Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mastery of Design: Queen Mary’s Seal, 1896

Michael Perchin for Fabergé
The Royal Collection

This attractive seal by Michael Perchin of Fabergé was a gift to Queen Mary on the occasion of her birthday, May 26, 1935 and also for her Silver Jubilee on the throne from Prince and Princess Nicholas of Greece. The Prince and Princess were the parents of Princess Marina who would marry the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary and become the Duchess of Kent.

The seal’s unusual handle is formed of rutilated quartz-- rock crystal containing rutile, a mineral which occurs in columnar-shaped crystals. Queen Mary happily added this handsome item to her collection of Fabergé—a large grouping of objects which she kept in a series of vitrines.

Queen Mary adored her Fabergé collection. After the death of her husband, King George V, her Fabergé collection was one of the first things that she moved with her from Buckingham Palace to her new home at Marlborough house. When the danger of the Second World War forced the Queen Dowager to move from Marlborough House to Badminton House in the country she brought the collection with her, and when the war was over and the Queen set about rebuilding Marlborough House which had been badly bombed, she declared that the ruined house was looking “like home” again when her collection of Fabergé was in place. 

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Images Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

At the Music Hall and the Art of Play: Tommy One Leg, 1870-90

"Tommy One Leg"
Tiller-Clowes Marionette Troupe
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the Tiller-Clowes troupe--one of the last Victorian marionette troupes in England—we see this marionette who is called “Tommy One Leg.”  Tommy was made by the troupe in Lincolnshire  between 1870 and 1890.  He is a one-eyed, one-legged Russian sailor fiddler who was specially made for the popular comic music hall song “How Cruel Were My Parients” (sic).  The song was sung by a puppet dressed as Tommy’s wife as she related  the fate of her husband who lost his eye and leg when he was press-ganged into the navy, and how, later, he was reduced to busking in the streets with her.

The song went like this:


Oh! cruel were my Parients [sic], as tore my Love from me,
And cruel was the press-gang who took him off to Sea,
And cruel was the little Boat, as row'd him from the Strand,
And cruel was the great big Ship as sail'd him from the Land.
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

Oh! cruel was the Water, as bore her Love from Mary,
And cruel was the fair wind, as would not blow contrary,
And cruel was the Captain, and the Botswain and the Men
As didn't care a fair-din' if we never met again.
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

Oh! cruel was the Splinter as broke my Dreary's Leg,
Now he's oblighed to fiddle for't, and I'm obliged to beg,
A vagabonding Vagrant, and a rantipoling Wife
We fiddle, limp and scrape it thro' the ups and downs of life.
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

Oh! cruel was th'engagement in which my true love fought,
And cruel was the Cannon-Ball, as knock'd his right Eye out,
He used to leer and ogle me, with peepers full of fun,
But now he looks a-skew at me, because he's only one.
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

My Love he plays the Fiddle, and wanders up and down,
And I sings at his Elbow, thro' all the Streets in Town,
We spends our days in harmony and wery [sic]seldom fights
Except when he's his Grog aboard, or I get queer at Nights
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

Oh! cruel are the Bobbies, as makes my Love move on,
That dear old faithful timber-toe he can hardly walk upon,
His voice to me sounds very sweet, although he's rather hoarse,
He's always got a shocking cold as it's always getting worse
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

Oh! cruel was the Bank as broke, in which was all our tin,
And cruel was the Manager as took my true Love in
We've not a blessed Shot now left, the Locker's up the spout,
So my true Love and me will sing, and fiddle our lives right out
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

Then Ladies take all the warning, by my true Love and me,
Tho' cruel fate should cross you remember constabncy,
Like me you'll be rewarded and have all your heart's delight
With fiddling in a Morning and a drop of Gin at Night
Singing too rol loo rol loo rol too rol loo rol loo.

Her Majesty’s Furniture: A Russian Pietra Dura Table, 1844

Pietra Dura Table
Carl Johan Tegelstein, 1844
The Royal Collection
Pietra Dura—a mosaic of hard stone—has long been a popular medium for Russian artists. This heavily carved, bas relief Pietra Dura tabletop was a gift from Tsar Nicolas I to Queen Victoria upon the occasion of his official state visit in June of 1844. The table’s gilt bronze base comes from the high-end English Shop of Nichols and Plincke in St. Petersburg. The top--designed by Carl Johan Tegelstein--depicts a floral composition surrounded by a "Greek Key" border.

Recently, a similar table by the same artist from The Winter Palace sold at auction for £916,000 (about $1.4 million). The top of that table is pictured below.

Unusual Artifacts: A Russian Kovsh, 1909-1913

Silver Gilt, Enamel
The Royal Collection

A kovsh is a Russian drinking vessel with a single handle and a boat-shaped body. These vessels were often presented by the tsars as gifts to followers and favored subjects. Often made of precious metals and adorned with enamel and gemstones, these valuable objects were more for display than they were practical.

This kovsh is enameled en plein and depcits a scene of the Zaporozhye Cossacks (suggested by a painting by Ilya Repin). Created in the Moscow workshop of Feodor Rückert, the kovsh utilizes brilliantly hued cloisonné enameling. The vessel was distributed by Fabergé for import to England in 1913 and was purchased in London by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 309

Chapter 309 

Some of Him 

Don’t scream.” Fern said menacingly over the railing.

“I ain’t gonna scream.” Mrs. Pepper snapped. “I ain’t afraid of some stick of a little girl.”

“Oh?” Fern smiled.

“Just how did you get out of your room?” Mrs. Pepper demanded.

“I was crying and the blonde maid heard me. I told her through the door how mean Uncle Punch and Uncle Robert were to me.”

“And she unlocked the door?” Mrs. Pepper frowned.

“She came in to bring me a drink of water.” Fern grinned.

“And you slipped out when Violet wasn’t lookin’.” Mrs. Pepper scowled.

“Oh, no. I wouldn’t do that.” Fern shook her head.

“Yet here you are.” Mrs. Pepper snorted. “Wait…where’s Violet? What do you mean you ‘wouldn’t do that?’”

“That would be too easy. Just to sneak out.” Fern laughed.

“Where’s Violet?” Mrs. Pepper demanded.

“In my room.” Fern replied airily.

“Mr. Speaight!” Mrs. Pepper screamed. “Come here quickly!”

“I told you not to scream!” Fern shouted. “I told you, I told you!”

Speaight came running out of his pantry. “Merciful heavens! What is it?”

Charles, too, had heard Mrs. Pepper’s yell and ran in from the area. He spotted Fern on the stairs. “What’s she doing here? She’s meant to be locked in her room!” In his haste, he failed to close the area door behind her.

“I think she done somethin’ to our Vi.” Mrs. Pepper said quickly.

“Is that true, girl?” Speaight asked.


“Where is Violet?” Charles asked.

“She’s in my room.” Fern sighed. “I’ve already answered that question.”

Charles narrowed his eyes and walked away from the stairs, shaking his head slightly at Mrs. Pepper who was about to speak. Leaning on the kitchen table, Charles sighed. “I guess this little girl is smarter than we are.”

“You’re right to think so.” Fern laughed.

“I guess she’s gotten us where she wants us.” Charles continued.

Speaight and Mrs. Pepper looked with curiosity at Charles as he nonchalantly walked back toward the stairs.

“You’re all fools.” Fern snapped. “Fools led by the King of Fools! Your puppet King!”

“You make a good point, Fern.” Charles nodded.

“I’m glad someone appreciates me.”

“Oh, I do.” Charles smiled.

Suddenly, he lunged forward grabbing the railing and throwing his legs over it. Before Fern knew what happened, Charles had grabbed her from behind, holding her arms against her body.

“Let me go! Let me go!” Fern shrieked.

“Run up and get Dr. Halifax! Tell him to bring something to sedate the little bitch.” Charles shouted. “Then go to the girl’s room and see to Violet.”

“I’ll go!” Mrs. Pepper said.

“No, Mrs. Pepper, it’s not right!” Mr. Speaight stopped her.

“For the love of God, man!” Mrs. Pepper shouted. “You’re gonna stand on ceremony? I can get up them stairs quicker than you with those old knees of yours!”

“Very well.” Speaight sighed.

Mrs. Pepper hurried up the stairs and skirted past Fern and Charles. Fern yowled as Mrs. Pepper past.

“Mr. Speaight!” Charles yelled. “I’ve got to put her somewhere.”


“Does the scullery lock?”

“Yes, yes.” Speaight said.

“Fine, we’ll put her in there.” Charles said, picking up the girl who wriggled and struggled against him.

“Let me go!” Fern screamed again. “I didn’t kill the maid!”

“What did you do to her?” Charles asked as he hurled the girl toward the pantry.

“You’ll see!” Fern howled.

Charles tried to cover her mouth, releasing his grasp on one of her arms. She seized the opportunity to bit him, clamping her teeth on his hand until she could taste his blood. Charles screamed in agony and Fern broke free.

“Stop her!” Charles shouted to Mr. Speaight.

But, Fern would not be stopped. She pushed, with all her force, against Speaight, knocking him to the floor.

With that, she darted out of the area door, her little legs flying up the stairs to Belgrave Square.

“Fern!” Charles shouted.

“Help me!” Fern screamed. “He’s trying to kill me! Help me! He’s a bad man!”

With Charles in pursuit, Fern ran down the street toward Hamish House and was relieved to see the front door open.

“Oh,” Ulrika Rittenhouse smiled as the girl drew closer. “I thought I heard screams of agony. I thought maybe it was Christmas.”

Fern ran up the steps toward Ulrika.

“I knew you’d come back to us.” Ulrika offered a hand to the girl. “Now, would you like to come inside and see your papa?”

“Yes, please.” Fern nodded.

Charles reached Hamish House just in time to hear the door lock. Panting, he groaned, rubbing his bloody hand. With sweat dripping down his forehead, he considered for a moment…just for a moment…pounding on the door and demanding that the girl be released.

Shaking his head, he walked back to No. 65.

Meanwhile, inside Hamish House, Ulrika led Fern into the parlor. “You’re going to see your daddy now.”

Fern looked around the dim room.

“Where’s my father?” Fern asked.

“Over there.” Ulrika pointed.

“Where?” Fern asked.

“Some of him is on the table. Some on the floor. There’s some more in the corner on that side…there. Do you see that mound under the sheet?”


Isn’t it wonderful? It’s too, too thrilling.” Ulrika cooed. “Really, you should have been here to see it. I’ll never forget the beauty of it all.”

“Where’s my father?” Fern shouted.

“I told you, dear. Some of him is over there on the table. Oh, yes, there’s some left in the bowl. A bit there…” She pointed. “A bit in the corner…”

“I…I…” Fern began.

But, that’s not all.” Ulrika grinned. “What remains is with Marduk.”

Ulrika shook with laughter as Fern’s screams filled the house.

Did you miss Chapters 1-308 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 310.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Admiral Jervis Bonbonnière, 1785

Russia, 1785
The Victoria & Albert Museum
John, Regent of Portugal, presented this elegant Russian bonbonnière (candy box) to Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent (1734-1823). Jervis is famous for leading the British fleet to Lisbon in 1806 in a pre-emptive strike against French forces. Evidence suggests that the present Portuguese miniature of watercolor on ivory that is mounted in the center of the box is probably a replacement for a Russian miniature—perhaps an image of Catherine the Great. The present miniature depicts John VI of Portugal (1769-1826) who is shown wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece.
This gold bonbonnière has been enameled in translucent blue over an exquisite engine-turned ground which has been bordered by rose-cut diamonds. To further adorn the box, a guilloche of blue on an opaque white ground encloses enamel “pearls” (some of which are missing). These neatly off-set the entwined ribbons of rose-diamonds. An inner border of blue and white petals completes the design. 

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Russian Imperial Stickpin, 1890

Austria, 1890
I like this. Here, we see a gold stick pin with a head enameled in red and set with rose-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds in the form of a Russian imperial crown above the monogram E

Made in Vienna around 1890 by an unknown jeweler, this stickpin was possibly made for Elizabeth Feodorovna (1864-1918), daughter of Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and the Rhine. Elizabeth married the Grand Duke Serge of Russia (1857-1905) in 1884.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Timur “Ruby” Necklace

The Timur "Ruby" Necklace
Garrard and Co., 1853
Made for Queen Victoria
The Royal Collection

As is the case with The Black Prince’s “Ruby,” the famed Timur Rubies are, in fact, spinels. Natural red spinel is an equally beautiful and valuable stone. Here, we see three of them—set in gold and enamel and surrounded by diamonds. These spinels (along with several other large stones) came into the possession of Queen Victoria as a gift from the East India Company for her patronage of the Great Exhibition. These stones came from the same collection of gems which provided Queen Victoria with the Koh-i-nûr Diamond prior to the Exhibition in 1850. Believed, at the time, to have been rubies, the stones were described as “wonderful rubies, cabochons, unset, but pierced. One is the largest in the world, therefore even more remarkable than the Koh-i-noor.” The stone in question is the large central spinel which weighs 352.5 carats.

Queen Victoria had these stones set into the necklace in April of 1853. The necklace was altered in 1858 to allow the central spinel to be removed so that the Koh-i-nûr could be worn in its place. Similarly, five diamond drops which hung from the necklace were made detachable and an adjustment was made to the setting of the central spinel so that the Lahore Diamond could be worn beneath it as a central pendant when not in use on the Coronation Necklace.
Whether you call them rubies or spinels, there’s no changing the beauty of these stones. Queen Victoria, as we’ve noticed was very fond of her jewelry. Her preservation and care of these pieces has given us all the opportunity to enjoy them today.

Click image to enlarge.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Images Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 have a cock on yonder hill,
I keep him for a wonder,
And every time the cock do crow,
It lightens, hails and thunders.

And, the answer is...

A Gun.

Really.  As in cocking your gun.  I prefer to think of it as a weather vane.  I don't know why.  I hesitated to use this one.  But, you all made the best of it.  Dashwood, Darcy, Shawn, Matt, and Beth Ann offered some clever answers.  As for the rest of you, it's always a pleasure to see your thoughts.  And, Angelo...well, good for you for being true to yourself.

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 ouronline store.  

Friday Fun: A Never-Before-Seen Performance by Bryan Clarke

Bryan Clarke

Made available just this week by Australian Professor, Christ van der Craats, this never-before-seen video from three years ago shows a masterful performance by the quintessential Punch & Judy Man, Bryan Clarke. Mr. Clarke made my Punch for me, and I have a deep personal fondness for his work and the man himself.


Print of the Day: Heigh Ho! Come to the Fair! 1932

British, 1932
The George Speaight Punch & Judy Collection
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This print published by Edmund Evans, Ltd. and drawn by Nina K Brisley in 1932 is entitled “Children at a Country Fair” and was produced for Child Education Publications as a fun way to encourage youngsters and their families to attend county and local fetes and fairs. 

Such events are deeply entrenched in the English tradition. So, it’s only fitting that Mr. Punch—perhaps the most long-lived fictional figure in theatrical history—should act as ambassador of the gatherings which have long served as one of his most popular performing grounds. Here, we see a Punch & Judy show (featuring Mr. Punch and Dog Toby) in mid-performance in the foreground of the print above the words, “Heigh Ho! Come to the Fair!”

A print like this depicted the innocent possibilities for entertainment available in Britain during a time when funds were limited and families were searching for low-cost fun. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 308

Chapter 308 

Did ya get the girl settled, then?” Mrs. Pepper asked Gamilla as she descended the stairs to the servants’ hall.

“We did.” Gamilla nodded.

“Imagine, a little thing like that doin’ somethin’ so wicked.” Mrs. Pepper sighed.

“Don’t matter the size o’ the body,” Gamilla answered. “Nor even the age. Young or old, if a body’s wicked, so it shall act.”

“Come have a cuppa,” Mrs. Pepper smiled. “You look tired, dearie.”

“I am.” Gamilla nodded. “Thank you, Mrs. Pepper. But, I best get back up to the nursery. I only come down for to get some o’ them linens I washed earlier.”

“Now, Ruthy’s upstairs with Master Colin, ain’t she?”

“Yes.” Gamilla smiled.

“Well, then…” Mrs. Pepper poured Gamilla a cup of tea and set it on the table.

“Maybe for a few minutes.” Gamilla nodded.

“Besides, I made some of that shortbread what you like so well.”

“Oh!” Gamilla grinned.

“Made it just for you.” Mrs. Pepper said brightly as she opened her favorite biscuit tin—the bright blue one with the gold scrolls and red flowers on it.

“Awful kind of ya.” Gamilla took a biscuit.

“Well, you had a time of it lately. And, I was makin’ a shortbread crust for that lemon tart for upstairs dinner tomorrow, so, I set some aside for our Gamilla.” Mrs. Pepper winked. “I had a time keepin’ Maudie, Ethel and Georgie outta them. But, I said, these are for our Gamilla.”

“I don’t mind sharin’.” Gamilla chuckled.

“Sharin’?” Mrs. Pepper laughed. “When my Georgie eats, there ain’t nothin’ left to share.”

“He’s a young man.” Gamilla nodded. “They do like to eat.”

“That they do.” Mrs. Pepper sighed. “Mr. Pepper, God rest his soul, was about Georgie’s age when we were married. I couldn’t ‘ave been no older than Ethel.”

“You miss Mr. Pepper, don’t ya?”

“I do.” Mrs. Pepper nodded. “He were a good man. My George is a lot like his pa. Same bright eyes and smile, and same humor ‘bout ‘im. So, when I miss my Peter, I just look at our son, and it’s like he’s right here.”

“I’m glad Georgie come to work here.” Gamilla nodded. “He’s a good boy.”

“He is.” Mrs. Pepper grinned proudly. She leaned in. “I think he rather fancies young Maude.”

“Is that so?”

“Ethel’s none too pleased ‘bout it.” Mrs. Pepper shook her head.

Gamilla nodded. “Funny, ain’t it. But, I always had the thought that one day Georgie’d marry Ethel.”

“Oh, so did I. Not for a good many years, of course. Ethel’s like my own. Sure, she’s maybe a little spirited at times, but, I do love the girl.”

“I reckon that it’s just that Maudie’s new. You know how men are, they always like what’s new.”

“Some men.” Mrs. Pepper nodded. “Not your Mr. Gurney.”

“No.” Gamilla looked away shyly.

“You know what he told me?” Mrs. Pepper took a biscuit. “He said he fell in love with you the minute he first saw you.”

Gamilla nodded. “It was in the kitchen in the house in New Orleans. See, I worked for Dr. Halifax’s brother, as maid to Mrs. Halifax. His Grace and Dr. Halifax had borrowed a house in New Orleans from some fella named Dr. Biamenti. Fine, big house. And we all went from Marionneaux to live there while His Grace was lookin’ for Lady Barbara. Well, Gerard was a rough one. Oh, Lordy! He’d been associatin’ with some bad folk, but saw the error of his ways and His Grace knew that Gerry was a good man at heart. So, His Grace took Gerry on as Dr. Halifax’s man. I remember when Gerry first come into that kitchen—his hair all uncombed and his face all bearded. Them eyes o’ his peekin’ out under them blond waves. Walked right into the kitchen and told me what to do. Well, I wasn’t gonna have no part o’ that foolishness.” Gamilla giggled. “He called me ‘Milla and winked at me.”

“Did you love him right away, then?” Mrs. Pepper asked.

“I did.” Gamilla smiled. “Couldn’t help but, though I’d not let him know that. He was too sure of himself. I made him wait.”

“That’s best.” Mrs. Pepper nodded.

“You know, if we stayed in America, Gerry and I couldn’t be married.”


“No.” Gamilla shook her head. “A white man can’t marry a negro girl there. It’s against the law. It’d get Gerry thrown in jail.”

“You’d think that folk would realize that it don’t matter what a person looks like. It’s 1853. And, yet, some folk still feel they gotta tell a body who they can marry and who they can’t.”

“Maybe someday, it’ll be different.” Gamilla shrugged.

“Maybe.” Mrs. Pepper sighed. “Well, here you can be married. So, you ain’t gotta worry.”

“Still, some folk don’t look too favorably on it. I saw the way the vicar looked at us when we posted our bans.”

“I don’t see why. Why, gentlemen come back from India with brides. What difference is it if you’re African?”

“Oh, people can’t help judgin’. It’s part of ‘em.”

“Well, no one in this house would ever.”

“I know.” Gamilla smiled. “It’s no different than what His Grace and Dr. Halifax must face when they’re out in the world.”

“That’s true.” Mrs. Pepper nodded. “I often worry for them. Doesn’t seem fair. Yet, they got Their Majesties on their side. So, nobody’s gonna bother ‘em.”

“Lots of others like ‘em ain’t so lucky.”

“Another biscuit?” Mrs. Pepper smiled.

“Oh, I gotta fit into that gown and corset on my weddin’ day.” Gamilla laughed. “I shouldn’t. But, I will.” She inhaled. “Mrs. Pepper, did you like bein’ married?”

“I loved it. Happy days they were. I liked makin’ a home for Peter and, then, for our babies.”

“Babies?” Gamilla nodded. “George has brothers and sisters? You never said.”

Mrs. Pepper looked down.

“You don’t gotta talk of it.” Gamilla shook her head.

“No, no. I don’t mind.” Mrs. Pepper answered. “I had two before George, but the Lord saw fit to take them to heaven with Him when they was just little babies. Peter said that God needed more angels, so he took our first two.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I…well, thank you. I like to think they’re with our Jenny now. Maybe she’s lookin’ after ‘em ‘til I get up there. Peter and Jenny and Dahlia and Samuel…they’re all waitin’ for me. But, I got Georgie who’s grown big and strong like his pa. That’s my reward. That’s all a woman can ask. You’ll see, Gamilla. Won’t be too long before you’re havin’ babies of your own, dearie.”

“Oh, I can’t think o’ that.” Gamilla shook her head. “Not now. I got my hands full already with Master Colin and…the other one.”

“Oh, my lamb, don’t you know Mr. Gurney’s gonna give you your own before you know it?” Mrs. Pepper winked.

“Mrs. Pepper, you are bad.” Gamilla laughed. “I gotta say, I like how you call my Gerry by his formal name.”

“Well, ain’t he Dr. Halifax’s valet? He should be called Mr. Gurney downstairs. In fact, His Grace and the doctor oughta call him ‘Gurney,’ not by his given name. Same for Charles though Iantosca’s kinda a clunky name for a valet. It’s only right.”

“You look after those boys. Gerry says you’re more of a mum to him than his own ma was.” Gamilla smiled.

“Is that so.” Mrs. Pepper beamed. “An honor, I’m sure. But, I think it’s like His Grace says, folk make their own family. And, that’s what we are. If only that little witch upstairs would learn that. Maybe she will.”

“I don’t think Fern will ever learn that.” Gamilla shook her head.

“Is she lost, then? No savin’ ‘er?”

“I don’t think so.” Gamilla answered. “Now, I really best go up to Master Colin.”

“Probably so.” Mrs. Pepper nodded. “I was hopin’ Mr. Gurney’d come down while we were talkin’ so you two could have a moment to yourselves.”

“You’re a sweet as honey, Mrs. Pepper.” Gamilla grinned.

“Well, there’s romance in the house. Even Miss Lennie’s got ‘erself a suitor.”

“High time, too.” Gamilla nodded. “Thank you for the tea, and for the shortbread, but ‘specially for the talk.”

“It’s my pleasure.” Mrs. Pepper answered. “And, I’ll give Mr. Gurney the rest of that shortbread. He’s had a rough time of it today, too.”

“You speak of angels, Mrs. Pepper, but I think you’re one yourself.” Gamilla nodded.

“Bah.” Mrs. Pepper waved her hand. “Oh, and send Ruthy down, she ain’t had her dinner yet.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Gamilla nodded. “I’ll see ya before we close the house up for the night.”

Gamilla grabbed her linens and raced up the stairs.

Alone in the servants’ hall, Mrs. Pepper looked around, taking inventory. Everything was where it should be. And, everyone. Mr. Speaight was in his pantry, Charles was in the area, cleaning a spot from one of the Duke’s cravats. Gerard was upstairs getting the doctor’s night clothes ready. Violet was doing the same for Miss Lennie. The borrowed groomsman from the palace had gone to his flat above the stables. Ethel and Maudie had retired to their room and Georgie was tending to the library hearth.

She nodded, content. The Duke had survived another crisis, Miss Lennie had a suitor, and, she thought, those horrible women from Hamish House hadn’t bothered anyone all evening.

Hearing footsteps on the stairs, Mrs. Pepper, without turning, smiled. “Ruthy, there you are, girl. Don’t think every day will be like this. You’ll be takin’ your dinner with the rest of us most days. But, for tonight, I kept a plate warm for ya.”

Mrs. Pepper turned and her smile faded.

“What are you doin’ here?” She barked. “How’d you get outta your room?”

Did you miss Chapters 1-307 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 309.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: Punch’s Wedding Polka, 1850


Punch's Wedding Polka
Nineteenth Century
Metzler & Co.
The Victoria & Albert Museum

We all know that Mr. Punch is married to Judy. Leaving aside the fact that they’re puppets for a moment (a fact of which, historically, Mr. Punch seems aware), it is presumed that Punch and Judy enjoyed some sort of wedding celebration.

The British always love a Royal wedding (don’t we all?) and following the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, for several years the nation was crazy for wedding-related themes. This trend influenced numerous art forms, including music. So, it was only a matter of time before the popular Mr. Punch’s wedding would have been explored.

In the mid-Nineteenth Century, J.W. Cherry wrote “Punch's Wedding Polka” which was published by Metzler & Co. Here’s the sheet music cover for the song. It depicts Mr. Punch looking as much like a human person as possible as he marries a decidedly human woman (certainly not Judy, perhaps Pretty Polly) who looks suspiciously like Queen Victoria.

It’s quite dear and odd and I love it. This cover is part of the massive collection of Punch-related materials amassed by the great George Speaight throughout his long lifetime.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition:: A Mr. Punch Blotter Holder, 1900

Blotter Holder with Figure of Mr. Punch
Cast Brass
English, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Everybody loves Mr. Punch, and they’ve done so for centuries. In the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, in Britain, Punch was a household figure whose countenance appeared on a variety of everyday objects due to the popularity of Punch & Judy shows as well as Punch’s appearances in the magazine which bore his name.

This cast brass blotter holder shows the variety of objects to which Punch has lent his image. The work of an unknown maker, this object would have been used each day. Blotter paper was inserted into the curved bottom of the piece and used to absorb excess ink from written pages.

I rather imagine that our Mr. Punch would have enjoyed rocking back and forth, though I’m sure he’d have objected to being employed for something useful.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Bertietta Maria

"Smell my feet, Henny.  They smell like Doritos."

Image:  "Portrait of Henrietta Maria," Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), painted circa 1632-1635, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, London, 
(c) National Portrait Gallery to The Victoria & Albert Museum.  

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: The Dame Joan Evans Order of Santiago, 18th C.

The Order of Santiago
From the Collection of Dame Joan Evans
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in the Eighteenth Century, this pendant badge represents the Order of Santiago. The spokes of the badge are set with white topaz in gold and the sword cross consists of lush garnets. 

From the collection of Dame Joan Evans, this badge is quite rare. The Order of Santiago is the senior of the four Spanish Military orders.

Gifts of Grandeur: A Portuguese Dress Ornament, 1770

Bodice Ornament
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s a pretty, little thing. This bodice ornament of a bow and a symmetrical arrangement of flowers is made up of large golden-yellow topazes (sometimes described as “sherry topaz”) and a mixture of colorless topazes and rock crystal. The colorless topazes have a slight pink tinge which sets them apart from the crystal.

A huge export of topaz from the Portuguese territory of Brazil in the Eighteenth Century gave rise to increased use of the stone in Britain. However, it is possible that this ornament was made in Portugal. 

Bertie's Pet-itations: Excitement

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:

Get excited about the little things, like walks outside and rides in the car.  That makes the big things, like getting a new toy, all the more special, too.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 307

Chapter 307 

A Chance 

Fern straightened her back and looked Punch squarely in the eye. “I’ll go to the asylum, thank you.”

“Fern?” Lennie gasped.

“No, no.” Punch held up his hand. “It’s all right, it is, Lennie. I s’pected that’s what the girl would say.” He looked at Robert. “Chum, in the mornin’, will you make the arrangements?”

“Yes.” Robert nodded.

“Until then, Fern, you’re to remain locked in your room.” Punch said.

Fern stared at him.

“That’s all. Go with Gamilla.”

The child stood still.

“I said that you’re to go with Gamilla.” Punch narrowed his eyes.

Still, the child did not move.

“Fern, you made your decision. I can’t see we got any more to talk ‘bout.” Punch began.

“You’re going to let me?”

“Let you?” Punch smiled. “You decided what you wanted. You’d rather go to an asylum than stay here and be a good girl and part of this family. You don’t think I’m gonna beg ya to stay here. Do ya?”

Fern didn’t answer.

“Well, did ya?” Punch repeated.


“I told ya it was up to you. I told ya you could be good and stay here or be wicked and be sent away. You made your choice. So, that’ll be all. Please leave. I don’t have time to waste on bad girls. You decided to be bad. So, I don’t have any more time for ya. If you wanted to try to be part of our family, I’d have time. I’d do anything to help ya. Anything at all to make you feel welcome and safe and comfortable. But, you don’t want it. Why should I tire me-self out for someone who don’t want me help?”

Fern nodded slightly and turned away.

“I’m ready to go back to my room.”

“Ain’t your room.” Gamilla shook her head. “Not no more. Just a place you’re gonna sleep tonight.”

With that, Gamilla took Fern from Punch’s bedchamber. She turned as she closed the door behind her and smiled at the Duke. Punch nodded in response.

“Surely,” Lennie began, “you’re not going to send that girl to an asylum?”

“No.” Punch smiled. “Of course I ain’t.”

“I don’t understand.” Lennie shook her head.

“I just wanted her to see that we ain’t gonna put up with no more foolishness from her. Tomorrow, I’ll tell her that we decided she deserves a chance to be good. You can tell she wants to, it’s just she’s ‘fraid.”

“I’d prefer sending her to the asylum.” Robert sighed.

“No doubt o’ that, Chum.” Punch chuckled. “Only, I think we made our point with the girl.”

“Dear Punch, she decided that she prefers to be wicked over being part of the family.” Robert shook his head.

“No. I’m pretty sure she thinks that she can’t be good. We gotta prove to her that she can.”

“And, in the meantime, how many more times will she poison you? How much more damage will she do before she ‘realizes’ how good she can be?”

“Dunno.” Punch replied. “We still got the option to send her ‘way if she’s terrible.”

“Perhaps that will be just the thing.” Lennie nods. “If she feels that someone believes in her, that we’d prefer to give her the chance she was afraid to take herself…”

“I think she’s evil.” Robert interrupted. “Whether by choice or because she can’t help herself.”

“We shall see, then.” Punch inhaled, settling into his pillows. “Either way, she ain’t gonna have run o’ the house. She’ll remain in her room unless someone’s with her. We won’t give ‘er a chance to do nothin’ more. After a few days, if we see there’s no hope, off she goes. Listen, Chum, I know what you’re sayin’, truly, I do. I got the same fears only I think she should be given a chance, I do. See? I were given a chance. If you’d not put your faith in me, maybe I’d be in asylum right now, too.”

“You weren’t dangerous.” Robert sniffed.

“Weren’t I? Didn’t I throw a man overboard when we was on the ship? When I first took control o’ the body from Julian, I were wild. I know that. You made me see I could be a gentle soul.”

“You didn’t harm Arthur when you tossed him overboard.”

“No, but only because Naasir were there to keep me from doin’ so.”

Robert nodded. “Still, you can’t compare yourself to Fern.”

“Maybe not. Only, I’m just sayin’ that the girl deserves a chance to be well.”

“And, you did promise her mother.” Lennie added.

“Oh, I got no loyalty to the memory of Lady Constance.” Punch shook his head. “I ain’t doin’ this for her, I’m doin’ it for Fern.”

“Very well, my love.” Robert nodded. “You’ve my support. Not because I think the girl is capable of gentleness, but because I’ve seen the miraculous things you’ve accomplished before just by your own ability to forgive and to protect. After all, it was you who turned Marie Laveau into our devoted friend from our mortal enemy.”

“Who?” Lennie asked.

“The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.” Robert smiled.

Lennie looked puzzled. “One of your many adventures in America?”

“We’ll tell you all ‘bout it at breakfast.” Punch grinned. “Only first, I want you to tell me more ‘bout this Earl of Cleaversworth. You know, when I were wakin’ up, I heard the way Robert was teasin’ ya. But, maybe I ought to be more concerned that this gentleman has shown an interest in my sister.”

Lennie blushed.

“Go on, then.” Robert began his teasing again. “Tell your brother all about the Earl.”

“Yes, do.” Punch nodded.

“I’ve already told you everything I know.”

“You told us facts only not how you feel ‘bout ‘im.”

“Who says I feel anything?”

“Oh, you do. I know it.” Punch winked.

“I wonder if they’ll be as happy together as we are, dear Punch.” Robert smiled.

“Oh…the two of you are impossible.” Lennie coughed.

“That’s what brothers are for, Lennie.” Robert grinned.

“So, does he make your heart flutter?” Punch asked.


“You can tell ol’ Mr. Punch. Go on…” Punch pleaded.

“If it will keep you quiet.” Lennie scowled playfully.

At that very moment, on the floor above, Gamilla prepared to lock Fern in her room.

“Wait!” Fern demanded.

“What is it?” Gamilla asked plainly.

“Will they really send me away?”

“That’s what you want. Ain’t it?” Gamilla shrugged.

Fern didn’t answer.

“Well?” Gamilla asked.

“Lock me in my room.”

“That’s what I aim to do.” Gamilla smiled.

Once Fern was locked in and alone, she sat down on the floor and looked around. Her eyes settled on the glint of flame in the oil lamp by her bed. Suddenly, a smile grew on her face.

Did you miss Chapters 1-306 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 308.