Saturday, May 3, 2014

Mastery of Design: A Scotch and French Clock, 1610-1615

Scottish Works, French Case
Gold, Silver, Enamel
1610-1615 with alterations from the Nineteenth Century
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s a rather unusual timepiece—the work of a Scotch clockmaker and a French case designer. While the case is much the same as it was in the early Seventeenth Century when it was created, the movement of this spring-driven, striking table clock has been drastically changed over the centuries.

One of the most intriguing features of this domed clock is that the base plate—which no one would ever see—is extensively decorated and engraved--signed by David Ramsay. Additional decoration added to the clock was carried out by the French clockmaker Louis David as evidenced by a brass plate bearing his name. This plate cleverly was placed to cover Ramsay’s signature. Though unusual to modern eyes, the case was typical of a particular type of domed clocks from France. A variety of French clocks from this period have similar square bases and domed bell-covers, pierced with such openwork.
The scene on the engraved base shows King James I with his two sons Henry and Charles. They are holding the Pope's nose to a grindstone—as one doees. Also pictured on the right is a Cardinal accompanied by three friars who watch the scene in terror. This queer little scene is inspired by a settlement made in 1609 between Spain and the Estates General of the Netherlands which formed an alliance between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant state.

The top of the clock—which holds the dial, seen from above is set with silver and enamel which matches the four inset silver panels which adorn the ornate sides of the case.

At the Music Hall: “She’s My Daisy,” Sir Harry Lauder

She is my Daisy, my bonnie Daisy,
she's the sweetest sugar candy and she's very fond of Sandy,
And I weary 
For my dearie,
I would rather lose my spurs than lose my Daisy.

Scottish performer and songwriter, Sir Harry Lauder, popularized Scottish-themed songs as he trod the boards of U.K. music halls. Many of his songs concerned fair 
Scottish ladies and were rousing ballads about the joys of loving these plucky lasses.

His song, “She’s My Daisy,” became instantly popular and was featured in many films. Here’s a clip of Greer Garson singing the song in her 1942 film, 
Random Harvest.

Unusual Artifacts: The Crichton Vinaigrette, 1885-1886

G.&M. Crichton
The Victoria & Albert Museum

A Vinaigrette was used to hold an aromatic substance. Usually, the vinaigrette was worn, suspended from a chain, cord or ribbon around the throat. Sometimes, it could take the form of a brooch or a hand-held ornament.

This example was made around 1886 in Scotland by the Edinburgh jewelery firm G&M Crichton who had earlier made quite a splash at the London Exhibition of 1872. While Crichton’s designs were praised overall at the exhibition, some critics felt that the Highland brooches were a bit too “extravagant” in detail.

When this brooch was made, Scotland and all things Scottish were quite fashionable due to the earlier poetry of Sir Walter Scott and the public admiration for the land shown by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Scottish pebble jewelry was quite in demand. While the majority of these Scottish agate pieces came back to England as souvenirs of Scotland, some examples were made in Birmingham to meet the high demand. Birmingham jewelers would mimic the style of the Scottish jewels, employing stones collected in Scotland.

This vinaigrette shows the variety of attractive stones native to Scotland. Citrines, amethysts, bloodstone, mottled jasper and banded agate are set into silver. The reverse is marked for G.&M. Crichton with hallmarks for 1885 to 1886.

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Wines and Beers Sideboard, 1859

The Victoria & Albert Museum

The renowned designer William Burges showed this amazing sideboard at the International Exhibition of 1862 (South Kensington, London). The Victoria & Albert Museum purchased it at the 1862 exhibition for the cost of £40.

The sideboard was praised in 1862 for its painted decoration of jolly scenes well-suited for the cabinet's use in storing and serving drinks.  The scene depicts a fanciful  battle between wines and beers, in which Continental wines, represented by Sir Bacchus, fight with British beers, represented by Sir John Barleycorn.  Lady warriors personify Pale Ale, Scotch Ale, Hock and Champagne.

Pets of the Belle Époque: "Tiney," A Scotch Terrier

Meet “Tiney.” Tiney was a “Scotch Terrier” (though unlike any I’ve ever seen) who lived with the Royal Family in 1866. As we can see, Tiney was well-loved. His photo was taken in 1866 by court photographer, William Bambridge. This image comes from Queen Victoria’s personal collection of photographs. 

Clearly, Tiney was an important dog—important enough to have his picture taken. Considering that most people in 1866 had never been photographed, the fact that Tiney was is rather outstanding. For more images of nobility and their pets, visit the Royal Collection’s exhibition, “Noble Hounds and Dear Companions.”

Object of the Day: Grind Your Coffee

Click on the image to love a lassie, a bonnie hee-land lassie.

Well, what have we here? This nifty little trade card with its wordy backside dates to 1889 and was made exclusively for Arbuckle Brothers of New York City—hawkers of coffee which appears to be coated in eggs and sugar.

The obverse depicts various scenes of Scotland, including a Scottish, Lassie, High Street, a Highlander and Edinburgh Castle. Published by Joseph Knapp of New York, it’s a great example of the high quality of their printing.

It would appear that this was the tenth installment in a series of cards promoting Ariosa Coffee which took buyers on a nice, flat trip around the world. Each card included drawings of native people and places and a brief description of each location (printed in teeeeeeny, tiny type).

I’ve spared your eyes by typing out the copy. Meanwhile, I’m now cross-eyed.

Let’s look, shall we?

One of 50 views from a trip around the world.



     It will pay you well to keep a
small coffee-mill in your kitchen
and grind your coffee just as
you use it, one mess at a time.
Coffee should not be ground
until the coffee-pot is ready to
receive it. Coffee will lose more
of its strength and aroma in one
hour after being ground than
in six months before being
ground. So long as


remains in the whole berry, our
glazing, composed of choice
eggs and pure confectioners’ A
sugar, closes the pores of the
coffee, and thereby are retained
all the original strength and

has during 25 years set the
standard for all other roasted
coffees. So true is this that
other manufacturers, in recom-
mending their goods, have
known no higher praise than
to say, “It’s just as good as

And, then, on the next column, we get the tenth installment of our sugar-coated, coffee-based trip around the world. Let’s put on our kilts and go to…


     The point commanding at a
glance the view of all the most
noted features within and around
Edinburgh, is Calton Hill, at the
summit of which is Nelson’s Monu-
ment, its top 350 feet above the sea,
and where, every day at one o’clock
an electric time signal indicates the


     Edinburgh Castle is on a rock
which was the site of a stronghold
before the earliest dates of Scottish
history, and is connected with many
of the stirring scenes recorded in
the annals of this interesting
country. The entrance to the Cas-
tle is by an esplanade on the east.
This is the only entrance. On leav-
ing the confines, a continuous route
leads through the time honored
chain of streets, the Lawn Market,
High Street, with its narrower por-
tion called Nether Bow, and Can-
nongate, to Holyrood Palace.

     The Scott Monument is an ele-
gant structure in the form of an
open crucial Gothic spire, supported
on four early English arches which
serve as a canopy for the statue. It
is about 200 feet high. Under the
central basement arch is a marble
statue of Sir Walter Scott with a
figure of his favorite dog at his

     St. Giles’ Church is a Gothic edi-
fice with massive square tower ter-
minating in open stone work in the
form of a crown, and is noted
as the scene of many remarkable
events. Behind the church is Par-
liament Square. This occupies the
site of an ancient cemetery where
the reformer, John Knox, was
buried. The Hall of Parliament
House is very beautiful with its
stained glass windows, pictures and

     Holyrood Palace is renowned for
legendary romance as to its origin
and for the actual tragic incidents
of royalty within its walls. On the
way to the Queen’s Drive, Craig-
miliar Castle is seen in the distance,
where Mary Queen of Scots often

     Population 1889 (est.) 271,135

Unexpected Change of Schedule

Good day, everyone.  My week became somewhat derailed toward the end of the week.  So, my promise of a "Treat of the Week" and a new chapter of "A Recipe for Punch" went unfulfilled yesterday.  

I'll make good on both during the upcoming weeks.  This just means you'll get two "Treats of the Week" this week.  That's always something to look forward to.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: John Gruff

"I know you two think it's fun to pass an afternoon looking into an empty stew-pot, but, I really need
something a little more stimulating to do."

Image: John Cuff, Creator: Johan Zoffany (Frankfurt 1733/4 - London 1810) (artist), Creation Date: Signed and dated 1772, Materials: Oil on canvas, Acquirer: George III, King of the United Kingdom (1738-1820), when King of Great Britain (1760-1800), Provenance: Purchased by or painted for George III.

Crown Copyright, The Royal Collection via The Royal Collection Trust.  The original image is courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

To learn more about this masterpiece, visit the entry for this painting in the online catalog of the Royal Collection Trust.

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: A Gold and Enamel Bracelet from Paris, 1880

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This flexible gold chain bracelet is punctuated by a square enamel plaque decorated with a musical instrument and flowers. Four bars in blue enamel with a delicate scrollwork decoration further adorn the bracelet.

The theme of the bracelet is one of everlasting love as evidenced by the symbols depicted in the enamel. It is the work of the jeweler Auguste Perette who had a brilliant reputation in Paris.

Bertie's Pet-itations: Biological Clock Logic

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:

Even though I can't tell time, I still have a schedule that I like to keep.  Letting me keep it helps me feel safe and happy because it means I get to listen to what my body is telling me to do.

History's Runway: A Walking Dress Ensemble, 1817-20

Walking Dress
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This day outfit dates between 1817 and 1820 and echoes military uniform in design, givimg it a decidedly masculine flavor. Passementerie (trim) in the form of crescent-shaped moulds, looped cord and balls covered in floss silk replace the gilt or silver buttons which would have adored the similarly-styled men's regimental coats. The tassels on the collar ends and cuff bands evoke the tassels which adorned boots, hats, sashes and cap lines of military accessories.

Military styles were worked into ladies' fashionable dress in Britain largely due to the influence of the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). The uniforms worn during this period were some of the most elaborate in the history of military dress with bright, vivid colors, frog (clasp) enclosures, braid and tassels.  These uniforms fueled the imagination of fashion designers for years to come.

"A Recipe for Punch" will Continue Tomorrow

Hello all,

Today, we're going to have to have a brief hiatus from "A Recipe for Punch," however we'll pick up with the next chapter tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, we'll have "The Treat of the Week," and some other fun stuff for Friday.  So...I'll see you then!


Unusual Artifacts: A Needlework Portrait by Mary Knowles, 1779

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

We’ve looked at the famed needlework portraits of Miss Mary Linwood. However, Linwood wasn’t the only person recreating painted portraits in embroidery. This needlework picture, commissioned by Queen Charlotte (Consort of George V), in wool dates to 1779 and is the work of Mary Morris Knowles.

Mary Morris Knowles was born of a Quaker family in Rugely, Staffordshire, and was celebrated as much for her intellect as for her skill with the needle. Knowles is now considered to be an important early protagonist of the feminist viewpoint in English cultural life. Ahead of her time, Knowles was an early supporter for the abolition of slavery.

In 1771 Knowles was introduced Queen Charlotte at Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace), forming a friendship which would last over the next thirty years. Following that first visit in 1771, the Queen commissioned Mrs. Knowles to make a copy of Zoffany’s portrait of George III in needlework or ‘needle painting’ as it was also known.

So pleased with the result, Queen Charlotte showed off the portrait to all of her friends. Eight years later, Mrs. Knowles embroidered this companion picture for Queen Charlotte. It is a self portrait of the artist as she created the needle-painting of George III.

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

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Clark's Mile-End Spool Cotton

Click image to enlarge.

I think that the Coats Thread Company and the Clark Thread Company (now merged as Coats and Clark) were responsible for the majority of the trade cards printed in the U.S. in the Nineteenth Century. No matter what, every lot of ephemera that I buy has a huge amount of Coats and Clark cards scattered throughout.

Here’s another one which I recently acquired. It’s typically odd. A poor, deformed man in mustard yellow pants is being tormented by a child with a skin condition who just happens to have access to an enormous spool of Clark’s Trade Mark Mile-End Spool Cotton. The lad, in his wee plaid suit, has tied one end of the spool to a stick and, stretching it across a sidewalk, is using it to bloody the knees of the hairy-faced ginger fellow.

Let’s see what the reverse says and if it incites children to violence.

Nope. No violence implied.

It reads below the Clark’s logo.


ALL NUMBERS from No. 8 to 100.

 are especially dyed to match 

ALL SHADES of Dress Goods and can be
INSTEAD OF SILK by Dress makers and
THE BLACK is Strong and Smooth, and
               of the
PUREST DYE. It will retain its very 

DEEP BLACK hue as long as Silk Fabrics. 
                The White, Black and Colored
IS THE STANDARD for us upon all 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: The Caroline of Naples Tiara, 1808

The Caroline of Naples Tiara
Italy, 1808
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This gold tiara set with four lapis lazuli plaques inset with shells and pearls in pietre dure mosaic is believed to have belonged to Caroline Murat (1782-1839), Queen of Naples. Part of an impressive parure, the tiara shows the fine workmanship of its maker, Real Laboratorio of Naples, known for impressive suites of jewelry such as this. The parure is still kept in its original leather box which is stamped with a crowned “C” in gold. 

Some historians contend that the pietre dire panels were produced by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence while the gold work was finished in Naples. The Grand Ducal Workshop, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, was founded in 1588 and still operates today under the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage.

The suite consists of a matching necklace, earrings and comb in addition to the magnificent tiara.

Her Majesty’s Furniture: A Magnificent Jewel Casket, 1750

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

Click image for larger size.

Jewel Casket
The Royal Collection

Made in 1720 in the Grand Ducal Workshops of Florence by Giovanni Battista Foggini, this amazing jewel casket of Ebony, rosewood, hardstones, and gilt bronze came to the Royal Collection through unknown circumstances, possibly as early as the late Eighteenth Century, but probably via Queen Mary. With its intricate mosaic and ornate ormolu, this casket was the epitome of Florentine style.

Though assigned a practical use (holding jewels), the casket is now as valuable as the objects it once held.

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

Click image for larger size.
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Click image for larger size.

The carved gilt wood stand with cabriole legs terminating in lions' paw feet is joined near the bottom by an X-shaped stretcher with a pine-cone finial  with rocaille motifs.  It is original to the piece.

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

Click image for larger size.