Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Gold Presentation Box Given to Queen Mary

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

Designed for Fabergé by Henrik Wigström, 1862-1923, this presentation box of gold, enamel, jasper, and rose-cut diamonds was presented to Queen Mary by the royal family on her birthday, May 26, 1934

This elegant gold box is applied with pale green enamel which has been striped with gold. The lid of the box is set with a panel of jasper on which a vase of flowers--encircled by diamonds and with diamond swags—has been applied.

Queen Mary had an impressive collection of Fabergé and by all accounts loved the gift. 

Unfolding Pictures: A Chinese Feather Fan, 1911-1930

Feather Fan
China, 1911-1930
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Chinese have been producing fans from feathers for over 2000 years. These fans, with their dramatic tufts of colorful feathers, most often featured long handles made of bamboo or wood though specialty examples were made for high-ranking people with handles of ivory, jade or other carved hard-stone.

This example was actually made in modern times during a time when feathers were en vogue with contemporary fashions. Made between 1911 and 1930, this fan nods at Chinese antiquity with its brightly-colored fathers and gleaming handle made of carved hard-stone and glass adorned with a geometric pattern based on ancient Chinese bronzes (Ancient Chinese Bronzes, huh?). Two small red stones, possibly garnets, have been mounted on either side of the handle.

The fan was likely made in China for export to the U.K. where the Art Deco fashions dictated a renewed interest in the geometry of the Eastern arts. The color palette indicates that the fan would not have been intended for use by a Chinese woman, but rather a wealthy European lady whose tastes tended toward the trendy gold and brown colors which often dominated accessories of the era.

Donated by Lady Logan from the collection of her parents, Robert and Alexandra Everts, the fan is an excellent example of the kinds of Asian accessories which were in demand in the 1920s.

Saturday Silliness: I'm Wearing my Green Fedora, 1935

I'm wearing my green fedora,
Not Alice, not Annie, not Casey but Fedora
I usually come to town in a battered old hat of brown
But it got red/green when me and my queen go steppin' around.

She's Fussy about colors,
She's very I think,
But if she won't fix it,
Might even wear pink.

That's why I wear my green fedora.

Fedora is the girl I love

The popular song "I'm Wearin' My Green Fedora" was written in 1935 by songwriters, Al Sherman, Al Lewis and Joseph Meyer for the short animated film, “My Green Fedora.” The film, animated by Chuck Jones and Robert Clampett, was directed by Friz Freleng and produced by Leon Schlesinger. Released on May 4, 1935, the film was heralded for its parody of the famous act of comedic actor Joe “Wanna Buy a Duck” Penner. You’re sure to know this song, even if not from its original source. The song was featured in other films and cartoons, notably in 1936 and 1937.

At the Music Hall: I'm Shy, Mary Ellen, I'm Shy, 1910

I courted Mary Ellen for fourteen solid years, 
But she made me blush when she,
One night boldly said to me,
'You've never kissed me once, John,
Tho' I'd like you to', she sighed,
'Why don't you call me pretty names?'
I hung my head & cried,

I'm shy, Mary Ellen, I'm shy,
It does seem so naughty, oh my!
Kissing is nicey, I've often heard say,
But still how to do it, I don't know the way,
So you put your arm round my waist,
I promise I won't scream or cry,
So you do the kissing & cuddling instead,
'Cause I'm shy Mary Ellen I'm shy.

Last year with Mary Ellen to Lowestoft I went,
Mary Ellen said to me, 'I'm going bathing in the sea'
So while I go & have a splash, where all the ladies go,
You go & have a bathe amongst the men', I said,'No,no!

I'm shy, Mary Ellen, I'm shy,
It does seem so naughty, oh my!
Men are so rough & I'm sure they will stare
They'll splash me & duck me if I go in there.
The girls ain't so rough as the men,
And they wouldn't duck me or try
So I'd rather bathe here along with the girls
Cause I'm shy, Mary Ellen, I'm shy'.

While out with Mary Ellen we met a 6 foot man,
'That's the saucy scamp', said he,
'Who last week insulted me,
Not just you thrash the massive brute
I looked at his six feet, then she said,
'Take your coat off,' but I said 'What, in the street?

I'm shy, Mary Ellen, I'm shy,
It would look so naughty, oh my,
I said as I looked at the great hulking chap,
If I wasn't for one thing, I'd give him a slap,
But look at the ladies about
They'ld all stop to look, and, oh my!
If I take my coat off they'll see all my shirt
and I'm shy, Mary Ellen, I'm shy'.
To marry Mary Ellen I went to church one morn,
While the party with the bride went to church,
I stood aside, for quite an hour I stood there,
While she waited to be wed,
Then she came out & said,
Come on, I don't like to, I said,

'I'm shy Mary Ellen I'm shy,
It would look so naughty, oh my!
But still we got married & got home alright,
And kept up the fun with our friends until night,
Then they wished Mary Ellen good-bye,
And they started to go, so did I,
Then she said, 'You're not going', I said, 'Yes I am,
'Cause I'm shy, Mary Ellen, I'm shy!'

Written by Charles Ridgewell and George Stevens in 1910, this comic song about a mousy guy’s love for a young lady was popularized by Music Hall star Jack Pleasants.  This song was famously performed in the third class lodgings aboard the Titanic

Enjoy this rendition by Mr. Pleasants.  I would like to note that it is labeled as 1903, however, this would be impossible since it was not written until 1910—coincidentally the year of the death of King Edward VII and the accession of King George V.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 314

Chapter 314 
Aunt Orpha

Now, now,” Orpha smiled, patting Fern on the head with her stump. “You must be a good girl. You know?”

“I…I…” Fern stammered.

“Don’t think you’re the only person who misses the Baron Lensdown. I lost him, too.”

“You killed him.”

“No, I didn’t.” Orpha shook her head. “I was in no condition to do so. Miss Rittenhouse and Mr. Iantosca did all the really enjoyable work.”

“They did it because of you.”

“Well, yes, that’s true.”

“So…you didn’t lose him. You made him…uhm…be lost.” Fern coughed.

“Well, I did order it, yes. But, not because I wanted to—entirely.” Orpha sniffed. “Remember, girl, you didn’t even know him. I knew him. I loved him! He was my brother, and my lover and the father of my child.”

Fern coughed again. “You say it with such pride.”

“I know it’s not a conventional association, but how could it be. Look what it produced!” She gestured with her stump toward Marduk who stared back with his four eyes.

Fern wiped her eyes and nodded. “Yes. Look at what it produced.”

“You do like him, don’t you? Your little half-brother…s. I remember how gentle you were with them and how well he responded to you.”

Fern didn’t answer.

“Honestly, little girl. Don’t you think you’re overreacting? As I said, you didn’t even know the man. He didn’t care about you. He denied your existence. He wouldn’t give you his name. He wouldn’t even help your poor hanged mother with your expenses. As far as he was concerned, you weren’t even alive. You owe him nothing, but certainly not your tears and grief especially since his death puts you in line to be the Queen Consort.”

Fern frowned. “Prince Bertie is next in line for the throne. His bride will be the Queen Consort.”

“Not the throne of England, you insufferable little thing. The throne of the world! Marduk will be the Demon King! He will rule all and you will sit at his side—the most powerful woman in the world. You should be rejoicing. The last stage has been completed. Marduk is now strong and will be made stronger. He has ingested his father, as was written, now he can truly be king! You will be his Queen and his bride.”

“You want me to marry my brother?”

“Half-brother, dear. If only he was really your brother. But, one can’t quibble about these things.” Orpha replied dryly.

“You want me to marry that?” She pointed to Marduk.

“Well, not right now, you’re too young. That would be wrong.”

“That…that would be wrong?” Fern groaned.

“Darling, you’re very lucky. Most men only have the one head. Your husband will have two. So, when you tire of the conversation of one, you can just look past him to the other.”

Fern stared with disbelief at Orpha.

“I’d have been very pleased to marry a two-headed man.” Orpha frowned. “You are a very ungrateful girl. You turn your nose up at your own blood.” She snorted. “You’d rather not be the queen of all the world.”

Fern sighed.

“Perhaps you’d rather stay as you are?” Orpha continued. “The forgotten, orphaned bastard of a Baron and a Lady. You’ve no family. You’ve no home. You don’t really even exist. I can make you exist. I can make you real. I can make you powerful.”

“If I grow up to marry my two-headed brother.”

“Yes. See…see how lucky you are?”

Fern inhaled.

“You know what your problem is?” Orpha asked..

Fern nodded.

“You’re weak! You were too long with Lady Constance. She had no spine, no fight. Your grandmother had her too, too tamed. You need to learn strength—as I did. Under fire.”

Fern blinked a few times.

“You were also too long with those mandrakes, I think. They couldn’t have been a very good influence on you. The Duke is a simpleton and the doctor is too handsome to be very bright. You’re better off here. You will learn strength from me, and Miss Rittenhouse is a delight. Don’t you think?”

“No.” Fern scowled. “I think she’s mad.”

“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” Orpha smiled. “After all, you came screaming to this house covered in soot. I can’t imagine that you came by those stains without doing something just a trifle unorthodox.”

Fern looked startled. “I’m…I’m not like her.”

“You are, dear. Just like her. And, since Miss Rittenhouse is a good deal like me, so are you. Which, I suppose, is understandable considering I’m your auntie.”

“You are. Aren’t you?” Fern replied, continuing to look shocked.

“That’s what I’ve been telling you.” Orpha nodded. “Now that you understand, are you ready for your first lesson?”

“In what?”

“Strength.” Orpha smiled.

“What would you have me do?”

“To begin with, you can help me reassemble what we can of your father. We’re going to need to try to preserve him as best we can.”


“For future use.” Orpha sighed. “No, no, I mustn’t become agitated. You’ll learn…in time.” She clapped her hand against her stump. “Now, I thought we’d work from the bottom up. Help me find his toes. I think they’re under the sideboard.”

With that, Fern sank to the floor in a dead faint.

Did you miss Chapters 1-313 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them
here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 315.

Gifts of Grandeur: A Fabergé Ducky, c. 1907

Miniature Duck of Chalcedony, Gold and Rubies
Part of the Sandringham Commission, 1907
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection 
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Made in 1907 by Carl Fabergé, this ducky is not rubber, but rather made of chalcedony, silver-gilt and rubies. He’s part of the great Sandringham Commission wherein King Edward VII bid Fabergé to create a veritable menagerie of precious miniature animals for his long-suffering consort, Queen Alexandra. 

With his body of unusually white chalcedony and his feet of red gold, he’s even cuter with his little cabochon ruby eyes.

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

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Le Canard a Trois Becs, 1871

Le Canard a Trois Becs
H. Xiat, 1871
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Published in 1871 in Paris, France, this print features a satirical caricature by the artist H. Nérac (also known as H. Xiat) which depicts a duck with three heads. Each head is labeled, in order, “Comite Central,” “Internationale,” and “Commune.” The duck is saddled with a flaming torch which is tied to his body by a red sash.

The print is from a set of caricatures, broadsheets and illustrations in ten volumes printed in France by Jailly and Co. Many of them, like this one, are hand-colored.

An inscription reads:


The basis of the joke is a visual pun wherein the word “canard” takes a double meaning. It is French for “duck,” but can also refer to a hoax. Three conflicting political figures are uncomfortably crowded onto the body of one duck. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Koh-i-nûr Armlet

The Royal Collection

The Koh-i-nûr (or Koh-i-noor) also known as “The Mountain of Light” is one of the most famous diamonds in the world—housed in the Crown Jewels of Britain. This originally 186 carat diamond and its two companion diamonds have been used in a variety of settings since being given as a gift to Queen Victoria by The East India Company. The stone was displayed in the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 1852, it was given to Queen Victoria who, while she thought the stone was beautiful, was not pleased with the way it was cut. As he always did, Prince Albert happily took on the task of seeing that the stone was cut to its best advantage. After consulting dozens of jewelers and spending over eight thousand pounds, the stone was cut to its present weight of 105.602 carats to maximize its light-refracting properties. Today, the central koh-i-nûr diamond remains in the crown of the late Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The stone has officially belonged to the crown jewels (instead of privately owned) since 1877 when Victoria was declared Empress of India.

But, what was the setting that so displeased Queen Victoria when she first received these magnificent diamonds? We see here the setting in which the diamonds were housed in 1830 when they were seized by the East India Company. This was the setting displayed at the Great Exhibition and this was the form in which the stones were presented to Queen Victoria. While the setting is original, the diamonds have been replaced with rock crystals which are cut exactly as the diamonds were cut in 1830. 

This armlet showcased the three large stones side-by-side, suspended by red silk braid fringed with glass, rubies and pearls. The bezels around the stones are gold and enamel. While the original diamonds will never be replaced into this original setting (they wouldn’t fit anymore anyway), it was wise of the state to keep the setting intact. It’s an interesting reminder of the diamonds’ native state and a nod to the differences in tastes and cultures.

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.

Who is the greatest chicken-killer in Shakespeare?

And...the answer is...

MACBETH for he does murder most foul.  (fowl)

We had many clever answers today, especially from Darcy, Dashwood, Gene, Carolyn,   Barb and Matt, but I say that the best one came from Angelo!  Well done, Angelo!  We are all impressed.  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.  

Friday Fun: Mr. Punch’s Russian Cousin, Petrushka

An antique "Petrushka"

Mr. Punch has cousins all over the world who look and act quite a bit like him. His Russian counterpart is called “Petrushka” (meaning Parsley). Dressed in red with a jester’s painted face, Petrushka has a long nose like Mr. Punch and a very similar “swazzle”-created voice. 

Petrushka also relies on slapstick comedy, but the stories take a slightly different approach than the adventures of Mr. Punch. Petrushka stories focus on his military service, his medical treatment and his training of a horse.

Thanks to Chris van der Craats (Australia’s “Professor Whatsit”), we get this fascinating glimpse at this Russian puppet cousin to our Mr. Punch. 

Print of the Day: Sheet Music Cover for “Polichinelle” or, The Royal Punchinello Quadrilles' by Musard, 1843

The V&A
Sheet Music Cover for Musard's Polichinelle or "The Royal Punchinello Quadrilles"
English, 1843
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Polichinelle is the French term for Pulcinella (or Pulcinello), the Italian Commedia dell’Arte character who became known as Punchinello in England, and, then, later Mr. Punch.  This 1843 sheet music cover for a group of songs called, “Polichinelle, or, The Royal Punchinello Quadrilles” by Musard (published by R. Cocks & Co.) depicts Mr. Punch with his wife Judy who holds their famed, put-upon baby.  As is traditionally the case, the baby’s face is that of his hook-nose, hunch-backed, portly puppet papa.

What’s curious about this is that Punch and Judy appear to have other children—boys and girls who also, rather sadly, resemble their father.  The tradition of Punch doesn’t include other children, so I find this very interesting.  I wonder if our Mr. Punch tossed these tots out of the window as well.  If so, they appear to have survived and grown to be rather jolly.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square will Continue Tomorrow

Hello, readers.

Every so often, I simply run out of time.  That's the case today.  So, a thousand pardons as I postpone today's chapter until tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you've missed any chapters, you can catch up here.

See you tomorrow.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: Deschars en habit de Polichinel

Deschars en Habit de Polichinel
France, Eighteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Titled, Deschars en habit de Polichinel / au Divertissement de Villeneuue Saint-Georges, this Eighteenth Century French print refers to a character who is very familiar to us. The hooked nose and chin, the pot belly and arching back tell us that the person depicted here is in the guise of Mr. Punch, or technically Polichinelle (Polichinel). Polichinelle is the French version of the Italian commedia dell'arte stock-character, Pulcinella, who developed into Britain’s Mr. Punch when Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660. 

Like Punch, Polichinel was a rogue and an anarchist. He is seen here on a balustraded terrace in profile. His face is covered with a grotesque mask and he wears a soft broad-crowned hat with feathers held in a jewel mount. 

This is actually a depiction of an actor called “Deschars” in character as Polichinelle. This print was part of a collection of theatrical advertisements which was bequeated to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Monsieur Mazurier as Mr. Punch, c. 1820

Monsieur Mazurier
Cooke, 1820
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Quite some time ago, we looked at an image of the celebrated Monsieur Mazurier as Mr. Punch.  Here’s another.  This engraving is entitled simply, “Monsieur Mazurier.”

It was published in Paris possibly in the 1820's.  The illustration portrays Mazurier  in a theatrical stance wearing a Punchinello costume. A puppet figure of Mr. Punch can be seen in the background in the same stance.

Engraved by one “C. Motte,” further inscriptions include:
Mr. Mazurier./ Dans le Rôle de Polichinel Vampire/ Theatre de la porte St. Martin' Mr Mazurier/ in the title role in Polichinelle Vampire/ St. Martin Theatre.

So who is this fellow?  Monsieur Charles-François Mazurier performed in “Punchinelle Vampire” as well as in “Jacko, The Brazilian Monkey.”  Both plays were  written by Jean-Baptiste Blache, in Paris and London in the 1820s. In November 1825 Mazurier performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in “Punchinelle Vampire” which was translated as “The Shipwreck of Policinello.”  Playbills for the Covent Garden performances are also housed in the V&A.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Duett: Bertie Wooster

"It's just a bird.  Chill."

Image: Duett: John Hanson Walker (1844-1933), Frederick Leighton (1830-96), 1st Baron Leighton of Stretton (artist), Creation Date: 1862, Materials: Oil on canvas, Acquirer: Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901).

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: The Dame Joan Evans Crystal Necklace, 1790-1805

This necklace of brilliant-cut rock crystals set in silver is backed with gold and decorated with leaf and bud pendants.  Originally, there would have been a central pendant which is now missing.

Part of the collection of Dame Joan Evans' jewelry in the V&A, this piece shows the love of nature thar was one of the most prevalent sentiments in Naturalism movement of the late Eighteenth to early Nineteenth  Century.

Precious Time: A Rare Figural Mantel Clock, 1783

Figural Mantel Clock
Vuilliamy, 1783
Marble, Gilt Bronze, Enamel, Porcelain
2nd Viscount Melbourne
by whom bequeated to Queen Victoria
The Royal Collection

This rare clock designed by innovative French horologist François-Justin Vulliamy with works by his son, Benjamin, shows an unusual design which had become quite the curiosity in Eighteenth Century England. Instead of a traditional clock face, the time is displayed on a dial-like mechanism which surmounts a gilt bronze and marble urn. Clocks such as this one often were set upon marble bases with gilded mounts and with Biscuit or Parian figures in a Classical style. Vuilliamy, realizing the necessity of quality, employed the finest sculptors to create the figures for these clock cases. In this instance, English sculptor John Deare worked directly for Vuilliamy, modeling this figure on a composition by John Bacon.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

At one point, two other such clocks were housed in the Royal Collection, also created by Vuilliamy and with similar themes. They had been made expressly for King George III. While the Collection’s records indicate that George III had prized these clocks, no further evidence of them exists and they cannot be accounted for. This particular clock was bequeated to Queen Victoria by Lord Melbourne in 1848—a good sixty-five years after its creation.

Bertie's Pet-itations: Listen

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:

Listen... even when you may not understand what's being said.

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Birley-Randell Marble Table, 1862

The Victoria & Albert Museum

The International Exhibition of 1862 in London revisited some of the artistic triumphs of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Manufacturers and artists from across the world sought to show their skills. S. Birley of Derbyshire made this table for the Exhibition. The magnificent work of pietra dura won prizes in the furniture and the mining classes.

Samuel Birley was known for gorgeous inlaid marble objects which imitated the Italian mosaic inlaying technique that had been prized for centuries since being developed for Italy’s powerful Medici family. This is one of Birley’s most exceptional pieces--thin polished slices of hardstone and semi-precious stone have been used to create a brilliantly colored, naturalistic pattern of flowers and foliage. The design, much admired by Queen Victoria, was created by Birley’s associate, J. Randell.

Matthew Digby Wyatt, in judging the group, compared Birley's table with the pietra dura exhibited by the Italian firms in attendance. He said, “Many very good samples of the usual imitations of flowers, &c., inlaid in black marble for table tops and cabinets, are contributed by various Florentine manufacturers, amongst whom the jury specially noted the houses of Barzanti, Betti, and Rinaldini. In the same class of goods the table top exhibited by our solitary producer in the same line, Mr. Samuel Birley, of Ashford, Derbyshire, was much admired. Observations were, however, made upon the inequality of scale in which the centre group of flowers and the surrounding wreath had been worked out.”

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 313

Chapter 313 
Fancy Things

No. 65 Belgrave Square was quiet for the first time that day. Ethel, Maude and Ruthy had gone to bed. Speaight was in his pantry. Charles was taking his nightly tour of the house to see that all entrances were locked and all lamps and candles extinguished. Georgie slumbered by the fire in the servants’ hall while his mother worked on a bit of petit point which she hoped to give Gamilla as a wedding gift. Violet had finally fallen asleep. Furthermore, Dr. Halifax had retired to the Duke’s room.

Gerard took this opportunity to slip upstairs to the nursery.

Gamilla smiled as he entered and held her finger to her lips. Gerard nodded, noting the Colin had fallen asleep. Gamilla rose from her rocking chair and signaled to Gerard to follow her. She opened the door to the storeroom and pointed inside. Gerard followed.

“Just think.” Gamilla grinned. “In just over a week, this will be our sitting room. Our own little place. At the end of the day, we can come in here and sit by the fire and talk.”

“And, then, we can go in there.” Gerard winked, pointing to the wall which separated her bedroom from the storeroom.

“I won’t hear such things,” Gamilla teased. She took Gerard’s hand. “We’re gonna be real happy.”

“I know we are.” Gerard nodded. “I never got a chance to ask you. Did you pick out a new dress?”

“The seamstress is gonna make one for me and use a bit of Marjani’s silk.” Gamilla answered.

“Will it be what you want? I know…since you can’t have the one you really want.”

“Well, I think it’ll be real pretty.” Gamilla nodded. “To be true, Gerry, all I want is to be your wife.”

“And, that you’ll be ‘Milla.”

“I’m grateful to His Grace and Dr. Halifax for all they’re gonna do. But, I could live without all that just so at the end of that day, I can say I’m Mrs. Gerard Gurney. I don’t need no fancy things nor a big party nor a trip or nothin’.”

“But, you already got me. And, you should have them fine things, too.” Gerard answered.

“You’re the finest thing I could ever want.” Gamilla grinned. “When I see all the wickedness in the world, Gerry, it makes me love you all the more. Just look what a child…just a little girl…done all on her own. There’s so much evil, that even a child is actin’ like the devil himself.”

“She’s gone now.” Gerard answered.

“But, she ain’t. She’s just up the street, in a den of wickedness and…”

Gerard gently kissed Gamilla.

“You’re jus’ tryin’ to get me to stop talkin’.” Gamilla said shyly.

“Maybe. But, also because I wanted to kiss ya.”

Gamilla hugged her fiancé.

“Let’s just have a quiet moment, ‘Milla.”

“We should.” Gamilla replied.

“I know you just said you didn’t want fancy things, but, I got somethin’ for ya?”

“You got a handkerchief needs mendin’.”

“No.” Gerard laughed. “We ain’t married yet.”

He reached into his pocket and withdrew the diamond ring which Punch had given him. “I’ve got this.”

“Oh!” Gamilla’s eyes widened. “Gerry…”

“I was gonna give this to ya on our weddin’ day, but, I thought, maybe, you’d like to have it now.”

“Wherever did you get such a thing?”

“It’s a real diamond, too.” Gerard grinned.

“I know.” Gamilla nodded. “I seen ‘nough of ‘em ‘round here to know the difference.”

“His Grace let me have it so I could give you a proper ring. I told ‘im I’d work for it, but, you know how he is.”

“I do.” Gamilla giggled.



“I need your hand.”

“Oh, my…” Gamilla offered Gerard her left hand. He slipped the ring on her finger.

“Only thing…”


“You’re much prettier than the diamond.” Gerard whispered.

“So are you, Gerry.” Gamilla embraced him. “So much more.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-312 If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 313 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Falstaff in the Laundry, 1850

Parian Group
"The Merry Wives of Windsor"
Worcester, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Parian ware, as we know, is the unglazed development of biscuit porcelain. The medium became very popular after the Staffordshire firm of Copeland and Garrett introduced it in 1842 as a medium for busts, statuettes and reliefs.

Several different British pottery concerns marketed the medium under a different name but “Parian” remained the generic term after Minton used “Parian” to suggest Paros, the Greek island which supplied a lot the marble used for Classical statuary. Now, to be sure, Parian ware was not inexpensive, however, it was more cost effective than marble, and it gave households the appearance of owning a marble bust or figurine, previously only afforded by the very wealthy.

The Worcester firm, makers of the example we see pictured above, started their production of Parian relatively late in the game. After Worcester launched a range of Parian objects at the Dublin Exhibition in 1853, James Hadley (1837-1903), their chief modeler, created a host of new Parian objects, including the Shakespeare subjects of Lady Macbeth and King Lear. Meanwhile another Worcester modeler, William Boynton Kirk, produced a dozen figural groups based on characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

This Worcester piece, dating to about 1850, was most likely modeled by James Hadley (1837-1903) and shows the scene from The Merry Wives of Windsorwhen “Mistresses Page” and Ford humiliate Falstaff in retaliation for his amorous advances by hiding him in a laundry basket which Mrs. Ford's servants, naturally, leave in the river—as one does. The front of the base incised THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mastery of Design: Queen Victoria’s Match Holder, 1848

Match Holder
Silver, Enamel, Rubies
Froment-Meurice, 1848
The Royal Collection

At the Great Exhibition, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert where seen frequenting the exhibits of French goldsmith François-Désiré Froment-Meurice whose bejeweled masterpieces were the cause of much celebration at the Exhibition. Known for his Gothic Revival gold-work, Froment-Meurice had already made an impression on the Royal Couple several years earlier with works which were decidedly naturalistic in style.

In 1848, Victoria purchased a gem-set, enameled match holder from Froment-Meurice. The enameled case is set with rubies and silver plaques depicting mythological scenes. The whole of the piece is painted with silver volutes. The handles feature delicately molded birds of paradise which mirror the graceful lines of the figure who perches atop the globe which surmounts the cover. Though this piece is not signed, it has been attributed to Froment-Meurice for several reasons. The globe upon which the languid figure stands is surrounded by a banner depicting the signs of the zodiac. This was a hallmark of Froment-Meurice’s work. Furthermore, the birds of paradise are identical to a pair of earrings created by the artist in 1849.