Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Miniature by Augustus Toussaint, 1800

Ivory, Enamel, Watercolor, Gold, Copper, Diamonds
Augustus Touissaint, 1800
The Victoria & Albert Museum

An attractive oval bust-length portrait, this glittering miniature depicts an unidentified English officer. The curators at the V&A suspect that he may be one Captain Richard Lloyd. Like Lloyd, the handsome chap has short fair hair and a distinctive jaw line. He is shown wearing his uniform.

As was the case with most miniatures of the early Nineteenth Century, this portrait is rendered in watercolor on ivory. Set in a frame of gold, blue enamel and diamonds in the form of military flags, the miniature is backed in copper and gold and still retains its original blue leather case.

History's Runway: A Leather Reticule, 1819

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here we see a rectangular brown leather reticule with a flap and a brass catch, a stamped gilt border and panels of tortoiseshell surrounding two ivory panels incised with designs of floral baskets. This surprisingly current-looking bad features a gilt chain. The leather is marked, “BATH 1819,” though it looks like a handbag which would be in vogue in 2013.

The leather handbag was first introduced around 1815 in the form of an envelope-like pocket with a flap which fastened by means of a metal catch. Many, like this one, were adorned with metal plaques, or insets of tortoiseshell or ivory panels.

This bag still contains a letter with the watermark BATH 1819. It is addressed to Mrs. Kennedy, Capel Street, and reads “May I request My dear Mrs Kennedys acceptance of this small Christmas tribute - and wishing you many happy returns of the day. I remain very very affectionately M. Hamilton, Christmas Day.”

Clearly both the letter and the Christmas gift were cherished by Mrs. Kennedy as they have remained in pristine condition for nearly two hundred years.

Painting of the Day: A Miniature of Queen Victoria, 1899

Miniature of Queen Victoria, 1899
Gold, Diamonds, Ivory
The Royal Collection

Miniature paintings were the “wallet size” photos of their day. Usually painted on ivory, and often set into a gold frame or piece of jewelry, miniatures were not only for display in the home, but also meant to be kept on a person as a reminder of someone important. Queen Victoria was often the subject of miniature paintings both for her family and for the British public. Near the end of her life, a series of miniatures featuring the likeness of Victoria were produced by several artists.

This attractive miniature by an unknown artist was one of several created for Queen Victoria’s children. The image has been painstakingly painted on a ivory backing and set in a gold frame which has been mounted with diamonds. This is one of two such miniatures which still exist. Both of them are housed in The Royal Collection.  The other is set as a tie-pin.

Unusual Artifacts: The Dresden Ship, 1620-50

Model Ship
Ivory, Gold, Diamonds, Copper, Enamel
Dresden, 1620-50
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Let’s say you’re a wealthy prince in the Seventeenth Century. How will you pass your time? One of the least objectionable ways for princes, nobles and scholars to tick down the hours was to collect nifty and precious items like this, and, then, display them and talk about them with other princes, nobles and scholars. Often, these prized objects were commissioned, but, sometimes, they were hunted down for fun.

This ivory ship, is made all the more precious by the addition of gold, diamonds, enameled decorations and applied figures rendered in enamels. It’s certainly the kind of thing which would have appealed to a wealthy collector,

Sadly, we know nothing of the circumstances by which this model was commissioned. According to the V&A, “A similar, though larger, ivory and gold model frigate is preserved in the collections of the Dukes of Saxony, in the Green Vault at Dresden. The Dresden example (dated 1620) was made by Jacob Zeller for the Prince Elector Christian II of Saxony.”

Since this example is so similar to the one from the court of Christian II, we might guess that this one was commissioned as a companion to it. It was made sometime between 1620 and 1650. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 303

Chapter 303 
With Delight 

Darling,” Ulrika cooed to Giovanni. “Would you be a lamb and fetch a bowl from the dining room?”

“We ought to have servants.” Giovanni muttered.

“Really, you know we can’t, darling.” Ulrika sighed. “Most of them just wouldn’t understand. Now, would they?”

“No.” Giovanni grunted.

“There’s a lamb.” Ulrika winked.

Alone with Orpha and the Baron Lendsown, Ulrika smiled. “I just love reunions, and, really, this one is the most delicious I’ve ever seen. Brother and sister. Lovers. Enemies. It’s too wonderful.” She looked at Orpha who stood in the doorway, still supporting herself with her one remaining hand.

“Can I help you, dear?” Ulrika asked.

“No, I can manage.” Orpha replied weakly.

“You know…I almost asked if I could give you a hand.” She tittered. “Wouldn’t that have been too, too cruel? Really?” She sighed. “Orpha, I meant to tell you, dear, we’re keeping your hand in the larder. Giovanni is going to make you a new one. He’ll sculpt it from something deliciously white and cadaverous and use your old hand as a model.” She paused. “Are you sure I can’t help you.”


“Does it hurt much?” Ulrika asked.

“No.” Orpha repeated.

“Oh.” Ulrika sighed disappointedly. She looked back and forth between the baron and Orpha. “Should I leave? Am I intruding?”

“Stay.” Orpha replied, releasing her grasp on the wall and staggering to the settee across from the baron. Settling in, Orpha inhaled. “Why does it seem so long since I’ve seen you? It’s not been long at all. The first time we were separated was decades longer, and, yet, that time seemed to pass so quickly.”

“Are you really my sister?” The baron asked.

“Yes, Victor. You yourself have noted many times how much we resemble one another.”

“Many also noted how much you look like the sister of the Duke of Fallbridge.” The baron answered plainly.

“My name is Hannah.” Orpha replied. “You abandoned me.”

“You’ve also claimed to be Ellen Barrett.” The baron replied. “You’ve claimed, previously, to be the sister of the Duke of Fallbridge, why should I believe you’re my lost sister?”

“Not lost. Abandonned.”

“Wonderful, really.” Ulrika licked her lips.

“If you knew I was your brother, how could you…”

“Easily.” Orpha smiled weakly. “I knew what it would cost you and what it would profit me.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“Says the man who has taken to his bed a variety of women and men from stable to stateroom.” Orpha growled.

“I love it. I just love it.” Ulrika leaned in.

“You know I am what I claim.” Orpha continued. “You can feel it in your heart.”

“I feel nothing in my heart.”

“That doesn’t surprise me.” Orpha snapped.

“This is just too marvelous.” Ulrika smiled.

“Would you please be quiet!” The baron shouted.

“Now, why couldn’t you have shown some of that spirit before? Really, Orpha, he’s been terribly dull. He has none of your fire.”

“He was also dull.” Orpha mumbled. “Even as a child. While other boys would play and laugh, Victor say studying the leaves of trees and arranging his collection of pebbles in a small tin.”

“Dear God…” Victor’s eyes widened.

“You see,” Orpha shook her head. “I am who I claim to be.”

“What do you want of me?”

“May I?” Ulrika chimed in.

“Of course, you are my benefactress.” Orpha nodded.

“Well, you are the mother of our messiah.” Ulrika bowed her head.

“What is this?” The baron asked.

“Just now when you exclaimed, did you know that you were referring to your own son?” Orpha coughed.

“That…that creature?”

“Oh, you’ve seen him?” Orpha raised her eyebrows.

“I know, it is disappointing.” Ulrika shook her head. “But, it couldn’t be avoided.”

“What do you think of your child?” Orpha asked.

“I think it’s hideous and should be destroyed.”

“Now, now. Really…that’s no way to talk about the messiah.” Ulrika clucked her tongue. “Especially since you helped give him life.”

“I want no part of it.” The baron barked.

“Well, that can be avoided.” Ulrika shook her head. “You are part of him. And, you will continue to be part of him. In fact, you shall see to it that he grows in size and power.”

“I certainly will not.” The baron replied, trying to raise his hand, but remembering they’d been bound.

“You don’t have a choice.” Ulrika grinned.

“Just as I had no choice when you left me to die in the workhouse.” Orpha added.

“What do you intend?” The baron asked nervously.

Ulrika squeaked with pleasure as Giovanni returned with a large silver bowl. “You’ll soon see.”

The baron’s face flushed.

“Look…he’s ripe.” Ulrika howled with laughter. She turned to Giovanni. “Darling, do you have the blade?”

“Yes, my dear.” He nodded, retrieving a large knife from a nearby table.

“Delicious!” Ulrika squealed. “Orpha, would you like to do it?”

“No. I’m too weak. Besides, you should be Marduk’s proxy.”

“I’m honored.” Ulrika inhaled sincerely. She took the blade from Giovanni and walked toward the baron.

“Now,” Ulrika continued. “Do be sure to keep your eyes open…no matter what. This is going to be very, very painful, really. I’m beside myself with delight.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-302 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 304. 

Sculpture of the Day: Sappho and Cupid, 1851

Sappho and Cupid
Henri de Triqueti
The Royal

French Sculptor Henri de Triqueti was wildly popular with the French Court and was a favorite of King Louis-Philippe who not only enjoyed the artist’s work, but also his company. Sadly (for Triqueti, at least), Louis-Philippe found himself booted out of power. Without a patron, Triqueti collected his English wife and sought opportunities in Britain.

His work was quickly noticed. Queen Victoria appreciated the artist’s work, and, in 1851 purchased this ivory statue directly from Triqueti as a surprise Christmas gift for Prince Albert. The figure—neatly rendered in ivory—depicts the great poetess Sappho as she attempts to fling herself into the sea upon learning she’s been rejected by Phaon. Tiny little Cupid tries desperately to prevent her suicide.

Victoria, who was equally mad about Prince Albert, thought this would be a sweet gift for her husband. And, it was. However, she made a good artistic choice, too. This sculpture is rare. Triqueti exclusively sculpted historical and biblical scenes. This classically-themed sculpture is a strange departure for him. Victoria would go on to purchase a full-scale marble sculpture of Edward VI from Triqueti. He then offered her a good price on two more ivory figures. She politely declined.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Macao Fan, 1840

Macao Fan, 1840
Queen Victoria, by whom bequeathed to
King Edward VII, by whom given to Queen Alexandra, 1901.
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image courtesy of:
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

This Cantonese fan, known as “The Macao Fan” was made in 1840 of paper leaf with lacquered bamboo guards and sticks. It features a silk tassel supporting beads of pink tourmaline.

The fan was made for Queen Victoria who, in 1901, bequeathed it to her eldest son, Albert Edward (King Edward VII) who, in turn, presented the fan to his wife, Queen Alexandra.

This fan is a high-quality example of the Cantonese fans produced in the 1830s and 1840s. This fan, like others from Canton, depicts a large number of figures in which the faces are painted on tiny pieces of ivory and the clothes are made of real silk which are pasted onto the paper ground.

At either side of the central scene, in which a magistrate greets his son who has returned home on a white horse, are views of Macao. The Royal Collection states, “The Cantonese origin of this fan is confirmed through the survival of the original coloured lacquer box, finely decorated with Oriental figures, flowers and buildings. On the base of the inside of the box is the trade label of the shop (Volong) in Canton which supplied the fan.”

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Townshend Red Spinel, 1840

Red Spinel in an exceptional mount of gold and European-cut diamonds, 1840.
Part of the Townshend Collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I like natural spinels. They’re rather difficult to come by, but when you finally see when, you’re immediately struck by the beautiful fire they exhibit and the wide range of colors (or lack thereof) in which they come. Red spinels were once known as “balas rubies,” “spinel rubies” and then “ruby spinels,” and they have been frequently linked with or confused with rubies despite their substantially different chemical makeup.

This ring, set with a fine red spinel framed by a border of European-cut diamonds in a gold mount, forms part of the celebrated collection of 154 gems bequeathed to the V&A by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet. The ring was made c. 1840 purely for the purpose of displaying this exceptional stone. 

Friday Fun: Count Them, Mr. Punch

Professor Whatsit's Shop

At some point in every Punch & Judy Show, Mr. Punch pauses to chat with the Constable who has, invariably, noticed that Punch has murdered a few people. As the Constable counts the number of bodies in the rather large pile of Punch’s victims, Punch—with a swift whack on the head—adds the copper to the pile.

Soon, however, Punch realizes that the pile is not quite as dead as he thought. He finds himself taunted by one body in particular—Joey, the Clown. And, so, as the children in the audience encourage Punch to kill again (which is my favorite part of this), he attempts to put Joey in his place once and for all.

This video comes to us compliments of “
Professor Whatsit,” also known by his real name, Chris van der Craats of Melbourne. 

Mr. Punch's Puzzles: The Riddle of the Week

Each Friday, Mr. Punch, with my help, presents a true Victorian riddle.  The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.  Be on the look-out!  Sometimes--not today, because, frankly, I don't feel like it--the winner will receive a fabulous prize from our online store.

So, here's this week's riddle.  And, for the love of Punch, don't Google the answer.  That's not cool, and most of all, it's very un-Victorian.  Must be sporting, Chums, what.

I am within as white as snow,
without as green as herbs that grow;
I am higher than a house,
and yet am lesser than a mouse.

And...the answer is...

A walnut.

I don't know.  That's the answer.  

I declare today's winners as Darcy and Dashwood since they are the only two who put their responses with the right post.  However, the rest of you, in the wrong place, also had very clever answers.  Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles.

And, remember Mr. Punch wants you to never forget that, "That's the way to do it!"  A good way to recall that is with one of our exclusive Mr. Punch products, available only in our online store.  

The Art of Play: A Mr. Punch by Fred Tickner, 1975

Mr. Punch
Fred Tickner, 1975
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The great Fred Tickner was acclaimed for his beautifully-made puppets—especially his Mr. Punch figures. Tickner was an inspiration for generations of puppet makers, including Bryan Clarke who made my Mr. Punch.

This example of Tickner’s brilliant work dates to around 1975 and is houses in the V&A. A traditional glove puppet of Mr Punch, it has been hand-carved for the face and hands, which are hand-painted. Punch’s characteristic hair is made of imitation fur.

His costume is traditional, yet unique. He wears a pine green hat adorned with small yellow felt circles and a handsome black felt hat-band which has been trimmed with yellow braid and green rosettes anchored with metal studs. Instead of bright red, he wears a raspberry pink corduroy jacket with unusual turquoise corduroy front panels. The entire costume is trimmed with yellow braid and yellow buttons, with a yellow ribbed fabric ruff edged with red braid. His breeches match his hat, and his legs are painted yellow with blue-painted shoes decorated with red and black felt shoe roses.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 302

Chapter 302 

Faces of Madness 

Lennie found the white paper box, wrapped in pale pink ribbon on the small writing desk in the Morning Room which she had adopted as her own. As Speaight had said, a vase of water had been left next to it on a round silver tray.

Her hands trembled as she untied the ribbon and lifted the lid off of the box. Pink paper had been laid across the interior. She carefully removed the fragile tissue so that it would be in pristine condition when given to Ethel and the other girls downstairs.

Gasping at what lay beneath, Lennie felt her heart flutter. She gazed at the lush assortment of flowers—Sweet peas, white lilacs, clusters of small violet roses, forget-me-nots, Canterbury bells, dahlias, and large blooms of deep pink roses on thornless stems.

Atop the bouquet was a small rectangle of card which Lennie picked up.

Miss Molliner—

Thank you for allowing me to walk you home.

With gratitude…

Lord Cleaversworth

“Matthew.” Lennie whispered.

Here eyes again returned to the flowers and she tried to recall what they meant. She’d never received a floral tribute before and had never taken the time to memorize the meanings of the different flowers the way other young ladies did. As best she could recall, the sweet pea blossoms signified gratitude while the white lilacs…she blushed.

“No, it couldn’t be.” She muttered as she recalled the meaning of the lilacs. “The first feelings of love.” She shook her head. “Surely…not.”

What did the violet roses represent? Lavender roses meant “Love at first sight.” Lennie felt the warmth rise in her neck.

The significance of the forget-me-nots was rather obvious, but what of the Canterbury bells with their five-arced, deep cups of light purple? Yes…yes, they, too, meant gratitude. Dahlias, she thought, represented an expression of appreciated elegance. That made her laugh. She never considered herself to be especially elegant.

And, what of the rich, pink roses on their long thornless stems. The blooms themselves also showed gratitude, but…the stems. Lennie sat down at the desk. Could it be? Her heart fluttered. She remembered reading once that when the thorns were removed from a rose’s stem, that the sender meant to suggest love at first sight.

“Extraordinary.” Lennie shook her head.

Taking several minutes to arrange the flowers in the vase, Lennie tried to convince herself that they were real. It all seemed so fantastic to her that until she rose and gently brushed her nose against the soft blossoms did she allow herself to believe that this man—this Earl—had really sent such a sweet and moving token to her.

Giving herself a moment to regain her composure, Lennie rang the service bell and, while waiting, continued to study her gift.

“Yes, Miss.” Gerard smiled as he entered the room.

“Gerard…” Lennie shook her head to bring herself to reality. “Have you had any word of His Grace?”

“I took a moment to check in with the doctor not too long ago, and ‘e feels certain His Grace will survive this unharmed. He and Gamilla are keepin’ close watch over ‘im.”

“I’m glad. I’ll join them in a moment.”

“Did you have any luck with Miss Fern? If you don’t mind me askin’.”

“I don’t mind.” Lennie shook her head. “However, I’m afraid I had no luck whatsoever.” She paused. “Gerard, you may speak plainly with me, of course. Do tell me. Do you share Dr. Halifax’s belief that Miss Fern is mad?”

“I do.” Gerard answered softly.

“I see.” Lennie replied. “Do you think there’s any saving her?”

“That’s not for me to say. Dr. Halifax knows better of these things. And, you, Miss.”


“Well, yes, Miss.” Gerard nodded. “Look what you done for Ethel. I don’t know much of these things. I ain’t so very clever, Miss. I just know what I see. If she’d been left alone after seein’ our poor Jenny killed, she may not have ever gotten her sense back. But, you helped her, and made her come back to us. She gets better each day, and we all know it’s thanks to you. Also, if you’ll ‘xcuse me for bringin’ it up, we all know of Mr. Roger Barrett and his troubles, yet, Dr. Halifax says that you’re able to calm him and soothe his heated mind. I know that to say someone is mad is unfair. Madness takes many different forms. Don’t it? Some would say that His Grace is mad for the way he talks and the way he thinks. None of us here think so, only, well… we know what he is, and why, and we know that what some would call madness is really just his way of bein’ strong. Madness has many faces, I think. Dr. Halifax has told me his mother was mad. She were the sort of mad where a person don’t know where she is or what she is. And, then, there’s madness like, if you’ll forgive me, Mr. Barrett got. Kind o’ like His Grace, Roger is. But where the Duke’s got control, Mr. Barrett don’t. Maybe it’ll come in time, and if it does, it’ll come because you taught it to ‘im.”

Lennie nodded. “I appreciate your faith in me.”

“We’re all so grateful you’re here, Miss.” Gerard nodded.

“How would you classify Miss Fern, then?” Lennie asked.


“Would you say that Miss Fern is unsalvageable in the way that Dr. Halifax has described his mother? Would you say she has hope like Ethel? Or…with much work, a chance like my cousin, Roger?”

“Well, I couldn’t say ‘xcept that I know she ain’t the kind of mad that’s good and kind. Like His Grace. Like I said, some would say he was mad. But, it’s that madness what makes him so gentle and good, also strong and brave. It’s that madness what takes away all them things what makes a powerful man like the Duke be cruel. His Grace is simple. I don’t mean he’s a fool. He’s a clever, talented man. But, his way of lookin’ at things is clear, it is. And, that make shim good. That’s not what Miss Fern’s got. Hers makes her…and I ain’t saying, Miss, that she don’t got a good reason for it…”

“Wicked.” Lennie nodded.

“I hate to say it of a child,” Gerard shook his head, his speech become less and less formal as he became m ore comfortable. “Only, well, don’t she remind you of anyone?”

“Her mother?” Lennie asked.

“In a way. Her grandmother, too.”

“I never knew the Countess Hamish.”

“Lucky, you are.” Gerard nodded. “Only I don’t mean her.”

“Orpha Polk?”

“Yes, Miss.” Gerard answered.

“They are related.” Lennie sighed. “Sad as it is, Orpha is Fern’s aunt.”

“And the baron her father.” Gerard continued. “I think she tends to take after that side of the family. Sometimes a body can’t help it.”

“I see.” Lennie nodded.

“All I know, Miss, is that if anyone can ‘elp the girl it’s you and His Grace and the Doctor. As I see it, she’s lucky. She’s got three folk to see after her. His Grace with his kindness and forgiveness and understandin’, you with your gentleness, and the doctor with his patience and cleverness.”

“I hope so.” Lennie nodded. She brightened. “I nearly forgot why I’d called you in here. I’ve received this parcel and wanted to make sure that Ethel and Maude and Ruthy were given the paper and ribbon. They’re welcome to the box, too, if they’d like it.”

“They’ll be pleased, Miss.” Gerard smiled. “And such pretty flowers you’ve gotten.”

“May I confide in you?” Lennie blushed. “This is the first time I’ve ever received flowers.”

“I’m sure it won’t be the last, Miss.” Gerard smiled.

“Oh, well…”

“Just don’t get yourself married too soon, we’d like to keep you here for awhile more.” Gerard said. He looked at the floor. “Maybe I oughtn’t say that. Mr. Speaight says I shouldn’t be so familiar and take advantage of the Duke’s kindness.”

“I won’t tell.” Lennie smiled. “Thank you, Gerard.”

“Miss, if His…when His Grace wakes up, tell ‘im we’re all thinkin’ of ‘im downstairs.” Gerard said as he picked up the box, paper and ribbon.

“I will.” Lennie replied. She paused. “Gerard, I just want to tell you that you’re much more clever than you think.”

“Nah.” Gerard shook his head. “Only clever thing I ever done was askin’ my Gamilla to be my wife.”

“Well, she was very wise to agree.” Lennie nodded. “Very wise indeed.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-301 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 303.

Painting of the Day: Punch in the Country , 1852

Punch in the Country
Charles James Lewis, 1852
The George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Click to enlarge.

The celebrated and prolific watercolor and oil painter Charles James Lewis RI (1830-1892) specialized in landscapes and bucolic genre paintings of children and animals. Here, we see the subject matter and detailed brushwork which defined Lewis’ painting.

The scene from 1852 depicts the Punch and Judy booth of a traveling showman with Mr. Punch visible and a drummer (acting as a “bottler” to collect money) accompanying the performance. While Punch is the centerpiece of the painting, Lewis is careful to reveal that his real interest was not in the performance but in the audience and the small details of daily life in the countryside. These details include a baby in a wheeled cart, children peeping into the booth, a picturesque countryside cottage with a family gathered outside, and a puppy.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Painted Panel Depicting Street Performers, 1810

Panel Painting
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This street scene would have been a typical sight in early Nineteenth-Century London. A group of street performers has gathered in an alley. A clown-like jester beats his drum to signal the start of the show which includes a violinist, and, most notably, Mr. Punch peeking out from his theater. Below him, a child reaches out to see if she can touch Mr. Punch.

Since this was painted in 1810, odds are that this was a “Punch and Joan” show as Mr. Punch’s wife’s name had yet to be changed. During this phase of Mr. Punch’s life, his wife was actually the aggressor. Around the time her name changed, so did her personality, and she became the object of Punch’s outbursts as opposed to the cause of it. I find this piece to be incredibly charming—especially the glint in Punch’s eye as he peers out as if to say, “Here, look at me!” Let’s hope Mr. Punch continues to draw a crowd for centuries to come.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: L'affamé

"Really, I don't care what's under your sheet.  I want to know what's in your kitchen."

Image: La Pudeur, Hermann Winterhalter (1808-91) (artist), c. 1843-9, Oil on canvas, Acquired by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-61), Christmas, 1849, 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: Queen Alexandra’s Iris Pendant, 1900

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Courtesy of Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II
A work of gold, pliqué-a-jour enamel, and rose-cut diamonds, this pendant of Art Nouveau style is decorated with irises. Though a maker’s mark is not evident, it is clearly the work of Fabergé’s workshop.

The piece is larger than most of Fabergé’s similar pendants, indicating that it was, most likely, a custom order for an unknown individual. No one is quite sure from whom or when Queen Alexandra received this piece, but the style indicates that it was made circa 1900.

Pendant of Enamel, Gold and Diamonds
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Bertie's Pet-itations: Pace

Here's Bertie's weekly opportunity to share his ideas for creating our new "Beautiful Age."  Bertie's advice, I'm sure, can be applied to many different areas of our lives.

And, so, I happily hand the computer over to him.

Bertie says:

Sometimes it's best just to walk slowly and look around.  If you don't, you might miss something.

Precious Time: A Guilloché Enamel and Diamond Desk Clock, Before 1896

Desk Clock
Michael Perchin
Silver, guilloché enamel, rose diamonds, pearls.
Before 1896
The Royal Collection

Queen Victoria—sometime prior to 1896—commissioned Michael Perchin of Fabergé to create this elegant desk clock of blue guilloché enamel, rose-cut diamonds and pearls. The diamonds are set in a fleur-de-lis pattern. It is believed that the clock was meant to be a gift from Victoria to the French Royal Family. However, it doesn’t seem to have made its way there.

In fact, it kind of disappeared for awhile until Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother, not Queen Elizabeth II) purchased it sometime in the late 1930’s. Now, it sits happily with its other Fabergé and variously enameled and jewel-encrusted brethren in the Royal Collection. It has a cousin who was designed to lie flat instead of to sit upright which can be found in the Forbes Collection. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 301

Chapter 301 
To Be Made Welcome 

Fern,” Lennie began softly. “Do you understand how serious…how very serious it is?”

“What is that?”

“What you’ve done.” Lennie replied, surprised.

“Well…no.” Fern answered airily. “Mama used to take that very same tonic every night and no one made such a fuss.”

“Your mother didn’t take an entire bottle at once.” Lennie responded.

“She took a fair amount.”

“Only a spoonful or two.” Lennie narrowed her eyes.

“No.” Fern shook her head. “She’d put the bottle to her lips and drink from it.”

“Nonetheless…” Lennie frowned, “your mother didn’t imbibe an entire bottle at once.”

“How am I to know that?” Fern shrugged.

“Common sense, my girl.” Lennie squinted. “Furthermore, didn’t you realize that going into Uncle Robert’s study was not something you should do? And, certainly, you should know that a child should not go into a doctor’s medical bag.”

“First, Dr. Halifax is not my uncle. I don’t know why you all insist on my calling these men, ‘Uncle.’”

“Because they’ve welcomed you into their home.”

“Welcomed me to only parts of their home. You tell me that I shouldn’t go into Dr. Halifax’s study yet I’m to be made welcome?”

“Even the most generous of hosts has rules. When a guest in someone’s home, it’s important to obey those rules.” Lennie answered.

“I’m a guest? Am I guest or a part of the family as everyone keeps telling me?”

“Well, certainly you’re part of the family.” Lennie responded.

“Then, I should have freedom within the house.”

“Not total run of the house. You’re a child!” Lennie shook her head, wondering if, perhaps, she’d been wrong in her assessment of the innocence of the child. “As a child, you’re to be obedient. And…furthermore, no child should ever bother a doctor’s medicines. You could have been hurt and you’ve certainly hurt your Uncle Punch.”

“He’s not my Uncle.” Fern hissed.

“You yourself have called him such.”

“Only to get through. Like most men, those two like to be told what they want to here. Maybe if you learned that, you wouldn’t be a spinster.”

“No, I could be a slut like your mother was, and, from what I’ve been told, your grandmother before her!” Lennie spat. Suddenly, she turned coral red. “Oh…Fern…I didn’t mean that. I’m terribly sorry.”

Fern shrugged again. “It’s true. I’m the result of that.”

“It was an ugly thing for me to say. I must remember that you’re a child though you make it quite difficult to do so. You say and do things which don’t suit your age, my dear.”

“Intelligence is always punished.” Fern answered. “Perhaps it would be best to give me to my father.”

“Your father?”

“You know who he is.” Fern challenged.

“Do you?”

Fern bit her lip and remained silent.

“Fern, you shall stay here with us,” Lennie continued uncomfortably. “I’m simply trying to ensure that you understand that what you’ve done was not only terribly wrong, but also terribly dangerous.”

“Will the Duke die?”

“I don’t think so. He’s very strong.” Lennie shook her head.

“He doesn’t look it.” Fern sniffed.

“Still, you’ve made him terribly sick.”

“If he cannot take the same tonic which my mother took without getting sick, he can’t be very strong.”

“We have already discussed this.” Lennie said firmly. “You surprise me, Fern. I’ve been very supportive of you. While your Uncle Robert was quick to paint you as a wicked girl, I defended you. Now, I wonder if I shouldn’t have. Where is the girl who shed repentant tears just moments ago?”

“Changes in behavior shouldn’t shock you.” Fern smiled. “After all, you live with a man who thinks he is possessed by the spirit of a puppet and uses that as an excuse to act a fool.”

“That is not accurate.” Lennie said. “You misunderstand the Duke. He cannot help the way he acts. He does not think that he’s possessed by anything. He is…” She paused. “It’s too complicated a thing for a girl your age.”


“Yes.” Lennie nodded. “There are reasons that my brother has developed the way he has.”


“Yes, things which he endured as a child have…”

“Things like watching a two-headed infant drink the blood of mice? Things like knowing that your own mother preferred to hang herself and give you away to strangers than to keep you? Things like seeing the severed hand of a woman on the floor? Those sorts of things?” Fern challenged.

Lennie was silent.

“So many are so quick with answers to their own questions, but so few have answers to the questions of others.” Fern laughed.

“Did you intentionally…” Lennie asked, her voice quavering. “Did you intend to harm my brother? Is that why you put that tonic in his drink?”

Fern smiled.

“You did.” Lennie gasped.

“You’re…you…you are wicked.”

“I have reasons that I am the way I am.” Fern smiled, parroting Lennie’s earlier statement. “I endured things as a child.”

Lennie stepped backward. “You are to stay here in your room. I shall lock the door from the other side. Someone will bring you your dinner on a tray.”

“You needn’t bother. I shan’t eat it.”

“As you wish.” Lennie shook her head. With that, she exited, locking the door behind her. As she walked through the passage, she could hear Fern laughing.

Speaight greeted Lennie at the landing. “Miss? Is the girl settled?”

“I don’t think she’ll ever be settled.” Lennie shook her head.

“Oh.” Speaight nodded.

“How is His Grace?” Lennie cleared her throat.

“When I returned with fresh water, he was still unconscious, Miss Molliner. Gamilla was bathing His Grace’s brow while Dr. Halifax massaged the Duke’s legs.”

“Probably to encourage the flow of blood.” Lennie nodded. “I think I shall return to them. Will you tell Mrs. Pepper that Miss Fern will not be taking dinner tonight?”

“Yes, Miss Molliner.”

“Thank you, Speaight.”

“Miss Molliner?”


“I nearly forgot. A messenger came moments ago with something for you.”

“For me?”

“Yes, Miss.” Speaight smiled. “A box from a florist, I believe.”

“A florist.” Lennie repeated. “Are you sure?”

“Quite sure.” Speaight continued to smile.

“For me.” Lennie shook her head. “How…unexpected.”

“Not at all, Miss.” Speaight shook his head. “Pardon me for saying it, Miss Molliner, but I knew that when you came to live here, we would have many such a delivery. A household blessed with such a handsome young woman is always filled with flowers.”

“Oh…” Lennie’s eyes filled with tears. “I…” She shook her head. “Speaight, you’re a treasure.”

“Not at all.” Speaight replied. “I’ve left the parcel for you in your favorite spot in the morning room, at your writing desk, and I’ve taken the liberty of placing a vase of water on the salver next to it.”

“Thank you.” Lennie inhaled.

“Of course,” Speaight nodded. “Oh, Miss…if you don’t mind, if the flowers are wrapped in tissue, would you save it for Ethel, Maudie and Ruthy? They’ve already asked if you would. I told them that I would ask you. Ethel was eager to show the new girls how Jenny taught her to fold paper into the shape of a swan.”

“I’m so glad to hear it. I’m happy to know that Ethel is recovering, and, also managing to think of the pleasurable times she shared with Jenny. I certainly will save the paper, and any ribbon or string that might also be there. I know how they like to make things with it. Yes, yes, I’m quite pleased that Ethel is mending.”

“That owes entirely to you, Miss Molliner.” Speaight nodded. “Because of your care and affection, you worked a miracle.”

“I wouldn’t say that.” Lennie shook her head.

“I shall say it for you. I suspect, Miss, that you, in your own way, are able to heal a person with your manner, the way that Dr. Halifax heals with his medicine.”

Lennie glanced up the stairs to Fern’s door. “Not always, Speaight. However, I thank you for thinking so.”

“Yes, Miss.” Speaight nodded. “I shall tell Mrs. Pepper to refrain from making a tray for Miss Fern.”

“Thank you.”

With Speaight out of sight, Lennie took a deep breath to steady herself, and, then raced down the next flight of stairs to the morning room to open her very first delivery of flowers.

Did you miss Chapters 1-300 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 302.