Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Sparkle: The Queen Adelaide Bracelet, 1835

Queen Adelaide
Diamonds, Gold, Enmael, Ivory, Watercolor
"Purchased" by Queen Mary
Presented to Albert, Duke of York,
later King George VI
The Royal Collection
Mary of Teck, as Queen of England, made it a goal to ensure that all pieces of Royal art and jewelry which had someone wandered out of the possession of the Royal Family were returned to the Royal Collection for posterity. She was quite successful at it.

As Queen, Mary had an interest in those Queens and Queen Consorts who had passed before her. I’m sure she was quite thrilled to come across this bracelet made in 1835 which features a portrait of Queen Adelaide, consort of Queen Victoria’s predecessor and uncle, King William IV.

The portrait is watercolor on ivory; set in a Tudor rose diamond brooch. This brooch was later converted into a blue and gold enamel bracelet, decorated with shamrocks, roses and thistles—floral symbols of the Empire.

Theoretically, the bracelet was purchased by Queen Mary from Adolphus, Marquess of Cambridge (her brother's wife), in March 1919. She made a gift of the bracelet to Prince Albert (“Bertie”), Duke of York, later King George VI, who, I’m fairly certain, gave it to his daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Carew Spinel, Seventeenth Century

The Carew Spinel
Seventeenth Century
Spinel, Gold, Diamonds, Silk
The Victoria & Albert Museum
For centuries, red spinels were often confused with rubies. Though they are gemmologically similar, the two are different stones with different properties. This impressive red spinel is inscribed with the titles of the Mughal emperors Jahangir (r.1605–1627), Shah Jahan (r.1628–1658) and Alamgir (r.1658–1707.

Made in the Seventeenth Century in Tehran, this necklace features the monumental red stone set on a gold pin and adorned with two diamonds. It is suspended from a red silk cord. The necklace was purchased by an ancestor of Julia Mary, Lady Carew, sometime before 1870. Lady Carew bequeathed the necklace to the V&A in 1922.

Precious Time: An Italian Porcelain Clock, 1770

Porcelain Clockcase
Doccia Porcelain Factory, 1770
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Though it features a newer movement of Victorian origin, this clock case was made in Italy by the Doccia Porcelain Factory in 1770. The complicated figural group remains bright white, though some examples have been painted in polychrome. Here, upon a matching pedestal, four dolphins support the case which is surmounted by an allegorical group. 

Two female figures flank the clock face, upon which sits a winged man—representing time. The clock face is surrounded by a wreath of olive branches.

The Art of Play: The Gair Wilkinson Monkey Puppet, 1928

This and all
related images:
The Victoria &
Albert Museum
This  little wooden simian is quite realistic and beautifully carved. This marionette is easy to operate due to its flawless construction and remarkably light weight. This is the work of artist Arthur Wilkinson (1882-1957) who was inspired to make puppets after becoming enchanted by a group of toy Italian puppets in 1914. 

This new passion led to Wilkinson becoming a professional puppeteer, subsequently touring England in a caravan with his brother, Walter. Walter Wilkinson, later, independently, spear-headed a revival of glove puppetry in Britain, while Arthur Wilkinson continued with his marionettes.

Feeling much the way that I do about puppetry in the present-day U.S., Arthur Wilkinson was distressed that puppetry had been neglected in England in the 1920s. His answer to this was to introduce The Marionette Society which was dedicated to producing marionette theatre throughout England. 

The inaugural performance of his new Marionette Society was at the Poetry Bookshop in London in November 1923. During the performance he employed his own figures including Harlequin, Columbine, the dragon and Pantaloon. Later, around 1928, he carved an impressive set of marionettes and introduced them into the show. This set includes this monkey and Marino, Pagliacci and Pimpinella, and different figures of Harlequin and Columbine. 

This figure is referred to as the Gair Wilkinson monkey because after Arthur Wilkinson married Lily Gair his show became known as the “Gair Wilkinson Marionettes.” Later Arthur used the professional name Gair Wilkinson as his own moniker. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 237

Chapter 237
Lose Our Places 

Charlie!” Mrs. Pepper rushed toward the Duke’s valet as he came into her kitchen. “What’s it all about?” She lightly touched his face which was beginning to swell—a bright red handprint outlined on his cheek.

“Lady Constance,” Charlie winced as Mrs. Pepper’s chilly fingers touched his skin.

“She struck ya?” Mrs. Pepper gasped.

“That she did, Mrs. P.” Charles forced a smile.

“Whatever for?” Mrs. Pepper scowled.

“I told the Duke something she told me in confidence and the Duke tossed her out of the house.”

“Did he, then?” Mrs. Pepper grinned. “Good. I don’t like that one. Lady Lensdown, I don’t mind, if we’ve got to have strangers about. But, that Lady Constance…well, I just don’t know.” She leaned in, “Here, Charlie, what’d she tell ya?”

“I can’t, Mrs. P.” Charles shook his head.

“I figured as much,” Mrs. Pepper sighed. “Only it was worth a try. Here, come into the larder and we’ll see what we can put on that bruise.”

As Mrs. Pepper and Charles retreated into the larder, Ethel poked her head out of the scullery door and signaled to Jenny with a sharp, “Pssst.”

Jenny nodded and slipped through the kitchen into the scullery.

“Did Georgie agree yet?” Ethel asked.

“No.” Jenny replied softly. “Said it’d mean his job if he let us go with him on his evenin’ out. ‘Sides, says he ain’t even sure if Charlie will let him go what with all that’s goin’ on.”

“What’s Charlie got to do with it?” Ethel frowned. “It’s Mr. Speaight what’s the one who says when we go and where.”

“Georgie says that he’s Charles’ ‘prentice, and that Charlie’s his master as he’s learnin’ to be a footman. Says Mr. Speaight put Georgie in Charles’ care.”

“Charles is gonna be upstairs watchin’ the ‘all like he done last night. He won’t even know if Georgie leaves.” Ethel argued.

“I told Georgie that. He says, all the more reason he should stay should the masters need somethin’ in the night.”

“Well, don’t he ‘ave all the answers?” Ethel snorted. “And, ‘ere I thought Georgie was as loyal to the masters as we are.”

“Ain’t he?” Jenny squinted. “Ain’t stayin’ ‘ere case someone needs ‘im bein’ loyal.”

“Maybe.” Ethel shrugged. ‘Dunno. But, I feel like we oughta do somethin’ to ‘elp.”

“Dunno what you think we can do.” Jenny replied.

“We can go and give that Polk bitch what for, is what we can do.” Ethel snapped.

“Here…you wanna get Vi and Mr. Speaight and all comin’ in ‘ere. Keep quiet, then.” Jenny urged.

“Fine. Sorry.”

“Right.” Jenny nodded.

“We can do sum-fink is all I’m sayin’.” Ethel said in a softer voice.

“We know that Polk woman is a loony. What makes ya think we can get her to stop botherin’ the masters?”

“We’ll…we’ll make her go ‘way.” Ethel nodded.

“How?” Jenny laughed. “Ethel, you’re barmy. Our master is the bleedin’ Duke of Fallbridge. He sits at table with the Queen and Prince Albert. He’s got buckets of gold and power and he can’t make the woman stop botherin’ ‘imself. What makes ya believe a scullery and a kitchen maid can.”

“Cuz…” Ethel replied thoughtfully. “Master’s too nice. Too kind, he is. He thinks with ‘is ‘eart and that’s why we love ‘im. But, he didn’t have the life we done. We know how to get rid o’ folk what’re a problem.”

“Maybe you do, love.” Jenny shook her head.

“Come with me,” Ethel pleaded.

“And lose me place here?” Jenny said. “Not likely. Listen, Ethel. You’re like me own sister, but, I can’t lose me place. Mum would kill me. And what’s more, when are we ever gonna find such a place with such masters as the Duke and Dr. Halifax. Not only are they the kindest men I ever saw, but…well, like I said…he’s the Duke of Fallbridge. Closest thing to a prince without Royal blood, he is. One of the wealthiest men in the empire. We got it good, Ethel. Ain’t such hard work ‘ere. And, Mrs. Pepper and Mr. Speaight’s easy compared to others I known. We got friends ‘ere and a right fine ‘ome. All cozy and nice. I can’t lose it, Ethel. I can’t.”

“If we don’t do somethin’, we WILL lose our places. Cuz there won’t be a Duke of Fallbridge.”

“Charles and Gerard and Gamilla say the Duke and the doctor are the strongest men they know. They can take care o’ themselves. If Charles and them say it, it’s got to be so. Gamilla says they fought a woman what was a real witch in ‘Merica. I mean a real witch with fire and magic and all. If they can fight a witch, they can bother with some spinster like Orpha Polk.”

“Jenny, I got a bad feelin’. I know the masters would do anythin’ to protect us. We gotta help them!”

“Well, Georgie won’t let us go wit’ ‘im, Ethel. And, he’s right.”

“Then, we’ll have to go without ‘im.”

“Where? We don’t even know where the Polk woman is.”

“I do.” Ethel nodded. “I could ‘ear ‘em talkin’ in the drawin’ room.”

“However did ya?”

“The lift…” Ethel pointed to the dumbwaiter which connected the reception rooms to the scullery. “If I open the trap, I can hear what they’re sayin’ in some o’ the big rooms upstairs.”

“That’s wicked.”

“Ain’t.” Ethel scowled. “The Polk woman is at Eudora Stover’s.”

“So? Where’s that?”

“I know where. I remember Hortence talkin’ ‘bout it when she was ‘ere.”

Jenny shook her head.

“If you don’t go with me, I’ll go on me own.” Ethel said firmly.

“However will ya get out?”

“Mrs. Pepper needs a hamper packed. Miss Lennie came down earlier and said she needed Mrs. Pepper to pack a hamper to take to her cousin—you know that barmy fella what was ‘ere.”

“I know the one.” Jenny shivered. “But, we got lots o’ ‘ampers right here.”

“But, Miss Lennie asked for a special sort o’ chutney. We ain’t got what we need for it. I’ll tell Mrs. Pepper I’ll go out for what she needs.”

“She’d not send ya.”

“She would if you went. We gone shoppin’ for ‘er many a time.”

“For little things like violets for the pastries and such. Not for…”

“Jenny, I’m gonna go. Like I said, I’ll go without ya.”

Jenny gulped.


“Fine, all to blazes. I’ll go.” Jenny whispered.

Did you miss Chapters 1-236 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 238.

Antique Image of the Day: Queen Victoria and the Princess Royal, 1845

Queen Victoria and
The Princess Royal
The Royal Colelction

This is the earliest known photograph of Queen Victoria. The Queen was an avid fan of photography, even going as far as staging a recreation of her wedding day so that it might be photographed. 

Here, we see a young Queen Victoria with her first child and daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal who was known to the family as “Vicky.” At the age of seventeen, Vicky was wed to Prince William Frederick of Prussia. She was later the Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia.

Queen Victoria had a great affection for her eldest daughter, making sure that she was created Princess Royal, a title often bestowed upon the eldest daughter of a Royal family. Victoria praised her child’s curiosity and intelligence—two traits which were not demonstrated in Victoria’s eldest son, the heir presumptive, Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII).

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Prince Albert Victor Receiving the Freedom of City of London, 1885

Prince Albert Victor
Duke of Clarence and Avondale
George Gammon Adams
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Prince Albert Victor of Wales, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale and eldest son of the Princes of Wales and Princess Alexandra, wasn’t really to motivated by anything except a desire to be comfortable and have a nice rest. Still, he was the heir presumptive and he was said to have been infinitely charming.

Here, we see a roundel featuring the Prince. This was a model designed for the obverse of a medal—the work of George Gammon Adams, about 1885. It commemorates the event of Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence receiving the Freedom of City of London at a ceremony in the Guildhall on 29th June. This traditional ceremony is still in practice today and has been an important presentation since 1237. Basically, it’s an honorary ceremony which grants the recipient the right to be a “freeman.” The medieval term 'freeman' ostensibly meant one who was not the property of a feudal lord, and therefore, was allowed to enjoy privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. According to the official City of London rules, “Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free - hence the term 'freedom of the City'.” As part of the ceremony, all freemen receive the book of “Rules for the Conduct of Life,” which was written by the Lord Mayor in 1737.

It’s basically meaningless, but a nice honor, I suppose, rather like getting the key to the city.

The artist, George Gammon Adams (1821-1898) was a portrait sculptor and medallist who designed and exhibited prize medals for Prince Albert’s baby, the Great Exhibition of 1851. Adams’ work was so appreciated that in 1852 he was chosen to model the death mask of Wellington—rather a big deal. Several important monuments by the artist still stand in London.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Cartier Bangle, 1937

Cartier, 1937
This and all related images from
The British Museum

Cartier’s London branch created this sumptuous bangle in a wholly Indian style. The floral piece is a brilliant marriage of platinum, gold, diamonds, and rubies. The central motif looks back to Nineteenth-Century Indian Jaipur work with a very post-Deco sensibility.

Diamonds (baguettes and brilliants) and a double row of cabochon rubies glitter in an asymmetrical platinum setting. Meanwhile, the central floral theme is set in gold around an egg-shaped cabochon. The reverse is enameled with flowers in the Kundan style.

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.  Some week, I may offer a nifty prize from our online store.  But, this week, I don't feel like it.

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...

With a round black body! 
Three feet and a wooden hat; 
What's that?

And, the answer is...

A cooking pot--of the sort that one placed in a fire.  They had three legs and a wooden lid.  

Special mention goes to Darcy, April, Gene, Angelo, Shawn, Matt and Dashwood for extra-groovy cleverness.   And, as always, many thanks to those who answered!  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.  

Print of the Day: Points of Humour, 1824

Click Image to Enlarge

Points of Humour
After George Cruikshank, 1824
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Published by Charles Baldwyn after George Cruikshank, this wood-engraving dates to 1824 and depicts six proofs of vignettes to different “Points of Humour.”

As you can see, Cruikshank’s experience with Mr. Punch and his wife Judy has served him well in this instance.

Friday Fun: Punch and Judy and the Collaborative Divorce

On December 12, 2012, the City of London Collaborative Lawyers issued this Punch & Judy Show to demonstrate how collaborative family law can aid in resolving family issues. It goes to show that even after all these centuries, Mr. Punch is still working to educate and entertain the people.

I was shocked to know Punch was having an affair with the crocodile.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 236

Chapter 236 

A Grotesque Souvenir 

We must get them back, Your Grace.” Lady Lensdown sobbed when she was shown the horrific missive and grotesque souvenir sent by Orpha Polk. “My poor, poor children…”

“We shall, Lady Lensdown,” Punch responded. “However, this…this is much more complicated now.”

“What of your plan to involve Mr. Donnan and Mr. Stover?” Lady Lensdown continued, wiping her eyes.

“We shall still proceed with that,” Robert explained. “Still, the Duke is correct, this letter does tend to shed added darkness onto the task.”

“I can’t understand how anyone could harm a child.” Gertrude shook her head. “She…she said that she’d be sending Fern’s ear next. Can you imagine how Constance will react when she sees this?”

“We’ll soon find out,” Robert sighed.

“Am I horrible?” Gertrude gulped.

“How so?” Lennie asked.

“I’m relieved. I’m relieved that I’m not looking at a piece of one of my old children.”

“It’s only natural that you would be.” Lennie shook her head.

They paused as Lady Constance came into the Drawing Room.

“What is it?” Constance frowned. “Everyone has such a queer look.”

“Constance,” Punch began, once again affecting his impersonation of Julian. “Do sit, we must discuss something with you.”

“What have you there?” She pointed to the package. “Charles said to come at once. I could tell that something was amiss.”

“We received word from Orpha.” Robert said plainly.

“Ah…” Constance nodded. “I knew she’d be annoyed by our slowness. Perhaps we should just deliver what she wants—she only wants the baron. Frankly, I don’t think Gertrude would much mind at this point.”

“She doesn’t just want the Baron Lensdown anymore.” Punch scowled.

“Oh, no?” Constance asked.

“She now also wants Lennie.”

“Lennie?” Constance squinted.

“My sister.” Mr. Punch barked.

“Her?” Constance scoffed. “Why? Why would anyone want her? She’s not even titled.”

“Your mother would be most proud of you, Constance.” Punch spat. “Here, look upon the words from your friend.”

“She’d not my friend.” Constance shook her head.

“I wonder.” Mr. Punch replied dryly.

“I made her promise she’d not involve you.” Constance said.

“And, yet, you let her send you into my home.” Punch growled. “Can’t you see that you’ve been fooled? That woman doesn’t only want revenge against her brother. She wants revenge against all whom she feels wronged her. Especially Lennie who revealed Orpha’s deception.”

“This is Orpha’s final spree and she intends to see all of us fall at her feet.” Robert added. “Including you…” With that, Robert picked up the long lock of hair.

“Is that?” Constance gasped.

“Yes, it’s your daughter’s braid.” Punch frowned.

“I…we must…” Constance stammered. She looked up frantically. “Can’t we give this woman to Orpha.” She pointed at Lennie.

“Certainly not!” Punch bellowed.

“But…” Constance began. “She’s not even…”

“You will stop speaking now.” Robert spat.

“And, then you will pack your things and leave my house.” Punch added.

“Leave?” Constance inhaled deeply.


“What of my daughter?”

“We shall see that your daughter is safe. However, you’ve brought danger into my home and you’ve insulted my family in the process. Perhaps you were an unwitting participant, but, you’ve done it nonetheless.” Punch said firmly. “You will leave now.”

“I don’t think I will.” Constance shook her head.

“Yes, you will.” Punch smiled. “Lest I refer to the Queen of what my valet informed me as he dressed me for dinner.”

“What did he tell you?” Constance asked.

“That your mother died at your own hand. That you brought more death to my father’s home.” Punch answered. “Now, gather your things and leave.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-235 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 237.

Drawing of the Day: Le arti per via (Street arts) / I Burattini (The puppets), 1760-1770

Click Image to Enlarge

I Burattini
After Maggiotto, 1760-1770
The British Museum

Housed in the British Museum’s Italian Masters Portfolio, this drawing is titled “I Burattini” (The Puppets) and is also referred to as “Le Arti Per Via” (The Street Arts). The drawing dates between 1760 and 1770 and was made for a print by Giovanni Volpato after a work by Francesco Maggiotto. It’s one of a series of twelve, each of which focuses on the various street trades of Eighteenth Century Venice.

Puppetry was an important street art and Pulcinella shows, like the Punch and Judy Shows of the Nineteenth Century in Britain, were an integral communication device. The tradition of Punch’s Italian ancestor, Pulcinella, is depicted here as a young puppet master retreats from his booth. His “bottler,” the fellow tasked with drumming (sometimes literally) up crowds is a blind fiddler.

Object of the Day: Invest Your Money in Punch!

I love his smile. There’s something about Mr. Punch’s smile that I find very appealing. I’m surrounded by smiling Punchinellos, as you all know. And, no matter the maker or the medium, somehow, they all have the same smile—a grin of intelligence, mischief, and, yet…there’s a reassurance in it also. He’s reassuring you that though his antics may seem wild, it’s all going to work out.

Take a look at Punch’s smile on this handsome vintage letter opener which was given to me for Christmas. There he is, looking quite smart in brilliant enamels on brass, his face set against a raised “wax” seal. Beneath his bi-corned hat, we see his sparkling eyes and that reassuringly wild smile.

This letter opener was made as an incentive to advertisers to place ads in Punch Magazine. Just a way to keep Punch in front of potential advertisers’ eyes… 

The metal is inscribed:


Well, I think that’s very reasonable, indeed.

I just love this item. Looking at his little red face gives me great joy and inspiration. So, it’s nice to know he’s still serving his purpose, even in the following century.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We're Also on Facebook

If you're a Facebook user, Punch, Bertie and I would like to invite you to our additional page there.  Each day, you'll get some nifty little extras there as well as news as to upcoming Stalking the Belle Époque merriment. Check it out and give us a "like."

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: I Bertieri

"It's customary to bring snacks."

Image:  I Pifferari,  Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841), 1827, Acquired by George IV, King of the United Kingdom (1762-1830), Crown Copyright, The Royal Collection, Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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: Paul, The Fabergé Bulldog, 1910

French Bulldog
Carl Fabergé
The Royal Collection
As a child, the future King George V was surrounded by the dogs that lived with his father, King Edward VII and mother, Queen Alexandra. Among the assorted Royal canines, King George V developed close relationships with the French Bulldogs in particular. As an adult, George had a fondness for a French Bulldog named Paul. Paul modeled for Carl Fabergé and the result is this statuette of agate, guilloché enamel, rose-cut diamonds.

King George V purchased this statuette, along with several others, from Fabergé’s London Branch shortly after his father’s death, and George’s subsequent ascent to the throne, in 1910. He presented the figure to his wife, Mary of Teck, who enjoyed these things quite a lot. While it was an addition to Mary’s existing collection of Fabergé animals, it was the start of a subset collection of tiny French bulldogs.

The Home Beautiful: “Dot and Cairnach, Skye Terriers” by Otto Weber, 1874

Dot and Cairnach, Skye Terriers
Otto Weber, 1874
The Royal Collection

Royal Academician Otto Weber was appointed portrait painter to The Royal Family in the 1870’s by Queen Victoria. Being as Victoria considered the royal pets to be as much a part of the family as anyone else, she commissioned Weber to paint portraits of her dogs, too.

This 1874 portrait shows two Skye Terriers who lived amongst the other dogs in the royal household. Known as Dot and Cairnach, these spirited companions were known to frolic through the corridors in typical terrier fashion. This wasn’t Cairnach’s first time posing for a portrait. He had previously been painted by Sir Edwin Landseer on several occasions and served as a great source of inspiration for the artist who used the terrier’s visage in quite a few masterpieces.

Curiously, another of Landseer's portraits is of a dog also called Cairnach.  This one dates to 1842.  This handsome pup, who was honored later by the name given to the Skye, was a Maltese Terrier.    The 1842 portrait roundel was a Christmas gift to Queen Victoria from Prince Albert.

Sir Edwin Landseer, 1842
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II