Friday, August 30, 2013

We’ll be off until Tuesday: Happy Labor Day

Mastery of Design: The Townshend Orange Tourmaline, 1800-1869

Orange Tourmaline
The Townshend Collection
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s another of the 154 gems which the Reverend Chauncey Hare Townshend bequeathed to the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A). The collection included several gems which had previously been owned by the Hope family (those folks who had the big blue diamond) and, in 1913, the collection was added to by Sir A.H. Church.

This rare stone is actually a tourmaline. We tend to think of tourmalines as being pink, green or blue, but this one is a rusty orange with a bit of brown in it. It’s quite a find! Townshend purchased this stone from H.P. Hope. This setting of gold is likely not the setting which had been used by Hope. Many of the rings which Townshend purchased from Hope have shoulders or bezels embellished with diamonds. Townshend had several of them reset in simpler mounts so that the stone itself would be the focus. In this case, because of the rarity of the color, Townshend wished for nothing to distract from the tourmaline.

Labor Day Special: Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque

The first season, 1970, of the Partridge Family featured a slightly different version of the theme song as introductory music. A variation of the popular song, “C’mon Get Happy” which would open the show for the remainder of its run, “Hear Us Singin’,” provided viewers with some backstory. That first season also ended with an untitled thirty seconds of sheer bliss written by Tony Romeo. 

It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you hear this. I’ve listened to it on a loop for a few minutes already.

Friday Fun: Mr. Punch and Scaramouche

Mr. Punch and Scaramouche
George Cruikshank, 1827
From the George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive
at The Victoria and Albert Museum

Here’s another recreation of George Cruikshank’s 1827-era drawings of the “Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch"--complete with Piccini Punch. This one shows Mr. Punch and Scaramouche.

In the early Nineteenth Century version of the puppet show, Mr. Scaramouche was Mr. Punch’s neighbor and the original owner of Dog Toby. Punch encounters Dog Toby who bites his “beautiful nose,” and, then, Scaramouche confronts Punch about harassing his terrier. Punch confused Scaramouche by dancing with him, and, then beating him with his cudgel—eventually, taking Dog Toby as his own companion. This video begins just after Punch has had his first meeting with Dog Toby.

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Bertie and the Queen

"What do you want to do tonight, Mary?"
"Same thing we do every night.  'Collect' from all over the world."

Image:  Her Majesty Queen Mary.  Simon Elwes (1902-75) (artist), Creation Date: c.1933-4, Materials: Oil on canvas, Acquirer: Queen Mary, consort of George V, King of the United Kingdom (1867-1953), Provenance: Presumably acquired or commissioned by Queen Mary. Exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1948.  Crown Copyright.  The Royal Collection.  Original Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  

You, too, could have a cup of tea with Bertie. Or, you could wear his picture proudly. Visit our online store to see our range of Gratuitous Bertie Dog products.

Bertie's Pet-itations: Grand Entrance

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:

Always go to a new place ready for a fun adventure.

Holiday Weekend Schedule

Hello All,

Since this weekend is Labor Day in the United States, and since I'm still working on a variety of projects in addition to healing from that stupid car accident, we're going to take a long weekend.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square will be back on Tuesday.  Meanwhile, I'll post a few (hopefully) fun items this afternoon.

Here's hoping everyone is happy and well,


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time Management

The V&A

Oy.  Physical Therapy and doctors' appointments have left me little time to post today.  So, I'm afraid I must simply see all of you tomorrow.

Hmmm...the same seems to apply to Thursday.  But, I PROMISE, Friday we'll be back to normal.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Bracelet Commemorating the Marriage of King George V and Queen Mary, 1893

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

Made in 1893 to commemorate the marriage of the future King George V to the future Queen Mary (on July 6, 1893), this handsome open loop bracelet terminates in jeweled letters V and M.  The "V" was meant to signify that George would be George V, and, the M for Mary is obvious.

The letters are surmounted by a pink tourmaline and blue sapphire respectively.

Painting of the Day: The Marriage of the Queen of Portugal

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

Sometimes, an exceptional and unusual painting is made all the more historically important because of the artist.  Very often, this is because it was the work of a well known painter, or, sometimes, because the painter was not a celebrated artist, but rather, an influential personality.  This is the case with this canvas, the work of The Empress Friedrich (1840-1901).

The unsually fluid work depicts the marriage of Stephanie, Queen of Portugal, to Pedro V. The veiled bride can  just be seen to left.

Treat of the Week: Gamilla's Blackberry Jam Wedding Cake and a Lovely Frittata

We're always looking for a reason to have a special dessert.  Since, in Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, our Gamilla is FINALLY marrying Gerard, my mother, in her infinite wisdom, created sumptuous wedding cakes in celebration of their fictional nuptials.

But, first, we all enjoyed a lovely meal of an enormous frittata.  This fluffy creation of egg, cheese, potatoes, broccoli and artichoke hearts was accompanied by a cooling salad, fresh bread, pancetta and one of my favorites--zucchini chips. Thin slices of zucchini were dipped in a mixture of egg whites, mustard and other seasonings and then dragged through panko bread crumbs, Romano cheese, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. These were then baked in a hot oven until crisp.

And, then came the bride...

Well, then came the cake.

Intricately decorated in muted jewel tones, these cakes take the form of miniature wedding cakes and handsome bundt cakes.  They're jammy cakes! A light, moist spice pound cake has been baked with a swirl of blackberry jam--giving each one an elegant deep purple surprise inside!  Each was glazed and then beautifully decorated.

I should write about weddings more often.

Drawing of the Day: The Marriage of Princess Alice, 1st July, 1862

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

Drawn by George Housman Thomas (1824-1868) in July of 1862, this unfinished watercolor painting was meant to show the marriage of Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in the dining room of Osborne House.

I'm not sure why it isn't finished, but, what has been is quite lovely.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 374

Chapter 374

Ethel looked excitedly around the church.  "Look Collin," she whispered, "Do ya see the pretty windows?"

The baby yawned and closed his eyes.

"Guess he ain't as excited as the rest of us."  Ethel smiled at Maudie who sat in he pew next to her.

"This is thrillin'."  Maudie grinned.  "I can't believe we're at a weddin'."

"Ain't ya never been to a weddin' before?"  Ethel asked.

"No."  Maudie shook her head.  "Have you?"

"No."  Ethel giggled.  She noticed Mrs. Pepper glance at her from the pew in front of them and quickly quieted down.

"I'm so glad Gamilla and Gerard are finally gettin' married."  Maudie said.  "I know I ain't been in the house as long as all of you, but, I love everyone so.  And, it's clear there ain't two people who should be married more than Gamilla and Gerard."

"He don't even look nervous,"  Ethel smiled, looking toward Gerard who stood at the front of the church with Robert and Charles.

"Not a bit.  He looks 'appy."  Maudie replied.

"Ya know, I'm glad there ain't no one here but us folk from the household."  Ethel said.  "Think if the whole church was full like on a Sunday.  Gerry'd be sweatin' with all them eyes on 'im.  I know I would."

"No, it's best it's just us.  I think it's fine how we're sittin' all together.  His Grace is gonna sit just ahead of us.  All of us in one spot.  Like a real family."  Maudie sighed happily.  "Here, do we get to stay with the baby the whole time?"

"His Grace'll fetch him before he sits."

"Too bad.  I like bein' 'round the baby."  Maudie said.  "Even though I'll miss ya in the kitchens, I'm 'appy you're gonna be up in the nursery with the sweet lad."

"Me, too.  But, I'll be 'round.  Ain't like I'm goin' to a different 'ouse.  And, I'll still be in our room at night."

"I know."  Maudie nodded.

"Here,"  Ethel changed the subject, "read me the invitation again.  It's so pretty."

"Right."  Maudie nodded, picking up the invitations to the wedding which Punch had printed as mementos for the household.  "But, ya know, my readin' ain't so good."

"Better'n mine."  Ethel smiled.

"His Grace the Duke of Fallbridge and the Much Honourable Baron of Colinshire request the honour of your presence..."  Maudie began.

"Ain't it fine..."  Ethel nodded.  "The masters request the honor of OUR presence.  Imagine."

"It's a pretty thing, ain't it?"  Maudie sniffed.

"Sure is."

"Them animals and such."  Maudie continued, running her finger over the Fallbridge crest.  "All must mean somethin'."

"Must.  Dunno."  Ethel shrugged.

"Excuse me, but I couldn't help overhear."  Matthew said, he turned from his spot, two pews ahead of Maudie and Ethel, just in front of Mrs. Pepper and Georgie.

"Oh, dear.  We're bein' too loud."  Maudie covered her mouth.

"Not at all,"  The Earl answered.  "I just thought I'd explain the Fallbridge arms to you.  If you'd like."

"Oh, please."  Ethel chirped.

"I'd like to know, too, if you please, Lord Cleaversworth."  Georgie spoke up.

Matthew looked at Mrs. Pepper, who nodded cheerfully.

"I'm something of a heraldry enthusiast."  Matthew smiled shyly, looking at the crest. "A laurel wreath Vert and an antelope head erased of the same. horned Gules and collared Azur, a chief of the same cotised Vert, an antelope Argent horned, hoofed or holding halberd between the Forepaws between two antelopes sejant reguardant Argent horned and hoofed."

They all looked at him with wide eyes.

"I say, terribly sorry."  Matthew blushed.  "The shield in the middle is his Grace's arms.  They animals symbolize Unity, Harmony and Courage.  These are supported by the symbols of our land, the lion and unicorn.  The shield sits on a green ground, representing England and above it is the ducal coronet, meaning that your master is a Duke.  Above that is a knight's helmet, an homage to His Grace's late father, Sir Colin.  The shield is surrounded by the blue garter which means that His Grace belongs to the Queen's Order of the Garter.  In short, simply that the Queen favors your master."

"Oh my!"  Mrs. Pepper nodded.  "I always wondered what it all meant."

"Thank you, Lord Cleaversworth."  Ethel said.

"Well, then,"  Matthew nodded awkwardly.  "Always glad to help."

"Oh, the music!"  Maudie exclaimed.

All rose as the organ began to play.

They turned to see Fern, dressed in her fine, rose-colored silk, her hair swept up, walk down the aisle first.  She tossed, from a white basket, rose petals on the stone floor.  Oddly enough, she bore an unfamiliar expression--a combination of pride, happiness and excitement.

Even Robert couldn't help but smile.

Next came Laddy Fallbridge.  Lennie, too, looked beautiful in a celery green gown and wearing a dramatic necklace of demantoid garnets and diamonds.

Matthew gasped when he saw her.

Lennie was followed by Violet in the special gown with which Gamilla had surprised her earlier that day.  Pale blue silk, the gown off-set Violet's deep blue eyes.  Her blonde hair, still short, had been braided into a crown upon her head and dotted with fresh daisies.

For the first time since they'd known one another, Charles really took notice of Violet.  So much so that his knees felt a little weak.  Robert noticed this and quickly smiled at the blushing valet.

Gerard, however, saw no one.  He waited only for Gamilla, and wished the others would make their way to the altar so he could catch his first sight of his beloved.  

Finally, Gamilla appeared on the arm of the Duke of Fallbridge/Mr. Punch.

Gerard gasped along with the others in attendance.  

The sunlight suddenly seemed brighter in St. Peter's of Eaton Square, as if the clouds all parted as Gamilla entered and allowed the sun to pierce through the tall windows of the sanctuary, in order to illiminate Gamilla's golden gown, the diamonds in her hair and the blooms she carried.  But, all paled in comparison to the smile she wore on her face.

She looked only at Gerard and he only at her.

As Gamilla walked down the aisle, Mrs. Pepper, Maudie, Ethel and, even Georgie, wept happy tears, the tears that fall when a body is overwhelmed by joy and beauty.  She seemed to float as if a vision only, one without flesh, a creation purely of light.  

Mrs. Pepper looked away for a moment to dab her eyes and thought, just for a second, she caught sight of Jenny seated in the choir.  She blinked and Jenny was gone, but Mrs. Pepper knew she had been there, and knew she approved.

Gerard reached a hand back and Robert took the man's arm to steady him.

"She looks lovely."  Robert whispered to Gerard.

"Never was there anyone more beautiful."  Gerard choked back tears.  "I wish I could take her in my arms right now."

Finally, Punch and Gamilla reached the altar.

The vicar stood before them, and spoke:

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. If any man can show just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace."

Mr. Punch turned slightly and cast a warning look.  No one spoke.

With that, Punch stepped away, lingering to squeeze Gamilla's hand once more, and, taking Colin from Ethel, joined Matthew in the front pew.

Gerard stepped forward and stood next to Gamilla, whispering.  "You are beautiful."

She whispered back, "So are you."

The vicar cleared his throat and continued. 

"Wilt thou have this Woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health ; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?

Gerard grinned, "I will."

The vicar turned to Gamilla.

 thou have this Man to thy wedded husband,to live together after Gods ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?"

Gamilla answered happily.  "I will."

"Who giveth this woman to marry this man?"  The vicar asked.

Mr. Punch rose, holding Colin.  "I, Julian, Ninth Duke of Fallbridge, and, The Lord Baron Colinshire do."  He spoke in Julian's voice, but added quickly in his own, "And, we're very happy about it."

The congregation, minus the vicar, laughed.

And, so, the couple began to exchange their vows.   

Come back tomorrow for the marriage breakfast and a lot more fun with Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.  

Gifts of Grandeur: A Wedding Gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria

Miniature on Bracelet, 1840
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Let's face it, Prince Albert knew he was getting a good deal when it was announced he was going to marry his cousin, Victoria, who happened to be the Queen of England and a whole bunch of other stuff.  It's not as if it came as a surprise.  Albert had long been groomed to be the groom.  After all, his Uncle....ahem, their Uncle...Prince Leopold, King of Belgium, had been pushing for the marriage for quite some time.  It also helped that Victoria had, upon their second meeting, fallen madly in love with the handsome prince, gushing about his fine face, broad shoulders and slim hips.  Oh, yes, Albert was fond of Victoria, too.  But, not quite as effusively.  He was German, you know.

Among the many gifts Albert presented to his royal bride upon their marriage in February of 1840, was this miniature which the young Prince had commissioned from a German jeweler and miniaturist W. Schmidt.  

The gold bracelet held a locket containing a gorgeous watercolor on ivory portrait of the young Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  This miniature of Prince Albert was painted shortly before his marriage. Schmidt has modeled the face from the oil portrait that George Patten had been despatched to paint in Gotha early in 1840, although Schmidt has substituted evening dress where Patten portrays the Prince at half-length in the uniform of the Saxonian Light Infantry.

According to the Royal Collection:

This bracelet originally had another three lockets on it. This remaining miniature and photograph formed part of a group of jewels placed in the ‘Albert Room’ at Windsor Castle after the Queen's death in 1901. This was the room in which Prince Albert had died in 1861 and the Queen left instructions for a specific list of personal jewellery to be placed there and not passed on in the family.

We're not quite sure what became of the other three pendant lockets.  The one which remains, a shell-shape of gold contains a photograph of Victoria, the Princess Royal (their first-born) which was taken before her wedding day in 1858.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The miniature is set in a flexible gold bracelet clasp supplied in 1860 by Garrards (this replaced the original velvet band upon which the locket was presented in 1840) with the interior cover engraved with the inscription "ALBERT / 1840"  and the exterior applied with floral decoration.  The reverse is inscribed with a four-leaf clover and the engraved inscription "Coburg 1st October 1860."  


What's the significance of that day in October, 1860?

The clover and date both refer to and commemorate the Prince Consort's lucky escape from death in a carriage accident which had happened while ALbert was visiting his homeland of Coburg.

Queen Victoria recorded in her Journal a year later: 

The anniversary of that fearful accident which befel [sic] my dearest Albert at Coburg last year. May God ever extend His mercy to him, as He did so signally then. Have founded a Charity at Coburg, in remembrance of it.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, Victoria's prayers went unanswered as Albert was not extended any mercy.  He died two months after that journal entry, in December of 1861.

I wonder how the missing pendants looked.  The pendant shell which does remain is engraved "from Victoria / 1st Feb 1858.

The bracelet portion which was added by Garrards can be tucked away and the miniature can be worn as a pendant.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Slice of Queen Victoria's Wedding Cake

A slice of the wedding cake of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
10 February 1893
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Many brides will save a slice of their wedding cake and tuck it away in the freezer so that, on the first anniversary of the marriage, she and her husband can enjoy it and remember the day.  The Royal Family has long had the same tradition, however, they keep the slices, not in a freezer, but...well, I don't know where...and they keep them forever.  Forever!

On February 10, 1840, a slice of the cake made for the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was spirited away for posterity and kept in a wee, flat cardboard box decorated just for that purpose. 

I'm glad to say that it remains to this day.  I'm not sure if that orange mummy we're seeing in there is the cake, but if it is, I know I've finally met a piece of cake I don't want to eat.

Monday, August 26, 2013

You're invited...

Tomorrow, the day's posts will be devoted to the marriage of Gerard and Gamilla in Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

Meanwhile, today, many preparations are being made.

Bertie, Mr. Punch and I look forward to welcoming all of you to tomorrow's nuptials.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: The Garter Fan, 1805

The Garter Fan
The Royal Collection
This magnificent fan of blue plain weave silk leaf, is inscribed GR Royal, Windsor, Installation HONI. SOIT. QUI. MAL Y. PENSE April 23 1805 ; and features japanned wood guards and sticks. Though the fan was probably purchased by Queen Mary, as most things ultimately were, it was known to have been in the inventory of Frogmore House, Windsor, prior to Mary’s death in 1953, and has no documentation to support how it was returned to the Royal Collection.

The fan which features a painting of the Star of the Order of the Garter, has a Royal history. It may have been painted by one of the daughters of King George III in honor of the Garter Installation in 1805—an especially impressive and solemn occasion.

The size of the fan is typical of models from the early Nineteenth Century when accessories had been reduced in size in order to match the narrower silhouette of ladies’ gowns. Though much lost, the fan, at one time glittered with dozens of sequins, beads and golden threads.

Gifts of Grandeur: Collar of the Order of the Garter, 1837

Collar of the Order of the Garter
Made for Queen Victoria
Rundell, Bridge & Rundell
Gold and Enamel
The Royal Collection
When Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, she became Sovereign of each of the six British orders of chivalry: the Orders of the Garter, Thistle, St Patrick, Bath, and St Michael and St George. A new Queen required new insignia, and therefore this collar was produced in a scale that matched Victoria’s diminutive size and stature as well as the styles of necklines of the time.

The size of the collar also allows the Queen to wear more than one at a time. The collar was commissioned from Rundell, Bridge & Co who made it to be worn from the upper arms rather than over the shoulders.

Sunday Sparkle: The Garter Bar Brooch, 1838

The Garter Bar Pin
Rundell, Bridge & Co., 1838
The Royal Collection

On the occasions that Queen Victoria wore her garter insignia, very often, she would attach the garter, its accompanying star and “The Lesser George” to her gown via this bar pin.  The ten diamonds may have been part of a different piece prior to 1838.  This pin was supplied to the queen en suite with the garter insignia in 1838.  Sparkling brightly above the deep blue of the garter, ribbon, this bar pin was an elegant way to anchor the symbols of her reign.