Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mastery of Design: A Middle Eastern Garnet Necklace, 1st C.

The British Museum

A necklace of turquoise, gold and garnets, this piece was excavated in the Middle East and dates to the First Century. The piece was restrung in the Nineteenth Century at which time gold glass beads were added. The positioning of the pendants, as noted in a 1968 inventory of the British Museum, may have been changed at the time of the re-stringing. 

The Home Beautiful: The Ladle from the Grand Punch Bowl, 1841

Lade from the Grand Punch Bowl
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
This and all related images
Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Edward, John & William Barnard served as the silversmiths for this handsome ladle of ivory and silver gilt. The piece was made between 1841 and 1842 for The Grand Punch Bowl that has presided over many a soiree at the Royal Residences. The bowl, originally a wine cooler, was changed into its present form for the christening of Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII) at Windsor Castle. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert commissioned the Barnards to create this ladle for the event.

The bowl of the ladle is formed of silver gilt in the shape of a large, matted shell with a relief of coral. The ivory shaft is joined by a foliate spray of silver gilt. Since the piece was made for the christening of Prince Albert Edward, the shaft terminates in the Prince of Wales’ feathers.

Saturday Silliness: Silly Symphonies - King Neptune (1932)

This is why I don't like the sea.

At the Music Hall: You Are My Honey, Honeysuckle

On a summer afternoon,
Where the honeysuckles bloom,
When all nature seemed at rest.
‘Neath a little rustic bower,
Mid the perfume of the flower,
A maiden sat with one she loved the best.
As they sang the songs of love,
From the arbour just above,
Came a bee which lit upon the vine;
As it sipped the honey-dew,
They both vowed they would be true,
Then he whispered to her words she thought divine.

You are my honey, honeysuckle,
I am the bee,
I’d like to sip the honey sweet
From those red lips, you see
I love you dearly, dearly,
And I want you to love me,
You are my honey, honeysuckle,
I am the bee.

So beneath that sky so blue,
These two lovers fond and true,
With their hearts so filled with bliss,
As they sat there side by side,
He asked her to be his bride,
She answered “Yes” and sealed it with a kiss.
For her heart had yielded soon,
‘Neath the honeysuckle bloom,
And thro’ life they’d wander day by day.
And he vowed just like the bee,
“I will build a home for thee,”
And the bee then seemed to answer them and say:

You are my honey, honeysuckle,
I am the bee,
I’d like to sip the honey sweet
From those red lips, you see
I love you dearly, dearly,
And I want you to love me,
You are my honey, honeysuckle,
I am the bee.

From the 1901 London Stage Play "Bluebell in Fairyland" (1901), “The Honeysuckle and the Bee,” (also known as “You Are My Honey, Honeysuckle”) was written by William H. Penn and Albert H. Fitz. This popular song offered a light-hearted look at love and attraction and remains a favorite for many.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 187

Chapter 187

Johnny Donnan jumped Charles first, but before Gamilla could scream, she felt Ellen’s hand clamp over her mouth.

Both Charles and Gamilla struggled, but Johnny was too strong for Charles and Ellen possessed the power that only hate and anger can afford. Father and faux daughter pushed the two into Gamilla’s room and shut the door.

Johnny tossed Charles to the floor where he landed with such a thud that the breath was knocked from him. Gamilla was thrown to the bed.

“Don’t make a sound.” Ellen hissed. “Not if you value your lives.”

“Death becomes you,” Charles spat at Ellen.

“I’m sure it’ll flatter you more than it did me, Charles.” Ellen retorted.

It was then that Gamilla noticed a third person in the room—someone who’d apparently already been in there while Johnny and Ellen lay in wait in the shadows of the passage.

Lennie stepped forward slightly so that she’d be seen. She nodded quickly at Gamilla.

“You remember my former maid, Orpha Polk.” Ellen said. “As I understand it, you spent some time with her.”

“What do you two want?” Charles asked.

“This dark bitch killed my boy.” Johnny growled.

“She did no such thing.” Charles replied. “Your ‘boy’ killed himself. His crimes were clearly too much for him and he couldn’t live with what he’d done.”

“He went runnin’ from fear.” Johnny shook his head. “Fear o’ what thus sorceress would do to ‘im.”

“I ain’t a sorceress.” Gamilla sighed. “The only magic in Finlay was a newfound sense of guilt. That’s what done killed him.”

“Quiet, girl!” Johnny barked.

“You’re all hypocrites—you followers of the Duke.” Ellen snarled. “You’re all so keen on finding justice, yet you’re never willing to pay for your own crimes.”

“What exactly are our crimes?” Charles spat.

“Well, for one, didn’t you lie with the Duke’s sister?” Ellen smiled.

“What’s this?” Johnny frowned.

“Not me.” Ellen clucked her tongue. “The other one—Barbara.”

“Aye?” Johnny laughed.

“You laugh, Mr. Donnan?” Charles sneered. “Where did your daughter come from?”

“We ain’t talkin’ ‘bout me, Lad.” Johnny barked.

“You see?” Ellen chirped. “Hypocrisy.”

“Maybe the Duke’s madness is catchin’.” Johnny smirked.

“Thankfully, I’m not saddled with it.” Ellen chuckled.

“You ain’t got any of the qualities that the Duke’s got!” Gamilla snapped. “That’s because you ain’t really his sister!”

Lennie’s eyes widened. She shook her head at Gamilla, hoping to stop the woman from saying more.

“What?” Johnny growled.

“That girl ain’t your daughter, Mr. Donnan. Before you start tossing out your own punishments, maybe you oughta look at your own life.” Gamilla continued.

“Gamilla.” Charles hissed under his breath.

“What’s she sayin’?” Johnny asked.

“Lies.” Ellen growled, looking quickly at Lennie.

Gamilla suddenly realized what she’d said and began to sweat. She’d not wanted to put Lennie in any danger.

“Why’d you say such a thing?” Johnny asked. “And, why’s everyone lookin’ at this Orpha girl?”

“She’s lying, Father.” Ellen said quickly. “She’s trying to confuse us.”

“No, no…” Johnny shook his head. “I know a liar when I see one, and, this girl ain’t that. She may be a witch, but she’s no cheat.”

Gamilla looked pleadingly at Lennie who remained silent.

“What’s goin’ on here?” Johnny demanded.

“We’re losing sight of what we’ve come here to do!” Ellen grimaced.

Lennie took a deep breath. She opened her mouth and began to speak, but words failed her.

Johnny turned to face his real daughter.

As he did, Charles seized the opportunity to lunge forward. Johnny, however, would not be toppled and he swung at Charles who ducked. Sadly, the force of Johnny’s swing propelled him forward and his fist struck Gamilla who had risen to tackle Ellen.

Gamilla fell backward as Lennie screamed. “Father, stop!”

The rage in Johnny’s face dissolved into a countenance of confusion and he spun to face Lennie.

“Shut up!” Ellen snarled.

“Quiet, lass.” Johnny raised a hand. “That girl just called me ‘Father.’ Why?”

“Because.” Lennie inhaled. “I’m your daughter. This woman is an imposter.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-186 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 188.


Painting of the Day: Cardplayers in a Sunlit Room, 1658

Cardplayers in a Sunlit Room
Pieter de Hooch, 1658
Acquired by King George IV
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629-Amsterdam 1684), the great Dutch master produced this painting in 1658. Typical of Dutch painting of the era, and also demonstrative of de Hooch’s body of work, the finely rendered composition gives us a glimpse at an interior scene frozen in time.

The piece was acquired by King George IV (1762-1830) in 1825. The painting is notable because it’s illustrative of that brief moment in time when de Hooch and Vermeer were working simultaneously on similar subjects. While similar in approach and style, the two artists—when comparing respective works of this same year—clearly tackled their pieces with different spirits.

De Hooch’s masterful exploration of the quality of light is evident here. The fall of the filtered light on the detailed floor almost gives the composition a sense of being a landscape. This comparison is reinforced by the presence of a landscape on the wall.

This is one of two de Hooch paintings which were recorded in the inventory of King George IV’s personal residence, Carlton House. 

Object of the Day: McElree's Wine of Cardui

Click on image for barnyard fun.

Each month of 1887, McElree’s Wine of Cardui issued a new trade card which featured a handy calendar as well as an attractive comic scene based on that month’s zodiac sign. Here’s one from my collection. This one was, obviously, for March of 1887 and it depicts the antics of Aries the Ram who seems to have upset the pastime of a gentleman artist. I’m sure that these cards did their job perfectly. They fit right into the Victorian mindset of collecting and offered the sort of endearing and bright imagery which was en vogue.

But, what is McElree’s Wine of Cardui? Let’s see if the reverse of the card has anything to tell us.

First of all, it reminds us that the April card will be out soon. And, then, it tells us a story. An insulting and condescending story of womanhood with loaded words such as the aforementioned “Womanhood,” “Period” and “Peculiar,” AND “Derangement.”

Our April Card will be ready on the 1st of the month. Call on
Your druggist for it.


     A wealthy planter in Georgia had two
daughters aged respectively 13 and 16 years.
the oldest became afflicted when passing to the
period of womanhood with serious derangements
peculiar to her sex. At first no attention was
paid to it, but when several months had passed
with no appearance of the usual signs, her
mother became alarmed. Physicians were sum-
moned, all the usual remedies were used and
everything that money and kind friends could
do, was done for her. A cough set in, her lungs
became involved and at the age of 19 years this
dearly loved daughter died.
     Closely following her death, the other
daughter became afflicted with precisely the
same symptoms as those of her elder sister at
her age. She suffered severe pains at the usual
time each month but nearly all external signs
were absent. After this had continued several
months with no improvement, the parents saw
no hope for their only remaining child. By
chance a pamphlet published by the Chatta-
nooga Medicine Company, of Chattanooga,
Tenn., fell into their hands. In it they read of
wonderful cures performed by McElree’s Wine
of Cardui or Woman’s Relief. They at once
sent for six bottles of the Wine, which they ad-
ministered to their daughter as directed. Great
was their joy when a decided improvement was
noticeable before a half dozen doses had been
taken, and in three months they reported a
complete cure.
The young lady’s life was saved,
and she enjoys excent health.
     This wonderful new remedy is FOR SALE BY 
GEO. K. HOPKINS & Co., St. Louis, Mo. 

AH, what fun! Aries the ram! And, death by menses! Or lack thereof. Or something. Now, clearly, I’m not a woman, but if I were, I don’t think I’d want my “friends” to be doing anything about my “ladies’ days.” What exactly were these “kind friends” doing? No. Don’t think about it. And…well, what the hell? What’s going on in that second paragraph? And…and…”excent” isn’t a word! I…I… 

And, what was the calendar used for, then?  It all started off so pleasantly, and...

Oh…Aries the Ram. I don’t know.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mastery of Design: An Annular Brooch, 13th C.

Annular Brooch
Gold, Rubies, Sapphires
Thirteenth Century, France
The British Museum

This late medieval brooch (Thirteenth Century) was made in France. Crafted of gold, ruby and sapphire, the brooch features punched decoration and enameling. It is inscribed:

(I am here in the place of the friend I love)

This was the sort of jewelry which was exchanged between lovers in the Thirteenth Century. These jewels—brooches, or rings, mostly—were inscribed with sentimental sayings or “posies.” Brooches, like this one, were annular—in the shape of a ring—to show the eternity of the sentiment. 

This example was bequeathed to the British Museum by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks in 1897.

Print of the Day: Gulliver's Travels, 1798

Page from "Gulliver's Travels"
England, 1798
The British Museum

Charles Cooke published this print in 1798. The image is based on artwork by Richard Corbould and the print was made by Charles Warren for “Cooke’s Pocket Edition of Select Novels.” The illustration is for “Gulliver’s Travels” and depicts the tiny figure of Gulliver in the middle of a gathering of farmers in a field.

The illustration is framed in an oval with a decorative border surmounted by flanking figures of Mr. Punch and Judy, and a mouse. The rodent is framed by the arcs of the sickles held by our puppet friends.

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...

I am a merry creature,
     In pleasant time of year,
As in but certain seasons,
     I sing that you can hear:

And yet I'm made a by-word,
     A very perfect mock;
Compar'd to foolish persons,
     And silliest of all folk.

And the answer is:  

A Cuckoo

Not something one often thinks about, is it?  Wonderful answers today!  Special mention goes to Carolyn (Liza was in "The Sterile Cuckoo"), Matt who has no regard for Bo Peep, Darcy, April, Angelo, Marsha,  and, even Bo Peep herself!  And anonymous--whoever you are.  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.  

Friday Fun: Professor Mark Poulton talks about Punch and Judy.. with a little help from Mr Punch

Weymouth-based Punch and Judy Professor Mark Poulton tells us a little about his impressive career as a Punch and Judy man, Punch’s history and legacy, and allows Mr. Punch to make an appearance as well!


Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 186

Chapter 186
So Long 

Gamilla,” Robert said gently as he, Charles and Mr. Punch walked the rattled young woman through the vaulted passages of the lowest floor of Grange Molliner. “I think you should try to get some rest.”

“I need to return to Gerry.” Gamilla shook her head.

“You’ve been through a terrible ordeal.” Robert replied.

“And you been up all night.” Punch added.

“So have you, Your Grace. We all been up.”

“His Grace and I are about to send everyone to their beds.” Robert answered.

“But, Sir, all them guests’ll be up soon and wantin’ their breakfasts.”

“His Grace and I will make sure that the permanent staff here has their instructions. You needn’t worry about it.” Robert smiled. “Furthermore, the hired staff from the ball remains here and, I’m sure that they’d all welcome an extra morning’s wages.”

“But, what of young Master Colin?”

“I’ll stay with ‘im. I could use some time with me boy anyway.” Mr. Punch replied.

“Your Grace, you gotta be exhausted.” Gamilla sighed. “I…”

“Now, now,” Mr. Punch interrupted. “I ain’t nowhere near ‘xhausted. You know I don’t need so much sleep. But, the rest of ya, you do. I’ll stay in me room with Colin and Gerard and keep an eye on ‘em both. You ain’t gotta worry ‘bout a thing.”

“That woman is still out there.” Gamilla continued. “When she hears that Finlay’s done gone and killed himself, she’s gonna be out for blood, Sir.”

“Miss Lennie is with her.” Charles spoke up. “I’m sure she’ll give us plenty of warning as to what ‘Ellen’ intends to do next.”

“I don’t like none of it.” Gamilla muttered.

“I don’t neither, ‘Milla.” Mr. Punch answered soothingly. “But, ain’t no good in you getting’ sick and worn down. We all need ya. And, most of all, we want you to be well and strong for your own self.”

“Yes, Sir.” Gamilla nodded finally. “But, Sir, Mr. Speaight’s still gotta be sick from that poison Finlay have ‘im. Whose gonna organize the staff? And, with poor Mrs. North…gone…”

“I’ll do that.” Charles nodded. “As first footman, it falls upon me to take up in the place of the butler and housekeeper should need be. Georgie can assist me. His youth, in this instance, will prove invaluable.”

“It’s all so sad and terrible.” Gamilla pressed her hands together.

“You saw some terrible things these last few hours. For that, we’re truly sorry.” Mr. Punch said softly.

“In my life, Your Grace, I seen many awful things. For each one of ‘em, I seen somethin’ beautiful, too. So, I ain’t got no reason for to feel sorry for myself. I feel awful bad for all of you. For you gentlemen and for Mrs. Pepper and the others. Poor Georgie’s just a boy. He shouldn’t have had to…”

“But, that’s what life does to us,” Mr. Punch said. “Sure, in me own way, I’m but a babe. Just like Colin. I’m new to livin’ with humans, but I ain’t immune to their ways. I seen a lot from inside this body. And, in the times I was out, livin’ life for the Duke, before this last year, I got small tastes of both bitter and gloriously sweet things. We all gotta take both in their way. When ya got the bitter, ya hope for the sweet. I learned and so will young George Pepper. We all must learn each day. And, one thing I learned from me Chum here is that a body needs its rest to be at its most well. You gotta do that. Not just for you, but for us because we care ‘bout ya.”

“Now, go to your room, Gamilla and lock the door. Only open it for one of us. We’ll send Violet to your room and the two of you can stay together.” Robert spoke up.

“Thank you, Sir.” Gamilla inhaled. “Will ya tell Gerard…”

“If he’s awake, we’ll let him know you send your love.” Mr. Punch smiled.

Gamilla nodded.

“I’ll walk you to your room, Gamilla.” Charles volunteered.

“Thank you, Charles.” Gamilla sniffed. She looked up at Punch and Robert. “Sirs, I’m terrible sorry this ended so.”

“It was meant to be.” Robert shook his head. “We’re proud of you for what you tried to do.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t a’ done it.” Gamilla sighed.

“You only wanted what we all want,” Mr. Punch answered reassuringly.

“We will soon see an end to this ordeal.” Robert added. “And, we will return to our comfortable lives stronger than before.”

“I know we will.” Gamilla nodded.

“I know it seems that sometimes the bad never goes away.” Mr. Punch said. “Only we gotta remember that it really does. Sure, sometimes, it’s replaced with other horrors, but we gotta know that each bit o’ pain only lasts so long. We’re all lucky, we are. We got each other to help. This makes us all the more powerful.”

“Yes, Sir.” Gamilla replied.

“Come, then.” Charles said. “Let’s get you to your room.”

Punch and Robert watched Charles and Gamilla walk off toward the Servants’ Hall.

“Poor girl.” Punch shook his head.

“Her loyalty is to be admired.” Robert sighed, placing an arm around his companion’s shoulder. “Now, let’s get the others to their beds.”

“Right,” Punch nodded. He glanced over his shoulder once more to see Charles and Gamilla turn the corner in the passage.

Had he noticed the muddy footprints which had been tracked through the dim passage he would have stopped his friends then and there.

Did you miss Chapters 1-185 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 187.

Drawing of the Day: By the Seaside, The Sands of Ramsgate, 1856

By the Seaside No. 1
The Sands of Ramsgate
After McConnell
The British Museum

This satirical print was engraved by Joseph Swain after nine original drawings by William McConnell. The drawings date to 1856 and the set is entitled “By the Seaside, No. 1. The Sands at Ramsgate.” The set was published in “The Illustrated Times” in August of 1856. It’s a charming view of the seaside on a summer day. 

 “Snapshots” of individuals from the crowds of people on holiday at the seaside, give us a look at the accepted archetypes of holiday tourists of the era. The attributes of the English seaside of the mid-Nineteenth Century, are readily apparent. We see the bathing machine and the ubiquitous seaside Punch and Judy Show which many will always associate with a carefree summer day.

Object of the Day: Diamond Dyes

Click on image to just dye.

“It’s easy to dye with Diamond Dyes,” says the front of this handsome, colorful and nicely-drawn Victorian trade card.

It’s also, apparently, easy to bring mayhem and terror to your home. You see, this little girl has decided to dye not only her unsuspecting doll, but also, a truly horrified kitten. But, this is what happens when you leave your toddler alone in a room with a bowl of red dye and a cat.

At some point, one must wonder why this child’s mother (or nanny, more likely) thought it fitting to leave the girl with the clearly-labeled bowl of dye. Or is it dye…?

Let’s assume that it is.

The girl seems quite pleased with the destruction she’s caused. Take a close look at her eyes. This isn’t her first time at the rodeo. She’s dyed other toys and household pets before. She’ll do it again. Oh, yes, she’ll do it again.

Just give this girl a slapstick and she’d be in business.

The card was published, I should note, by The Forbes Co. of Boston.

Let’s see what the makers of the dye want us to take away from all of this.


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Sample cards and full directions for dyeing all kinds of goods,
Coloring photographs &c., and making inks, wood stains, bluing,
&c., &c., sent free by the proprietors.
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For Gilding or Bronzing Fancy Articles USE 
DIAMOND PAINTS Gold, Silver, Bronze, Copper. Only 10 Cts. 
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: The Bertie Home

Is this all you've got?  Root vegetables?  Not even cottage fries?

Click image to enlarge.

Image: The Cottage Home, Joseph Vincent Gibson (active c. 1856-98), Signed and dated 1856, Oil on millboard, Acquired by Queen Victoria in 1859, Crown Copyright, The Royal Collection, Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

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. 

Mastery of Design: Mary of Teck’s Silver Jubilee Necklace and Earrings

Necklace and Earrings
Sixteenth to Nineteenth Century
Gold, Enamel, Pearls, Rubies, Emeralds
The Royal Collection
This necklace and earrings (part of a parure which also includes a brooch) is actually a culmination of over three hundred years of workmanship. A masterpiece of gold, delicately-colored enamel, pearls, rubies and emeralds in a pattern of scrolls and snakes, the original links of the necklace date to the Sixteenth Century.

The necklace’s original owner was Mary, Queen of Scots who passed it to her attendant, Mary Seton. Over the centuries, the necklace was passed from family to family and altered considerably, though always with careful consideration in keeping the style of the necklace cohesive. The necklace was extended and the brooch was added in the Eighteenth Century. In the Nineteenth Century, the matching earrings were created.

Bu the 1930’s the parure was in possession of the Countess Bathurst where it was noticed by Queen Mary who admired it greatly. In 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of George V and Mary of Teck, the parure was presented as a gift to the Queen.

Print of the Day: The Little Royal Party in their Goat Chaise; etc.

Prints of the Royal Family
England, 1850s
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
This and all related images courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Here we see a series of prints published by Dean & C0 of Threadneedle Street. The four hand-colored (with watercolor) prints depict the Royal Family in Windsor Park, The Royal Family in Scotland, The Royal Party in the Home Park and The Little Royal Family in their Goat Chaise. Such images of Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort and the Royal Children would have been happily purchased by the public. This set dates to the early 1850s.

Gifts of Grandeur: Bracelet from a Parure with Cameos

Bracelet from the Cameo Parure
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This bracelet was made in Turin, Italy in 1829 and is assembled from cameos which were carved between the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. The bracelet is part of a parure of pieces comprised of cameos set in frames of Burmese rubies set in closed gold collets. The rubies are foiled to enhance their fire. 

The parure was purchased by Queen Mary, consort of King George V. The cameos on the bracelet depicts scenes from Roman history as well as mythological subjects such as cupid, Mars and Venus and a depiction of the sacrifice of a goat.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 185

Chapter 185
A Father’s Love 

Johnny Donnan lumbered into the stables—his boots caked with mud so thick that he seemed taller than usual. He was wet to the skin from the monstrous downpour and the stiff winds had arranged his graying black hair into a wild, dripping mane.

Ellen, with the help of Lennie, rose from the spot in the hay where she’d been recovering from the blow to her head.

“What is it?” Ellen asked her “father.”

“Finlay.” Johnny barked.

“Oh.” Ellen rolled her eyes. “What’s he done now?”

“He’s dead.” Johnny bellowed.

Lennie stepped back, pressing her hands together as she watched the two interact. She could feel, in the pit of her stomach, the strange emotions which poured forth from the man who had fathered her. The feelings frightened her and she felt, for a moment, as if she might vomit. She recalled Mr. Punch’s pleas to stay at the castle and began to doubt her decision to get the upper hand on Ellen.

“Did the Duke get him?” Ellen asked.

“No, Lass.” Johnny shook his head—sending droplets of cold water flying into the hay. “The African.”

“Oh…” Ellen wrinkled her nose. “You must be mistaken. Gamilla is powerless. She’d not hurt a gnat. She couldn’t. She’s too weak.”

“I saw her, Lass.” Johnny growled. “She had him by the hair. The lad broke away and flung himself into the well.”

“So he killed himself?” Lennie spoke up—immediately wishing she hadn’t.

“No.” Johnny narrowed his eyes. “No Donnan would ever do somethin’ so cowardly. Not even Finlay.”

“The African girl didn’t throw him into the well, then?” Ellen frowned.

“No.” Johnny grunted. “The lad tried to save himself and fell.”

“Father,” Ellen shook her head. “It sounds as if he did it purposefully. Let’s not fool ourselves. Finlay was not the picture of masculine bravery.”

“Yes he was.” Johnny glowered.

“Is that so?” Ellen laughed. “How many times did you take the strap to him to toughen him, to make a man of him.”

“And it did.” Johnny barked.

“Mr. Donnan,” Lennie spoke up. “I’m so sorry.”

“Aye.” Johnny nodded. “He were a good lad.”

“You never thought so before.” Ellen laughed. “Now that he’s dead, you can make him into anything you want.”

“Ach, now you’re gonna be cruel to me? What of your brother’s memory?” Johnny snapped.

“Memory?” Ellen shouted. “The man was useless.”

“How could you say that?” Johnny spat. “He was your kin, Lass.”

“He was a burden. You, of all people should recall the troubles we had with him.”

“I loved him!” Johnny growled.

“You loved him so much that you brought his blood out with your strap!” Ellen countered.

“I made a man of him.”

“Did you, then?” Ellen giggled. “Was he a man? Was that the work of his father’s love?”

“You’re heartless. I see that now.”

Lennie began to feel quite nervous. “Sir, many feel grief so deeply that they must hide their true emotions in order that they not be carried away.”

“Aye.” Johnny nodded. “You’re a sensible lass. Would that my own girl was as such.”

Ellen narrowed her eyes and looked at Lennie who blushed.

“This one understands.” Johnny wagged his finger at Ellen. “This one is clever. I’d wager, then, she knows what we must do.”

“We must not let this distract us. Surely, we’re better off without his bumbling.” Ellen snapped.

“Ach. Sometimes I can see in you so much of your mother. She was a cruel wench, too.”

“I don’t endeavor to be cruel, Father. Simply practical.”

“For all your practicality, you seem to forget what matters.” Johnny bellowed.

“And, what’s that?”


“Kin?” Ellen scoffed. “You weren’t so concerned about your kin when you beat Finlay with your belt each day. You didn’t worry about kin when you handed your daughter to others to raise!” She looked at Lennie. “Isn’t that right?”

Lennie sniffed. What could she say? How could she agree without revealing her true identity to Johnny?

“Your life was not an ordeal, it seems. You had food in your belly. You had warmth and you learned to read. You even had a fine maid—this very girl here—to look after you.” Johnny scowled. “I done the very best by ya. You should be thankful to me.”

“Thankful? For casting me aside, for lying to me?”

“Ellen, please…” Lennie whispered.

“This is not your concern.”

“Aye, it is!” Johnny snapped. “Would this girl were mine own. She’ll help me. Won’t ya, Lass?”

“Help you, Sir?”

“Avenge me son’s murder!” Johnny groaned.

Did you miss Chapters 1-184 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 186.

Painting of the Day: The Grocer's Shop: a Woman Selling Grapes, 1672

The Grocer's Shop:  A Woman Selling Grapes
Gerrit Dou, 1672
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Dutch artist Gerrit Dou(1613-75) created this genre painting in 1672. It’s a fine example of his later work and the use of a warmer color palette which he exhibited in the 1670s. This painting, purchased by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) in 1817, depicts a grocer’s shop, a continuation of the Sixteenth Century tradition of artistic views of market scenes.

The scene is framed by a stone, arched window below which is seen a relief of children playing with a goat. This composition is thought to be inspired by a Roman marble by François Duquesnoy (Galleria Doria Pamphili, Rome). The artistic device of the archway at once draws the viewer in as well as distances him from the figures in the composition.

Object of the Day, Caption Contest: The Domestic Sewing Machine Co.

Click on image to see the old goat.

When I go on a goat cart ride, I always like to load up the vehicle with us much extra stuff as possible. I like to put an enormous and very stiff doll in the back. And, I like to tie a ribbon around my dog as well as the whip I use to get the goats a-goin’. Yes, I’ll put on my tam and my little pants and drive my giant sister around the countryside. You see, she can’t walk. Poor thing has unusually tiny feet for her body. She’s still strong though. Oh, yes, she can steer those goats over any terrain.

I don’t know.

This trade card is, as stated, “Compliments of the ‘Domestic’ Sewing Machine Co.” I’m not quite sure what the image has to do with sewing machines, except that you can use one to sew all the extras bows onto your little Nineteenth Century outfits.

So, since there’s nothing on the back of this card, let’s have a caption contest, shall we. Answers in the comments section, please.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Grundy Butterfly Pin, c. 1800

Click on image to enlarge.
Hair Pin
England, 1800
The British Museum

I really like this pin which dates to around 1800. It was likely made in England, but we’ll examine that more closely in a second. Originally, the piece was made as a hairpin. It’s crafted of silver with a closed-back and set with diamonds with ruby eyes and antennae of gold wire.

Two hinged arms with loops at the end were added to the back at a later date. This addition allowed the jewel to be worn as a pendant hung from a ribbon or chain. Butterfly hairpins such as this one were fashionable between1800-30. The pins were usually worn with fresh flower wreaths.

The piece was once part of the collection of Hull Grundy. The curators of the British Museum believe that this pin might be one which was described in the records of the Royal Goldsmiths at Rundells. The piece therein described was supplied to Princess Amelia. The records state: 

“’An elegant Butterfly for the hair' for £142.15s for Princess Amelia.”

Unusual Artifacts: A Case of Insects, 19th C

A Case of Insects
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
This and all related images courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Collecting preserved dead creatures was a favorite Nineteenth Century pastime. From taxidermy to neatly-pinned insects, many a glass case was adorned with an artful arrangement of death.

Here’s one such case. This one comes from the Royal Collection. We’re not sure which of the Royal Family collected and/or assembled it. And, we’re also not sure just how far back it goes, but, it’s quite attractive considering it’s a gilded case of dead bugs. Included are a tarantula, forty-eight butterflies and moths, and twenty-eight beetles.

The case appears to be assembled from the remains of a larger showcase.

The Home Beautiful: Sèvres Sauçières, 1780

Sauce Boat
Soft-paste Porcelain and Enamels, 1780
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Dating to about 1780, this sauce boat, is the work of the Sèvres Porcelain Factory. The piece is crafted of soft-paste porcelain, and features a deep green enamel ground with gilded decoration.

The sauce boat of oval shape terminates in a spout at each end. Raised foliage and berries adorn oval and kidney-shaped recesses which are decorated with polychrome butterflies and birds—some with worms.

The boat was purchased by George IV from the auctioneer Harry Phillips for £5 5s 6d 20th in March of 1805. It’s part of a set which includes a matching dessert se

Drawing of the Day: Plants and Insects, 1680

Page of Watercolors
Alexander Marshal
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Images Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Alexander Marshal (c. 1620-82), the gentleman horticulturalist, was not a trained artist, but managed to produce, over thirty years, an impressive tome—his “florilegium” (flower book) which, in the end, contained 154 folios recording interesting and rare plants growing in the English gardens of his friends.

Here’s another page from Marshal’s Florilegium which was acquired by King George IV in the 1820s. This page shows Marshal’s watercolor sketches of four plants and two insects: a grasshopper and a silk worm. The plants depicted are carnations, fennel and damsons. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 184

Chapter 184
Come Back to Life 

The theatrics of the thunder and lightning finally gave way to the more practical rain which beat down upon the heads of Punch, Robert and Charles as they rushed toward the sound of Gamilla’s screams. Though the rain had fallen sporadically all morning, this particular rainfall was almost biblical in its force. The deluge was comprised of large, sharp drops which stung the tender skin of the three men as their legs ripped through the growing depths of mud surrounding Grange Molliner.

Mr. Punch could see immediately how distressed Gamilla was—her gown clinging to her shivering body as she screamed toward the well.

“What’s happened?” Punch panted.

“It’s Finlay!” Gamilla yelled.

“Did he hurt ya?” Punch asked.

“No.” Gamilla replied. “He done threw himself in the well.”

“How?” Robert snorted.

“He broke free from me. See, he’d tricked me. Got out of the vault, but I followed him and got my hands into his hair. Thought I had a good grip, but he pulled free, unafraid of the pain. Just ran toward the well and fell over the side. Threw himself. Done it on purpose. He wanted to be dead.”

Mr. Punch nodded. Robert and Charles quietly walked to the well and examined it as Punch stayed by Gamilla’s side.

Finally, Robert and Charles walked back.

“If he wanted to die, he did a very fine job of it.” Robert said slowly.

“You see ‘im in there?” Punch asked.

“No, Your Grace.” Charles replied. “It’s too dark and the rain is too thick. There’s no sign of him. With the way the water is rising and knowing how deep that well is, he probably died the minute he hit the bottom.”

“I didn’t want for him to die.” Gamilla whispered.

“I did.” Mr. Punch said. “At first.”

“I jus’ wanted him to know the kind o’ pain he done gave others.”

“This isn’t your doing, Gamilla.” Charles said quickly. “He realized what he’d done and he was too much of a coward to live with it. Only a coward would do what Finlay just did.”

“Charles is right.” Robert added. “You certainly can’t blame yourself for the cowardice of the man.”

“I done drove him to it.”

“No.” Punch interrupted. “Does the sun shine because you notice it? Is this rain fallin’ because we feel the wetness. No. Gamilla, the man died because of what he done. All you did was made him see his sins. It were his sins what made him a coward, not you. If you point to a man and say ‘you’re yellow,’ he’s only yellow after he paints his own self, not because you say it.”

“His Grace is correct.” Robert nodded. “Now, we must get you out of this rain.”

“Are we to leave him there?” Gamilla asked, pointing to the well.

“We can’t very well get him out now. Not in this weather.” Charles replied practically.

Gamilla nodded.

“Come on, then.” Mr. Punch said gently. “Let’s get ya back inside. You must change outta them wet clothes and warm yourself. Gerard needs ya, Gamilla, and it won’t do to have you catch your death of cold. It ain’t only Gerard what needs ya. It’s our Colin and, me and Dr. Halifax, well…and all of us. Everyone needs ya. So, leave Finlay to his own self. He done made his bed. Come back to life, Gamilla.”

“Yes, Your Grace.” Gamilla smiled.

The four of them hurried back to Grange Molliner.

When they were out of sight, Johnny Donnan stepped out from the spot behinds the mulberry thicket where he’d been hiding. The rain poured down his leathery, bearded face, streaking through the layer of grime and dust which always caked upon his skin. Those rivulets were the closest thing to tears that would ever pass over Johnny’s face. However, though he didn’t weep for his dead son, he did feel something. Like most of Johnny’s emotions, the ultimate effect, however, was rage, and he knew that the trembling energy in his fists would need to find something to stop it.

And--in Johnny’s mind—that something was Gamilla.

Did you miss Chapters 1-183 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 185.