammal of unknown species who asks, “A little more to the left, my lord.” Meanwhile, the figure of Britannia weeps, “It is sport to you, but Death to me.”

Ah, but it gets worse-or better, depending on your point of view. Beneath the platform, a winged devil clutches a pole. Others mill about around the devil, but seem not to notice him.

Below this image is an excerpt from Johnathan Swift's (1667-1745) poem, “The Puppet Master.”

I should point out that the original verse from Swift’s work reads thusly:

"Others are blindly led away,
And made to act for ends unknown,
By the mere spring of wires they play,
And speak in language not their own."

However, the engraving intentionally misquotes the verse: 


"The Puppets blindly led away
Are made to act for ends unknown."




Object of the Day: Fisk, Clark & Flagg's Gloves

Click on image to wax your mustache. 



The lithographer for this card was one “F. Appel” of Paris who acted as publisher for a good many chromolithographs of the 1880s and 1890s. The quality of Appel’s printing is apparent even in something as simple as this single-sided trade card advertising gentlemen’s gloves.

This is one of a series of cards printed by Appel specifically for the firm of Fisk, Clark & Flagg—makers of fine gloves. The company advertised,

FISK, CLARK & FLAGG’S GLOVES 
FOR DRIVING & COACHING ARE THE BEST EVER MADE
TRY THEM AND YOU WILL USE NO OTHER
 

Like the other variations in the series, the card shows a duo of handsomely dressed, well-heeled gents in sporting attire. In this case, one of them even has his horse with him. The figures are brilliantly set against a thickly-printed metallic-gold background which serves to make this card look a bit like an icon and reinforces the elegance of the product and brand.

I’d guess that this was printed in the mid-1880s.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture, Caption Contest: A Scottish Bertie Dog Ignoring Muslin at Luss, Loch Lomomd




Today, I'd like to invite you to put the words in Bertie's mouth.  Put your ideas for a caption for this picture in the comments section.





Image: A Scottish Peasant Girl Embroidering Muslin at Luss, Loch Lomond, Joshua Cristall (1763-1847), 1846, Scotland, Britain, The Victoria & Albert Museum.







You know you want to have a Bertie Dog mug, tee-shirt, tote bag or water bottle. You know you do. So, take a look at our online store. 


And, here's a bonus...this fellow has recreated Noel Coward's famed, "Together With Music" television special.  It fits with our theme today.

Mastery of Design: Cupid the Earth Upholder, 1902


Cupid the Earth Upholder
Phoebe Traquair
Scotland, 1902
The Victoria & Albert Museum



Scotland’s Phoebe Traquair, in addition to her famed enamel work, also created beautiful works of embroidery, murals and illuminated manuscripts. However, her jewelry work seems to be the best medium for her brilliant spirit. Phoebe created vivid foiled enamel scenes in unusual settings—mostly devoted to mythical or spiritual subjects. Influenced by medieval and Renaissance examples, Traquair’s jewelry, triptychs, caskets and mounted cups and covers owe much to pieces from the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. This pendant shows Phoebe’s preferred style. Entitled “Cupid the Earth Upholder,” the piece consists of enameled gold which has been set with colored and foiled glass. The central portion depicts a kneeling Cupid holding a globe. The greens and blues especially pop against the copper beneath the enamel. It is signed and dated 1902 and was made in Edinburgh. 






The Home Beautiful: the Newhaven Fishers Comports, c. 1870



Molded Glass Compote
John Ford, c. 1870
This and all related images from:
The Victoria and Albert Museum



This pair of glass comports (compotes) feature dishes which are supported by molded male and female figures which appear to be based on photographs of the famed Newhaven fisher folk from the area near Edinburgh, Scotland. Photographers Hill and Adamson published a series of photos of the Newhaven fishers in the 1870s which garnered much public attention.

The glasswork is the work of one John Ford who molded the figures. The pair once belonged to Barbara Morris who had long worked in the V&A's Circulation Department. The V&A describes Morris as, “a pioneer in the study of Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Arts” and as an avid collector of glass and ceramics of the period. 
















Unusual Artifacts: The Angel Chalice, c. 1905


"The Angel Chalice"
Phoebe and Ramsay Traquair with J.M. Talbot
Scotland, 1905
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum




Made in Edinburgh, Scotland around 1905, this cup is constructed of an abalone shell mounted in silver and decorated with enamel. A pierced silver foliate border adorns the rim of the cup which is supported on three, sculptural wires which terminate in moonstone mounts at the rim. Mounts of enamel mimicking cabochon-cut gems adorn the junctions of the supporting wire frames which hold enamel paintings of angels with musical instruments. The monogram “PT” is visible on one of these three triangular panels.

This chalice is the work of Edinburgh artist and jeweler Phoebe Traquair (1852-1936) whose celebrated enamel work is praised to this day. Phoebe’s husband, Ramsay, assisted on the design and the physical work was carried out by their frequent assistant J.M. Talbot. It’s the first, and finest, of a series of five chalices set with shells designed by Ramsay and Phoebe Traquair, and crafted by Talbot.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 150


Chapter 150: 

To Beg 


Someone’s knockin’, Your Grace.” Mrs. Pepper whispered.

Mr. Punch strained his ears and, indeed, heard a faint rapping on the door to the nursery.

“Oh, don’t open it, Sir.” Ethel whispered.

Dr. Halifax nodded in agreement. Walking to the door he called out. “Who is that knocking?”

“It’s I…Ellen Barrett.”

Mrs. Pepper and the youngsters gasped. Charles stormed forward, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Robert.

“Listen to me, monster, you’ve done enough damage here.” Charles shouted through the door.

“I know.” Ellen responded. “I’ve come to beg the Duke’s forgiveness.”

“You won’t get it.” Charles snorted.

“You’re a savage, Miss Barrett.” Robert added. “You’re a beast.”

“Please let me in.” Ellen pleaded.

“Mrs. Pepper,” Mr. Punch whispered. “Would ya take Colin in the next room? Take ‘im into me bedchamber. Please.”

“Yes, Sir.” Mrs. Pepper nodded. She hurried over and lifted the baby out of his cradle. “Georgie…”

Without a word, Georgie picked up the cradle and carried it into the next room.

“And, Dog Toby.” Mr. Punch pointed to the terrier.

“I’ll take ‘im, Your Grace.” Ethel volunteered.

“Thank you very much.” Mr. Punch nodded as Ethel picked up the dog.

Jenny paused and looked helplessly at the Duke.

“You go with ‘em, Jenny.” Mr. Punch said softly.

“But, Sir…”

“You’ll be safe. The door in there is locked from the inside, and you can lock the door what joins these two rooms.”

“But, Gerard, Your Grace.” Jenny said softly.

“He’ll be awful glad to see ya, he will. As will Gamilla. Don’t be scared, Jenny. Nothin’s gonna hurt ya. Think of the good you’ll do in there. Think of the joy you’ll bring to Gerard. If Gerry ain’t awake, you can talk to him all nice and soft and it’ll help him heal up.”

“Will it?” Jenny asked.

“Course.” Mr. Punch nodded. “Go on, now.”

“Yes, Your Grace.”

“And lock the door behind ya. Only open it if it’s me, Dr. Halfiax or Charlie what does the askin’. Hear?”

“Yes, Your Grace.” Jenny said as she scurried out and closed the door behind her.

Alone in the nursery with Robert and Charles, Mr. Punch nodded. “Open the door.”

“Dear Punch…” Robert began.

“Open the door, Chum.” Mr. Punch insisted.

Charles stepped forward. “Shall I, Doctor?”

“Yes,” Robert sighed. “Open it as His Grace instructs..”

Charles nodded and unlatched the door, opening it quickly.

On the other side, Miss Barrett stood with her hands at her sides. She’d changed out of the men’s attire which she’d earlier donned and wore, instead, the dark-colored gown she usually wore.

“Your Grace,” She bowed deeply.

Mr. Punch frowned.

“By now, I’m sure, you’ve heard…” Ellen began.

“Heard ya attacked those young folk. Heard you’re tellin’ tales that the Duchess were your ma and that I’m your brother. Heard you murdered our Mrs. North. Did ya try and kill our Gerard, too? Oh, aye. I’ve heard a good many things ‘bout ya, Miss Barrett.” Mr. Punch responded.

Ellen slumped to the floor. Kneeling before the doctor and Charles she reached out dramatically for the Duke. “You must forgive me, Julian.”

“I ain’t Julian. You know full well I ain’t Julian.” Punch snapped. “And, what’s more, you ain’t to address me as anythin’, but Your Grace.”

“What does your other sister call you?” Ellen asked.

“She don’t call me nothin’, and when she did it weren’t so very nice, it weren’t.” Mr. Punch spat. “But, she’s like you in many ways, I see. Get off your knees and confess your crimes, woman.”

“I must have your forgiveness. I couldn’t help myself. I was possessed by a power greater than myself. You, surely, must understand.”

“Oh no…” Mr. Punch shook his head. He walked forward and stood next to Charles and Robert. “You tried that on me once before. Tryin’ to make us think your ‘brother’ Roger was like me. More like Finlay, isn’t it?”

“No.” Ellen replied. “That part is true. Roger, my cousin, he is like you. The result of the treachery of the Baron Lensdown.”

“You’ve said enough now,” Robert barked.

“I wish to apologize to you, too, Dr. Halifax.”

“Why?” Robert narrowed his eyes. “Why have you suddenly found your conscience?”

“I’ve been misguided.” Ellen moaned.

“You certainly have been. There’s not been one bit of truth in anything you’ve done or said since you’ve arrived in our household. You’ve brought nothing but tragedy to us! Even this—this show of contrition is nothing but your trickery!”

“No.” Ellen bellowed. “I am sincere.”

“You’ve no sincere bone in you.” Charles growled.

“Please, just let me speak to my brother.” Ellen begged.

“Which one?” Robert asked. “Your brother the valet? Your ‘brother,’ Roger?”

“Or them other blokes what you called your brothers?” Mr. Punch added.

“You, Your Grace.” Ellen sniffed dramatically.

“Take her away,” Mr. Punch groaned. “Lock her up somewhere. She sickens me.”

“You’ll die in gaol.” Charles growled.

“If you lay a hand on me,” Ellen said quickly. “It isn’t I who shall die. Please listen to me! You’re all in danger!”

“More of her lies.” Mr. Punch shook his head.

“You must believe me!”

“What?” Robert demanded. “Is Finlay lurking around the corner? Is he here ready to fulfill more of your murderous fantasies?”

“Not Finlay, no.” Ellen yelled. “He’s gone.”

“Gone?” Mr. Punch grunted.

“Dead—dead at the hands of our father, Johnny Donnan.”

“I don’t believe you.” Mr. Punch shook his head.

“You must!” Ellen pleaded. “Donnan was furious. He felt betrayed. He’ll come for you next. I know he will.”

“Why should he?” Robert asked.

“To exact his revenge on the late Duchess who broke his heart. He can’t punish her, but he can punish her heirs.”

“Take her arm.” Robert snapped. “Charles, take her arm. I shall take the other. We’ll lock her in the very vault where she left the cold corpse of Mrs. North.”

“And you’ll all be killed!” Ellen gasped. “Please, I’m your only salvation!”



Did you miss Chapters 1-149? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 151 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square. 

Gifts of Grandeur: The Crichton Vinaigrette, c. 1885

Vinaigrette
G. & M. Crichton
Scotland, c. 1885
The Victoria & Albert Museum



The Edinburgh jewelry firm of G. & M. Crichton, at the London Exhibition of 1872, was given a fair amount of praise for their work in general. However, their highland shoulder brooches and works which used wholly Scottish materials, were granted the greatest raves. By the 1880s, thanks in large part to the poems and novels of Sir Walter Scott and the loyalty of Queen Victoria and the late Prince Consort, Scotland was a popular tourist spot. Some of the most fashionable souvenirs to be taken home from Scotland were the examples of “pebble” jewelry which were produced by local workmasters.

Here’s an example of the sort of wares produced by G. & M. Crichton using local materials. This vinaigrette (a small vessel used to hold scent or smelling salts used to combat the pervasive foul city smells of the Nineteenth Century) is constructed of silver set with citrines, amethysts, bloodstone, mottled jasper and banded agate. Signed “G. & M. Crichton” it also is marked with Edinburgh hallmarks for 1885-1886.   The vinaigrette was praised by critics for its handsome design and the use of the large, faceted citrine in the cap of the vessel.