Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Townshend Pink Topaz, 1800-69

Rose Topaz Surrounded by 34 Rose-Cut Diamonds
From the Collection of Reverend Townshend,
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s another gem from the collection of Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet, at the V&A. Included in Townshend’s collection are many specimens from the collection of Henry Philip Hope whose assortment of diamonds included the famed Hope Diamond. 

Townshend bequeathed his collection to the V&A in 1869 when the museum was still known as “The South Kensington Museum.” The unusual gems were, in large part, set into rings. This ring features a deep rose pink faceted oblong topaz bordered by thirty-four rose cut diamonds set in silver on an openwork mount. Topaz exhibits a variety of colors. Most common are blue, yellow and brown, however, in rare cases the stone can be found naturally in pink and orange.

The Home Beautiful: Crane's Lily and Rose Wallpaper, 1894

Wallpaper by Walter Crane, 1894
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The celebrated Walter Crane was known for his wallpaper designs. Crane’s papers lined the wall of many a Victorian parlor. Here, we see a design for one of Crane’s papers. This woodblock print on paper is an original sketch for Crane’s “Lily and Rose” paper. A pattern of lilies and roses is set upon foliage against a dark red ground. Made in 1894, this is an excellent example of the color scheme which was popular a the time. The paper was designed to be surmounted by a corresponding frieze or border. 

At the Music Hall: Waiting at the Church

I'm in a nice bit of trouble, I confess;
Somebody with me has had a game.
I should by now be a proud and happy bride,
But I've still got to keep my single name.
I was proposed to by Obadiah Binks
In a very gentlemanly way;
Lent him all my money so that he could buy a home,
And punctually at twelve o'clock to-day-

There was I, waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church;
When I found he'd left me in the lurch,
Lor, how it did upset me!
All at once, he sent me round a note
Here's the very note,
This is what he wrote:
"Can't get away to marry you today,
My wife, won't let me!"

Lor, what a fuss Obadiah made of me
When he used to take me in the park!
He used to squeeze me till I was black and blue,
When he kissed me he used to leave a mark.
Each time he met me he treated me to port,
Took me now and then to see the play;
Understand me rightly, when I say he treated me,
It wasn't him but me that used to pay.

There was I, waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church;
When I found he'd left me in the lurch,
Lor, how it did upset me!
All at once, he sent me round a note
Here's the very note,
This is what he wrote:
"Can't get away to marry you today,
My wife, won't let me!"

Just think how disappointed I must feel,
I'll be off me crumpet very soon.
I've lost my husband, the one I never had!
And I dreamed so about the honeymoon.
I'm looking out for another Obadiah,
I've already bought the wedding ring,
There's all my little fal-de-riddles packed up in my box
Yes, absolutely two of ev'rything.

There was I, waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church;
When I found he'd left me in the lurch,
Lor, how it did upset me!
All at once, he sent me round a note
Here's the very note,
This is what he wrote:
"Can't get away to marry you today,
My wife, won't let me!"

This comic song of a jilted bride was made famous on Music Hall boards by Vesta Victoria (1873-1951), the celebrated music hall singer and comedienne. Miss Victoria, who began her career as a child with her father, performed by affecting a Cockney persona. By, 18982, Miss Victoria was a sensation with her first hit son, “Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow.”

Her deadpan style and tremendous singing voice made Vesta Victoria very popular in both Britain and in the U.S., and by 1907, upon going to America, she was the highest paid performer in Vaudeville.

Painting of the Day: Portrait of an Unknown Woman, 1765

Portrait Miniature of an Unknown Woman
Enamel on Metal
Edward Shiercliffe, 1765
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The art of enameled portraits was first practiced in England in the 1630s by the Swiss goldsmith Jean Petitot who famously worked in the court of King Charles I. Within a few decades, the technique fell out of fashion, but it was reintroduced around 1680 by the Swedish Charles Boit and German Christian Friedrich Zincke--both goldsmiths by trade. 

By the early Eighteenth Century a number of miniaturists offered enamel portraits to their clients as an alternative to watercolor on ivory. While some artists preferred ivory as a medium, others excelled with enamel-work. Edward Shiercliffe, who painted the portrait above was known to have specialized in enamel on metal. This technique, actually, has proven to be more long-lasting than the ivory examples since, unlike watercolor, the color of the enamel does not fade when exposed to light.

The quarter-length portrait in miniature depicts an unknown woman wearing a white hat and gown with two pink roses pinned to the bodice. Pearl earrings and necklace denote her wealth and status. The piece was completed by Shiercliffe in 1765.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 87

Chapter 87: 
My Favorite Story 

Robert slipped into Mr. Punch’s room to find his companion curled up in bed, his arms around Dog Toby.

Grinning for a moment, Robert cleared his throat. “Am I interrupting?”

“Huh?” Punch looked up. “No. Hullo, Chum, when’d you come in?”

“Just now,” Robert smiled, removing his dressing gown and climbing under the covers. “You’ll have to move over a bit, Toby.”

The dog, however, did not move.

“He’s got himself nice and wedged in here.” Punch grinned. “Don’t think he’s movin’ any time soon.”

“Did I wake you?” Robert asked. He reached over and scratched the dog’s belly in an attempt to get him to move. Dog Toby still wouldn’t budge.

“Me or Toby?”


“Nah. I weren’t asleep. I was just thinkin’, I was.”


“Yes.” Punch nodded.

“Well, I mean, ‘about what were you thinking?’ Dear Punch.”

“Oh, all sorts of things.” Punch mumbled.

“Are you feeling well, my dear?”

“Sure, Chum.” Punch replied.

“I don’t know about you, but all our hiking the last two days has made me quite weary. It’s nice to be tired from doing something enjoyable instead of being fatigued from tragedy.”

“I should say so.” Punch answered. “I tol’ ya. Somethin’ ‘bout the air here makes ya sleep better. Colin fell right asleep, he did. And, he didn’t do all the walkin’ what we did.”

“It’s grueling work being pushed in a pram all day. It’s quite taxing.” Robert joked.

“I ‘magine it is.” Punch smiled. “Here,” he sat up slightly—causing Dog Toby to roll over a bit—“I think Gerry and Gamilla enjoyed their outing today.”

“I’m sure of it.” Robert nodded. “They are rather sweet together, aren’t they?”

Punch grinned.

“We must make a point of asking Charles to come with us tomorrow.” Robert continued.

“That’d be good.” Punch responded. “And, then, we should do somethin’ for Speaight and Mrs. Pepper. Oh, I know!” He chirped. “We can ask Speaight and Mrs. Pepper to take tea with us in the garden to discuss the further plans for the Servants’ Ball. Course, we’d have to ask Mrs. North, too, but I think she’d like it. The Grange has been without a master for so long, I s’pect she’ll like to be included.”

“A good idea,” Robert agreed. “However, I have a feeling that Mrs. North will fancy us quite uncouth for socializing with the staff as we do.”

“She’ll get used to it.” Punch sighed. He rolled over and began to hug the dog again.

“Dear Punch,” Robert said softly. “Something is troubling you.”

“Not really.” Punch shook his head. “Not really troublin’ me. Like I said, I’m jus’ thinkin’, I am. Ain’t nothin’ to bother you ‘bout.”

“Very well,” Robert sighed. He changed the subject. “How do you think Finlay did at tea?”

“He was fine.” Punch muttered. “I prefer when Gerard and Charles do it.”

“I was surprised that Speaight let him serve alone.” Robert continued.

“Me, too, Chum.” Punch sat up again. “He did well ‘nough.”

“You make a good point about the household having been without a master for so long.” Robert began. “I imagine the staff is so accustomed to being on their own, they’ve forgotten what it’s like to actually serve someone. I think Finlay is relaxing a bit.”

“It’ll take some time.” Punch replied. “After all, it’s been, well…” he thought for a moment. “The last our pa was here was before his first expedition to Egypt. And, I hadn’t come for a couple years before that. I s’pect they was worried when pa was killed in France—thinkin’ maybe I’d close the house all up. But, I hope that they realize that they’re all gonna be here for a long time to come.”

“I think that your idea for the Servants’ Ball has shown them that.”

“Hope so.” Punch sighed. He looked over at Robert. “Chum?”


“’Member when we was talkin’ today with Gamilla and Gerard?”

“I do.”

“You said that I always try to find the good in people. Like what I do with Miss Barrett.”

“You do.”

“But, so do you.” Punch responded thoughtfully.

“Not really, my dear.” Robert chuckled. “I’m much quicker to make up my mind than you are. I’m more prone to react and to hold a grudge.”

“Don’t you recall when we was on the ship?”

“I recall both times we were on a ship together. Well, all three if you count the time we boarded a ship only to have it burn around our heads.”

“Coo!” Punch put his hand over his face. “That were terrible. But, I mean when we was goin’ to ‘Merica.”

“Of course.”

“You remember the day you told Julian ‘bout, well…’bout me and how he was two men in one.”

“I do.” Robert nodded.

“He’d just learned that our pa was killed. It were too much for ‘im, poor bloke and he went inside our body and, frankly, never came out ‘gain. Not for long anyway.”

“That’s true.”

“Well, Chum, I weren’t the man what I am today. I was all puppet then—wantin’ to hit folks with sticks and throw bodies into the sea. I was always yellin’ or scrappin’ or fussin’.”

“Or singing.” Robert chuckled. “One of the first things you ever said to me was “Want to sing with me?’”

“Sure was.” Punch smiled. “But, you didn’t judge me for it. You found the good in me and, cuz ya did, I’m what I am today. More man than puppet. A father, a companion, a friend, a master. A jeweler for the Queen and Prince Consort, even. Most folk would’ve let me die, but you stuck by me. Remember? You said you was me ‘champion.’ And, you were. You are and have been.”

“And always will be.” Robert said softly. “Just as you’re mine.”

“So, it ain’t true what you said. You, too, find the good in folk.”

Robert shook his head. “I’m learning to, yes. But, Dear Punch, you can’t really compare my reaction to you to my opinion of, say, Miss Barrett.”

“Why not?”

“The major difference being that I was in love with you, even then.”

“You were in love with Julian.”

“At first.” Robert sighed. “I thought so. But, I soon realized that it was you with whom I’d fallen in love. Julian’s looks, yes, but your spirit.” He patted Punch’s hand. “So, you see, you can’t compare the two situations. I only love you. And, furthermore, you acted as you did because that’s all you knew. You had no other experience. You were, in some ways, like a child. But, as you developed, you learned different ways to cope.” He sighed. “Miss Barrett is a grown woman and should know better than to act as she does sometimes.”

“I guess.” Punch nodded.

“Did it bother you when I said that I thought you were quick to find the good in people?”

“Dunno.” Punch shrugged. “I guess I was worried because it made me think that you don’t know how kind and generous what you are your own self.”

Robert smiled. “Whatever good there is in me, my dear, is only because I have you in my life.” He chuckled. “Even if Dog Toby won’t get out of my way and let me near you.”

Punch giggled, but his smile quickly faded.

“Something else has been bothering you.” Robert whispered. “Tell me.”

“I can’t, Chum.” Punch replied softly. “Cuz I truly don’t know what it is me-self. I just get a funny feelin’ sometimes like maybe…” he shook his head. “Like maybe there’s somethin’ what’s waitin’ to do us harm.”

“I think it’s natural you should feel that way after what we just left behind in London. Let’s not forget, it’s not been so very long since you were poisoned. We’ve only just begun to recover from finding Mr. Stover’s corpse at our front door. I think that anyone would be rattled by that. I know I have been. You know I’ve been having awful dreams.”

“I know, Chum.” Punch answered compassionately. “Tell you what. You sleep now and I’ll watch ya. I’ll make sure nothin’ comes near ya.”

“You need to sleep, too.”

“Not so much as you do.” Punch shook his head.

“How about we both sleep? Dog Toby will protect us.”

They both looked at the slumbering terrier and chuckled.

“Or not.” Robert smiled.

“I’ll try to sleep.” Punch said after awhile. He glanced at the nursery door which was slightly ajar. “Maybe I should look in on Colin.”

“I’m sure he’s sound asleep, Dear Punch. If he were awake, we’d hear him.”

“I s’pose.” Punch shrugged.

“How about I tell you a story,” Robert suggested.

“I like when you do that.” Punch grinned.

“I know.” Robert settled back onto his pillow. “Now, once upon a time, there were two men. Together, they sailed on a huge ship to a strange place. They knew each other, but they didn’t. But, they both knew that they were all they had in the world…”

“This is my favorite story.” Punch sighed.

“Mine, too, dear Punch.” Robert grinned. “Mine, too.”

Little did they know, but on the other side of the nursery door, Finlay stood very still—listening to their every word as Ellen loomed over Colin’s crib. She looked first at the sleeping baby and then up at her half-brother. She grinned and nodded as Finlay approached the crib.

Did you miss Chapters 1-86 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 88.

History's Runway: Monte-Carlo; La Ligne Flèche (The 'Arrow' Line), 1956

Monte Carlo Gown
The Arrow Line
Christian Dior, 1956
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Designed by Christian Dior (1905-1957) in 1956, this short dress was worn by Laurie Newton Sharp, then-News Editor for Harrods during the store’s promotional goodwill tour to America. Press at the time described Newton Sharp as “the sort of impeccably elegant woman who carries an invisible mirror with her.”

Harrods News Editor described her much-admired personal sense of style thusly:

“I prefer to have a few good basic clothes, and then to be extravagant with hats and gloves. I would not buy a material that creases; or an accessory which did not match; or a colour which did not suit me. This means that when I begin to dress I can’t go wrong.”

And, she meant it. Newton Sharp was not shy about her clothes and had no problem making sure that each garment was perfect. For example, this dress was originally designed in plain white silk. Mrs Newton Sharp asked Dior to make a version for her in this custom-ordered, expensive floral print to suit her coloring. A top-coat of plain pink silk satin was added to the outfit.

The one-piece strapless dress of chiné rose patterned cream silk taffeta is lined with voile and draped at the bust and fitted at the waist with a slightly flaring skirt. The draping is held by a long bow which flows into the skirt. A heavily-boned bodice and stiffened petticoat help maintain the shape of the garment from beneath.

An article in The News Chronicle, May 7, 1956 recounts the visit:

She has the ‘secret of elegance' 
by Jean Soward. 
For grand summer occasions - a rose print short evening dress, with its own topcoat of rose pink organza by Dior (London)".
"I am taking no furs and no jewels… And my clothes are all off-the-peg - Dior (London) and Horrockses; I doubt if one can do better"... "For the American tour, Mrs. Newton Sharp will take lots of dresses with matching coats or jackets.. all by John Tullis at Horrockses. The London-made Dior clothes, too, are mostly two-pieces"...

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for G. Schindler & Co.

Click image to enlarge.

We’ve previously looked at another Victorian trade card from Portland, Oregon-based G. Schindler & Co. The company specialized in furnishings and was known to mail these cards to potential customers, especially those who had just moved to the area or who were known to have remodeled or redecorated their homes.

The cards which were used by the Schindler concern were fairly standard stock cards, printed on the reverse with a letter of introduction. This one features a handsome vase of pink roses which would have appealed to those who collected such trade cards in albums. 

The reverse reads:

->> OFFICE OF  <<-
G. Shindler & Co., 
165 & 167 FIRST STREET

Portland, Ogn.,……………….188

Dear Sir;
     As you may soon be in need of
goods in our line, we most respectfully
call your attention to our large and varied
stock of parlor, bedroom, dining,
library and office furniture. Lace and
Nottingham curtains, carpets, oil-
Cloths, mats, rugs, wall paper &c.
     It will be a pleasure to us to show
you through our warerooms, giving
prices, or making estimates for work
to be done.
                                     G. Shindler & C0.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mastery of Design: Comesso Pendant with a Female Bust, c. 1550

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

Made between 1550 and 1560, this French comesso pendant of gold, amethyst, carnelian, Burmese ruby, garnet, and Colombian emerald was acquired by Caroline, Queen, consort of George II, King of Great Britain (1683-1737).

The first official mention of the jewel in the Royal Collection is shown as being recorded in 1755, and describes the piece as a “bust with a cap set wth jewells one out the shoulders amethest the plate gold.” It is said to have been located at the time in “the seventh drawer of a cabinet at Kensington Palace.”

The female bust is rendered in low relief, in profile to the right. Her head is made of carnelian and her long curly hair is a mass of chased gold. Amethyst forms her tunic which is fastened with a brooch over her right shoulder. A gold, feathered turban set with a ruby, two garnets and an emerald graces her head. A punched gold background with a corded gold wire rim sets off the figure. A fleur-de-lis adorns the bale.

The reverse of the pendant is decorated with a cartouche of strapwork in translucent dark blue, red and green enamel.

The pendant is one of a group of commessi which has been attributed to a French workshop at the court of Henry II. In this sense, the term “Commesso” refers to a pendant or badge in which a cameo or fragment of a cameo is combined with gold to form a head, figure or scene.

The cameo used here is an Italian piece dating to the Sixteenth Century--possibly the profile of the Lydian queen, Omphale.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

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.  Yes, it's another long one.  Here we go... No cheating...

Though it be cold, I wear no clothes,
The frost and snow I never fear;
I value neither shoes nor hose,
And yet I wander far and near:
My diet is forever good,
I drink no cider, port, nor sack,
What Providence doth send for food,
I neither buy, nor sell, nor lack

And, the winner is...

Dashwood who answered "Fish."  Many thanks to everyone who answered with special mention to April, Darcy, Shawn and Gene!  Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles!

Mr. Punch wants you to always know “the way to do it,” so why not check out our “That’s the way to do it!” products which are available only at our online store?

Drawing of the Day, Part II: The Discovery of the Tomb of Punchinello, 18th C.

Clock image to enlarge
The Discovery of the Tomb of Punchinello
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Eighteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This Eighteenth Century drawing by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) is something of a mystery. We’ve examined several drawings by Tiepolo previously. He often found inspiration in the characters from the Commedia dell’Arte, especially Pulcinella (Punchinello) and frequently depicted Mr. Punch’s ancestors in multiples and family groups.

This work of pen over red chalk has long been referred to as “The Discovery of the Tomb of Punchinello”—an English attribution, after-the-fact, based on Tiepolo’s other works more so than any context given in the piece itself.

The front of the drawing depicts a group of four men watching three others raising the slab of a tomb. The recto depicts Death giving audience.

Obviously, this is a study for a painting. Curators at the V&A--where this lives—have long thought that the piece was an early idea for Tiepolo’s “Scherzo No. 17” which was officially entitled “The discovery of the tomb of Punchinello.” The central figure is shown in a Franciscan habit, suggesting that, perhaps, a miracle of St Anthony of Padua was the inspiration for the scene.

Print of the Day: Sheet music cover for "The Punchinello Quadrille," c. 1850

Punchinello Quadrille
Britain, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

“The Punchinello Quadrille" was written by Henri Bohlman Sauzeau. Dating to about 1850, this sheet music cover for the popular song was published by W. Strange & Co. and the Musical Bouquet Office. The front cover depicts a scene of a Punch and Judy show above the music for the quadrille. The verso contains the first page of music for "The Magistrate" and "The Dog."

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 86

Chapter 86: 

Mr. Punch looked up at the pine trees which surrounded the little clearing where he, Robert, Gerard, Gamilla, Colin and Dog Toby had stopped. “Coo!” he murmured.

“What is it, Dear Punch?” Robert asked.

“Don’t got green like that in London.” Punch smiled. He took Colin’s wee hand in his own and pointed upward to the trees. The child, who sat in Punch’s lap, followed his hand with his eyes. “Look at them trees, Colin.” Punch grinned. “That color is what’s called green. Can you say green?”

“Punch.” Colin replied firmly.

“Good enough.” Punch chuckled.

Gerard and Gamilla spread a multi-colored quilt over the pine needles which covered the deep-brown earth. Kneeling down, Gamilla began to arrange, on the quilt, the carefully packed items which Mrs. Pepper had gathered for them in a large wicker basket. She couldn’t help but smile at the array of delicacies which Mrs. Pepper had packed: boiled eggs, brined olives and pickles, a dense cake of cherries and brandy, little sandwiches of rich chicken paste and finely-chopped nuts on brown bread, oranges, grapes and candied fruits glistening with sugar. Carafes of wine and fruit juice were joined by a tea kettle and small burner, a tea pot, an earthenware container of milk, and a delicate tin of Colin’s favorite biscuits. Wedges of cheese had been wrapped in a crisp white cloth as had a loaf of fresh, crusty bread.

“Look at all that,” Mr. Punch chirped gaily.

“I’m starved,” Robert nodded. “All this walking. I don’t recall ever eating this much.”

“You gentlemen are gonna enjoy this.” Gamilla began.

“We’re all goin’ to enjoy it, Gamilla.” Mr. Punch smiled.

“Oh, Sir.” Gerard shook his head. “We couldn’t.”

“Of course you can,” Robert interrupted. “You can and you will. We invited you to join us, and we want you to sit and enjoy yourselves.”

Gerard and Gamilla exchanged glances.

“You’d best do as the doctor says.” Mr. Punch teased. “You know what a temper he’s got.”

“It’s true.” Robert replied, deadpan. “I’m an ogre.”

Gamilla sniffed.

“I know what you’re thinkin’.” Mr. Punch said quickly.

“Sir?” Gamilla’s eyes widened.

“You was thinkin’ ‘bout Iolanthe Evangeline.” Mr. Punch nodded.

“I was.” Gamilla sighed. “’The Elegant Ogress.’”

“Sure made us suffer, that one.” Mr. Punch mumbled. “But, it’s all in the past.”

“Yes, it is, Sir.” Gamilla nodded, settling onto the quilt next to Gerard who had already made himself comfortable.

“I’ll make the tea, Your Grace.” Gerard volunteered.

“Thank you, Gerard.”

Gamilla began to remove the teacups which had been packed into the basket. She chuckled.

“What’s funny, Gamilla?” Robert asked.

“There’s four cups.” Gamilla grinned. “I reckon Mrs. Pepper knew you’d invite us to join ya.”

“She’s a wise lady.” Mr. Punch replied. “So, Gamilla, what do ya think o’ Scotland? I know you ain’t seen a lot of it what with bein’ in the nursery most of the time in place o’ Miss Barrett. But, you seen a little now.”

“It’s beautiful, Your Grace.” Gamilla sighed contentedly. “Reminds me a bit of some o’ the land in Marionneaux only—well…it’s so tall here. I mean, it’s high up. And them mountains, Sir…” She shook her head. “You know, Sirs, I done seen a lot o’ the world. From Africa to America and now to England and Scotland. I never thought it. Never, never. I’m a very lucky girl. Most girls like me never get to see a thing. But, thanks to you and Dr. Halifax, I done seen mountains and oceans and palaces. I’m sleepin’ in a castle! A castle. Like one o’ them princesses in the stories Colin likes me to read to him.”

Robert nodded. “His Grace has made a lot of things possible for all of us.”

“Ah,” Punch shook his head. “I ain’t done nothin’.”

Robert patted his companion’s knee and shook his head. “You’ll never understand.”

Gerard cautiously reached for one of the small sandwiches.

“Go on, Gerry.” Punch giggled. “We want you to eat.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Gerard answered.

Gamilla looked at him with pride.

Gerard blushed. “This has turned out to be a fine day.”

“It’s one I know I’ll always remember. I’m gonna write ‘bout it in my journal.” Gamilla said softly.

“You keep a journal, Gamilla?” Robert asked. “I didn’t know.”

“This will be the first day, Sir. Miss Barrett gave it to me.”

“How nice,” Robert replied, trying to mask his distaste for anything related to the governess. “Gamilla, I think that’s a grand idea. It’ll be good for you to write down your thoughts. I’ve kept a journal since I met Mr. Pun…errr…His Grace. I enjoy looking back at the times we’ve shared and recalling what he said and how he looked.”

“Do you keep a journal, Your Grace?’ Gamilla asked.

“No.” Punch shook his head as he offered a biscuit to Colin. “Not writin’. I do draw pictures to remember times. I got all sorts of sketches of this and that. I’ll prob’ly sketch this little picnic later.”

“I wish I could draw like you so, Sir.” Gamilla smiled.

“Well, maybe you can.” Punch responded. “If you try. I’ll give you a sketch pad and some colors. Who knows? With that and the journal what Miss Barrett gave ya, you may have a beautiful record of your excitin’ life. It’s somethin’ what could be of use to other girls like you sometime in days to come.”

“A charming thought, dear Punch.” Robert said affectionately.

“What made Miss Barrett give ya such a thing?” Gerard asked. “Seems like an awful nice thing for her to do for no reason. Never really thought of her as too generous.”

“She’s my friend, Gerry.” Gamilla said softly.

“I know, she is ‘Milla. I don’t mean no harm.”

Gamilla nodded. “I seen her in her room readin’ one of her own journals and she gave me one of my own.”

“See?” Punch nodded. “Miss Barrett does have her kind moments. I know she’s been strange lately, but she’s always been so good to Colin.”

“She’s just not too nice to you, Sir.” Gerard frowned.

“Only a couple o’ times.” Punch shook his head.

“Do you think she’ll be terrible sick for much longer, Dr. Halfiax?” Gamilla asked nervously.

“I certainly hope not.” Robert shrugged. “It would be nice for her to return to her duties so that you can enjoy some of your time here more.”

“Oh, Sir.” Gamilla shook her head. “Ain’t nothin’ I like more than bein’ with Master Colin.”

Punch nodded. “That’s true, it is. I seen how you love him. I can’t thank you enough.”

Gamilla looked down modestly.

Punch and Robert watched Gerard gaze at the young woman with palpable affection. The two men exchanged amused glances.

Robert took a deep breath and cleared his throat. “I must say, dear Punch,” he began, “that this holiday was very much needed. I’m very glad that you suggested it.”

“Well, Chum,” Punch answered. “Can’t wait for life to give us the peace what we need. We gotta take it when we can. So, here we are. I’m feelin’ better. Colin seems to like it here. Got you to wear a kilt. I think the staff is enjoyin’ their time. You are, aren’t you, Gerry?”

“Yes, Sir.” Gerard replied thoughtfully. “I think it’s lovely here. It’s so big. I’ve gotten lost in the castle more than once.”

“You’ll get used to it.” Mr. Punch chuckled.

“Will we stay here long, Sir?” Gerard asked.

“You miss London, don’t you?” Robert smiled.

“I like the house in Belgrave Square, Sir. I like when it’s just us downstairs and you and His Grace upstairs.”

“Belgrave Square is my first real home, too.” Robert nodded. “I understand what you mean.”

“Please don’t mistake me, Your Grace. I’m so happy to be here.”

Punch held up his hand. “No reason to ‘xplain, Gerry. I know. We’ll go home soon. Maybe in another two weeks. But, I think we needed this break, we did. If it helps, I miss our house in London, too. But, we got lots to do here, too. And, if we wait a little, all the fuss what we left behind will have died down. I think two weeks is ‘nough. By then Their Majesties are gonna want me back and, the Queen will want Dr. Halifax to look in on her, I’m sure.”

Robert sighed. “It seems so far away. Last night, I awoke and…” Robert flushed slightly. “I became alarmed. I…had had a nightmare about you being ill. Whoever poisoned you, dear Punch. I…”

“But, I’m well, Robert.” Mr. Punch interrupted.

“I know.” Robert said quietly. “I had to…I…had to look at you…I…” He looked awkwardly at Gerard and Gamilla.

“Sir, we know you sleep in the Duke’s room.” Gerard chuckled.

Robert blushed. “And, it’s not just the Duke’s illness. All of that foolishness with Hortence and…Mr. Stover. Just such a tragedy.”

“And, that Roger Barrett.” Gerard grumbled.

“Yes, Mr. Barrett, too.”

“I gotta say, Sirs, Miss Barrett ought to be more grateful for all you done for her family.” Gerard frowned, pausing to take another bite of his sandwich.

“Oh, I think she’s grateful.” Punch said. “I don’t think she’s used to folk helpin’ her out. I don’t think she knows how to show her gratitude so well. Some people don’t.”

“You always find the good in people.” Robert replied affectionately.

“Try to.” Punch shrugged. “It ain’t always easy. We four, and Charles, too. Only we know what kind of monsters we faced in America. It weren’t so easy to find good in some o’ them folks—like that ogress what Gamilla just remembered. But, even the most wicked has a shred o’ somethin’ decent in ‘em. Look at Marie Laveau, Chum. She turned out to be our friend.”

“True.” Robert nodded.

“But, let’s not dwell on them folk.” Mr. Punch sighed. “Presently, we’re in a good place. We got friends and food and safety.” Punch chortled. “Look at Dog Toby, then. That’s the way to do it! Layin’ here in the sun, lettin’ me feed him little morsels. Sniffin’ the air. We should be more like Dog Toby. Always happy to see what comes next, but more so content with what he’s got.”

“I think I’m a lot like Dog Toby, Sir.” Gerard smiled slightly.

“You’re jus’ as scruffy.” Gamilla teased.

“Not so much as I used to be.” Gerard replied, rubbing his chin. “Rather miss my beard.”

“Not me.” Gamilla shook her head.

“I thought you liked how it tickled.” Gerard joked. He then looked shocked at what he had just said in front of the masters. “Oh…I…”

Punch laughed.

Gerard took another sandwich. “I’ll, uhhh…pour the tea, then.”

“That’ll be fine, Gerard.” Robert winked.

A cool, stiff wind, blew across their picnic. Punch squinted and shivered slightly, wrapping his coat around Colin who remained in his lap. He looked up at the rustling pine needles and, for a moment, went pale.

“Punch?” Robert looked up.


“Are you unwell?”

“No, not at all.” Punch smiled weakly. “I…I was just remembering somethin’. But, I don’t know what. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.” Robert nodded.

“Do you want to walk back, Sir?” Gamilla asked.

“No.” Punch shook his head. “I’ll drink me tea and all will be well. Ain’t gonna let a little breeze ruin our outing.”

Robert studied his companion.

“I’m fine.” Punch whispered. “I promise.” He grinned broadly. “Now, everyone better eat what they want cuz I’m ‘bout to start and there may not be nothin’ left by the time I’m done.”

The other three chuckled.

Mr. Punch tried to hide another shiver as he reached forward to fill his plate.

Did you miss Chapters 1-85? If so, you can read them
here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 87 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square.

Drawing of the Day: Da Vinci's Pulcinella, c. 1490

Fragment of a Drawing of Pulcinella by Leonardo da Vinci, 1490
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

From the Royal Collection, here’s a very interesting pen and ink drawing. Created in 1490, here is Leonardo da Vinci’s idea of Pulcinella’s traditional grotesque visage.

The work was acquired by Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85), who purchased it from Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel. The early history of this fragment is unknown, really. By 1582, it was in the collection of Francesco Melzi from whose heirs the drawing was purchased by Pompeo Leoni. How the piece came into the hands of the Earl of Arundel us unknown. Da Vinci depicts Pulcinella in profile to the left. Only this fragment—with odd intersecting lines drawn on the verso—remains of the original drawing which is believed to have been from da Vinci’s “Codex Atlanticus,” folio 173 verso-a.

At some point in the last five-hundred and some years, someone--while cataloging this in the Royal Collection--wrote a number on Pulcinella's chin (either 29 or 24).  Why?  I'm sure Queen Mary would have clobbered them if she knew.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Object of the Day: A Mr. Punch "Go to Bed," c. 1870

We’ve looked at two of the vesta cases in my collection of Mr. Punch-related antiques. As you know, a vesta is a match-safe and was used to keep matches dry and unbroken.

This is a cousin to the vesta. This type of item is called a “Go to Bed.” Here, we have a figure of Mr. Punch (he’s missing his hat/the top of his head and his right arm). His left arm is extended and, he holds a small receptacle in his hand. A lit match would have been placed in his left hand—staying lit just long enough to get a person safely up the stairs to bed. In the days before electricity, and, even before the proliferation of gas-lighting, these “Go to Beds” would have been left at the base of the stairs, allowing an individual to extinguish the candles in the house, but still have a little light to keep from stumbling. They weren’t always Mr. Punch, but, rather came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Of course, you know why I wanted this one—even missing a limb and part of his cranium.

Speaking of his cranium, at one time, his wee hat was hinged, revealing a compartment for the storage of matches. 

You may wonder what's going on with him.  Well, my father kindly made a base for Mr. Punch, and, now he's upright again.  Since he had a large hole in his head, I thought it might be cute to allow his "ideas" to come out.  So, now, from his head now blooms a bouquet of trade cards--all related to Mr. Punch.  

By the end of the Nineteenth Century, many of the Mr. Punch-related figures were converted for another use. Tubing was inserted through the base, making these sculptures into gas lighters which were used in pubs and taverns.

And so, we say..."Good night, Mr. Punch."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: The Village Bertie

"My daddy gives me more than wood shavings to play with.  We have lights, too."

Image:  The Village Turner, Joseph Hornung (1792-1879), Switzerland, c. 1850, Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend to The Victoria & Albert Museum.

You can see Bertie each day when you purchase one of the adorable "Bertie Dog" designs from our online store.  Whether you chose Bertie as "Dog Toby" or the "Gratuitous Bertie Dog Face," he's sure to brighten your day!

Mastery of Design: Bracelet with a Miniature of Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, 1836

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

A masterpiece of filigreed gold mounted with turquoise, this bracelet from 1836 boasts a watercolor on ivory miniature of Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. The bracelet was given as a gift to Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, the mother of Princess Mary Adelaide and grandmother of Queen Mary (1867-1953). When the Duchess of Cambridge died, the bracelet, among many other jewels, was bequeathed to Queen Mary. 

The moulded gold bracelet is pierced with foliage and Greek key borders. The domed openwork cover is set with turquoise and contains the oval miniature of Princess Mary of Cambridge at about two years of age. She is wearing a white dress with blue sash and blue ribbons at the shoulders.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

Sculpture of the Day: A Bust of the Duchess of Teck, c. 1857

Bust of Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck
Baron Carlo Marochetti, 1857
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Sculpted in 1857 by the Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-1868), this marble bust depicts Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the Duchess of Teck (1833-97).

The bust was commissioned as a gift from the Duchess of Teck to her friend Lady Marian Alford. As was often the case with objects related to the Royal Family, many decades later, Queen Mary managed to get the Alford family to return the bust to the Royal Collection. Her Majesty wrote of the bust thusly when entering it into her catalog:

Marble bust of the Duchess of Teck, as a young woman with roses in her hair and double string of pearls around her neck.  She looks to her right.

The catalog also contains a notation copied from the memoirs of the Duchess of Teck wherein Princess Mary Adelaide describes her delight at her visits to Marochetti’s studio in June of 1857 to sit for the bust. Queen Mary, after being introduced to the sculptor by her mother, had long been an admirer of Marochetti who had been one of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s favorite sculptors and from whom they commissioned fifteen works.

Years after this bust was created and, then, returned to the Royal Family, when Marochetti’s grandson visited Buckingham Palace, Queen Mary took delight in showing off this bust—her favorite—to the young man, making sure that he knew how much his grandfather’s work was appreciated and that the bust was one of the highlights of her monumental collection.

Antique Image of the Day: A Photo of Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck

Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck
England, 1890
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This photograph by an unknown person dates to about 1890 and shows Princess Mary Adelaide, the Duchess of Teck (1833-1897).

The mother of the future Queen Mary has been posed, facing three-quarters, with a lace shawl draped over her head. Princess Mary Adelaide wears a pearl earring and a sumptuous diamond necklace comprised of crescent shapes.

The photo once belonged to Queen Mary, and now, is part of the personal collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 85

Chapter 85: 

Finlay didn’t knock when he entered Ellen’s room. The intrusion caused the governess to gasp, closing the Duchess’ journal quickly and grasping it to her bosom.

Finlay grinned at his half-sister. “Startle ya, lassie?”

“What do you think you’re doing, then?” Ellen snapped as Finlay shut the door. She put the journal down next to herself on the bed.

Holding up a silver bowl of grapes, Finlay winked. “I brought ya some comfort. Your Mrs. Pepper, with the Duke’s permission, sent one of the girls to the village to fetch these for ya, my dear. It’s from all yer friends downstairs.”

Ellen chuckled.

“I volunteered to bring them to the poor, sick governess. After all, I’m so sturdy and strong. No fever could get to me.”

“Oh, yes, Finlay. You’re the picture of masculinity.”

“Some think so.” Finlay winked again.

“Does the mad Duke?”

Finlay shrugged, sitting on the edge of Ellen’s bed.

“Get up!” Ellen barked. “What if someone were to come in and see you sitting here?”

“Sister, dear.” Finlay growled. “There’s not a soul in this house who would think I meant anything untoward to you.”

“Maybe so.” Ellen sniffed. “But, it’s not proper.”

“You’re suddenly worried about being proper?” Finlay laughed, standing up. “Oh, you are a fine one to talk, lassie. Were you so concerned ‘bout propriety when you were wakin’ up next to the Baron Lensdown?”

“About as concerned as you were when you awoke in the bed of the Earl of Clophworth.”

“I never fell asleep, so how could I wake up?” Finlay smiled.

“I’m not as interested in your former conquests, Finlay, as I am about your present amorous adventures. Has the Duke noticed you?”

“No.” Finlay sighed. “He only has eyes for the doctor. Frankly, I can see why.”

“You’ve not been trying, then.” Ellen frowned.

“I certainly have.” Finlay retorted. “He’s either very loyal to his middle class companion or he’s too daft to know when he’s been presented with an easy opportunity.”

“How have you approached him?” Ellen asked.

“With my usual charm.” Finlay grinned.

“He doesn’t respond to charm. The man is guileless. He only reacts favorably to obvious truths and, often, nostalgia and innocence. Have you reminded him that you used to watch him when you were both boys here? Have you suggested that you’ve fancied him for many years? There’s a certain attractiveness to the idea that all those years ago, you—an older, handsome boy—found him appealing.”

“I’ll try it.” Finlay replied aloofly. “There’s a truth to it. I did used to fancy him. When he was a young man of sixteen and I was twenty, I’d follow him around. I don’t think he ever noticed it. I don’t think he ever noticed anything. There were days when he was visiting here with Sir Colin when he didn’t come out of his rooms. Sometimes, when he did, he had such a blank expression that it was if his body was being propelled by another being altogether. Those were the days when he’d spirit himself away to the tower. He’s just stand up there and look out at the estate. Even as a small child. Several times, I tried to engage him in play. He didn’t seem to understand. I thought, at first, that he was being snobbish—not wishing to be involved with the son of the groundsman, but I soon realized that he was utterly unaware of anything outside of himself. I always rather pitied the lad.”

“And, that, Finlay, is exactly what you should say to him.”

“Oh?” Finlay laughed. “I’m sure that’ll charm him. ‘Your Grace, when we were both lads, I noticed, even then, that you were barmy.’ No doubt, he’ll fall into my arms in appreciation.”

“No, no.” Ellen shook her head. “You should seem as if you’re troubled. And, when he asks—and he will--you should tell him that it’s difficult to be different. I’ll wager that he’ll very quickly try to comfort you, telling you how he, too, is different and that it’s possible to be happy. He’ll wish to protect you. It’s his weakness. He can’t help himself. With that, you will be introduced to ‘Mr. Punch’ and he’ll begin to relax his guard. That’s how I did it.”

“There’s a difference, lass, between wishing to protect me and wanting to…”

“Not necessarily.” Ellen snorted.

“He’s utterly devoted to the doctor.”

“Fine, then.” Ellen scowled. “If that fails, work on the doctor. He’s quick to anger—a sure sign of passion.”

“You’re full of ideas, dearie, but not so full of practical knowledge. The two of them are always together-except when they’re dressing, and, then, either Charles or Gerard is with them.”

“I’ve told you how to get by that.”

“And, I’ve tried.” Finlay said. “But, just as loyal as the two lovers are to one another, their men are equally steadfast. Neither Charles nor Gerard would ever miss a chance to serve their masters.”

“Gerard is a drunk.”

“Reformed, my dear.” Finlay shook his head. “I attempted it.”

“That African fool has told me—out of her deep concern—that her dear Gerard had tried to become intoxicated off of medication which the doctor had given to Charles. If you can’t get him to take a drink, try medicating him.”

“How, exactly, should I do that?”

Ellen’s eyes widened with delight. “The only time that I can recall Charles or Gerard ever missing a moment with their masters was when they were injured. Charles missed a day when he broke his wrist and Gerard did as well when he’d been struck in the head. Should they both be injured, Charles would be unable to attend the Duke and Gerard would have a need for the medication which he seems to enjoy so much. Then, you could have access to both of the masters.”

“How do you suggest that they’re both injured?” Finlay squinted.

Ellen smiled. “The Servants’ Ball…is it still planned for next week?”

“I imagine so. The Duke will finalize the plans for it this afternoon when he speaks with Mrs. North and Mr. Speaight.”

“There’s your opportunity.” Ellen nodded.

“How so?” Finlay asked.

“Leave that to me.” Ellen grinned. “Now, get out of here before you’re missed. Come back tonight after everyone’s gone to bed. I’ll have your answer for you. In the meantime, try your best to get closer to the Duke.”

“I’ve been told that I’m to serve tea with Speaight this afternoon.” Finlay boasted. “Instead of Charles and Gerard. It seems the master wish to give me a chance, and to make me realize that I’m respected.”

“Good.” Ellen nodded. “Do as I instructed.”

“You’re not very polite for a governess.”

“And, you’re not very honest for a footman.”

“I suppose it’s family tradition.” Finlay chuckled.

“To hell with family tradition, Finlay.” Ellen answered. “It’s sheer necessity.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-84 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 86.