Saturday, January 21, 2012

Masterpiece of the Week: A Pair of Earclips, 1963

The Victoria & Albert Museum

In 1963, the famed jewelers at Boucheron created these earclips of gold, platinum, turquoises and diamonds. An elegant, timeless design, they could have fit in with any outfit of almost any time period, but they are clearly inspired by the jewels of the 1820s.

The Home Beautiful: The Rudolphi Tankard, 1855

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in 1855 in France by Frédéric-Jules Rudolphi (1808 - 1876), this tankard of silver is set with rubies, ivory and turquoise. The tankard was purchased by the V&A from the Paris 1855 Exhibition for £150 and has been praised for its clear demonstration of Rudolphi’s creative use of motifs based on antiquities.

He based the general shape on similar objects from the German Renaissance as well as ironwork of around 1200. Similarly, Rudolphi shows a Middle-Eastern or Indian influence in his work on the inlay of the drum.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Ashbee Ship Brooch, 1903

The Victoria & Albert Museum

We have previously studied the Arts and Crafts silverwork of English jeweler Charles Robert Ashbee. Here, we see a brooch of gilded silver, gold, enamel and turquoises in his trademark style. This brooch, depicting a ship on stormy seas, was converted from a pendant which had previously been attached to a necklace

The original necklace has been made by Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft and featured many similar pendants which were hung like charms. The motif of the ship was a favorite of Ashbee's who repeated it frequently.

At the Music Hall: Spread a Little Happiness

Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You mustn't sigh and you mustn't cry
Spread a little happiness as you go by
Please try

What's the use of worrying and feeling blue
When days are long keep on smiling through
Spread a little happiness till dreams come true

Surely you'll be wise to make the best of every blues day
Don't you realize you'll find next Monday or next Tuesday
Your golden shoes day

Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You mustn't sigh and you mustn't cry
Spread a little happiness as you go by

I've got a creed for every need
So easy that it must succeed
I'll set it down for you to read
So please, take heed
Keep out the gloom
Let in the sun
That's my advice for everyone
It's only once we pass this way
So day by day

Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You mustn't sigh and you mustn't cry
Spread a little happiness as you go by
Please try

What's the use of worrying and feeling blue
When days are long keep on smiling through
Spread a little happiness till dreams come true

Surely you'll be wise to make the best of every blues day
Don't you realize you'll find next Monday or next Tuesday
Your golden shoes day

Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You mustn't sigh and you mustn't cry
Spread a little happiness as you go by

Surely you'll be wise to make the best of every blues day
Don't you realize you'll find next Monday or next Tuesday
Your golden shoes day

Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You mustn't sigh and you mustn't cry
Spread a little happiness as you go by

Spread a Little Happiness was written by English composer Vivian Ellis for his 1929 musical Mr. Cinders—based on the story of Cinderella. Ellis, known for his musical comedy, is said to have been suffering from a fever of 103 degrees (Fahrenheit) when he wrote this song.

In the original production of Mr. Cinders, the song was sung by Bobby Howes as Jim, but Binnie Hale—pictured here—was celebrated for her recording of the piece. Sting famously covered the song in the 1980s.

Punch's Cousin, Chapter 442

Over my dead body!” Cecil bellowed after Mr. Punch and Robert explained that they wanted to make sure that Mrs. Routhe was safe.

“Just hear us out.” Robert began.

“No!” Cecil spat. His loud voice not only attracted the attention of the other members of their party, but also some of the wind-dried men who stood along the docks. “I will not see any member of this family leave here. Mr. Punch, didn’t you and I already discuss this? I thought you understood.”

“I do.” Punch spoke up. “But, I also…”

“Not a chance!” Cecil growled. “Now, you listen to me, if I have to bind the two of you to that post there I will do it! No one is going anywhere!”

“Cecil’s correct,” Adrienne interrupted, walking over with Fuller in her arms.

“But, Mrs. Routhe…” Punch started.

“She’ll be jus’ fine.” Marjani said, joining the group.

“You of all people should want to see that for yourself, you should.” Punch’s eyes widened.

“Sir,” Marjani shook her head. “Mama done been good to me always. But, she’d be the first one to tell ya that you gotta look after your own family first. Now, I know her. She’s a strong woman. Ain’t nothin’ gonna keep her down—not even Marie Laveau.”

“You saw what she did to Gerry,” Punch said quickly. “Don’t you think she’d do the same or worse to Mrs. Routhe?”

“I don’t.” Marjani replied. “See, Mama’s like me. Marie may want to do her harm, but she knows she can’t—not really.”

“There now,” Cecil grunted. “That’s the end of this discussion.” He narrowed his eyes. “We will not speak of it again. I won’t hear it. I will hear no more talk of Marie Laveau, Iolanthe Evangeline, voodoo or any other thing which might keep us from taking these children aboard that ship and leaving this horrible place behind!”

Robert and Mr. Punch exchanged glances.

“Do you understand?” Cecil demanded.

“Sure I do.” Punch nodded slowly. “Only, you oughn’t talk to me like that. Me nor me chum here—your brother.”

“I don’t do it out of cruelty.” Cecil answered quietly.

“I know. Only he’s your brother and you ought to be more gentle, you ought. And me, well, I know I ain’t really your brother, but you hadn’t ought to shout at me if not just because I’m your friend, but because I’m a Duke and no matter how close we are, I’m still your better.”

Punch fluttered his eyes and stepped backward, confused at what he had just said.

“Here, I didn’t mean that. I ain’t no better than no one else. Don’t know why I said it.”

“It’s true, Your Grace.” Cecil nodded, genuinely apologetic. “My Lord Duke, I am terribly sorry to have spoken to you that way. I should not have taken advantage of our intimacy in such a manner that it would have allowed me to be so disrespectful.”

“No, no.” Punch waved his hands wildly. “Forget I said it. Don’t know what I was thinkin’, I don’t.”

“Forgive me, Your Grace.” Cecil nodded again.

“I ain’t nobody’s grace.” Punch shook his head. “I’m Mr. Punch, I am. Just ‘Old Red Nose’—yer chum.”

“Whether you like it or not,” Cecil said thoughtfully, “the longer you live in this body, the more like a Duke you become.”

Robert squinted at the thought and studied Mr. Punch who caught him looking.

“I’m Mr. Punch.” Punch squawked.

“Regardless of the way you speak,” Cecil smiled. “You’re the Duke of Fallbridge. And, I am honored to call you my friend.”

“Here, you was just lookin’ out for all of us.” Punch muttered, confused.

“Will you all pardon us for a moment?” Robert asked. “I should like to speak to Mr. Punch for a moment.”

“Certainly,” Adrienne nodded as she, Cecil and Marjani returned to the rest of their party.

“That were odd, it were.” Punch shook his head when he was alone with Robert. “I didn’t mean to hurt Cecil’s feelin’s. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else.”

“It doesn’t change the fact that you’re the Duke of Fallbridge.” Robert whispered.

“I ain’t!” Punch argued. “That’s me master what I protect.”

“Is he?” Robert answered, still whispering. “I’ve noticed that the longer we go, the more like Julian you become. Maybe not in manner or in action, but in thought and deed. Who is the master now, Mr. Punch?”

“I dunno.” Punch answered nervously.

“Where is Julian?” Robert continued.

“Same place he always is.” Punch replied, thumping his chest.

“There will come a point when we must…” He paused.


“We’re going back to England. There, you are known. The face and body that stands in front of me are those of the Duke of Fallbridge. You must be prepared, Mr. Punch. If Julian never returns to the surface, you must be prepared to be the Duke of Fallbridge.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-441? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday, January 23, 2011 for Chapter 443 of Punch’s Cousin.

Mastery of Design: The Cartier Owl, 1950-60

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This wise character was made by Cartier in Paris between 1950 and 1960. In the middle decades of the Twentieth Century, Cartier produced a line of avian-themed brooches which symbolized the world mood. During the Second World War, brooches depicting caged birds symbolized the Nazi occupation of Paris while, post-war, more frivolous designs showed a continent on the mend.

This humorous owl was meant to be worn as an informal accent during the day. Made of white chalcedony and gold, the owl’s eyes are Persian turquoise.

The obverse is marked with a “C” and 18 K as well as the following:
'Cartier FRANCE'
'18 KTS' for 18 carat gold
18359 (8 doubtful)

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: The St. Petersburg Turquoise Snuffbox, 1820

This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Russian artisans have always excelled with the concept of the jewel-encrusted box. In the 1820s when the fashion for turquoise jewelry was at its apex in Europe, Russian jewelers adapted the look into a variety of small vessels such as this wee snuffbox from St. Petersburg.

This particular box was a new take on the trunk-shaped caskets which had been popular in Russia at the end of the Eighteenth Century. The shape has been elongated and studded with a beautiful coat of Persian turquoise. The box itself is constructed of gold while the stones are set in turquoise. A diamond-set thumbpiece completes the luxurious package.

This beauty is just one of the many treasures collected by Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde who formed one of the world's great decorative art collections. Arthur Gilbert donated this extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996 and it has been housed at the V&A on public display for many years.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Duke of Clarence and Princess May of Teck, 1891-2

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This handsome locket has nothing to do with today’s theme of Punch-related items, but it does fit into the category of subjects which interest Joseph. I’m sure you’re shocked. Yes, it’s Mary of Teck.

This locket was made to celebrate the engagement of Princess May of Teck (later Queen Mary) and the Duke. But, wait! The attractive gent on the reverse isn’t the Duke of York (later King George V, Mary’s husband). No, he’s the Duke of Clarence—George’s brother to whom Mary was originally engaged. As I’ve noted many times before, The Duke of Clarence died very soon after the engagement, leaving Princess May to marry his younger brother, the future King George V. So, it worked out well. George and Mary were very devoted to one another for the rest of his life.

Nonetheless, this silver locket with photographs of Princess May of Teck and the Duke of Clarence is quite rare and exceptional as souvenirs of their brief, tragic engagement are difficult to come by. A double-sided circular pendant, it is made of silver with the photographs mounted behind glass, and ten balls between two cables which run around the drum. It was made in Birmingham, England around 1891.

The Duke of Clarence and Avondale, Prince Eddy as he was called, on the reverse of the locket.

Princess May upon her engagement to Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale

Princess May upon her marriage to the Duke of York, Eddy's brother, the future King George V.

Gifts of Grandeur: The Punch Tobacco Box, 1880

The Victoria & Albert Museum

It makes sense that Punch would adorn a tobacco box. Many smoking-related items featured Mr. Punch. What I find rather queer is the fact that the lid of this German porcelain and enamel tobacco box depicts a child in a pram. I don’t tend to associate children with smoking. But, maybe that’s just me. Nevertheless, the little girl is a continuation of the theme of cherubic little ladies holding figures of Mr. Punch—symbols of both the angelic and the impish.

This box was made in Pössneck, Germany, ca. 1880 by the manufacturers of Conta and Boehme.

Figure of the Day: Pulcinella, 1755

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Pulcinella and his rival/buddy Scaramouche was and is a staple of the Italian Commedia dell’arte long before he traveled to England where he became known as Punch. As such, he’s been a common theme in the arts for centuries. Here’s an example of an Eighteenth Century depiction of Pulcinella which shows his transition from Italian valet to voice of the British people/murderous scamp.

The figure we see here has been very badly damaged. It was found in the grounds of Holland House, the London house of Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams, who was the British Envoy at Dresden Court in Germany. In 1748, Hanbury-Williams was presented with a host of diplomatic gifts of Meissen porcelain which he kept at Holland House. Three years later, he lent examples of these Meissen pieces to the Chelsea factory in order for them to be copies. This was likely one of those pieces.

Pulcinella stands in his typical dancing pose, with his right arm and left leg raised (the former missing, and the latter broken at the ankle). As usual, he is depicted with his very pronounced hump, a pointed hat and mask, and his trademark hooked nose.

As I mentioned, this was found at Holland House. However, it’s a miracle that it survived. This figure was among several artifacts discovered in the rubble of the house after it was bombed in 1940 during the Second World War. It’s just further proof that Punch always beats the Devil.

Print of the Day: Mr. Punch and the Pug, 1890

The Victoria and Albert Museum

This color print by Henry Gillard Glindoni (1852-1917) depicts a man (maybe a Professor) holding a Mr. Punch puppet. As is often the case with people who possess Punch puppets, he is joined by a companion dog (in this case, a pug) dressed in a ruff. As a Punch and Judy man who shares his home with a dog, I can assure you that this is a common occurrence.

This, too, is part of the George Speaight Punch and Judy Archive.

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Punch's Cousin, Chapter 441

Mr. Punch sat on the edge of the dock, his legs dangling over the side. He closed his eyes and let the salty, cold air blow against his face. For a moment, he considered shielding his borrowed visage from the elements. He had seen what wind and cold did to a man’s face—making it rough and red. And, since the Duke had entrusted the care of their shared body to Punch, he thought that Julian might not appreciate chapped cheeks and premature wrinkles. One thing His Grace was proud of was his youthful appearance. He looked much younger than his thirty and some years and the sharp, raw wind would not help his regal, delicate complexion.

Still, Punch concluded, Julian would not mind a little cold wind—just once. Besides, Punch was tired. Too tired to move at that moment. He sighed, watching the ship in the distance grow larger as it got closer.

Robert very quietly joined Mr. Punch on the edge of the dock.

“I’ve gotten Gerard settled by the fire.” Robert said softly. “Everyone is rallying.”

“Are they?” Punch asked.

“They are.” Robert smiled weakly.

“So, then, chum, everyone’ll be ready to go when the ship arrives?”

“I suppose.” Robert nodded.

“Here, that’s good news.” Punch sighed.

“Marjani has expressed concern about Mama Routhe.” Robert continued.

“I understand, I do.” Punch nodded. “I been thinkin’ ‘bout her, too.”

“She worries that Mrs. Routhe may have received the same treatment that Gerard has.”

Punch nodded.

“We do have time before the ship arrives.” Robert began.

“No.” Punch shook his head. “Ain’t nobody leavin’ here.”

Robert raised his eyebrows.

“Listen,” Punch said thoughtfully. “I know what Mama Routhe done for us. She’s been a true friend and helped when no one else would. I know, also, that we owe her our loyalty, we do. But, we also owe our loyalty to our kin. And, I ain’t gonna risk our departure. Mama Routhe looked after herself long before we got here and she’ll look after herself long after we left. I know that sounds just awful. I know, but that’s the way it’s got to be. Ain’t none of us leavin’ here. We’re all gonna stay together. Cecil once said that sometimes a man’s gotta be selfish in order to protect what he cares about most. It ain’t that I don’t care ‘bout Mrs. Routhe, but I do love this family more. I made a promise what I aim to keep. We’re getting’ on that ship to England, we are. I think Mrs. Routhe would agree with me and I hope you do, too.”

“I don’t disagree.” Robert nodded. “It’s simply that I know it concerns Marjani.”

“Concerns me, too. I don’t want that nice lady to be hurt. Only I can’t think why Marie would have hurt her, so I’m just hopin’ she’ s safe.”

“I can’t think why Marie would have done harm to Gerard.” Robert sighed.

“To send a message to us.” Punch frowned.

“And, wouldn’t she do the same to Mrs. Routhe?”

“I don’t know.” Punch snapped. “What would you have me do? I can’t leave. We gotta stay together! I can’t let you or Cecil go. We can’t risk it!”

“I’m not suggesting that…” Robert began.

“Sorry, chum.” Punch grumbled. “I know I’m bein’ terrible.”

“You’re not.” Robert smiled.

“What you think were in that bag? Did that witch curse the sea? Are we fools to get on that ship?”

“I don’t know.” Robert shook his head.

“The way I figure it,” Punch continued, “we’re gonna have danger no matter where we go, we are.”

“True.” Robert agreed.

“She’s dead, ain’t she?” Punch whispered.


“Mrs. Routhe.” Punch replied quietly.

“I don’t know.” Robert shook his head. “I don’t…I…I hope not.”

“We probably ought to check on her.” Punch mumbled.

“But, you just said…”

“I know what I just said.” Punch threw up his hands. “Only it don’t change the fact that a nice lady risked her life for us and we owe it to her to make sure she’s safe.”

“What happened to listening to Cecil, to being selfish for the good of the whole family?” Robert asked.

“When have I ever listened to Cecil?” Punch grinned crookedly.

Robert laughed. “And, when have I?”

Did you miss Chapters 1-440? If so, you can read them here.

Antique Image of the Day: Punch at Queen Victoria's Delhi Durbar, 1870

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Click to Enlarge

At the 1870 Delhi Durbar, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. The Durbar was depicted in countless paintings and photographs which gave many Britons their first glance at India. Many of the illustrations of the Durbar depicted the Queen as she was named Empress. We should note, however, that Victoria did not attend the Delhi Durbar, and was named Empress in absentia. In fact, she never even once visited India. So, any depiction of Her Majesty in attendance is purely fictional.

This black and white cartoon was first published in the magazine Punch on December 14, 1877. It depicts a procession of exotic animals, produce and people inspired by the Delhi Durbar, but also as an editorial response to problems across the empire. The image, drawn by Joseph Swain (1820-1909). Shows camels, crocodiles and elephants, many of them labeled with slogans referring to problems across Queen Victoria's lands. At the head of the procession is Mr. Punch, riding in a Roman style chariot and dressed in the armor of a centurion—acting in his longtime role as the voice of and protector of the people. Behind him are various government officials and a mysterious figure on horseback wearing the sash of “Europa.”

The cartoon is entitled PVNCHIVS, IMPERATOR. A.D. MDCCCLXXVII ("Punchius Imperator a.d. 1877”). This is preserved in the magnificent George Speaight Punch & Judy Collection at the V&A.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: "The Punch and Judy Show"

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Click to Enlarge

Since Fridays tend to be “Punch-related,” let’s begin with this early Twentieth Century illustration depicting a crowd of people watching a Punch and Judy Show. Appropriately entitled, “The Punch and Judy Show,” this work is by John Hassall (1868-1948) and is rendered in colored ink on paper.

Mr. Punch and his exploits have served as inspiration for many centuries of artists who not only enjoy depicting “Old Red Nose” up to his best (or worst), but have also chronicled the reactions of many generations of Punch’s fans.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: Thank you for Being a Friend

"Didn't Rue McClanahan have the same hat?"

Click Image to Enlarge

Image: Who Can This Be?, Charles Robert Leslie, 1839, The Victoria & Albert Museum

A fan of Bertie?  Make every day a Gratuitous Bertie Dog day with any of our Bertie Dog designs available exlusively in our online shop

Mastery of Design: The Tudor Rose Brooch, 1830-40

This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I know I’ve written about this brooch before, but I really like it and it’s in keeping with the situation today. Made between 1830 and 1840, this brooch is in the form of a Tudor rose. Bright gold, is pavé-set with turquoises, rubies, emeralds and pearls.

When originally made, this would have been the central ornament from a bracelet. Unfortunately, when this section was converted into a brooch, the rest of the bracelet was lost. The reverse of the piece has been fitted with a locket.

Unusual Artifacts: The Prince of Wales Beaker, 17th Century

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in the early Seventeenth Century, this pewter beaker has been molded with ornamental horizontal bands of fruit and flowers. At the front, the Royal Arms of the House of Stuart have been modeled with a crowned Tudor Rose. The reverse bears the three feathers of the Prince of Wales. 

Such a vessel, designed for drinking beer, was probably not made for the Prince of Wales, but rather as an homage to him.

The Home Beautiful: A Heraldic Wallpaper Design, 1902

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This pencil and watercolor drawing is a design for a “Heraldic” wallpaper which depicts an eagle motif, in black and white, topped with red coronets, on a pale ground peppered with Tudor roses. Made in England in 1902 by C.F.A. Voysey, the paper was meant to be produced by Essen & Co. in 1902 for the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 440

Mala limped toward the dark, gleaming door of Iolanthe Evangeline’s boudoir and knocked cautiously.

“Enter, Mala,” Iolanthe growled.

Mala opened the door slightly, poking her homely face into the room.

“What’s my little hobgoblin want?” Iolanthe asked, her voice dripping with faux sweetness.

“I done what ya asked, Miss.” Mala said.

“Come into the room, for Christ’s sake!” Iolanthe bellowed. “I can’t abide that.”

Mala hesitantly entered the room.

“Are you frightened of me, Mala?” Iolanthe grinned, smoothing the satin of her long, lavender gloves. She grimaced as she did since the fabric, soft as it was, still snagged the burns on her hands.

“No, Miss.” Mala muttered.


“Well, yes, of course I’m frightened of ya!” Mala blurted out. “Everyone is!”

“And well they should be. I don’t want you thinkin’ they shouldn’t.”

“Are…are…” Mala began.

“Yes, I’m still angry with you.” Iolanthe replied. “How dare you keep me waiting last night!”

“I’m so, so sorry, Miss.” Mala shivered.

“Well, it can’t be helped. Nevertheless, you may have helped me more than you can know. Your little games with Odo led to Marie Laveau—and, that, though you didn’t know it, was my aim in the first place. So, not only do I know where the Duke and his companions are, I’ve got Marie Laveau on her way.”

“That’s what I came up to tell ya, Miss.” Mala cleared her throat. “She done already come.”

“Wonderful,” Iolanthe grinned. “You’re forgiven.”

“Thank you, Miss.”

“But, if you ever keep me waiting again, I’ll cut off your ears and make you use them as spoons.” Iolanthe growled.

“Yes, Miss.” Mala shook.

“Now, go fetch Marie and bring her to me. Then, bring up the tea. And remember what I told you!”

“Put the solution in the teapot with the roses. And do it myself, don’t let anyone else touch it.”

“That’s right.” Iolanthe nodded. “Now, go!”

Mala shuffled off, closing the door behind her.

Iolanthe sat at her dressing table and picked up her lip rouge, delicately swiping crimson across her lips with her finger. She smiled at her own reflection, the scarlet of her cruel mouth pulling up at the corners.

“Finally,” She sighed. “All these decades will melt away and I will be forever young. With that youth, my son will thrive. This I vow.”

She giggled.

“Ah, Marie Laveau. I hope you enjoy your tea. With each sip you’ll bring me everything I ever dreamt of.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-439? If so, you can read them here.

Obscure Book of the Day: The Queen, Jubilee Number 2, 1935

Yesterday, we looked at the May 1, 1935 issue of The Queen which was a number devoted to the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.  The next issue, May 8, 1935, was also dedicated to the Jubilee and is, again, filled with all sorts of beautiful and interesting ads and articles about the King and Queen.  The look at Queen Mary’s personal art collection is continued and a glimpse at the Royal Family’s dogs satisfies the British ideals of home and family life.  Of note is the petit point pattern of a portrait of Queen Mary and a photo of the finished product.  I don’t do petit point, and at 38, my eyesight is not good enough to even make out the pattern.  But, I think I’ll enlarge it a bit and create the portrait in beadwork.  Because, I just don’t have enough pictures of Queen Mary in my house.

Enjoy this look at this vintage magazine.  It’s in remarkably good condition.  Let’s take a look inside…