Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bertie Dog's Surgery Went Well

"God bless us, everyone."
Over a week ago, Bertie--in chasing a squirrel--injured his back left leg, tearing his ACL.  In order to heal and walk again, he needed to undergo some pretty serious surgery.  On Thursday, Bertie came through surgery very well.  He's now home and alert and hungry, and being a very, very good boy.

He has a cast on his leg, but that will come off next week, and in a few weeks, he'll be scampering around as usual.  I want to thank Bertie's surgeon, Dr. Mapes, for doing such a good job and everyone at the Animal Medical Center for taking such good care of my boy.

We're going to rest the next couple of days, but we'll be back online on Monday.  Thanks for your patience!

It seems Mr. Punch has offered up a few things below.  They're mostly puppet-centric as one might expect.

An Update from Mr. Punch

I got me hands on this box what communicates with the world because me Professor is not payin' attention.  See, he's lookin' after the Bertie Dog what's furry and nice.  But, he'll tell ya 'bout that.  I want to help, too, so I thought I would write things like what me Professor does. 

First of all, here's some things like what normally be put up here.

This is a jewel.  It were made by Cartier some time ago like in the 1920s.  It's the sort of thing what me Professor likes.  It's blue and sparkly and made of things whats called platinum, diamonds, onyx and lapis.  I like it.  Looks like a slapstick.  It lives in some place in England--where I come from--what's called the Victoria & Albert Museum.  They got puppets there.  Some of 'em look like me.

This one don't, but it's a similar idea and based on the Commedia dell' Arte like what I am, too.  It is also from the 1920's.  He got strings and is what's called a marionette.  I ain't  I'm a glove puppet.  Poor clown fella got strings, but he's still nice.  He were made by some bloke named Gair Wilkinson.  Best part--he got a stick.  That makes him good, like me.

Speaking of me.  Here I am.  This here is a scrap.  It's paper.  Made in the 1890's.  Got me head, it does.  Nice.

That's the way to do it.

Here, since me Professor's got all sort of things goin' on with the Bertie Dog, we're gonna take today and tomorrow off, too.  But, we'll be back on Monday with all new stuff.  Sparkling stuff, clock stuff, pictures of stuff and pictures of pictures of stuff.  Plus, I'll be back and I'll be in my story--Punch's Cousin.

Where's me sausages?

Lots of sausages for everyone!

Slaps and Hisses,

Mr. Punch

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reminder: We’ll be on Hiatus Thursday and Friday

Bertie and I will be taking a brief hiatus this Thursday and Friday. But, our plan is to be back with our regular updates on Saturday.

In the meantime, there are a few thousand archived posts from this year and last which you can access by the menu on the right side of the screen. Or, you can visit the Punch’s Cousin Chapter Archive to catch up on any chapters you missed.

My new Mr. Punch will be monitoring the site while Bertie and I are otherwise occupied. So, any random posts about sausages, slapsticks, crocodiles, Pretty Polly, the benefits of having a hunchback, alternative child care philosophies, forming friendships with clowns, or in-depth studies on beating the Devil are his doing and I hereby absolve myself of any responsibility.

You’ll be able to tell the difference. Punch’s fingers don’t bend, so his typing tends to be rather sloppy.

Painting of the Day: A Miniature of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, 1902

Watercolor on Ivory Set in Gold with
Pearls and Diamonds
Meant to be worn as a Garter Badge
The Royal Collection
Since we’ve been discussing The Duke of Windsor earlier today, I thought I’d include one of my favorite little miniatures from the Royal Collection. Created in watercolor on ivory in 1902 to commemorate for the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, this miniature by Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908) is set in a pendant brooch with an intricate pearl and diamond Maltese cross border. The miniature was set this way so that it could be used as Queen Alexandra’s Family Order. It hangs from a red and white ribbon.

The miniature was first recorded in the Royal Collection during the brief reign of King Edward VIII who had a lot in common with his grandfather (Edward VII) as far as outlook and lifestyle were concerned (not as far as having a desire to serve his country is concerned). You can actually see the resmblence of the one-time Edward VIII to his grandmother, Prince Alexandra as she is depicted in profile on this miniature.

Mastery of Design: A Man’s Red Spinel and Diamond Ring, 1450

Gold, Spinel and Diamond
England, 1450
The Victoria & Albert Museum
At five hundred sixty-one years old, I’d say this ring has held up rather niceley. The broad, chanelled band on the ring suggests that it was created to be worn on a man’s thumb.

What’s most fascinating about this ancient piece of jewelry from England is the early use of brightly colored stones to contrast against gold and diamond. Originally thought to be rubies, the two pale red stones set in this ring are known as 'balas' or spinels, and are thought to have come from Afghanistan.

The diamond is the perfect example of oen of the earliest known cuts. It is, in fact, half of a natural diamond crystal. This early “cut” is sometimes called a 'point-cut' diamond for obvious reasons.

Precious Time: The Snuffbox Automaton Watch, 1766-1772

James Cox
English, 1766-1772
Enamel, Gold, Hardstone, Glass, Oil Paint
This and all related images courtesy of:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This peculiar item was made by one James Cox who is the best known of the London toymakers. In addition to his range of automata, Cox was also celebrated for his curiosities in precious metals and jewels which also featured his intricate clockworks. According to the V&A, Cox’s tradecard stated that he made, “a great variety of curious work in gold, silver, and other metals also in amber, pearl, tortoiseshell and curious stones.” In 1772, James Cox opened a museum in the City of Westminster to display some of his automata and other curiosities.

Made by Cox between 1766 and 1772, this eleborate snuffbox has been set in the front with a watch and other mechanisms. The rectangular box with gold-mounted hardstone is more tham meets the eye, however. The cover, three walls and base are set with panels of moss agate which is mounted in scroll-chased gold. The front features a bevelled glass panel with a white enamel watch dial.

The back panel reveals some of the box’s hidden secrets. It opens to reveal a landscape painted in oils with two openings through which are visible--when rotated by an inset clockwork mechanism--a man on a donkey, a lady in an interior, a bird in a tree and a hen.

The whole of the box features rims which are is chased with foliage and adorned guilloche.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 317

The scene that Charles saw when he entered that tiny boudoir in Iolanthe Evangeline’s rambling, over-decorated house, didn’t shock him, but did turn his stomach.

Mr. Punch wrung his hands together nervously and chattered wildly. “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.”

“Be quiet!” Charles snapped.

Punch snorted. “Here, you ain’t been very nice to me lately.”

“What do you want me to do?” Charles grumbled.

“Act like a proper footman.” Punch frowned.

“Well, if you’d act like a proper master I might!” Charles shouted.

“I been a good master, I have.” Punch’s shoulders slumped.

“This?” Charles gestured angrily around the room. “This is not being a good master!”

“Ain’t got nothin’ to do with you.” Punch mumbled. “Ain’t like I hit you with no umbrellas.”

“But, you did hit these two women!” Charles pointed to the limp bodies of Agnes Rittenhouse and Iolanthe Evangeline.

“Well,” Punch began to wring his hands again. “I did. Yes. But, what do you ‘xpect? I’m Mr. Punch. When I get cornered I hit people with a stick.”

“You’re not Mr. Punch!” Charles rasped. “You’re not a puppet! You’re a man. You’re in control of yourself. You are the Duke of Fallbridge!”

“Sometimes.” Mr. Punch said angrily. “Listen, I don’t think I like you much no more.”

‘The feeling is mutual.” Charles snapped. “Have you forgotten that your sister is down the hall—out of her mind—and that she needs you? And also that at your home your nephew expects you to rescue him?”

“I ain’t forgotten nothin’?” Punch grunted. “Why do you think I protected me-self. These women were bein’ cruel to me. Seems you forgot that you’re my valet and you’re supposed to help me.”

“Help you with your boots and with your bath—not with this!” Charles said. “You can’t just go around hitting people!”

“I know that.” Punch scowled. “I don’t do it much no more. But, when I’m cornered, well, what am I ‘sposed to do? I’m a good boy.”

Charles moaned. “Are they dead?”

“I don’t know!” Punch shrugged. “I only just hit ‘em with an umbrella.”

Charles sighed and knelt down next to Iolanthe, looking for signs of life. “She’s alive.”

“Ah. Well, then, you see?” Punch smiled. “No harm done.”

“Really?” Charles spat. “Really?”

“What ‘bout the other one?” Punch pointed to Agnes. “She’s pretty old.”

Charles scampered over to Agnes’ body and studied her closely. As he did, he felt a hand on his coat tail and turned quickly to see Iolanthe’s pale face staring angrily at him.

“Oh dear,” Mr. Punch sighed. “Let me get my umbrella and give her another good whack!”

“Don’t move, lunatic!” Iolanthe snarled. “Or I’ll destroy your man!”

Did you miss Chapters 1-316? If so, you can read them here. We’ll be taking tomorrow and Friday off, but come back on Saturday, August 13, 2011, for Chapter 318 of Punch’s Cousin.

Card of the Day: H.R.H. The Prince of Wales

You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the empire, which, as Prince of Wales and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve.
--King Edward VIII

Blah, blah, blah, David. You forgot Britain! You left Britain. And, you broke your poor mama’s heart. How’s that for introducing some Sicilian guilt into the whole abdication kerfuffle? Well, let’s not go on about it. You all know how I feel about King Edward VIII.

Speaking of the one-time Prince of Wales’ mother, Queen Mary, prior to the abdication crisis, she was quite fond of her eldest son and always marveled at his good looks. She didn’t quite understand him all the time. In fact, she had a rather difficult time talking to him. And vice versa. As King Edward VIII, “David” was quite smugly pleased with himself because he thought his mother didn’t know anything about Wallis Simpson because she didn’t mention it. She knew. Of course she knew. She had many, many long meetings with the Prime Minister about it. She just didn’t know how to bring up the subject and hoped that her boy would come to his senses. He didn’t.

Even after the abdication, when Queen Mary’s opinion of her son had cooled considerably, she did often comment on his good looks and marveled that he didn’t appear to age naturally. Was it some sort of Dorian Grey thing? No. He had inherited his grandmother’s genes. Queen Alexandra didn’t age physically either until just before her death.

So, here we have a picture of a baby-faced Prince of Wales who was about twenty-three or twenty-four when this photo was taken. This image was featured in the series of Silver Jubilee cards produced in 1935 by Godfrey and Phillips.

Let’s take a look at this old clip wherein the Duke is recalling his fateful meeting of Wallis Simpson. Looks like his age finally caught up with him. Good.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The Duke of Windsor’s Suit, 1940

Lounge Suit
The Victoria & Albert Museum
I will say that the Duke of Windsor (once the Prince of Wales, and once, for a few months, King Edward VIII) was good for one thing—he did influence men’s fashions for the positive and reintroduced color and pattern to a gentleman’s style. Now, that’s not quite as important as what he should have been doing as King, but I’m glad he didn’t stay on the throne, because he had, or so I believe, some questionable allegiances which might have proven rather disastrous during the Second World War.

And, so, let’s ignore all of that for a moment and examine this nifty suit which is displayed on an appropriately creepy mannequin. This is an example of the sort of “lounge suit” which dominated men's fashion from the 1920s onwards.

The “lounge suit” was worn in lieu of the more formal attire which dominated events for decades. By the 1940s, men were wearing lounge suits with a v-neck pullover sweater in place of a waistcoat. This was a trend that was popularized by the pesky Duke of Windsor. And, actually, it’s a look of which I remain a proponent. Until that point, pullovers were mostly the stuff og informal events and sporting occasions.

This rather loud suit was worn by HRH The Duke of Windsor who chose Wallis Simpson over England (despite his protestations to the contrary) and who traded matters of state for matters of fashion—becoming known internationally as the leader of men's fashion. He had a lot of his grandfather, King Edward VII, in him. He liked a good time and preferred informal fashion over the stiff formality of dress that was considered proper during the reign of his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. The Duke was a patron of the most celebrated London and New York tailors and showed his love of whimsy and adventure by wearing bright colors, strong textures and bold patterns.

This particular suit was only worn a few times by the Duke who eventually gave it to famed photographer and bon vivant Sir Cecil Beaton, who was amassing a collection of fashionable dress for his 1971 exhibition--Fashion: An Anthology. From there, the suit (and many others) came to the Victoria & Albert Museum. I don’t suspect the the Duke’s great-grandmother would have been amused.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Painting of the Day: Tasso Reading Before the Duke of Ferrara, 1815

Tasso Reading Before the Duke of Ferrara
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Here, we see an impressive historical scene by Elie-Honoré Montagny (died 1864). Montagny was born in Paris and studied under the famed Jacques Louis David (1748-1825). He Montagny ultimately traveled to Italy where he was appointed official painter to the Queen Caroline in Naples.

This magnficent canvas is an ideal example of French historical painting from the early Nineteenth century. We see a scene of the Italian author Torquato Tasso reading before the Duke and Duchess of Ferrara. Montagny executes this scene in the Neoclassical manner with his typical accuracy and attention to detail. Furthermore, this work is considered to be representative of the “Troubadour Style,” a subsection of the Neoclassical movement, which focussed on subjects from the medieval and Renaissance times.

Furniture Fashion: Woven Silk and Silver Uplholstery, 1797

Furnishing Fabric
The Victoria & Albet Museum
A stunning piece of textile, this portion of damask upholstery is said to have belgoned to Carlos IV who became King of Spain in December 1788, six months before the French Revolution. King Carlos IV was a well-known connoisseur of the arts, and bult an impressive collection of musical instruments, clocks and paintings. Even though his peeople were embroiled in a series of revolutionary wars outside of Spain, King Carlos continued to spend large amounts of money decorating his palaces.

This textile is attributed to Pernon et cie., the official supplier to the French royal household until 1797. The pattern was designed for Carlos IV and shows the mastery of the weavers skills. The design was made in 1797, yet no trace of the delivery of this order to Spain has as of yet been found in Spanish Royal Archives.

Mastery of Design: An Amethyst and Enamel Brooch, 1900

Child & Child, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This interesting brooch is the work of the jeweler Child and Child, and bears their mark on the reverse--two Cs. The firm was owned by Walter Child (1840-1930) and Harold Child (1848-1915)--brothers who founded their jewellery business in Seville Street, London, in 1880.
The Child brothers were celebrated for their artistic jewellery, and served patrons such as Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, Queen Mary, Empress Frederick of Prussia, and the Tsarina of Russia.

The brooch shows the popular symbol of a snake—in milti-colored enamel, set with a large amethyst and a dangling pearl.

Unusual Artifacts: The Pasfield Jewel, Sixteenth Century

The Pasfield Jewel
Gold, Enamel, Emeralds
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This odd, sparkly little thing dates to the Sixteenth Century and comes from England. Gold, enamel and table-cut emeralds, it takes the form of a pistol. When seen in profile, the ball-shaped end closest to the suspension ring and turned muzzle mimics the looks of pistols made around 1590. Instead of being a pistol, the stock is hinged with three personal instruments: a hooked tongue scraper, a straight spike for picking teeth and a small spoon for removing ear wax. Yummy.
The first mention of the jewel is in the will of George Pasfield from November 8, 1660. Mr. Pasfield was a merchant in south London , who traded extensively with Barbados.

Sadly, the jewel is not in the best of shape though still, as stated by the V&A, “dramatic, beautiful and rare.” It was badly damaged in a house fire in 1817. While the goldwork survived, the enamels, were melted and discolored.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 316

Marie Laveau wrapped her headscarf tightly around her head and studied herself in the smoky looking glass. She wiped away the soot with her hands and scowled at her own reflection.

“Ashes will fall.” Marie mumbled under her breath. She began to rummage through the top drawer of her vanity, casting aside cheap glass bangles and strings of garishly-colored beads until she found the objects for which she was looking. Around her neck she hung a string of orange beads and on her wrists she slipped matching orange bangles. She grinned at her own reflection. “The color of flames,” she whispered.

Spinning on her heel, she shouted for her daughter. “Marie!”

“Yes, Mama,” Young Marie hurried into the room.

“Ya got ‘em ready?”

“Which?” Young Marie asked. “The bodies or the snakes?”

“Both!” Marie growled. “Everything! All of it.”

“Yes, Mama.” Young Marie grinned. “It’s all ready.”

“Good.” Marie nodded. “Now, get the men in order. We got a long way to go!”

At that very moment, at Iolanthe’s bawdy house, Barbara Allen continued to splash in the water of her bathtub.

“Look how clean it is, Charles.” She murmured. “Water makes all of our sins disappear.”

“Not all of them, my dear Barbara.” Charles shook his head slowly.

“What you need is a bath,” Barbara said brightly. “Oh! Let’s call Mala. She’ll pour you a bath, and we won’t charge you a penny. We can consider it a gift. Yes, a gift. You’ve been so good to me, the least I can do is make sure you’re comfortable.”

“I don’t want a bath!” Charles spat. “I want you to come with me.”

“No.” Barbara frowned. “You don’t understand.”

“I don’t.” Charles said softly. He knelt down by the tub and looked Barbara Allen squarely in the face.

“Are you going to kiss me?” Barbara said coyly.

“I want to talk with you.” Charles said evenly.

“That’s all that you’ve been doing.” Barbara smiled. “At least Arthur didn’t talk so much.”

“Barbara, please listen to me.” Charles began, but he was interrupted by loud screaming further down the corridor.

“Charles!” Mr. Punch shouted.

“Stay here, Barbara.” Charles stood up quickly.

“Where would I go?” Barbara grinned madly. “I’m enjoying my bath.”

Charles shook his head and rushed out of the door to find Mr. Punch darting about the passage.

“I done it!” Punch chattered. “I done it!”

“What?” Charles said, taking Punch’s shaking hands.

“I beat them devils!” Punch squealed.

Did you miss Chapters 1-315? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: H.R.H. King George V

After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself in twelve months.
--King George V about his son, the Prince of Wales.

It’s only fitting that images of King George V would be the centerpiece of the 1935 Silver Jubilee card series produced by Godfrey and Phillips. Here, we see the King lookin quite robust in his formal uniform.

When this photo was taken—circa 1934—his health had already been precarious. While the public was aware that the King often experienced bouts of ill health, most did not know the severity of his illnesses.

It was during this period when the King began to realize that his eldest son would not be the best successor to the throne. The King’s prediction that The Prince of Wales would make a Royal mess of his accession proved true, and the Duke of York took Edward VIII’s place as Sovereign.

Though Queen Mary was quite shaken by the death of her husband and the ensuing abdication kerfuffle, she did take comfort in knowing that as King George VI, her second son was fulfilling her husband’s wishes when he took the throne.

Object of the Day Museum Edition: A Photo of King George V, 1928

Photo of King George V
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This photograph from 1928 was taken by E.O. Hoppe for the., Illustrated London News published on November, 26.

A rare glimpse at the King—post World War I—seated at his writing desk, we see the objects which he most favored. His desk is adorned with photos of his family, especially the full-length photo of his beloved wife Queen Mary adorned in her finest jewels.

The King served his Country until his last terrible illness. During this period, Queen Mary quietly assumed much of the Monarch’s responsibilities. His funeral was a day of great national mourning as the nation realized that it was truly the end of an era.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gifts of Grandeur: The Marlborough Great George

The Marlborough Great George
The Royal Collection
One of the magnificent items bequeathed to the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth from her late father, King George VI, was the badge of the Marlborough Great George. This magnificent diamond and precious stone garter badge of St. George had been made for King George IV by an unknown jeweler, but has been altered by both Rundell, Bridge and Rundell as well as Garrard’s.

This badge was worn by King George VI in 1937 and was later worn by Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation in 1953. Her Majesty always wears it on Garter Day and at the State Opening of Parliament. The creation of the badge came about when King George IV noticed one worn by the Duke og Malborough and ordered a copy of the piece made for himself.

The badge was recently on display at Buckingham Palace as part of the 2010 “Queen’s Year” exhibition which gave citizens of Britain a chance to view objects in use by the Queen throughout her faily life in a common year.

Queen Elizabeth II
Sir William Dargie
The Royal Collection

Welcome, Mr. Punch! My New Puppet from Bryan Clarke!

He’s here! Finally! The moment I’ve been waiting for for many weeks has finally arrived. A package was delivered on my doorstep today—one that I’ve been expecting. My regular readers know just how long I’ve been waiting for him.

I opened the door and gasped. There it was—a casket shaped box upon which had been written “To: Mr. Joseph Crisalli—USA, From: Bryan Clarke—U.K. Contents: Puppet.” Yes, he’s here. My Mr. Punch! My very own Mr. Punch—handmade for me by Bryan Clarke—the famous and celebrated “Professor Jingles” who, in addition to his decades of performing has been making the finest Punch & Judy figures in the world.

I knew that my new Mr. Punch would be stunning. But, I had no idea just HOW stunning he would be. He’s gorgeous! Perfect in every detail—from his magnificent costume to his masterfully carved face, hands, legs and exquisite paint job.

I’m one happy puppeteer-in-training today. I just couldn’t be more thrilled. So, join me in welcoming Mr. Punch—all the way from the English coast. I suspect he’ll be joined by a “Judy” in the near future.

I recommend that you visit Mr. Clarke’s Web site to get a look at his unparelled work. Even if you’re not a puppeteer, if you appreciate fine workmanship, the photos of his exceptional puppets are sure to please you!

Three cheers for Mr. Punch! Texas had better watch out! “Yeehaw” and “that’s the way to do it!”

Treat of the Week: Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

These whimsical polka-dot-covered cupcakes are more than meets the eye. Beneath their thick layer of star-piped dark chocolate and vanilla buttercream dots lies an indescribably moist, rich and delicate banana cake.
Banana cake is a favorite in your household and no one enjoys it more than our Bertie. Of course, Bertie can’t eat the chocolate part of the icing, but over the weekend, while visiting my parents’ house, he did indulge in a few bites of the banana cake—lovingly made by my mother.

Not only are these tender cupcakes visually stunning, they’re truly delicious, and, I’m happy to say that I brought the bulk of them home with me. They’re going to be the perfect treat to enjoy tonight while getting acquainted with me new friend—see the post above.

Antique Image of the Day: Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose on a Rocking Horse, 1932

The Royal Collection
Photographer Frederick Thurston took this unguarded photo of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister, Princess Margaret Rose, astride their favorite rocking horse in 1932.

This portrait was taken long before the death of King George V and, certainly, long before the Duke of York imagined that he’d one day be King instead of his elder brother. The photo of the two Princesses was taken in the nursery at St Paul’s Walden Bury, the country home of the Bowes-Lyon family (the family of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) in Hertfordshire. The rocking horse had once been a play-thing of the Queen Mother when she was a girl.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 315

“Let me go!” Punch growled at Iolanthe Evangeline.

“Oh, Your Grace,” Iolanthe laughed. “I hardly laid a hand on you.”

“Shovin’ me ‘round.” Punch shouted.

“You’re nothing but skin and bones.” Iolanthe clucked her tongue. “Isn’t he, Agnes?”

“He always has been.” Agnes sighed. “Poor lad, never would take his food properly. Always off on his own, talking to himself. It grieved his poor mother so.”

“Shut yer gob!” Punch grunted.

“But, it’s true, Your Grace,” Nanny Rittenhouse shook her head. “When I think of all the times your poor mother bemoaned your weakness, well, it simply breaks my heart.”

“What heart?” Punch narrowed his eyes. “You ain’t got no heart! Nor did she—me master’s mum.”

“Such a terrible thing to say.” The former nanny sighed. “However, I shouldn’t be surprised. You always were quite mad. And, now, clearly, you’ve given into completely.”

“You’re a fine one to call me ‘mad.’” Punch grumbled. “So, what is this?” He looked at Iolanthe. “Why’d you pull me in here?”

“I simply wish to talk with you,” Iolanthe shrugged. “I think you owe me that much. After all, thanks to you, I’ve had some considerable inconvenience.”

“You seem to have rallied.” Punch growled.

“I always do.” Iolanthe chuckled.

“So, you want to talk with me? Talk, then.”

“Can’t we find a common ground?” Iolanthe asked. “Your sister has come to her senses and returned to me. She knows the error of her ways. Why can’t you see that I’m not your enemy? If we do this my way, everyone will benefit. Just return the child to me, and then, you and your companion can go wherever you want. I’ll have everything I was promised and you can go one with your life—such as it is.”

“You would do well to listen to this woman,” Agnes Rittenhouse added. “She’s quite reasonable.”

“Listen, you barmy old beast!” Punch spat. “What you think means nothin’ to me!”

“Well,” Agnes sniffed.

Punch looked around the room into which Iolanthe had pushed him and his eyes settled upon a porcelain umbrella stand filled with the shining handles of various umbrellas.

“What are you thinking of?” Iolanthe smiled.

“Nothin’.” Punch lied.

“You’re not thinking about hitting me, are you?”

Punch rushed toward the stand and withdrew one of the umbrellas by its handle.

“Oh, Your Grace,” Nanny Rittenhouse sighed. “You really shouldn’t have done that.”

Meanwhile, further up the corridor, Charles opened the final door and, there, on the other side, he found Barbara Allen seated in her bath.

“Charles,” Barbara mumbled. “You’ve found me.”

“Yes.” Charles said, reaching for a dressing gown on a nearby chair. “Now, hurry, cover yourself.”

“I can’t do that.” Barbara said.

“Why not?” Charles moaned.

“I’m not clean yet.” Barbara muttered.

“You’ve got to come with me.” Charles pleaded. “Your brother is here. We’ve come for you. We’ll take you home.”

“Where’s home?” Barbara asked.

“His Grace’s home. Your child is there. We’ll protect you!” Charles urged.

“No.” Barbara said. “I don’t need protecting.”

“You’ve killed a man!” Charles hissed. “And, one of Marie Laveau’s kin. You most certainly do need protecting.”

“Charles, my love,” Barbara splashed water from the tub at the man. “You are the one who needs protecting.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-314? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth

Wasn’t she cute? You can still see the face of Queen Elizabeth II in this photo from her childhood which graces the eleventh card in the 1935 Silver Jubilee Series by Godfrey & Phillips.

This card boasts a photo taken by the celebrated Marcus Adams in 1934. At this point in her life, Princess Elizabeth had no idea that she would one day be Queen, nor even, that her father, the then-Duke of York would one day be King George VI.

Elizabeth was a favorite of her grandparents King George V and Queen Mary whose Silver Jubilee was celebrated in 1935. When the Duke of York ascended the throne in the place of his elder brother, Edward VIII, Queen Mary took great care in preparing her favorite grandchild for the throne.

When George VI died in 1952, Queen Mary was in her eighties and was experiencing bouts of ill health, yet she was tirelessly devoted to her granddaughter. The Princess was abroad with Prince Philip at the time of her father’s death. When Princess Elizabeth hurried back for the funeral, Queen Mary wished to be the first to greet her grandaughter stating that her “Grannie and loyal subject” should be the first to kiss the new Sovereign’s hand.

By 1953, Queen Mary was dying from lung cancer, a fact that was hidden from the public. In typical form, Queen Mary continued as best she could with her official duties and stated firmly that should she die before the coronation, the even should proceed without any note of mourning. And, so it did.

Thanks to Queen Mary’s advanced preparations, the new Queen’s coronation went off beautifully and was a historic event which would have made her beloved grandparents most proud.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Souvenir Tie from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Though I tend to focus on durable souvenirs from Royal coronations over the centuries, a plethora of ephemeral objects were made as well. Aside from paper souvenirs, fabric items were often produced rangings from scarves and handkerchiefs to tea towels. By the time of the 1953 coronation, a collection of gentlemen’s neckties were designed to commorate the event.

The central tie in this photo in red, gold and blue is part of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection of clothing. This tie was made and worn to commemorate the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The silk tie is printed with a design which is based on the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom and combines the gold harp of Ireland and the red lion of Scotland with the three gold lions of England.

I would wear this tie. I think it’s quite handsome and would be a nice tribute for the Queen’s upcoming Diamond Jubilee.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Chic: A Cocktail Dress by Norman Hartnell, 1953

Norman Hartnell
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This silk and wool faille lined with horsehair cocktail dress is embroidered with sequins and diamanté and was made by Norman Hartnell for Princess Margaret around the time of her sister’s coronation as Queen Elizabeth II.

Norman Hartnell was a favorite designer of both the Queen and her sister. He is best known as the couturier to the British royal family. Duriong the 1940s and 1950s, Hartness designed a colelction that Princess Margaret wore for her official duties.

He made this evening dress for her in a heavy black ribbed silk called grosgrain. He designed it specifically for the Princess's taste for clean lines with a minimum of decoration. In this case, only the shoulder straps are embroidered with silvered beads and diamantés, allowing the skirt to be the most important feature.

Mastery of Design: A Gold and Baroque Pearl Bracelet, 1968

John Donald, 1968
Gold and Baroque Pearls
The Victoria & Albert Museum
When Princess Margaret wasn’t drinking or making people cry, she liked to shop for clothes and jewels. She had her favorite designers. Among her favorite jewelers was John Donald whom we’ve discussed previously regarding his Honeycomb Pendant.
Donald John liked to play with natural shapes and create cutting-edge designs which were reminiscent of themes from everyday life. This bracelet of gold takes the form of a bird’s nest, set with baroque pearls of varying shades.

While this example from the V&A wasn’t made for Margaret Rose, she did have several bracelets by Donald and was a frequent visitor to his shop.