Monday, June 24, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: An Admission Ticket for the Coronation of King George IV, 1821

Admission Ticket to the Coronation of King George IV
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Today, we're looking at Queens Caroline.  The first was the consort of King George II, the second was the contentious consort of King George IV.  Let's begin with  the latter.

What was happening in 1821? Well, the eldest son of mad King George III was about to ascend the throne as King George IV, formerly the Prince Regent. George IV was not a popular King. Most people thought he was a debaucher and was far too quick to spend the empire’s money. Both of these assertions were true. His brother, William IV was a little bit better. And, certainly, his niece, Queen Victoria was a lot better.

Still, upon his coronation in 1821, the public was hopeful that George IV might mend his lavish ways when he ascended the throne. He didn’t. In fact, his coronation was one of the most expensive and ridiculous in history. Of course, the event took place at Westminster Abbey with a very posh banquet to follow at Westminster Hall—the last of its kind to be held there.

This invitation card was for the ceremony in the Abbey itself. The entrance to the Abbey was carefully guarded. It was so guarded, in fact, that admission was refused to Queen Caroline—the King’s “Consort.” You see, the new King and his wife had been separated for many, many years. They had separated after the birth of their daughter, the ill-fated Princess Charlotte (named for the Prince Regent's mama). And, there was certainly no love lost. The soldiers at the entrance refused to allow Caroline to enter. She had definitely not been invited, and did not have a ticket. Much drama ensued.

Most of the blocks used for printing this card were also employed to print the invitation to the banquet in Westminster Hall afterwards, however, on that card, a different stamped border pattern and slightly differing lettering were used.

You’ll notice that the border of the invitation was stamped with the name, “Dobbs.” This was H. Dobbs whose firm (founded in 1803) developed the use of decorative blind stamping for decorating invitation cards.

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