Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mastery of Design: The "Old Mine" Snuffbox, 1750



Click Image to Enlarge

Snuffbox
Germany, c. 1750
The Victoria & Albert Museum



Expertly carved agate forms the body of this asymmetrical snuffbox. Made circa 1750, this box was likely produced in Germany since it displays, on the cover, an incised putto and shell motif which was a favorite of South German artists at the time.

The snuffbox is cartouche-shaped with gold-mounted agate and an asymmetrical bombé body. The true beauty of the piece comes from an applied spray of “old mine” cut diamonds and star-cut diamonds mounted in silver.

Now part of the Gilbert Collection at the V&A, the box shows the mark for gold imported from countries without customs conventions with France, September or October 24, 1864-May 30, 1893. So, it’s a safe bet that’s when it came to England. 




Painting of the Day: The Mill: Girls Dancing to Music by a River, 1870



Click to Dance to Music by a River

"The Mill: Girls Dancing to Music by a River"
Edward Burne-Jones, 1870-1882
The Victoria & Albert Museum



Inspired by the art of the Italian Renaissance which looked to Classical subjects, this painting by Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) is entitled “The Mill: Girls Dancing to Music by a River.” The subject, clearly, is actually a depiction of “The Three Graces.” They’re dancing to the music of Apollo.

Burne-Jones used, as models friends, and relatives of the prominent art collection 
Constantine Alexander Ionides. The woman on the far left, one Mary Zambaco, was for awhile, a lover of Burne-Jones. She was also Mr. Ionides’ granddaughter. It didn’t end well. In fact, in another painting of the same year, “Phyllis and Demophoon,” Burne-Jones inscribed of Zambaco, the epigraph “Dic mihi quod feci? Nisi non sapienter amavi” (Tell me, what have I done? Except that I have not loved wisely).

The composition was started in 1870. But, it appears it wasn’t delivered to Ionides immediately. Burne-Jones took twelve years to finish it. Some feel that the artist developed an attachment to the painting because of his relationship with Zambaco. It was presented to Ionides in 1882 after being displayed at the Royal Academy. The inventory of Ionides’ collection as of 1882 lists that he paid £905 for “The Mill.” 





Antique Image of the Day: "Into the Abyss," 1919



Click on the image to dance with the devil.
Into the Abyss
German, 1919
The Victoria & Albert Museum



After the Great War, Germany became a republic—an idea which was not embraced by some nationalists as well as communists. This poster from 1919 serves to vilify political extremists as well as make a middle-of-the-road democracy seem appealing. The communists are depicted as devils and pied pipers. The rotund clergyman acts as a symbol of those who wished for a return to Imperial Germany.

This is the work of artist Theo Matejko (1893-1946) who produced propaganda posters for the German Democratic Party until 1933. Then he went on to work wholly for the National Socialist [Nazi] Party. Boo! The text “IN DEN ABGRUND” translates to “Into the Abyss.”

At the Music Hall: Three O'Clock in the Morning, a Waltz, 1922




Three o'clock
In the morning
We danced the
Whole night through
And daylight soon
Will be dawning
Just one more
Waltz with you

I said the melody
It's so entrancing
It seems to be
Made for us two
I said that I
I could just keep
Right on dancing
Forever dear
Dancing here with you

It's three o'clock
In the morning
I say that we danced
The whole night through
And daylight soon
Will be dawning, yeah
There's a-one
More dance with you

I say that that melody
It's so, so entrancing, yeah
I could just go on and on
I said that I could
Just keep right on dancing
Forever dear
Dancing here with you

(Melody's so entrancing)
Melody's so entrancing
(Seems to be made for us two)
It seems to be made for us two

I could just keep right on
I could keep on dancing forever
Here, dancing here with you
Three o'clock in the morning 




“Three O’Clock in the Morning,” a popular “good night waltz” (of the sort which would signal the end of a dance, or, the closing of a club), features music written by Julian Robledo and lyrics by Theodora Morse (under the name “Dorothy Terriss”).

The first recording of the beloved song is believed to have been by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. In fact, the song is so associated with Whiteman that it became his signature tune.

The song is famously referenced in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s  over-rated, insufferable novel (just my opinion, no arguments please) “The Great Gatsby” and has long been a favorite standard of many recording artists. 



Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 356




Chapter 356
Luck


"Ruthy?"  Gerard smiled as he poked his head through the night nursery door.  "Is Gamilla in our new rooms?"

"Yes,"  Ruthy frowned.  "She came up her not half an hour ago."

"So, I take it that the hen-do has finished for the evening?"  Gerard smiled.

"Don't ask me."  Ruthy snapped.  "And, you shouldn't be so flippant when referring to a gathering which included Her Ladyship."

"I heard Her Ladyship call it just that this afternoon."  Gerard replied.  "Listen, Ruthy, why do you have to be so sour all the time?"

"I don't know what you mean."  Ruthy turned her head away.  "And, I'll thank you to keep your voice down.  I've only just gotten the baby to sleep and it was no easy task with all the noise in the house."

"Well, the noise 'as stopped now."  Gerard raised an eyebrow.  "Everyone's gone to their beds, and I think it's high time you do the same."

"And leave the baby?"

"Ruthy, it ain't like you sleep in here."  Gerard answered.  "Gamilla's right here.  If the baby cries, we'll hear 'im."

"You just want me to leave so you can be alone with Gamilla."

"Right you are."  Gerard nodded.  "And, you'd best get used to it, too.  When we return from our wedding trip, Gamilla and me..."  He pointed to the door to their new suite.  "Will be sleepin' right in there.  Together.  And, we will not want you to be sittin' out here in the night nursery all the time.  You got your own room to yourself in the attics.  So, why don't ya go up there and get some sleep?  You'll be busy tomorrow and the next two weeks.  Rest while you can."

"You are not the person to whom I answer, Mr. Gurney."

"No, you answer to my bride-to-be."

"I answer to the Duke of Fallbridge!"

"Ultimately we all do."  Gerard laughed.  "But, first you got Mr. Speaight, and Gamilla and even Mr. Iantosca and me.  We're valets and the masters' footmen.  So..."

"Very well."  Ruthy said stiffly.  "I shall leave."

"I know you're gonna 'ave it rough here with Gamilla gonna be gone for awhile, havin' to take care o' things all by yourself, but, I heard His Grace say he was gonna see to it you got help and..."

"I manage alone quite well.  God knows I'm mostly alone here anyway."  Ruthy scoffed as she walked out of the room.

"Lord..."  Gerard shook his head.  He straightened his livery and smoothed his hair before knocking on the door to the rooms he'd soon be sharing with Gamilla.

"Yes?"  Gamilla called out.

"It's your groom."  Gerard teased.

"Oh!"  Gamilla exclaimed, rushing to the door.  "Don't come in.  You ain't supposed to see me before the weddin'!"

"The wedding is tomorrow.  I can see ya all I want tonight."

"Oh, no you ain't!"  Gamilla laughed, leaning against the door to prevent Gerard from opening it.  "It's after midnight.  Today IS tomorrow!"

"I see."  Gerard replied.  "Maybe...maybe, it don't count 'til the sun rises."

"No, no."  Gamilla replied playfully.

"Well, at least tell me how your party went."  Gerard laughed.

"Through the door?"  Gamilla asked.

"You're the one what won't let me in, Love."

"All right,"  Gamilla chuckled, opening the door.  "But, if we get bad luck, it's all on your head."

"No bad luck, Love.  Not ever again.  It's gonna be you and me.  How could we 'ave bad luck?"

Gamilla grinned and embraced Gerard.  "I believe it, honey.  For true."  She took him by the hand.  "Come on in.  Tomorrow, this is your home, too."  As she closed the door, she looked over her shoulder.  "Is Ruthy gone?"

"I sent her to bed.  Love, why is she so sour?  She's always been a bit stiff, but, she's gotten all the more unpleasant over these weeks."

"I don't know."  Gamilla shrugged.  "I think maybe she don't feel like she's part of everythin' here.  Like tonight, she didn't get to join us."

"I can see her bein' bitter 'bout tonight,"  Gerard nodded.  "But, it ain't like we don't try to include her."  He shrugged.  "I can think of many times when one of us 'ave offered 'er a place at table next to us and she takes her tray and leaves.  If she wants to be friends, she don't make a good show of it."

"Long as she does her job, I don't care."  Gamilla laughed.  "Right now, all I care 'bout is you? How was the evenin' with the men?"

"No, I asked you first."

"Oh, honey, it was beautiful."  She grinned.  "They were so sweet."

"What'd you do?"

"Oh, we laughed and ate and played silly games, but mostly talked.  And, look."  She pointed. "Look at all them gifts they done gave me."

"That was sweet."  Gerard nodded.

"You didn't look."

"I only wanna look at you." 

"Oh, Gerry."

"It's true, Love!"  Gerard patted her hand.

Gamilla looked away bashfully.  "How was the evening with the men?"

"Great fun.  Mr. Punch led us all in some bawdy songs.  I should say, the Duke did.  But, he was all Mr. Punch tonight."

"Even in front of the Queen's groomsman?"

"Sure was."  Gerard laughed.  "All but Dr. Halifax and Mr. Punch smoked cigars and we told jokes and they teased me.  His Grace  gave me a handsome groomin' set and five lovely new suits of clothes to wear on our trip.  Charlie gave me a fob."

"You don't gotta watch."  Gamilla giggled.

Gerard reached into his pocket.  "I do now."  He retrieved a handsome gold pocket watch.  "A gift from Dr. Halifax."

"Oh my goodness."  Gamilla gasped.  "Ain't it handsome?"

"It is."  Gerard returned the watch to his pocket.  "Yet, all I can think of is you.  Ya know, I been thinkin' 'bout Scotland.  Ya know...before it all went bad.  The night of the ball when you and me danced."

"I remember."  Gamilla smiled sweetly.

"Dance with me."  Gerard stood and offered his hand to Gamilla.

"Now?  There ain't no music."

"Don't need it."  Gerard shook his head.

"I will dance with you, Mr. Gurney."  Gamilla stood.

"Thank you, Mrs. Gurney."

"But, then ya gotta go."

"I will."  Gerard nodded.  "I'll be good.  I just can't wait tomorrow for our first dance as husband and wife."

"We ain't married yet."

"Close enough."  Gerard winked.  "It's gonna be the first of many dances."

"It sure is, honey, it sure is."


Did you miss Chapters 1-355 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back on Monday for Chapter 357 and some BIG SURPRISES.



Drawing of the Day: A Ball Scene, c. 1595-1605



A Ball Scene
Jacob Matham, 1595-1605
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


This work of pen and brown ink is finished with a wash of brown and grey and touches of red and white chalk to add depth. The sketch is attributed to Jacob Matham (1571-1631) and it was acquired by King George III (1738-1820) around 1810, about two hundred years after it was created.

The scene depicts a Renaissance-style room inhabited by an elegant party engaged in an elegant dance. As this is likely a cartoon for a later painting, the sketch is somewhat rough and displays a rather inconsistent perspective.

The drawing has long been the subject of much interest, in large part because of the rather eerie appearance of some of the figures. Their ghostly look, it was discovered, owes to over-painting which changed their position—their original poses bleeding through the white gouache which was used to cover them.

There’s also a problem with the signature. While the piece is signed by Matham, it is also inscribed, “Venice (vinetia), 1605.” This is problematic in that, in 1605, Matham was in Haarlem. He visited Venice in 1595, not 1605. Furthermore, the room in the composition is clearly not Venetian.

Also, the size of the piece is not consistent with Matham’s other works.

For these reasons, some question the veracity of the attribution to Matham. Still, it’s likely that the artist produced the piece ten years after his Venetian trip in an effort to remember what he’d seen as well as to capitalize on the growing popularity of ballroom scenes.



Object of the Day, Museum Edition: 'Jeu de l'Echarpe,' 1898-1904



The Victoria & Albert Museum

This delicate figure of white biscuit porcelain is part of a grand table design of fifteen standing female sculptures of the “scarf dance” made famous by Loïe Fuller. The group was made between 1898 and 1904, designed by Agathon Léonard for the Sèvres porcelain factory in Paris.

This fluid, elegant group was intended for display on a table or sideboard and depicts each step in Fuller’s celebrated dance—“Jeu de l'Echarpe.” Agathon Léonard was careful in the design of the group, mastering each motion and expression of Fuller’s dance. He was born Léonard Agathon van Weydeveldt of Belgian parents and trained as a sculptor, specializing in ceramic modeling. The group from which this sculpture comes is considered one of his great triumphs.


The full group, fittingly entitled “Jeu de I'Echarpe,” was first shown in the Paris 1900 Exhibition at which Sèvres won a Grand Prix, and was described in the exhibition report as "elegant figures in a graceful and charming ensemble which were a great and deserved success.” This figure and its porcelain sisters typify the spirit of Art Nouveau style—undulation, movement, and the idealized female form. Léonard couldn’t have picked a better subject than Miss Fuller. The American dancer was a regular fixture at the Folies Bergère, Paris where her free-flowing, silk-clad dance caught the attention of many an artist, including the French artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec who was also drawn to the elegant theatricality of the spectacle.

The figure is marked number “12” of the group of fifteen and bears the marks “S” and “1904.”

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Hungarian Headband, mid to late Thirteenth Century

Fragment of a Headband
Thirteenth Century
Images Courtesy of The British Museum





While just a fragment now, once this headband would have adorned the brow of a wealthy Hungarian lady of the mid to late Thirteenth Century.  What remains is the frontmost piece of the band.  Two smaller sections would have flanked this and, from these, a ribbon would have been attached to tie at the back of the wearer's head.

Set in gold, cabochon rubies, sapphires and emeralds are joined by seed pearls, making a regal statement against the elegant filigree-work.

The fragment is now housed in The British Museum.


Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture, Special Edition: The High and Mighty




"That's a nice throne, Vickie."

Click image to enlarge.




Image:  'The High & Mighty Queen receiving an address from the Most Loyal Subjects in the World', London, 1837 to ca. 1845, Mc Lean, Thomas (publisher), Materials and Techniques: hand coloured etching, ink on paper, Credit Line: Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the V&A in 2010, The George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive at the Victoria & Albert Museum.





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






Once, again, Mr. Punch, with my help, is offering up a true Victorian riddle. The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.

So, here's this week's riddle. We ask that you don't Google the answer. Mr. Punch would not find that sporting at all. Give it a shot and see what you can come up with. Here we go... No cheating...


What is it that by losing an eye has nothing left but a nose?
And, the answer is NOISE!


We had a myriad of clever answers today.  We had Darcy's "Popeye," and Dashwood's "Flying Purple People Eater."  I suppose the People Eater's offspring would be Gene's mother in law and Angelo's former teacher.

Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles!





Drawing of the Day: Capsize -- To Upset or Turn Over Everything, Eighteenth Century



Comic Illustration from the George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive
"Capsize -- To Upset or Turn Over Anything"
Eighteenth Century
The George Speaight Archive
The Victoria & Albert Museum


This comic illustration from the Eighteenth Century is entitled “Capsize: - To Upset or Turn Over Anything.”

Now part of the George Speaight Archive at the V&A, this illustration depicts a fit-up which has been overturned as the puppeteer is being attacked by a clearly disgruntled audience member.

The following caption accompanies the scene:

'There, I told you I'de ge you von/ if I cotebed you making game/ o'me agin' 
'Vy they ar'always taking us off'

I’m not sure what this all means from a satirical standpoint, but we get the gist of it.  As Mr. Punch is often the voice of the people and makes his fun of political or social newsmakers, the attacker  here must surely have taken umbrage at being the "punch line."




Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 355




Chapter 355
The Future Mrs. Gerard Gurney


The gilded turquoise and coral plaster halls of No. 65 Belgrave Square echoed with the sounds of joy on the evening before the marriage of Gamilla and Gerard was to take place.  The women had gathered in the Morning Room and the men, just above them, in the library, stacked like two books filled with pages of glad anticipation.  Between them, the grand hall vibrated with their voices, the scents of cigars and perfume mingling in the glass dome.

When Gamilla first entered the Morning Room, she began to cry happy tears upon seeing the preparations that the female staff, following Lennie's carefully planned designs, had made.  The sideboard was laden with the canapes, cakes sweets which Maudie had made for the occasion while the center table groaned under the weight of gifts, mostly from Lennie, for the bride's trousseau.  Vases on each table, each pedestal, the desk, and the mantelpiece were filled with brightly-hued flowers, set against the vivid green of ferns and sparked with the white of baby's breath.  

"This is for me?"  Gamilla shook her head, tears rolling down her face.

"Of course,"  Lennie smiled.  "You're the bride."

"I...I...never had such..."  Gamilla shook her head again.  "I never had such friends.  Not since my sister..."  She took a deep breath.  "You did this for me?  It's all so beautiful?  You're all so beautiful.  You all jus' look lovely.  Look at ya!"

They did, indeed look beautiful.  

Lennie, of course, was dressed most fashionably, not surprisingly.  She wore a new gown of rose silk trimmed with lace.  Violet had curled Lennie's hair and piled it upon her head in a cascade of ringlets held in place by a gold comb set with pink sapphires--a recent gift from her brother who had designed the comb to match what he called the "healthy glow" of Lennie's cheeks.  Around her slender throat hung a necklace, also given her by the Duke, which shined brightly in the light of the oil lamps and candles, sparkling the fire of perfect diamonds and pink spinel.  

While Lady Fallbridge naturally wore the most expensive attire of the lot, the others looked equally lovely in their Sunday best.  Mrs. Pepper had long labored over her simple, but elegant gown, spending the weeks since Gamilla's engagement creating the garment from fabrics she'd been saving for years.  Sturdily made using a pattern from 1851, the dress obviously turned out as Mrs. Pepper had planned since she wore the dove gray dress with tremendous pride.  At her neck, she had placed her most prized possession, the silver brooch which her late husband had given her on their wedding day.  It was set with a glittering garnet which, like Lennie's diamonds, danced in the dim light of the room.

Violet, Maudie and Ethel did not have the time and resources to make a dress for the party and following wedding day as Mrs. Pepper had.  However, each looked pretty in their church clothes.  Violet, so rarely seen without her cap, had styled her blonde hair (which had finally grown to a more manageable length since being so unceremoniously cut in Scotland) in such a way that it looked like a golden halo around her pale face, a face which shone luminously against her dark sapphire-blue cotton dress.  

The other two girls, in their gingham had the favor of youth on their side.  Out of their aprons and uniforms, and scrubbed, they both looked like the young ladies that they were.  Their smiles, and dreams of their own future weddings served as their jewels and were equally as brilliant.

"Well, don't just stand there, Gamilla!"  Ethel chirped.  "Come and sit!  Her ladyship has planed all sorts of games and we got presents for ya and Maudie's spent the day in the kitchen makin' all these delicious things."

"And a fine job she's done."  Mrs. Pepper nodded proudly.

"I...I jus' don't know what to say."  Gamilla replied.

Lennie, who'd led Gamilla to the Morning Room, took Gamilla by the hand and gently pulled her toward a settee.  

"You shouldn't have done all this for me."  Gamilla continued.  She shook her head.  "I ain't nothin' special.  I...I ain't."

"You're wonderfully special!"  Lennie objected.  "You're so loved by everyone here.  This is, if you prefer, more for us than it is you.  We have so few opportunities to really show one another how we feel.  Tonight is a celebration of that and of the many happy years you'll spend being Mrs. Gerard Gurney."

Gamilla wiped her eyes.  "Mrs. Gerard Gurney."  

"A fine name."  Mrs. Pepper grinned.

"Sure is.  Gamilla Gurney."  Maudie added.  "Cor!  You both got the same monogram.  Ain't that convenient!"

Ethel laughed loudly.  "They can use the same handkerchiefs!"

Everyone joined in the laughter, but, soon, Gamilla began to cry again.

"Oh, there, dearie."  Mrs. Pepper sat next to Gamilla.  "I remember the night before my weddin' and cried just as you do.  Happy tears, nervous tears, grateful tears, frightened tears.  All brides do."

"But, I ain't all brides, Mrs. Pepper."  Gamilla answered softly.

"No, you're not."  Lennie nodded.  "You're our Gamilla.  A grand, lovely, gentle woman."

"Who, not to long ago,"  Gamilla sniffed, "belonged to someone like property.  I was as much a possession as a candlestick or a bed warmer.  I wasn't a person, not at all."

Maudie's eyes widened.  "Is that so?"

"What do ya think, silly?  An African woman what was workin' in America on one o' them big farms?"  Ethel whispered.  "She was a slave."

"Now, you are a free woman."  Lennie said quickly.

"I never even had a surname."  Gamilla continued.

"And, now, you shall."  Lennie answered gently.

"And a husband what loves ya."  Mrs. Pepper added.

"A handsome one, too."  Violet winked.

"He is that handsome, Gerard is.  Isn't he?"  Maudie smiled.

"He is."  Gamilla nodded.  "And more so, he's a kind man.  Rose above a horrible bad life and made himself into a good, solid fella."  She smiled again.

"There's your smile."  Lennie sighed contentedly.  "Let's have no more tears for now.  There's no good in dwelling upon where we've been.  Believe me, Gamilla, I must remind myself of that each day."

"Ain't that true."  Gamilla grinned.  "We gotta look ahead."

"Let me put together a nice plate for ya!"  Maudie suggested.

"No, she should open her presents first."  Ethel shook her head.

"There's time enough for all we've planned."  Lennie giggled.

"That's right, Your Ladyship, we all got nothin' but time."  Mrs. Pepper nodded.

"I'm just itchin' for 'er to see what Maudie and I made for her."  Ethel said excitedly.  "And, all them lovely things Miss Lennie...I mean, Her Ladyship, bought..."

"Oh, Ethel, you are wonderful."  Lennie smiled.  "We shall do all of that.  But, first, I'd like to just say something to all of you."

Everyone looked expectantly at Lennie.

"I know I said that dwelling on the past is never helpful, and, so I shan't except to say that until I came here, I never knew such happiness.  While I never knew the sort of life our Gamilla has had to endure, I know a variation of it.  Then, by chance, really, I met my brother, and, through His Grace, all of you who have shown me more kindness than all of the people I've known in the past combined.  No matter where we reside in this house, we're all of us, friends, and it's something for which I've longed all my life--this friendship.  Gamilla was one of the first to welcome me.  Gamilla, I'm so proud to know you.  I've learned so much from you and I know I've much more to learn.  I speak for his Grace and His Lordship when I say that it's with considerable pride and joy that tomorrow we will welcome Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Gurney into these halls, and, with much gladness will we watch your own family grow and thrive alongside the family we already have here."

"Thank you."  Gamilla swallowed emotionally.

"Here's to Gamilla!"  Violet cheered. 

"To Gamilla!"  The others chimed in.

"Here, now can we play that game where we guess how many babies Gamilla's gonna 'ave?"  Ethel asked eagerly.

The group laughed.

"I thought you wanted to open the presents first."  Lennie grinned.

"Oh, yeah, that!"  Ethel said quickly.

"Gamilla?  What do you prefer?"  Lennie asked.

"I ain't ready to be thinkin' 'bout babies."  Gamilla smiled.

"Gifts, it is, then."  Lennie nodded.

"This is all the best gift of all."  Gamilla replied.

"We should say that of you."  Lennie answered.

Mrs. Pepper wiped her eyes.  "Now, I'm cryin!  Oh, my heavens, but ain't weddin's grand?"


Did you miss Chapters 1-354 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square?  If so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 356.







The Art of Play: Punch and Judy Finger Puppets, circa 1970



Punch and Judy Finger Puppets, c. 1970
This and all related images from The Victoria and Albert Museum.


Sandcastles, donkey rides, Punch and Judy - all part of a day at the British seaside. At its popular in Victorian times, the show still brings pleasure (and terror!) to thousands of children on our summer beaches. 

So reads the reverse of this toy which has newly been added to the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I was quite tickled to find this circa 1970 finger puppet set when searching for Punch and Judy related items.  I was so tickled, in fact, that I almost forgot for a moment that it's July in Texas, and, therefore utterly miserable.  Almost.

Let's take a look at this charming set, shall we?  These finger puppets came packed in a box which also doubles as a fit-up or theatre for their miniature puppet show.  The set was meant as a charming reminder of bygone, innocent summers...summers that maybe weren't so hot and miserable.  Sorry...I was distracted.

The printed box sports the traditional striped, gilded frame, theatrical draping and green skirting associated for centuries with a Punch and Judy booth.  A die-cut opening at the front affords a venue for the finger puppets.  

Inside, are Punch and his wife, Judy--both made of printed cotton with slightly padded fronts.  Punch is dressed in his usual red suit and dropping hat, trimmed in gold.  Of course, he carries his cudgel.  Judy dons the traditional white checkered dress and lace cap which we associate with Mrs. Punch.  And, of course, she's carrying, "the Baby."

Manufactured in Britain, the set was designed and made by Anne Wilkinson Designs.  It was produced through 1990.






Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Triumphal Arch of the New Palace, 1829



The Victoria & Albert Museum


This hand-colored etching is entitled “An Appropriate Emblem for the Triumphal Arch of the New Palace” and has been dedicated to “the poor, penny-less, priest ridden and paralysed John Bull.” The image depicts a man (a rather Punch-like man) in a jester's motley, displaying the lining of his empty pockets. His left pocket reads “To Let” and, the right, “Empty.” He surmounts a series of classical arches and a speech bubble in which he is declaring:

"They denounce me a Fool, I acknowledge the fact
But Necessitas Legis 'twas drew the compact
By Estimated false and Contracts still worse
They have brought me to Want, having emptied my purse"

This image was meant as a visual companion to an article in the Morning Herald as a note beneath the image says “See Morning Herald of August 14th 1829.”

We can assume that the arch in question in the title was “The Marble Arch”, a triumphant arch constructed as the centerpiece of an enlarged courtyard at Buckingham Palace in commemoration of the British victories at Trafalgar and Waterloo. By 1829 the costs of this project had escalated to nearly half a million pounds—a fact that was criticized by those who thought the money would have been better spent improving the lives of the destitute.

It was published in London in August 1829 by S.W. Fores, 41 Piccadilly and is part of the George Speaight Punch & Judy Collection.