Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Andrew Grima Brooch, 1967-68

Andrew Grima, 1967-1968
The Victoria & Albert Museum
A masterful work of lapis lazuli, turquoise, diamonds and gold, this brooch is the work of Andrew Grima. Rough, staggered gold rays radiate from a central cabochon-cut stone of lapis lazuli. These theatrical, decorative rays are set with cabochon turquoise and seven brilliant-cut diamonds set in platinum.

This is a perfect example of the revolution in jewelry design that occurred in London in the 1960s. Andrew Grima was among the jewelers who championed this revisioning of the jeweler’s art. Grima (1921-2007) was born in Rome and trained in Nottingham. He exhibited in the celebration of contemporary jewelry which was organized by Graham Hughes at the Goldsmiths' Hall in London in 1961. There, he won a series of prizes in the Diamonds International Award competitions, and, in 1966, he was awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Prize for Elegant Design.

Also in 1966, Grima opened his London shop in Jermyn Street where he enjoyed the patronage of the Queen, Princess Margaret and Jacqueline Onassis.

This particular brooch was bought in December 1968 by the director Roman Polanski for his wife, the actress Sharon Tate, to mark their first wedding anniversary. Tate, as we know, was one of those who was murdered by Charles Manson and his so-called “family.”

Painting of the Day: Charles II Giving Audience at Christ’s Hospital, 1680

Charles II Giving Audience at Christ's Hospital
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Here we see a painting that served as a preparatory work for a larger picture whose main theme was the glorification of Charles II (1630-1685). In it, we see the King with the governors, masters and children of Christ's Hospital, a London charity school.

This painting dates to the early 1680s and is the work of Antonio Verrio who was responsible for some of the redecoration of Windsor Castle.

Verrio (ca. 1639-1707) was born in Lecce, South Italy and studied in Naples before travelling through Italy and France where he settled for a while in Toulouse. Later, he went to London where he was commissioned for the decoration of the state rooms at Windsor Castle (1675-ca.1684) and the new state apartments at Hampton Court Palace (1700-02).

At the Music Hall: I Live in Trafalgar Square

Today I've been busy removing, And I'm all in a frigidy-fidge.
My last digs were on the Embankment -
The third seat from Waterloo Bridge.
But the cooking - and O! the attendants -
Didn't happen to suit me so well.
So I ordered my man to pick up,
And a'look out for another hotel.
He did - and the new place is extra, I vow.
Where I'm staying now.


I live in Trafalgar Square,
With four lions to guard me.
Fountains and statues all over the place,
And the metropolis staring me right in the face.
I'll own it's a trifle drafty,
But I look at it this way, you see:
If it's good enough for Nelson,
It's quite good enough for me.

The beds ain't so soft as they might be,
Still, the temperature's never too high.
And it's nice to see the swells who are passing,
Look on you with envious eyes.
And then when you wake in the morning,
Just fancy how nice it must be,
To have a good walk for your breakfast,
And the same for your dinner and tea.
There's many a swell up in Barclay tonight,
Who'd be glad if he only had my appetite.


When I think of those unlucky bounders,
The Morgans and Clarence deClares,
Who are forced to put up at the Cecil,
My tenderest sympathy's theirs!
And to show I'm not selfish or greedy,
I just tell each aristocrat
That I don't mind exchanging apartments,
Now, I can't say fairer than that!
But the soft headed sillies won't hear what I say,
They still go on suff'ring, while I'm all O.K!


“I Live In Trafalgar Square" was written by C.W. Murphy and copyrighted in 1902 by Francis, Day & Hunter. The song was first popularized by one Morny Cash. It is a tale of patriotism turned to irony and cynicism.

Trafalgar Square’s most famous resident is the statue of Horatio, Lord Nelson, Vice-Admiral of the British Fleet whose finest victory was the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in which he was mortally wounded. Trafalgar Square was constructed to commemorate the Battle, and Lord Nelson "lives" on top of Nelson's Column, which was completed in 1843, where he is guarded by the four lions.

The Art of Play: A German Portrait Doll of Queen Victoria as a Princess, 1835

German Wax Doll
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This unusual portrait doll with a solid wax head and outer limbs on a cloth body is said to represent Princess (later Queen) Victoria. She wears a long full-skirted dress of plain ivory-colored silk, with a corsage and head-dress. The doll's petticoat of plain ivory-colored silk is gathered a the waist, and has one vertical seam and a deep hem.

Though the doll is said to be a young Queen Victoria as a princess, it’s important to note that it looks nothing like her. Young Victoria was fair—blonde and blue-eyed—while the doll is dark. Since the doll was made in Germany in her honor, it is understandable that the German maker was not aware of the Princess’ actual coloring.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 362

Shouldn’t we first talk with Mr. Cage?” Robert frowned as Odo ushered him and Marjani up the rear staircase of the Cage’s Royal Street house.

“No need.” Odo shook his head quickly. “Ya gotta go see Mrs. Cage. She ain’t got much time.”

“She’ll keep.” Marjani scowled.

“There’s something very suspicious about all of this.” Robert growled. “The only reason we came with you is that you claimed to know where the Duke’s nephew is. Take us to him immediately!”

“That wasn’t the deal. The deal was that you’d doctor Mrs. Cage, then, after that, I’d tell ya what I know about the boy.” Odo lied.

“We had no ‘deal.’” Robert spat. “Take me to the boy!”

“I can’t.” Odo hissed. “And, keep your voice down, Sir, please.”

“If you can’t take me to him, then, at least tell me where he is!” Robert bellowed.

“Quiet, please, Sir.” Odo hissed again. “I’ll tell ya where the boy is as soon as you look at Mrs. Cage.”

“You don’t really know, do you?” Marjani asked. “You just lied to get us here. You’re a liar, Odo. You always were.”

“I ain’t no such thing!” Odo growled. “The boy’s here! He’s in this house!”

“I knew it.” Robert grunted.

“Wait!” Odo exclaimed, panicking. “I…” He quickly realized what he’d done. In his effort to placate Mr. Cage by bringing the doctor and Marjani, he did the one thing he’d been asked not to do. Odo realized he’d have to act quickly or Mr. Cage would kill him one way or another.

“Please,” Odo said quickly. “Mrs. Cage is a fine woman. Even if you hate me and Mr. Cage and all the rest of ‘em, Mrs. Cage is a good person. She don’t deserve to suffer.”

“Suddenly you care about your mistress?” Robert narrowed his eyes.

“It’s his own pelt he’s worried ‘bout.” Marjani shook her head.

“You gotta help her. Then, I’ll take you to the boy’s room.” Odo said. “I swear I’ll take you.”

“Very well,” Robert drew in a deep breath. “Take us to Mrs. Cage.”

“Her door is the first one at the top o’ the stairs.” Odo pointed. “Jus’ go on in. I’ll let Mr. Cage know you’re here.”

Robert shook his head in disgust. “Fine.” With that, he and Marjani found their way to Corliss Cage’s bedroom.

Once they’d gone inside, Odo spasmed in fright. “I said I’d take you to the boy’s room, but I didn’t say he’d be in there.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-361? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday, October 10, 2011 for Chapter 363 of Punch’s Cousin.

Card of the Day: The Thrones at the House of Lords

As mentioned in the post below, the Sovereign’s throne in the House of Lords was designed by A.W.N. Pugin. The second throne came later, for the coronation of King Edward VII who asked for a second throne be created for his consort, Queen Alexandra.

The throne in the House of Lords is a reminder of the constitutional position of the Monarch in Parliament. The “Speech from the Throne” is delivered from this seat in the House of Lords, a tradition which is still emulated in other Commonwealth Realms.

The Throne as it was during Victoria's Reign, c. 1870

The Throne Today

Object of the Day: Record Drawing of the Royal Throne in the House of Lords, 1901

Record Drawing of the Roya. Throne in the House of Lords
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This is truly a rare treat. Here we see a drawing of the Royal Throne in the House of Lords. This drawing was made by the furniture manufacturers at Holland & Sons to use as a reference. After the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII prepared for his coronation, but wanted to make sure that his consort, Queen Alexandra, would also have a proper, if not smaller, throne. He ordered this drawing to be made of the original Gothic throne that was added to the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster during its rebuilding. The original throne was designed by A.W.N. Pugin who was responsible for the interiors of the palace.

Pugin’s throne was partly modeled on the Coronation Chair (St. Edward’s Chair) and how it must have looked when still painted and gilded. Edward VII wanted Holland & Sons to make a diminutive version of the throne for Queen Alexandra. The furniture makers used this drawing as their reference, but later made minor changes to the design at the request of Edward VII.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mastery of Design: The Apollo Snuff Box, 1753-54

Snuff Box
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Here, we see a rectangular jeweled and enameled gold snuff box with a depiction of Apollo flanked by three putti amid clouds on the top in a sunburst of diamonds.
The figure of Apollo is taken from an engraving by Michel-Guillaume Aubert of François Boucher's Tombeau of Charles Sackville comte de Dorset of 1741. The box’s side panels are enameled with the emblems of the Arts and Sciences.

This is the work of Jean-François Breton (or Lebreton) who was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to Etienne Pollet. In 1772, Breton became prime warden of the Paris goldsmiths guild.

Antique Image of the Day: The Royal Throne and Canopy at St. James’ Palace, 1900

The Throne and Canopy at St. James Palace
Sir Benjamin Stone, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Taken in 1900 by Sir Benjamin Stone, this photograph shows the breathtaking view of the Royal Throne and Canopy at St. James’ Palace as it looked at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign.

The throne, perched high upon its dais, is crisply seen in contrast to the regal drapery behind it. Stone has written the title of the photo and the date on the print.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: Deschars en habit de Polichinel

Deschars en Habit de Polichinel
France, Eighteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Titled, Deschars en habit de Polichinel / au Divertissement de Villeneuue Saint-Georges, this Eighteenth Century French print refers to a character who is very familiar to us. The hooked nose and chin, the pot belly and arching back tell us that the person depicted here is in the guise of Mr. Punch, or technically Polichinelle (Polichinel). Polichinelle is the French version of the Italian commedia dell'arte stock-character, Pulcinella, who developed into Britain’s Mr. Punch when Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660.

Like Punch, Polichinel was a rogue and an anarchist. He is seen here on a balustraded terrace in profile. His face is covered with a grotesque mask and he wears a soft broad-crowned hat with feathers held in a jewel mount.

This is actually a depiction of an actor called “Deschars” in character as Polichinelle. This print was part of a collection of theatrical advertisements which was bequeated to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Friday Fun: Ken Raabe’s “Meet Mr. Punch”

Ken Raabe
Actor and puppeteer, Ken Raabe, introduces is to his Mr. Punch puppet in this video clip from 2006. Though Mr. Raabe leaves out some key information about the Commedia dell’Arte in his description of Punch's origins, he does offer us an interesting, if not unusual, performance. Enjoy!

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 361

Gamilla sat on the floor and nervously wrung her hands together as she watched over the Duke of Fallbridge. This was the first “work” she’d done since she’d accidentally been poisoned and she was still quite tired and ill. Nevertheless, she couldn’t refuse Dr. Halifax and Marjani when they asked her to watch the Duke while they went up the street with Edward Cage’s man, Odo. So much was happening and she felt sorry for the family for whom she worked. They had always been so kind to her. The least she could do was sit with the Duke who lay unconscious on the floor beside her.

Still, she worried. What if something happened to the Duke while the doctor and Marjani where gone. Meridian was resting. Gerard had followed Mr. and Mrs. Halifax to help look for the missing children as had the other servants. She was, essentially, alone in the house with the exception of little Columbia who had been sent back to bed.

What if the Duke had some sort of fit? Gamilla wouldn’t know what to do. What if he awakened while the others were gone? What would she tell him? She studied her employer. Such an odd man. She’d long ago made her peace with the fact that he acted strangely. She accepted that he was two different people on one body. In fact, she actually preferred Mr. Punch to the Duke himself. Sure, the Duke was kind and gentle. But, he was so quiet and sad-looking. Mr. Punch, on the other hand, was full of life—jokes and laughter. He was rough, certainly, but at least he didn’t have the pained expression that the Duke always wore. That face broke her heart. Mr. Punch made her smile.

As he—or they—were, he seemed rather peaceful. He looked, mostly, just like he was sleeping. Gamilla wondered what he was thinking about, if anything. She’d spied Mr. Punch sleeping before—on a few occasions when he’d curled up in front of the fire for a nap with the dog, Toby. In fact, Mr. Punch was rather like a dog himself. He liked to eat and to play and he was always so excited to learn new things. He even slept like a dog, his hands drawn up to his chest like paws, muttering and twitching as he dreamt. But, he didn’t mutter or twitch now—he just lay there. It reminded Gamilla of when her little sister lay dead after a long illness. Her little body was so still.

Gamilla began to panic. What if the Duke was dead? Cautiously, she leaned forward and strained to listen. No. He was breathing. She took a deep breath of relief.

Doctor Halifax had told her to talk to the Duke while he lay there. What would she say?

“Sir,” Gamilla began nervously. “I don’t know what you’re doin’. But, I hope you’re comfortable. What you thinkin’ ‘bout, Sir?”

What did Dukes think about? What did men like Mr. Punch think about? The latter question was easy to answer. Mr. Punch thought about food—biscuits and sausages and warm potatoes. Gamilla could understand that. But, what of the Duke? Did he think about diamonds and gold? Did he think about important problems? Maybe that’s why he was always so sad-looking. As much as she tried, Gamilla would never have been able to guess what Julian, the Duke of Fallbridge was thinking at that moment. Nor could she imagine what was happening inside his mind.

For as his body lay on the floor of the parlor in their borrowed house on Royal Street, Julian was far away—in a vision of his estate in England, side-by-side with Mr. Punch, as they watched long-buried memories unfold before them.

“It’s suddenly gone cold,” Julian said as he and Mr. Punch walked through their imagined world.

“Sure it has,” Punch nodded. “It’s winter now. Just before Christmas.”

“What year?”

“Dunno.” Punch shrugged. “You’re about six years of age.”

“1825, then?”

“Sounds ‘bout right.” Punch nodded. “George is the King. I remember that cuz our pa talked ‘bout him a lot.”

“George IV,” Julian frowned.

“That’s the one. Coo! Ain’t you clever, knowin’ who was King and when and what number George he was, too.” Punch smiled.

“It’s not miraculous to remember the name of the Sovereign.” Julian chuckled.

“It is for me. I don’t pay no attention to such things. I only got one King, Master. And, that’s you.”

“Good heavens,” Julian groaned. “I’m the King of nothing.”

“What kind of talk is that?” Punch asked. “I won’t hear none of it.”

“My apologies,” Julian nodded. “So, it’s the winter of 1825 and we’re at Fallbridge Hall. Where are we going?”

“Here.” Punch pointed.

Suddenly, they were inside the Hall, in the Duchess’ private chambers. Julian cringed upon seeing his mother. She sat in her enormous gilt chair with the bronze mounts of swans for arms. Before her stood young Julian. Punch had been correct. He seemed to be about six years old.

“Stop sniffling!” The Duchess spat at her young son. “You are revolting.”

“I’m sorry, mummy,” Little Julian whispered.

“You’re always sorry about something, aren’t you?” The Duchess sighed.

“I’ll try to be good.” Little Julian continued.

“It makes no difference to me what you do.” The Duchess laughed. “You’re going on an adventure for a few days so that I can have some peace and quiet.”

“Is Papa going, too?”

“No!” The Duchess bellowed. “Your father has better things to do than go to London with you!”


“You’ll go with Nanny.”


“Because I want you to go away.” The Duchess grumbled. “You’ll like London. You’ll see all sorts of things. The Abbey and St. James Palace.”

“I don’t want to see things. I want to stay here.”

“Well, you can’t!” The Duchess snapped.

As they watched the scene in front of them, the adult Julian stepped backwards.

“Somethin’ troublin’ you, Master?” Punch asked quietly.

“I won’t go. Don’t go! Don’t let him go!” Julian pleaded with Mr. Punch.

“It’s too late, Master. It’s already happened.” Punch said soothingly. “All you gotta do is watch.”

“No.” Julian shook his head. “You know what’s going to happen as well as I! Don’t make me watch it.”

“You gotta,” Punch shook his head. “It’s time.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-360? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Throne at Windsor Castle

Thrones, thrones, thrones. Lots of thrones. Lots of thrones, all in different places—all very similar looking. We continue our look at the 1935 Churchman Cigarette Card Jubilee Series with this image which is labeled “The Throne Chair Windsor Castle.” Well, that doesn’t tell me much. There are several thrones at Windsor Castle. This seems to be the only blue one. I can tell by the cipher that it was made for Edward III. So, that helps.

Let’s look at it. Yes, indeed, this chair was made for King Edward III in 1350 and is, technically, the Order of the Garter Throne. As best I can tell, it’s not in use, but it does remain at Windsor Castle. Edward III was born at Windsor Castle and spent a lot of time and money in expanding and redoing the place. This was part of his efforts. He was also the King who established the Order of the Garter. So, this throne was used in the Garter Throne Room which we see pictured below. Queen Elizabeth II uses a different throne in there today. The only photograph I can find of this chair comes from a photographer who has his work heavily copyrighted. I don’t want to irritate him by using his image without permission, so I’ll link to it in case you’re interested.

The Garter Throne Room as it is today.
Images from the Royal Collection.

Object of the Day: A French Mahogany Arm Chair, 1870

French, 1870
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Today, if I seem a little slow in starting, it’s not because I’ve been napping, but rather doing research. We’ll be looking at thrones today. Now, if you thought that the British Monarchy had a lot of crowns, their number is nothing compared to the amount of thrones rattling around in various palaces. Just as I’ve had to pause to figure out which crown I’m talking about, I’ve had to spend some time this morning acquainting myself with the different thrones so I don’t lead you down the wrong path.  They all look enough alike as to be confusing. 

So, let’s start with a throne of sorts—not English and not, technically a throne. Nevertheless, it’s an attractive chair and fits with the day’s theme.

Here, we see an armchair of mahogany with gilt-bronze mounts. The arm supports are designed as winged sphinxes. This chair is the work of the French furniture makers at Jacob Fréres and is stamped as such. It is stenciled underneath with the inventory marks of the Palais de Tuileries and the number 27463. The number refers to its removal to the Garde-Meuble in 1826 from the Chateau de St. Cloud.

What’s curious is that though the inventory marks are genuine, the chair itself is a fake. It is not the chair that was removed from the Chateau de St. Cloud. It is, in fact, a newer chair from 1870 which was built on the frame of a much simpler chair. The original chair was the one which was supplied by Jacob Fréres between 1802 and 1803. Let’s look at the front legs. Aren’t they a bit out of proportion? The legs are, in reality, additions which were stripped from a table which had been built by Jacob Fréres.

In effect, we have a chair built in 1870 which someone has tried to give importance to by using the inventory numbers of an earlier chair built for Napoleon I. So, this is a con job along the lines of something Matt Bomer’s Neal Caffrey would have executed had White Collar been set in Nineteenth Century France. The forgery is quite clever and whoever did it took a great deal of time and effort to make it look convincing. Why? At this point, no one knows. It remains an attractive, if not poorly proportioned, mystery.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Late-Mourning Snack

“Shouldn’t we be sampling wedding cakes?”

Image: Throwing off Her Weeds, Richard Redgrave, 1846, The Victoria & Albert Museum

Mastery of Design: The Medusa Ring, 1580

German, 1580
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This somewhat scary ring of enameled gold contains a layered agate cameo representing the head of Medusa in an oval bezel setting. The shoulders of the ring and the bezel are chased with cartouches, masks and foliage.

The elaborate and colorful setting is typical of South German jewelry made around 1580. The carving of the cameo is quite detailed and fine. This forms part of a collection of similarly disturbing German cameo rings that is housed at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Gifts of Grandeur: An Art Deco Diamond, Sapphire and Emerald Ring, 1920-1930

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Since we’re looking at rings and things with rings today, let’s study this handsome Art Deco creation which may have been made in the U.S. between 1920 and 1930. This ring features a central band of baguette cut diamonds with pointed ends. Above and below the central band is a line of sapphires and emeralds, cut to fit the peaked edge of the diamonds and arranged in blocks of color. This is further outlined by an outer band of brilliant-cut diamonds.

This shows the Art Deco love of the concentration of densely-packed gemstones in a precise geometric arrangement. The color of the stones is allowed to speak for itself, mounted in a discreet platinum setting. Art Deco jewelers loved platinum because its strength allowed minimal quantities of metal to be used, and allowed the diamonds and colored gemstones to have the greatest possible prominence.

Unusual Artifacts: A Belgian Silver Reliquary, 1250-1300

Parcel Gilt Silver Sheeting
1250-1300, Belgium
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This falls into the category of beautifully creepy—a category into which a lot of religious artifacts fall. Here, we see a sheet silver, parcel-gilt reliquary in the shape of a man’s hand wearing a ring, set with mica and a gemstone. It rests on a modern wooden base.

A reliquary is a container for displaying precious relics. Such relics are usually bones, hair or possessions associated with Christ and the saints. Museums and churches are filled with reliquaries which are, in turn, filled with stuff which is purported to have belonged to a notable theological figure. My father and I often joke that there are enough wrist bones of St. Anne in reliquaries around the world that she must have had hundreds of arms and that there are enough pieces of the true cross floating around to construct a bridge across the ocean. Nevertheless, these little fragments are assigned particular value by the faithful and, for that reason alone, are worth preserving and appreciating.

In the Middle Ages, such relics were thought to have miraculous powers and were greatly venerated. The faithful truly believed that by praying near, and, especially, by touching a reliquary that contained something special, they would receive protection against sickness and ill fortune. Sadly, most reliquaries have been stripped of their relics, but the containers themselves, regardless of their religious value, have a great deal of artistic and historical appeal.

Most reliquaries were crafted of precious materials – gold or silver, with enamel or gems – and were made in a variety of forms. Some of them were modeled to represent the saint, or a portion of the saint such as a body part: an arm, leg, head, foot or finger. Others were designed in the form of a temple, shrine or monstrance (from the Latin meaning “to show”), with the relic on view inside a glass compartment.

This particular reliquary comes from Belgium and dates to the mid-to-late Thirteenth Century. It is in the shape of a hand and may have been part of a larger collection of reliquaries which also included an arm. The relics (now lost) would have been visible through the windows in the fingers. You’ll notice that the ring is worn almost at the fingertip. This was a common practice throughout the Middle ages which lasted well into the 16th century.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 360

Well?” Edward Cage barked as his man, Ty Odo, returned from upstairs.

“She ain’t good, Sir.” Odo said with mock concern.

“I know that!” Edward snapped. “What’s wrong with her?”

“Zettie thinks she got the Yellow Jack,” Odo said, biting his cheeks to keep from smiling.

“Damn.” Edward grunted, shaking his head. “Of all the times for her…” He paused. “What do we do about it?”

“Ain’t a lot of doctors gonna come and see her. Most o’ them’s scared o’ the Yellow Jack.” Odo continued.

“Surely there’s got to be one.”

“Only one I can think of is that Doctor Halifax. See, he got that nurse that helps folk that got the fever--Marjani.”

“I can’t have either of those two people in this house!” Edward growled. “You know that!”

“I know, Sir, what with the baby back and all. You don’t want them knowin’ you got their boy.”

“Quiet!” Edward shouted. “Don’t say another word about it.”

“Yes, Sir.” Odo smirked.

“Well, then, what do we do?”

“I reckon, then, we just wait for Mrs. Cage to die, Sir.” Odo’s eyes flashed with glee as he said those words.

“I can’t very well do that.” Edward grumbled. “Can’t Zettie or one of the girls look after her?”

“Zettie’ll stay. She ain’t scared o’ nothin’. But, them other girls, Sir. They don’t want nothin’ for to do with no Yellow Jack. Can’t say as I blame ‘em. But, don’t worry, Sir. A lady as fragile as Mrs. Cage—she ain’t gonna hang on long.”

Edward scowled at his man. “And, you say there’s no one except that Halifax and his nurse who will tend to Mrs. Cage?”

“That’s right, Sir.” Odo nodded.

“The child is in the nursery?”

“Yes, Sir, with Master Orman.”

“Make sure he stays there. Don’t let either of the children into Mrs. Cage’s room. Keep them as far from her as possible. And, send for that Halifax man and his nurse.”

“Is that wise, Sir?”

“Do we have another choice?” Edward shouted. “Just don’t let them see the child. Make no mention of the child and tell the others not to say a word about him!”

“What about Mrs. Cage?” Odo asked. “She’s sure to say somethin’.”

“You leave Mrs. Cage to me.” Edward grumbled. “Now, go! Do as you’re told!”

“Yes, Mr. Cage.” Odo nodded as he backed out of the room.

“One more thing!” Edward shouted.

“Yes, Sir.” Odo bowed.

“If you come back without Halifax and that woman, Mrs. Cage isn’t the only one in this house who will die! Do you understand?”

“I do.” Odo nodded before running from the room.

“Damn it!” Edward hollered, throwing a glass across the room. “Damn you, Corliss! You’ve always ruined everything. I ought to let you die. But, as it is, I need you to live.” He shook his head as he thought about his situation. Should his wife die, he’d be free of her simpering ways and her delicate cooing. But, if she died before her father, he’d have no hope of getting his hands on her inheritance. He counted on that money. The profits from the wax museum hadn’t been what he’d expected, and the plantation was hemorrhaging the coins from his pockets. He needed his wife’s money, and to get it, he needed his wife. “How I loathe you,” he growled.

Lumbering toward the window, Edward thrust open the curtains and watched as Odo ran up Royal Street to fetch Robert Halifax. “I just have to keep them away from the child. I won’t lose him again!”

Marjani answered the kitchen door as Odo knocked on it wildly.

“What you want?” Marjani shook her head at Odo.

“You and the doctor gotta come to Mr. Cage’s. Mrs. Cage done got the Yellow Jack. She needs your nursin’.”

“Can’t.” Marjani said, pushing Odo out of her kitchen.

“Why not?” Odo belched.

“We got troubles of our own here.” Marjani said.

“Like what?”

“None of your business, Odo.” Marjani said firmly. She didn’t see any point in telling him that Cecil and Adrienne were out in the cold looking for their son or that little Colin had also been taken. She didn’t know that the child was back at the Cage’s again. She also didn’t see any reason to share with Odo the fact that Meridian was ailing after being attacked by Agnes Rittenhouse or that the Duke was still lying unconscious on the parlor floor after being struck by Marie Laveau.

“Mr. Cage ain’t gonna like this.” Odo snarled.

“I don’t care what Mr. Cage likes.” Marjani answered.

“That woman’s gonna die!” Odo argued.

“She’s gonna die whether I help her or not.” Marjani shook her head.

“What’s this?” Robert asked as he came into the kitchen.

“Doctor!” Odo shouted past Marjani. “Mrs. Cage, she got the Yellow Jack!”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Robert nodded absent-mindedly. “Marjani, I need you in the parlor.”

“You gotta come to her!” Odo continued.

“I’m sorry, but I cannot.” Robert shook his head, thinking only of Julian/Mr. Punch and how—when or if the man regained consciousness—he would explain that Agnes had taken both Colin and Fuller.

“You gotta!”

“You heard the man, and you heard me!” Marjani said, pushing Odo again. “We can’t!”

“He’ll kill me if I don’t come back with ya!”

“That’s not our problem.” Marjani replied sternly.

Robert sighed. “Listen, man. There’s not much we can do for her. We just nursed a man with the fever and he didn’t survive. Just try to keep her comfortable and…” He paused and shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I just can’t leave this house right now.”

“Is it cuz the child is gone? The Duke’s nephew? The one that Iolanthe Evangeline sold to Mr. Cage all them week’s ago?” Odo asked desperately, knowing he shouldn’t.

“How did you know about that?” Robert asked.

“People talk.” Odo said quickly. “Ain’t nothing that goes on with these folks that I don’t know ‘bout. I know that baby has been taken from this house.”

Robert narrowed his eyes.

“What else do you know?” He asked.

“I know that Mr. Cage’’ll kill me if I don’t come back with ya.”

“What do you know about the child? Two children were taken from here tonight! What else do you know?” Robert stepped forward.

“I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout the other one. But, I can tell you where the Duke’s nephew is.”

“Do it!” Marjani howled.

“Only if the two of you come with me right now.” Odo smiled.

Did you miss Chapters 1-359? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Legend of the Coronation Ring

The fortieth card in the 1935 Silver Jubilee Series by the Churchman Cigarette Company depicts the "Legend of the Coronation Ring" which is also known as the "Legend of St. Edward’s Ring" or the "Legend of the Confessor’s Ring."

The story of Saint Edward's ring was first printed in England by William Caxton, in the "Golden Legende.” As the legend goes, King Edward the Confessor was approached by a beggar, "a fayre old man." Since Edward was unattended and had neither money nor purse, the saintly King removed a ring from his own finger and gave it to the beggar.

Later, two English pilgrims, lost in the Holy Land, met "a fayre ancient man, wyth whyte heer for age,” who asked them who they were and where they were from. When he heard that they were lost English pilgrims, the old man offered assistance and led them to a majestic city where he offered them food and lodging.

The next morning, the old man traveled with the two pilgrims and led them to the right road. As they journeyed he took delight in the pilgrims’ talk of their saintly King, Edward. After awhile, the old man bid them farewell and said, " I am Johan, the Evangelist, and saye ye unto Edward, your kynge, that I greet him well." With that, he removed from his finger a gold ring which they were to give to their monarch on their return to their own country. The old man then vanished.

When the pilgrims returned to England, they took the ring to Edward, who at once recognized it as the one he had given to the venerable, old beggar.

Okely dokely.

This ring is thought to have been buried with Edward in his shrine in Westminster Abbey. Whether or not that’s true or if the ring survives is a matter of debate. Still, the legend of St. Edward's ring is commemorated in three places in the Abbey: over a gate leading into Dean's Yard, in the glass of one of the eastern windows, and on the screen which divides the Confessor's shrine from the Choir.

At some point, a new ring was fashioned which was used for the Coronation of Charles II. " The Wedding-Ring of England, pledge of the Marriage that is made between the King and his people," is placed on the third finger of the Sovereign's right hand during the Coronation.  A different ring with a violet-colored ruby was used for King James II.

A ring has been used in all English coronations since the Tenth Century. The Sovereign’s ring is meant as a symbol is faith which represents the new monarch’s marriage to the nation. During the coronation ceremony, the ring is blessed with two prayers by the Archbishop before being given to the sovereign who is meant to wear it on the right hand. Legend states that the tighter the ring fits, the longer and more successful the monarch’s reign will be. That was a good omen for Queen Victoria who, as we’ve discussed, had the ring jammed on the wrong finger during her coronation. It seems to have worked since her reign was—for now—the longest of any monarch.

Today, the Sovereign’s Ring used at the coronations was made for King William IV in 1831. This is the ring that has been used at the coronation of every succeeding monarch, with the exception of Queen Victoria whose tiny fingers couldn’t handle her uncle’s large ring. The current ring weighs 84.45 carats and is set with a large sapphire surrounded by diamonds. Five rubies are set on the sapphire in the form of a cross. The design represents the red cross of St. George and the blue flag of St. Andrew.

Queen Victoria’s ring was a smaller version of William IV’s coronation ring. Hers weighed 42.74 carats and was of a similar design--set with a large sapphire surrounded by 20 diamonds. Five rubies form a cross on top of the sapphire and 31 diamonds decorate the shank of the ring.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Green Diamond Ring, 1840

Green Diamond Ring
With Rose-cut Accents
Setting, 1840
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Crafted in England in 1840, this gold ring is set with a rectangular, cushion-shaped, light green diamond, surrounded by six rose-cut diamonds. This is another ring from the collection of the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend who bequeathed his unparalleled assortment of gemstones to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Most notable in the Reverend’s collection are the colored diamonds. These had previously been part of the famous Hope collection of gemstones and were later acquired by Townsend. The collection entered the V&A in 1869 and, since then, have attracted the attention of many gemologists because of the fact that their brilliant colors have not been enhanced by any artificial means.

Some of Townsend's Colored Diamonds
As we know, Diamonds occur naturally in a variety of colors: colorless, yellow, brown, black, blue, green, pink, violet and the extremely rarely red. Variations of these colors exist, but are rare. For example, yellow-green or blue-violet stones are quite unusual. This ring has a light green stone with a slight yellow cast to it. Green color in diamonds is caused by prolonged exposure to natural radiation. This radiation, however, often does not penetrate evenly through the stone. Therefore, such evenness in color (especially without artificial enhancement) makes the stone all the more valuable.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mastery of Design: A Gold, Diamond and Enamel Memorial Slide, 1775-1800

Memorial Slide
French, 1775-1800
The Victoria & Albert Musem
This gold brooch with silver-set rose cut diamonds, adorned with a basket of flowers in seed pearls, mother of pearl and gold--mounted on blue enamel—represents the sort of memorial jewelry which was prevalent in France in the Late Eighteenth Century.

Memorial jewelry was designed to honor a lost loved one. Given the mortality rate, memorial jewelry is one of the largest categories of jewels from this era to survive since it was the most prevalent.

Memorial medallions, brooches or lockets was quite the fashion during this era both in France and Britain. Some of them, like this brooch, could be worn in a variety of ways. For example, this brooch is considered a “slide” since it was, most frequently, worn on a ribbon around the throat. These pieces often incorporated the hair of the deceased either displayed behind glass or Stuart crystal or woven and braided into a design amongst the jewels.

Nei-classical motifs of funerary urns, plinths and obelisks were common themes along with the more traditional cherubs, angels and weeping willows. We should note, however, that not all of these pieces were meant as memorial jewelry. Some of it was meant to express love, friendship and devotion for the living and to act as a keepsake.