Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Bailey, Banks and Biddle Aquamarine Ring, 1930

Today’s shiny thing is a lovely ring set with a domed, rectangular aquamarine which is framed with baguette-cut diamonds and with diamond-set arches at each end. The shoulders of the ring are decorated with a triangular ruby and diamonds.

This is the work of Bailey, one of America's oldest jewelers. Originally, the firm was called Bailey & Kitchen when it was founded in Philadelphia in 1832.

At the Music Hall: A Little Bit of Cucumber, 1915

I was weaned on cucumber
And on my wedding day,
Sitting down to supper when
The guests had gone away,
My old darling said to me,
"You must be hungry, Joe!
What is it you fancy?" I
Said, "Fancy! Don't you know?"


"I like pickled onions,
I like piccalilli.
Pickled cabbage is alright
With a bit of cold meat on Sunday night.
I can go termartoes,
But what I do prefer,
Is a little bit of cu-cum-cu-cum-cu-cum,
Little bit of cucumber."

I went flying in the air
With my old college chum.
Suddenly he said to me,
"We're bound for kingdom come!
Is there anything on your mind
Before you wear a crown?"
I began to shake and said,
"Write this confession down:


To the Lord Mayor's Banquet I
Got in one foggy day.
When I saw the grub it took
My appetite away:
"Sparrowgrass" and chaffinches,
And pigs-head stuffed with jam!
I said to the waiter there,
"You don't know who I am!"


Sev'ral years of married life
Have brought me lots of joys.
I don't know how many girls,
I think it's fourteen boys.
When the last one came to town
It nearly turned my head.
It was marked with a cucumber,
And the fust words that it said,


"I like pickled onions,
I like piccalilli.
Pickled cabbage is alright
With a bit of cold meat on Sunday night.
I can go termartoes,
But what I do prefer,
Is a little bit of cu-cum-cu-cum-cu-cum,
Little bit of cucumber."

The popular British wartime song “A Little Bit of Cucumber,” was written and composed by T. W. Connor and published in 1915 by Francis, Day and Hunter. It was famously performed by Harry Champion in 1915. One version is below.

Painting of the Day, "The Dame School," Isaac Cruikshank, 1790-1810

The Dame School
Isaac Cruikshank
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Isaac Cruikshank, the famed caricaturist, always had a keen interest in social and political issues. This interest was instilled into his son, George Cruikshank who offered us some of the earliest drawings of Mr. Punch.

Cruikshank, here, shows the world of education prior to The Education Act of 1870 which was the first measure in Britain aimed at providing a universal state system of elementary schools. Prior to the Act of 1870, most children, especially those from lower class families, learned the fundamentals of literacy in “Dame Schools. These school were so-called because they were run by unmarried, often elderly, women.

In Cruickshank's sketch, the teacher listens to a child reading aloud. His point was to show that clearly her pupils were learning something. Critics often dismissed the Dame, equating them to nothing more than a child-care service for working parents.

In this scene, the schoolroom was the old woman's kitchen—as was often the case. Though the scene looks to be awash in warm domesticity, there is one sinister detail—the inclusion of a bundle of birch twigs on the table which would have been used by the teacher to beat a slow or naughty child.

Unusual Artifacts: A Walnut Fruit Press, 1700

Fruit Press
Italy, 1700
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This carved walnut fruit press takes the form of a lion's body. The lion rests on walnut brackets and an elm base. The lion's body is hollow, allowing it to receive fruit which is then crushed by a slat of wood with a cross-hatched underside. The mouth of the lion is fitted with a spout from which the juice from the crushed fruit pours.

This fruit press comes from Italy and was carved about 1700 or earlier. The press is really quite small and would have been given a prominent place on a kitchen table.

The Art of Play: A German Toy Kitchen, 1800

Model Kitchen
Nuremberg, 1800
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Since most of us in the U.S. have spent the last couple of days in the kitchen, I thought we might take a look at historical kitchens and kitchen-related items today. For example, here’s a model of a German kitchen made in Nuremberg about 1800. Remarkably, the model has all of its original contents. How they were not lost over the last two hundred years, I’ll never know. But, the fact that all of the miniature contents survive makes this model extremely rare.

Among the contents of the model is its collection of utensils, tools, oven and hen coop. Models such as this were a popular and attractive gift designed to introduce a child to the domestic skills that would later be needed to run a household. These kitchens also had the added advantage of being portable and much easier to carry than entire dolls' houses.

Punch's Cousin will Continue on Monday

Well, here we are—full of turkey and dressing and about to be up to our armpits in faux evergreen and glass ornaments. I’m still quite hazy from our wonderful Thanksgiving, so I’m going to postpone the next chapter of Punch’s Cousin until Monday.

So, come back on Monday, November 27, 2011 for the continuation of Punch’s Cousin. Until then, you can catch up on any chapters you may have missed in the Chapter Archive.

Object of the Day: An Italian Sixteenth Century Sandglass

Italy, c. 1500
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Long before timers and clocks were available for everyday use, sandglasses (or hourglasses) were employed to keep track of time in a variety of situations. They were used in churches to time the sermon; on ships to time the length of the watches, and most commonly, in the kitchens of wealthy households in order to keep an eye on cooking times.

Sandglasses of the Sixteenth Century were constructed from two similarly-sized glass ampoules which were sealed (often with wax) and bound with fabric at the joint. “Sandglass

is something of a misnomer as the “sand” wasn’t sand at all, but rather a material which would be less sensitive to moisture. Powdered metal, rock or eggshells were most commonly used. The different materials used provided different hues for the sand.

These four sandglasses from Italy are mounted in a single frame and run for different periods--probably subdivisions of an hour.

Made in 1500, there’s some understandable wear to them. Since they’ve been in the V&A, many have tried to time them precisely. However, an exact timing has not been possible since, after five hundred years, the particles no longer run freely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’ll be back with regular posts on Saturday, November 26, 2011.  From Bertie, Mr. Punch and me, here’s wishing all of you a very “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Mastery of Design: Lady Cory's Baroque Pearl Ornament, 1865

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Lady Cory, it seems, had a lot of jewels. We have seen a good many of them. Most of Lady Cory’s jewels were bequeathed to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Let’s take a look at one more.

Here, we see a silver brooch which dates to 1865. It is made in the form of a bow, and set with a pearl and hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds. A baroque pearl pendant drop adds drama to the piece. Made by an unknown jeweler, the brooch probably comes from Britain.

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Bertie's Thanksgiving

"God bless us,, that's Christmas. Pass the gravy."

*Click above image to enlarge*

Image: Haymakers at Dinner, Thomas Uwins, Nineteenth Century, The Victoria & Albert Museum

Antique Image of the Day: Le Danger De Manger De La Souris Est Qu'Ensuite Votre Chat Ne Coure Après, 1870

Le Danger De Manger De La Souris Est Qu'Ensuite Votre Chat Ne Coure Après, 1870

Everyone has different holiday traditions. But, I don’t think most of us eat live cats.

Here, we see a satirical print in which a cat leaps into the mouth of a man sitting down to dinner. The surprised man still holds a knife and fork in both hands. This odd print is from a set of French caricatures, broadsheets and illustrations which were bound in 1870 in ten volumes of red leather which have been gold-tooled and stamped with imperial emblems.

The caricaturist is Amedee Charles Henry Noé, the Count of Noé. The print was first published in Le Charivari on December 1, 1870 in order to make light of the unconventional sustenance circulated through Paris. The print was inspired by the tale of a man who was puzzled to find himself pursued through Paris by a pack of barking dogs, until he remembered that he had eaten a rat for breakfast.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 400

Did I hear somethin’ break?” Zettie panted as she ran down the kitchen stairs.

Gamilla calmly shook her head and lied. “No. I didn’t hear nothin’.”

“Oh.” Zettie nodded.

“Is the baby with Miss Ulrika upstairs?” Gamilla asked.

“No.” Zettie sighed.

“Do you know where she went?”

“Gamilla…” Zettie raised her eyebrows.

“You know as well as I do that that baby she’s got is Missus Halifax’s baby!” Gamilla said angrily. “You can’t tell me that ya think Miss Ulrika’s gonna be a good mother to him!”

“No.” Zettie sighed. “I don’t know where she went, Gamilla. Her clothes and things are still in her room. So, I’m sure she didn’t go far.”

“You don’t think so?” Gamilla grumbled. “You don’t think that she’d leave her duds behind? A rich girl like that can buy whatever she needs anywhere she wants. Miss Ulrika don’t care as much ‘bout clothes as she does hurtin’ folk.” Gamilla heard a commotion begin to rise in the main part of the house and knew she had to get Zettie out of the kitchen.

“Please,” Gamilla continued. “I ain’t askin’ ya to betray your master, but take me out to see the men that keep the horses. They’ll know if Miss Ulrika’s gone somewhere. If ya don’t do it for me, do it for that sweet little Fuller. He don’t deserve to be with that horrible woman!”

“Fine,” Zettie grunted. “You better come with me quick! I hear Mr. Cage in there and he don’t sound happy.”

Gamilla sighed with relief as she followed Zettie into the courtyard. She glanced over her shoulder as they left—hoping that Gerard could get Marjani and Dr. Halifax out of that house before Zettie saw them. Zettie was kind, but self-protective. She’d make sure to be loyal to the Cages’ if only to save herself.

At that very moment, Edward Cage had gone into the corridor to investigate the source of the crashing noise made when Gerard tossed the vase through the window.

As Edward passed him, Gerard slipped behind and crept into the hallway, silently taking Marjani by the arm and pointing to the front door.

Robert, Marjani and Gerard hurried toward the door just as Edward Cage returned.

“I’m no fool.” Edward growled. “What are you doing?”

“You can’t keep us here.” Robert said bravely.

“Oh, yes I can!” Edward shouted. “Look at you! You’re all criminals! You get your man to come in here, vandalize my home! Try to sneak you out!”

“They didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout it, Sir.” Gerard spoke up.

“Quiet!” Edward screamed as he pulled a pistol from an inside pocket in his coat.

“What are you doing, Edward?” Robert shook his head.

“I heard a noise!” Edward laughed. “Saw an intruder, and fired to protect my family!” He grinned. “That’s what I’ll tell the officer when he comes back. Now, which one of you shall I shoot first?”

Did you miss Chapters 1-399? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Saturday after Thanksgiving for Chapter 401 of Punch’s Cousin.

History's Runway: The Lady Alexandra Gown, 1948

The Victoria & Albert Museum

As you decide what to wear on Thursday for Thanksgiving with friends and family, well, this won’t be among your choices. But, ladies, don’t you wish it could be? Here, we see an evening dress in cream slipper satin with a close fitting bodice, and a high round neck adorned with amber and silver sequins and glass bead embroidery around the neck and down the center of the bodice. Smaller matching designs flank the center panel. A train at the rear is looped up to form a triple fan-shaped bustle at the back waistline. The long, tight-fitting sleeves are held close to the arm with three darts at the elbow and close with a zipper at the wrist.

This gown was made in 1948 for Lady Alexandra Howard-Johnston (1907-97) who was the wife of the Naval Attaché to Paris at the end of the 1940s. Due to her husband’s position, Lady Alexandra was required to attend a vast number of formal events and, therefore, needed an extensive wardrobe. Lady Alexandra dressed exclusively at the house of Jacques Fath (1912-54).

Fath was known to lend evening and day dresses each season to Lady Alexandra, knowing that he would receive a lot of publicity from Alexandra’s appearances. Lady Alexandra recalled “If there was a dress I wanted to keep, I could pay sale price at the end of the season. I was not allowed to go to any other couturier, but I did not want to – Fath was perfection.”

This particular gown was designed by Fath for Lady Alexandra to wear for the official visit of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip to Paris in May 1948. Lady Alexandra later recalled that when she and her husband made their enterance at the Théâtre de l’Opéra, the Garde Nationale suddenly sprang to attention. She said, “I realised they had mistaken us for the Princess and Duke. That was the effect made by my splendid Fath.”

Not bad.


Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Count Eberhard Cutting the Table-Cloth, 1847

Count Eberhard Cutting the Table-Cloth, 1847
The Victoria & Albert Museum

As we prepare for Thanksgiving in the U.S., let’s take a look at the sort of scene we don’t want to develop around the steaming bird. In this painting by Carl Johann Lasch from 1847, we see “Count Eberhard Cutting the Table-Cloth.” The scene takes place in a well-appointed dining room with a guard in armor and two men in medieval costume who sit around a table. The older, bearded man cuts the tablecloth with a knife while the younger man is looking down at a dog.

This sort of historical scene was typical of the paintings produced by the Munich School, one the two main artistic centers in Nineteenth-century Germany. The scene here is a retelling of a famous take as the Count Eberhard II, Count of Württemberg (1315-92) cuts the tablecloth to show his anger with his son. This concept was inspired by a ballad by the poet Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862). Lasch, the artist, has a keen interest in history and the origins of families.

Carl Johann Lasch (1822-1888) was born in Leipzig and was a pupil of the Academy in Dresden and of Schnorr and Kaultach in Munich. After travelling the world, he became a painting instructor in Munich by the 1860s.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Ashbee Peacock Necklace, 1902

The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the early 1900s, C.R. Ashbee, one of the earliest Arts and Crafts designers of jewelry, designed nearly one dozen peacock brooches and pendants. Ashbee began designing jewels in the 1890s and will forever be remembered for contributed one of the key points of the Edwardian middle-class jewelry trade--that the value of jewelry lay in its design, not in the monetary value of the materials used. Personally, I like the expensive materials and a good design both, but I’m more Victorian in my mind-set.

Ashbee strove to design jewels that could be affordable to those not in the aristocracy. Take this pendant for example. Though this peacock pendant is one of Ashbee’s more extravagant creations, it would have been quite modest in price when compared with the heavy diamond-set jewelry of the peerage, gentry and nobility.

Always an admirer of the Renaissance of the Fifteenth Century when the “arts and crafts were one and indivisible,” Ashbee looked to Renaissance artists who were goldsmiths as well as painters, sculptors or architects for inspiration. In 1898, in fact, Ashbee published a translation of the two treatises of Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) on gold-smithing as well as sculpture.

For some reason, Ashbee had a weakness for peacocks. But, many of his period did. He wrote that, “the poor peacock of the Arts and Crafts with its proud tail exploding in fireworks” was a favorite subject because it was a bold, proud, bird which stood out against a drab and hostile world.  Here, he's rendered the bird in silver and gold, set with blister pearls, diamond sparks and a demantoid garnet for the eye, with three pendent pearls.

History’s Runway: The Craster “Great Bird” Gown, 1755

The Victoria & Albert Museum
I’m always amazed when articles of clothing survive for many years, but, to survive for over two-hundred-fifty years in such fine condition is truly remarkable. This formal gown dates to the late 1750s and demonstrates the ornate design of women’s dress at the height of the Rococo period.

The gown is constructed of silk which is brocaded in a pattern of flowers with colored and silver thread. The gown and petticoat take a dramatic silhouette like the plumes of a great bird-- trimmed with silver bobbin lace, and flowers made of ruched ribbons and beads, silk tassels and theatrical feathers.

Clearly, such an elaborate ensemble would have been the stuff of evening dress, dancing, or attending the opera or theatre. This peacock-like dress is said to have been worn by one Mrs. Craster who had, previously acted as a maid of honor to Queen Caroline (1683–1737), consort of George II.

Treat of the Week: Fresh Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Grated Gala apples and the perfect spices make up the batter for these moist, tender cupcakes. They are iced with a thick, creamy cream cheese frosting which is the ideal counterpoint to the mellow spice of the cake.

This past weekend, my mother treated us with the best possible, pre-Thanksgiving treat. These cupcakes have all of the rich flavors of fall with apples and cinnamon, but introduce the spices we associate with the confections of Christmas. A transitional seasonal dessert, with their piped white frosting, they also remind us that winter is just around the corner.

The Art of Play: A Metal Mechanical Toy Turkey, 1948

The Victoria & Albert Museum
When did we, as a collective culture, discover that metal toys might be dangerous? Not before 1948 when this mechanical toy of painted metal was created in German. This colorful turkey was made by the German firm of Blomer and Schüler. Blomer and Schüler, in addition to their own lines of toys like this, made clockwork mechanisms for other companies. The company was best known for its wind-up animals.

This has "US Zone Germany" printed on it—a common practice in post-Second World War manufacture. When wound, the legs move and the tail fans out. Gobble. Gobble.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 399

Adrienne smiled sincerely as she thanked Mama Routhe. “I know that we have caused you nothing but trouble…”

Mama Routhe waved her hand in the air. “Ain’t nothin’, missus. Marjani done tol’ me over an’ over ‘gain how good you are to her. For me, anybody that’s got that much good in her is welcome here whenever they done need somethin’.”

“My husband and I need to search for our child, but we knew we needed a place for His Grace and little Colin to stay that would be out of the way for awhile.”

“Ain’t no one gonna find them here.” Mama Routhe nodded. “Don’t you worry none.”

“Coo!” Mr. Punch said, sniffing the air. “I smell somethin’ what’s got me stomach makin’ some noise, I do.”

“Jus’ makin’ some sausages.” Mama Routhe replied.

“Sausages?” Mr. Punch’s eyes widened happily.

“That’s right.” Mama Routhe shrugged.

“He’ll be just fine here for awhile.” Cecil chuckled in Adrienne’s ear.

Adrienne nodded.

“Mrs. Routhe,” Cecil began.


“Mama,” Cecil cleared his throat. “We’ll return soon for His Grace. We will, of course, reimburse you for your troubles.”

“Ain’t no trouble—now, go on and get out there. Find your baby.” Mama Routhe waved her arms toward Adrienne and Cecil.

“Thank you,” Adrienne said.

“Get!” Mama barked.

Adrienne and Cecil did as instructed, nodding their goodbyes to Mr. Punch who—walking around with Colin in his arms—continued to sniff the air.

“You hungry?” Mama Routhe asked.

“Sure am!” Mr. Punch smiled. “You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but, still, I’m not. Seems to be a lot of bother—bein’ hungry. But, the eatin’ part—well, that’s fine. I got used to that awful fast, I did. See, it’s the eatin’ what’s the best part. Not the bein’ hungry.”

“Uh huh.” Mama Routhe nodded. “I’ll make ya a plate.”

“Thank you very much.” Mr. Punch grinned. “I’d wager me nephew is hungry, too, though he ain’t said nothin’ ‘bout it. He’s one of them babies what don’t talk, see. But, he makes noises and such so I know what he’s after.”

“Some milk for the baby?” Mama Routhe tilted her head to one side.

“Here, that’s be terrible good of ya.” Punch nodded quickly.

“So, you’re some kind of prince or somethin’?” Mama Routhe narrowed her eyes.

“Duke.” Punch replied. “Well…I guess I ought to jus’ say that the man you’re lookin’ at is a duke.” He nodded. “That’s true, it is. This is the body of a duke. See, a duke’s the next thing to a prince. Me mast…er, well, I’d be closer to a prince if I was part of the Royal…” He paused. “Aw, you don’t care ‘bout none of that.”

“You’re kind of…funny.” Mama Routhe smiled.

“Coo! Ain’t that the truth!”

Mama Routhe laughed. “I’ll go get you somethin’ to eat and somethin’ for that baby.”

“Here, that’s a wonderful thing!”

“Ain’t I ‘sposed to call ya somethin’? ‘Your Greatness’ or somethin’.”

“Jus’ call me Punch.”

“What the hell for? That ain’t no one’s name!”

“It’s what my friends call me.” Punch explained.

“What for? You hit people a lot?”

“Well,” Mr. Punch smiled. “I never thought ‘bout it that way. I kind of do, actually. But, that ain’t why I’m called, ‘Punch.’ See, it’s cuz I look like a chicken, I do…”

Mama Routhe fluttered her eyes.

“I had a cousin, see, in Italy. Pulcinello…” Punch continued. He paused and looked at the child he held in his arms. “It don’t matter now. Just call me ‘Punch.’”

“Sure.” Mama Routhe nodded. “I’ll be right back with your vittles.”

Punch smiled at Colin. “Vittles is good, it is. One o’ these days, you’ll be able to chew food like what a man does and you can eat things like I do. Here, I wonder where you get your teeth. Is that somethin’ I should buy for ya?” He reached up and touched Julian’s teeth for a moment. “Mine are stuck in my mouth terrible good. Don’t think they come out. I’ll ask Robert. He’ll know.”

Mr. Punch sighed. “Hated leavin’ me chums behind. Sure hope they’re not in awful trouble, I do.”

Punch settled down on a shabby armchair in the Routhe’s crowded apartment. He hugged the baby close to his chest.

“Only I got a feelin’ somethin’ bad is happenin’.” Punch whispered. “Somethin’ awful bad.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-398? If so, you can read them here.

Her Majesty’s Furniture: A Turkey Work Chair, 1605

The Victoria & Albert Museum

We have looked at “turkey work” before. “Turkey work” is a technique of hand-knotting wool pike in an imitation of Eastern carpets. The “turkey” in question is the country, not the bird.

Chairs of this type were quite fashionable in the Seventeenth Century. In this particular example, the turkey-work cover wasn’t created for the chair, but was, rather, cut down from a carpet of earlier date than the chair.

The curators at the V&A contend that the application of the carpet to the chair doesn’t date to the chair’s 1605 creation. In fact, though the carpet is older than the chair, it appears to have been used as upholstery on the chair in the Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century as a replacement for the original turkey work, which was probably ruined. Doing so would have ensured that the chair maintained a “suitably antique appearance.”

This fine chair comes from Beaudesert, Staffordshire, from a house of Sixteenth-century origins. The house had to be substantially rebuilt in the Nineteenth century. A fire in 1909 destroyed much of the property and its contents. This chair is probably part of those furnishings that were damaged in the fire—explaining the replacement of the turkey work. The house was demolished in 1935 and the historical contents were acquired by the V&A. 

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Mansur Turkey, 1612

The Victoria & Albert Museum

One doesn’t expect and Indian emperor to have a painting of a North American turkey in his collection of art. Yet, in 1612, this painting of a turkey was created for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627).

Emperor Jahangir requested his friend Muqarrab Khan to procure oddities of any kind at the port of Cambay, on the western coast. In 1612, a collection of exotic birds and animals caused quite a sensation in the emperor’s court.

Jahangir wrote: "as these animals appeared to me to be very strange, I both described them and ordered that painters should draw them in the Jahangir-nama ["Book of Jahangir,” the emperor's memoirs] so that the amazement that arose from hearing of them might be increased. One of these animals in body is larger than a peahen and smaller than a peacock. When it is in heat and displays itself, it spreads out its feathers like the peacock and dances about. Its beak and legs are like those of a cock. Its head and neck and the part under the throat are every minute of a different colour. When it is in heat it is quite red - one might say it had adorned itself with red coral - and after a while it becomes white in the same places and looks like cotton. It sometimes looks of a turquoise colour. Like a chameleon it constantly changes colour."

That’s the most romantic and poetic description of a turkey that I’ve seen in awhile.

The painting is signed by the most popular artist of the court Mansur. It was preserved in an album at the request of Jahangir who asked that floral borders be added to it. At some point Jahangir’s great album was dismembered, and the leaves were sold. This page was part of a group of folios bequeathed to the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1921 by Lady Wantage.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mastery of Design: A Bracelet from Queen Victoria's Silver Jubilee, 1862

This bracelet of gold, with enameled decoration, is set with an almandine garnet and pearls and was shown by the Bragg firm at the International Exhibition of 1862, where it was purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum.

This bracelet coincided with the Silver Jubilee of Queen Victoria and also showed the influence the Queen’s personal style had upon the fashions of the day. This was the sort of jewelry favored by Prince Albert who often designed pieces for his wife in earth-tones and materials which reflected the couple’s love of the country.

Antique Image of the Day: The Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 1887

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This color-lithographed invitation card was designed for celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The main image depicts Windsor Castle set in landscape, top right. Images of peoples of the Empire fill the lower left corner set against a backdrop of coconut palm-tree. In two roundels, top left and lower right, are portraits of Queen Victoria at the time of her accession in 1837 and in 1887, respectively.

Sunday Morning Special: Memories of Queen Victoria from Her Granddaughter Princess Alice

Queen Victoria, 1860
Crown Copyright
Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
from The Royal Collection

This is just too, too wonderful. Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Alice, describes life with her famous grandmother. We also get a glimpse of rare moving pictures of the Monarch. What a treat! Enjoy!

Masterpiece of the Week: Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Wallpaper, 1887

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This is fun. I’d like this for my powder room. Here, we see a portion of wallpaper with a design commemorating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887 which incorporates portraits of the Queen with vignettes illustrating the people and the wildlife in the outposts of the British Empire on four continents: Australia, Canada, Cape Colony (later South Africa), and India. The paper is a color print from engraved rollers.

Wallpapers commemorating important historical events and royal anniversaries were frequently produced in the second half of the Nineteenth century. This wallpaper, like other such commemorative papers, is a “sanitary” paper--printed with oil-based colors that were not soluble in water, allowing the surface to be washable. These kinds of papers were made for inns and public spaces more so than the average home. Still, that wouldn’t stop me—even if it would have raised a few eyebrows in the 1890s.

The Art of Play: The George III Golden Jubilee Game, 1810

The Victoria & Albert Museum

I like this. I don’t know how it works, but it looks fun. Here, we see a very, very colorful board game from 1810. It is a continuation of the Historical Pastime game which chronicled English history from the Norman Conquest to the accession of George III. This version of the game celebrates George III’s Golden Jubilee.

The board consists of one hundred fifty playing spaces which detail the major events of the reign of George III. The accompanying rule book, takes a lot of time and effort to praise the king in the most florid of language, but, conversely does not shy away from listing some of the less-than-stellar moments in his reign. I wonder if his insanity is mentioned…

Fun for the whole family!

Coming this Week at "Stalking the Belle Époque" and Punch's Cousin

This week, since Thursday is Thanksgiving in the U.S., Bertie and I will be taking a few days off to eat turkey and pie, and, then, haul all the many, many, many boxes of Christmas decorations out and start the Yuletide thing goin’.

So, we’ll be posting on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday with Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off.

Of course, now that Mr. Punch is here, we’ll have to get him used to the idea of Thanksgiving. I wonder how that will work out. And, I kind of cringe when I think what he might do to the Christmas ornaments, but, one thing at a time…

Object of the Day: A Souvenir of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, 1887

Well, over the last week, you’ve seen a lot of Royal handkerchiefs from coronations and jubilees ranging from George V and Queen Mary to Queen Elizabeth II. They’ve varied in sizes and textiles. But, here’s the mother of them all! This is, by far, the largest in the collection and, certainly, the largest I’ve ever seen.

This handkerchief was produced in 1887 for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria (1837-1887) and it’s huge! It features, of course, a large portrait of Victoria as she looked in 1887, but also images of her throughout her life. Included also are portraits of her many children, and her many Prime Ministers.

I also like that it has been embroidered at some point in its life with a large red “B.” My Bertie tells me that it was in his honor—113 years before his birth.