Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gifts of Grandeur: Queen Victoria’s 1849 Christmas Brooch

Brooch, 1849
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This simple and elegant brooch was purchased by Prince Albert and presented to Queen Victoria at Christmas 1849. In the Royal Collection there exists a receipt for payment for two brooches dated 14 January 1850, £14—this was one of the two.

The brooch was acquired during the royal visit to Dublin in August 1849. The design of the piece was based on an ancient prototype and demonstrates the revived interest in Celtic history that was developing at the time.

Prince Albert selected the brooch expressly to show royal patronage of the Irish jewelry trade and was created by West & Son, one of the largest jewelers at the time in Dublin. Set with garnets, the brooch mimics Celtic knot-work.

Saturday Silliness: Howdy Doody's Christmas, 1957

How could I not share this with you?

Cookies of the Day: "Aunt Ida" Cookies and Chocolate Icebox Cookies

In our continued account of this year's Christmas cookies, I'm pleased to present "Aunt Ida" Cookies and "Chocolate Icebox Cookies."  I know I've said this of each one, but these are two of my family's favorites.

The Aunt Ida Cookies have a long tradition in our family  My mother has been making these cookies since she was a little girl.  Pillow of cream cheese dough are filled with alternating mixtures of assorted nuts, chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon, cranberries, raisins and cherries. After baking, they are dusted with cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar.  We've had them for as long as I can remember.

I also have fond memories of Chocolate Icebox Cookies.  In fact, most of my memories are food related.  But, I recall eating these rich chocolate rounds as a child.  I was just as delighted by them then as I am now.  The chocolate dough is formed into a log which his then rolled in chopped walnuts.  After they're baked and cooled, they are topped with a thick later of melted dark chocolate. 

Traditions: King George V's Christmas Broadcast, 1935

The following recording from 1935 is not only an interesting glimpse into the past, but also historically significant.  Little did the listening public know, but this would be the last annual Christmas broadcast from the beloved King George V.  He would die soon after, and, the Abdication Kerfuffle (TM) that followed would surely have annoyed him ceaselessly.

Looking for a last minute gift?  Take a look at our online store.  You're sure to find something perfect for that for whom you forgot to shop.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 219

Chapter 219 
And So Hopeful

That was a disaster,” Mr. Punch sighed, putting his head on Robert’s shoulder. “I always like dinner so. But, this…this was horrid.”

Robert wrapped his arm around Punch. “I should say so.”

“Food was good.” Punch muttered as Robert played with his auburn hair. “There’s that.”

“That’s to be expected.” Robert replied. “I suppose the whole affair was to be expected. We couldn’t really think that Constance and Gertrude were going to be at ease with one another.”

“No.” Punch grumbled. “One the mistress of the other’s husband, not to mention the mother of her husband’s—one of her husband’s bastards. Both of ‘em wonderin’ where their children are. Both of ‘em thinkin’ of the man with his sister, and all of us knowin’ that Constance is under the thumb of that awful Orpha.”

Punch paused and chuckled.

“Dear Punch, what part of that long, sad account did you find humorous?”

“Awful Orpha.” Punch said slowly. “Hard to say, it is. Try it.”

“Perhaps later.” Robert patted the back of Punch’s head. “However, I am heartened that you’re able to laugh. It’s one of the things about you which I most admire—that ability of yours to find joy whenever we need it.”

“We gotta. Even when it’s difficult.” Punch sighed. He looked up at Robert. “Do ya think they’ll stay in their rooms?”

“I’m sure Gertrude will.” Robert nodded. “I can’t speak of Constance. She’s something of a mystery. She always has been. The few times when I saw her with her mother, I found her to be most disagreeable. Then, after her mother’s death, she seemed somewhat human. I can clearly see that she’s desperate, and undeniably concerned for her child, but there’s a strange loyalty that she seems to have for Orpha. When we questioned her, she was loathe to give up too much information. I couldn’t tell if it was out of fear or because she was still lying to us. Furthermore, any person who would knowingly carry on with a married man—any married man, but one like the Baron Lensdown…I…” He shook his head. “I just don’t know.”

“And, here we are, all tangled up in it.” Punch said. “And, I can’t quite figure why. There’s somethin’ that’s expected of us, but I can’t guess what it is. Bad enough that we got our own problems with this Orpha. Do we need this, too?”

“Yet, we can’t turn them away.” Robert said softly. “If only for Gertrude who has shown such kindness to us.”

“I do pity the woman.” Punch nodded, nestling deeper into Robert’s arms. “Say, Chum, you don’t think the Baron will come here tonight, do ya? You know, to look for her?”

“No.” Robert shook his head. “Frankly, I doubt he’ll even notice she’s gone—if he comes home at all. The letter that she sent said she’d likely stay the night here so she might help Lennie settle in. No doubt he won’t even get the letter until the morning when he turns up like a Tom cat.”

“What kind of life must that poor woman have?”

“I couldn’t say.” Robert replied quietly. “However, I can tell you what kind of life we’ll have if we don’t get to sleep.”

“I s’pose.” Punch answered, sitting up. “You ring for Charles first, I wanna check on Colin and I’ll take Dog Toby in the garden for his nightly air. By the time we’re back up, Charles’ll be finished with ya.”

“Let me walk you to your room, good Sir.” Robert smiled.

“If you will, please.” Punch responded in kind. “Only, I’ll only let ya if you promise to come back later.”

“You can be assured that I will.” Robert smiled.

The two left Robert’s study and walked slowly through the passage to Punch’s chamber.

Opening the door to his room, Punch yelped when he looked inside.

“What is it?” Robert asked, peering over Punch’s shoulder.

“It’s pretty,” Punch grinned, wandering to the side table next to the little sitting room off of his chamber. “Looks like a Christmas tree.”

“It’s a holly bush. Still in its pot, too. It’s the one from the terrace steps.”

“Sure is.” Mr. Punch giggled. “But, look at it.”

They studied the small holly bush. Its pot had been placed on a thick length of crimson velvet. The branches had been decorated and the “ornaments” flickered in the light of five small candles in crystal bowls which had been placed around the pot.

“What is all this?” Robert grinned.

“Look, Chum.” Punch pointed. “Those are crystal prisms off of one of the chandeliers.”

“They must be the spare prisms that Speaight keeps in his pantry should any break when they’re cleaned.” Robert nodded. “And, these here…look, they’re silver bottle tickets.”

“Whiskey, port, rye, claret,” Punch read as he studied the silver bottle tags which had been hung from the branches of the shrub.

“Oh, dear Punch, look.” Robert touched one of the decorations. It was a star, like several others, which had been cut from gold paper.

“That’s the paper what I gave the girls. The paper from the box Queen Victoria sent.”

“And, they’ve made bows from the violet ribbon.” Robert grinned.

“Why?” Punch shrugged happily. “It’s beautiful, but what’s it mean?”

“I have a feeling that homemade greetings card will explain it.” Robert pointed to a small, folded page which had been placed at the base of the pot.

Punch picked up the leaf and showed it to Robert. “Georgie drew that, I’d guess. It’s quite good.”

Robert smiled as he gazed at the somewhat rough drawing on the front of the card. Though it was the work of an amateur, it was still attractively drawn and showed that Georgie—should he be given instruction—could be quite a competent artist. The illustration, done in pencil and colored chalk, depicted a Christmas tree topped by a golden star and draped with swags of berries and fruit.

“Shall I?” Punch asked as he opened it.

“Do.” Robert nodded.

“To our dear masters,” Punch began reading. “It’s Speaight’s hand.”

“I suspect he’s the only one of the lot aside from Charles who can write very well.” Robert smiled. “Go on.”

11 June, 1853
To our dear masters…
Each of us downstairs wanted to bring some joy to you both. I, Speaight, have recorded the sentiments of each of us so that Your Grace and Dr. Halifax may know in what regard you are held by us.
Mrs. Pepper said, “I have never known two such fine gentlemen and I hope that my boy will one day grow up to be like you both.”
Charles said, “When I thought that I was quite lost, the Duke and the doctor showed me that I was not lost at all, but at the start of a new, better path.”
Gerard said, “I never had a home before. Now I do and I am thankful.”
Gamilla said, “I done learnt the true meaning of goodness from our masters.”
Violet said, “My mum used to tell me that if I was lucky, I would find a place in a house where the master treated me with respect. I am happy to tell her that I have such a place and one also where the masters treat us like friends.”
Georgie said, “I’m happy to be here with two such kind men who make me and my mum so happy and safe.”
Jenny said, “We are very lucky. And we are glad to have a lady in the house now, too.”
Ethel said, “I like the masters and the way they smile at us and joke. For once I feel like I got a place where I’m wanted.”
And, I, Speaight say, “Though I’ve served many a gentlemen, none will ever match my esteem for the Duke of Fallbridge and Dr. Robert Henry Halifax.”
We wish for our masters to feel just a bit of the joy of Christmas. Though the days are warm and long, on this night, we hope His Grace and Dr. Halifax will recall the feelings of good will and camaraderie that we all enjoy during the greatest holiday. We offer this simple symbol of our respect and affection.
Five candles have been lighted. One is for his Grace, one for the doctor, one for Miss Molliner, one for Master Colin and one, even, for dear Dog Toby. With our sincere wishes of peace and happiness, we are,

Your Humble Servants,
Morris Samuel Speaight, Marjorie Rose Pepper, Charles Lorenzo Iantosca, Gerard Gregory Gurney, Gamilla, Violet Ruth Jessop, George Albert Pepper, Ethel Tucker and Jenny Linnet

Mr. Punch looked up with tears in his eyes.

“How kind.” Robert wiped his eyes.

“When we finally have Colin’s christenin’,” Mr. Punch sniffed, “we must see to it that each of this fine folks sits at the front of the church with you and me and Lennie. And, afterwards, when we tuck away his christenin’ gown, we must press this page into the folds of it so that when the next christenin’ happens for a Fallbridge or a Molliner—our Colin’s own child, perhaps—the parents of that child will know what sort of folk lived in the home of Lord Colin Robert Julian Dearpunch Molliner and how the future Tenth Duke of Fallbridge and his papas were loved.”

“We will do just that, my dear.”

They both turned to look at the decorated shrub and smiled.

“It looks so pretty.” Punch said contentedly.

“Yes, it does,” Robert took Punch’s hand. “And, so hopeful.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-218 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here.

I’ll be taking a brief hiatus over Christmas. Chapter 220 will be posted on December 27, 2012. 

The Art of Play: The Ebenezer Scrooge Marionette, 1979

Marionette of Ebenezer Scrooge
Frances and Peter Grant, 1979
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Though made in 1979, this marionette puts me in mind of the Victorian puppets made in the Nineteenth Century by the Tiller-Clowes troupe. Here, we see Ebenezer Scrooge. He was made, along with twenty-two others, by Peter and Frances Grant for their puppet production of “A Christmas Carol.” Their Theater of Marionettes toured Britain in 1979 with this production. 

The Grants had a long history of puppetry. They began their company in the 1960s, and, over time made their way across Britain and Europe to the delight of many.

Frances Grant sculpted the bodies of their marionettes. She used obeche, a tropical wood valued for its smoothness and lack of resin. The faces, hands and feet were also sculpted by Frances who employed epoxy resin to create expressive features. Peter Grant costumed the figures and created all the props. 

Object of the Day: Edna's Poinsettia

Click image to see Edna's handiwork.

One of the huge lots of ephemera that I purchased a few months ago seems to have been collected by someone named Edna. Edna seems to have started her collection of trade cards, postcards and scraps at an early age. She appears to have been very proud of her collection and made sure that no one else dared take her precious paper. Edna wrote her name on most everything that was hers. Some of the signatures are loopy, child-like scrawls. Some are confident adult signatures. All of them simply say, “Edna.” Edna liked her ephemera. I can only imagine that this huge lot was just a small portion of what Edna left behind. She must have been just a girl in the 1870s. There’s no telling how long she lived. I know nothing about her except that we shared a taste for the same kinds of things and that she was, in her own right, a talented artist.

How do I know this?

Because of this.

It’s Edna’s poinsettia. This delicate, brilliantly-colored watercolor is yellowed with age, but still shows Edna’s talent. It was carefully cut from a tablet and saved amongst all of her treasures. She signed her name to it.

And, I’m glad.

I wonder how Edna would feel knowing that a stranger, some guy in Texas in 2012 (!) is proud to have all the little pieces of paper she collected. I like to think she’d be pleased. And, I’m sure she’d be happy to know that with this handsome drawing, she’d not only wished me a Merry Christmas from over a century ago, but also, now, all of you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mastery of Design: Queen Mary's Jade Box, 1910

Jade and Diamond Box
England, 1910
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Mrs. Whitelaw Reid presented this handsome box of white jade to Queen Mary, Consort of King George V for Christmas of 1910. I’m not sure if she did it willingly or if she was gently prodded into doing so, but she did it nonetheless. 

The rectangular box of white jade with green veins features a hinged cover which has been set, at the center, with brilliant cut diamonds in a silver crown. The foliate hinge and clasp mounts, similarly set. The lower mount of the gold rim is enameled on the outside with medium blue guilloché stripe.

Cookies of the Day: Praline Cookies and French Butter Cookies

This year, I’ve got more cookies than I have days to write about them before Christmas. So, we’re going to double-up on our cookie of the day. 

Let’s start with one of the cookies that I most love—my mother’s praline cookies. I’ve a special fondness for creamy, nutty, sugary, glorious pralines, so, it’s only natural that I’d be drawn to these. These brown-sugar hued, chewy cookies melt in your mouth. They’re topped with magnificent homemade pralines, creating a wonderful combination of textures and a richness of flavor which reminds a person that eating is just the bee’s knees.

Next, we have my mother’s famous French Butter Cookies. Short, rich and delicious, these cookies should always be made with the best quality, creamiest butter that you can find. The dough for these cookies is made in a log. You can make this dough in advance and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake. The dough log is rolled in turbinado sugar and colored sugar to add a jewel-like sparkle to each cookie which is sliced from the log. Each round is pierced with a wooden skewer to create the four-holed “button” look which makes these so special.

Friday Fun: The Christmas Punch and Judy Show, 1949

Put Away That Thing and Let's Have a Merry Christmas
from the George Speaight Archive
And, no, it has nothing to do with the record here, but if you want to learn more about it,
flashback to here.

Voco Records produced printed paper novelty records in the late 1940s. This one featured, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” on one side, and, on the other, “The Christmas Punch and Judy Show.”

This enthusiastic gentleman gives us a rare chance to hear this unusual recording.

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...

Black within, and red without, 
Four corners round about.

And, the answer is...


Ha!  Wonderful.  We had some very good answers today.  Mr. Punch is pleased.  You may proceed to your holiday cheer.

Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles.  

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

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 218

Chapter 218 

Father Christmas 

Mr. Punch puffed out his lips with a burst of air and, then, pulled them in and bit them as he descended the stairs to the Servants’ Hall.

“Your Grace,” Speaight rose quickly, signaling for the others around the table to do so.

Violet, Ethel, Jenny, Mrs. Pepper and Georgie sprung to attention. They could see at once that their master was distracted and, even, perhaps a tad depressed.

“Good evening,” Mr. Punch nodded.

“Is something the matter, Your Grace?” Speaight asked.

“Well,” Punch shrugged, “I reckon so. Seems we got some house guests, we do. Charlie’s upstairs seein’ to ‘em just now. Lady Lensdown is in the Coral Room. Lady Constance will be in the Jade Room.”

Speaight frowned. “I tried, Your Grace, to keep both ladies from entering, however, Miss Molliner…”

“I know ya did, Speaight.” Punch interrupting, nodding his appreciation. “Only, it had to be done. Miss Molliner done the right thing lettin’ ‘em in. They got some trouble, the two of ‘em.” Punch took a deep breath—at least, he thought, he was free to speak in his own voice with the staff.

“What sort of trouble, Sir?” Mrs. Pepper asked.

“I can’t rightly say at the moment, Mrs. Pepper.” Mr. Punch replied. “Only it’s kind of private for them two ladies. When I can, I’ll let ya know. In the meantime, and I hate to do it to ya, but they’ll be stayin’ to dinner.”

“Oh, that’s not a problem, Your Grace.” Mrs. Pepper smiled. “We’ve plenty tonight. I made far too much as it is.”

“I’m glad.” Mr. Punch smiled. “I do hate to inconvenience you.”

“You never do, Sir.”

“Violet,” Punch said. “When you’ve finished dressing Miss Molliner, you might see if either of the other ladies needs anythin’.”

“Yes, Sir.” Violet nodded.

“And, Georgie,” Punch continued. “I’ve a letter what needs takin’ to Lensdown House. Leave it with their butler. It’s for the baron.”

“Yes, Your Grace,” George Pepper nodded, stepping forward to take the letter which Punch had taken from his coat. It was a simple note written by Lady Lensdown herself which said only that she was staying for dinner at Molliner House.

“Once Charlie’s got the windows open in the ladies’ rooms, he’ll add two places to the table. We’ll postpone dinner, maybe by half an hour, if it ain’t too much of a bother for ya, Mrs. Pepper.”

“No, not at all, Your Grace.” Mrs. Pepper smiled. “I’ll send Georgie up with nursery dinner when he returns, Sir. No sense Gamilla waitin’.”

“I was just goin’ to suggest that.” Punch nodded. He sighed. “Well, I think that’ll be all. If any of ya needs anythin’ or has any questions, Miss Molliner is prepared to answer. Dr. Halifax and me, we got some things to talk ‘bout and we’ll be in his study. If possible, we’d like to not be disturbed. Like I said, Miss Molliner can answer any questions just for tonight. We’ll be back to business like any other day tomorrow. I hope.”

“If there’s anythin’ we can do, Your Grace,” Ethel spoke up though she could feel Speaight’s disapproval without even looking at the butler, “please let us now. We hate to think that trouble keeps findin’ ya.”

“Thank you very much, Ethel.” Mr. Punch nodded. “And, I speak for Dr. Halifax as well, when I thank all of you for your continued assistance. Good evening.” With that, Punch distractedly turned and climbed the stairs.

Once the Duke was out of sight, Speaight grumbled. “I knew when Lady Lensdown came that there’d be nothing but trouble to follow. Would that Miss Molliner hadn’t let her in.”

“Oh,” Mrs. Pepper shook her head. “It’d have found a way in sooner or later. It always does.”

“May I be excused, Sir?” George asked.

“Yes, Georgie, and do be smartish. You know where Lensdown House is?”

“I do, Sir.” Georgie nodded.

“Off with you, then.”

“The poor Duke,” Ethel sniffed. “Poor Dr. Halifax. They don’t want nothin’ but peace and they don’t get it.”

“Aye.” Speaight nodded.

“When I was a little girl,” Jenny nodded. “I used to wish—wish really hard—that good folk would be left alone by bad things.”

“Who’d you wish it to?” Mrs. Pepper smiled.

“Father Christmas.”

“Father Christmas!” Ethel laughed.

“Sure, I did.” Jenny nodded innocently.

“And, there’s no reason she shouldn’t.” Mrs. Pepper replied, shooting Ethel a warning look.

“But, girl,” Mr. Speaight began. “When one prays…”

“I wasn’t prayin’, Sir, I was wishin’. It’s different.” Jenny replied. “I still do it.”

“And, has Father Christmas ever made your wishes come true?” Ethel asked, stifling a chuckle.


“Ain’t no harm in believin’ in it.” Mrs. Pepper nodded. She appreciated Jenny’s innocence and often found herself trying to keep the girl as untouched by the cruel world as possible.

“Well, too bad Father Christmas ain’t gonna be much help in the summer.” Ethel mumbled.

“That ain’t’ so.” Jenny shook her head. “Ain’t just in December when he helps us.”

Mrs. Pepper and Speaight exchanged glances.

“You got an idea, Sir.” Jenny smiled. “I seen it.”

“Perhaps.” Speaight replied. “We can’t change the fact that the Duke’s been worried once again nor can we do much to help the masters with whatever’s troubling them, but, perhaps…”

“Maybe we can make ‘em forget that things is grim, if just for a moment. And, remind ‘em that we wish ‘em nothin’ but joy. Don’t need to be Christmastime for that.” Mrs. Pepper continued.

“Oh, I got a thought!” Ethel exclaimed.

“Do tell, girl.” Speaight smiled.

“Well, Sir, maybe Jenny ain’t so daft. Maybe Father Christmas can help us after all.” Ethem grinned.

Did you miss Chapters 1-217 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 219.

Print of the Day: Mr. Punch at Madame Tussaud's, 1999

Poster by Denis Piper, 1999
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I don’t usually write about recent objects, but this one was too perfect for today that I couldn’t resist. Well, obviously, we can see that it’s a poster letting us know that Punch and Judy would be appearing at Madame Tussaud’s in London for Christmas. They actually look quite pleased to be doing so.

The advert for this special Christmas appearance was designed by Denis Piper.

Object of the Day: A Dog Toby Vesta Case

Reaching the age of thirty-nine has a good many advantages. I can, frankly, see why Jack Benny remained thirty-nine for the remainder of his life. Perhaps I will, too. It should be fairly easy as long as the makers of facial moisturizer and auburn hair dye continue to stay in business.

So, since the world didn’t come to an end today, I thought I’d share with you one of the gifts that I received from my mother and father for my recent birthday. He’s a Vesta Case, and he’s very cute. 

Vesta Cases, also known as Vesta Boxes and match Safes were made , primarily, from the 1830s to the 1920s to hold “vestas,” short matches made by a company who borrowed their name from the Roman goddess Vesta, the deity of fire. These cases kept the matches dry and contained. Since matches were a very integral part of daily life during a period where fire was the primary source of light and heat, keeping them dry and handy was pretty important.

This little sterling silver Vesta takes the form of a sweet-faced terrier who is, of course, Mr. Punch’s Dog Toby. Sorry for the slightly blurry pictures, but it’s rather difficult to take pictures of small, shiny objects. Believe me, I’m surrounded by small, shiny objects and have tried to photograph all of them at some point. Nevertheless, you can see how handsomely made he is. And, look! He’s got lovely, sparkly green eyes! I find these especially pleasing since my Bertie’s eyes flash green in the light.

Having been made in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century, he was built to last and shows no evidence of his age. I find this to be hopeful. I hope I stay as well preserved by the time I get to my next thirty-ninth birthday.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: The Bertie-politan

"I usually just wear a bandanna."

Image: A Neapolitan Boy Decorating the Head of his Inamorata at the Festa of the Madonna del Arco. 1840, Uwins (1782-1857), Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857 to The Victoria & Albert Museum.

You, too, could have a cup of tea with Bertie. Or, you could wear his picture proudly. Visit our online store to see our range of Gratuitous Bertie Dog products.

Mastery of Design: Queen Mary's Christmas Egg, c. 1900

Egg of Enamel, Diamonds, Gold, Rubies and Emeralds
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This egg of cream guilloché enamel is set with a diamond band around the middle and features an upper section adorned with ribbon swags. The lower portion is set with heart trophies of rubies and emeralds. A gold ring allows for hanging from a gold stand with a circular base chased with a spiral pattern.

This beautiful object was a gift to Queen Mary, consort of King George V, for Christmas of 1927. It was given to her by Prince David (later, briefly, King Edward VIII, and, then Duke of Windsor); “Bertie,” a.k.a. Prince Albert George (later King George VI); Elizabeth, the Duchess of York (later, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother); Princess Mary and Harry Lascelles and their children. Though it looks like Fabergé, it’s actually the work of Dreyfous of 128 Mount St., London.

The egg itself dates to about 1900.

Gifts of Grandeur: Queen Alexandra's Christmas Gift Book, 1908

Queen Alexandra's Christmas Gift Album
"Pleasant Recollections."
Britain, 1908
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

A page from the album.
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II

In 1908, shutterbug Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII (1844-1925) amused herself—while her husband was doubtlessly amusing himself in other, yuckier ways—by producing an album of her photographs which she intended to be published to raise funds for her favorite charities. 

Though known as “Queen Alexandra’s Christmas Gift Book,” the album was actually titled “Pleasant Recollections.” The leather, gilt-tooled book with relief duo-tone photographs was enclosed in a deep red jacket of suede and velvet. Queen Alexandra personally chose the photos of her family and friends which were to be included in the book from her huge collection of personal photos, most of which she had taken herself.

We see here the Queen’s own personal copy of her book. Ninety of the 137 photos were printed in photogravure (a very detailed intaglio print from a copper plate) and forty-six of them were mounted by hand on the dark green pages, so that those who purchased the photograph book would feel that they had, in fact, the Queen’s personal album.

The book, sold at 2s 6d (12 ½ p) a copy and it was published simultaneously in England and America on November 12, 1908. Huge orders were also rushed to Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France. The album proved incredible successful, and, much to the Queen’s pleasure and satisfaction, raised vast amount for over thirty charities of Her Majesty’s choosing.

The Interior Cover
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II