Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Regency Fabrics, Part 23

Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics.

As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like.

Today’s four samples are from the  November 1811 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is excellent; the page itself is free of foxing and is only slightly toned, and the fabrics themselves seem to be in excellent condition as well.

Here we go!
No. 1.  A fawn-coloured lustre for evening or half-dress. This appropriate article has not before been introduced of this becoming and delicate shade. It is usually trimmed with swansdown, or other light skin, or with falls of thread lace; and is sold by Mr. George, No. 19, Holywell-street, Strand. 

My comments: Oh, lovely! This appears to be a woven silk of a slightly uneven but still beautifully smooth hand, and the color is indeed becoming. I’m sure it drapes very well, and while fairly opaque, would do best over an underskirt.

No. 2. A new sea-weed printed cambric, whose warmth of colouring renders it particularly adapted for the approaching winter season.  It is calculated more immediately for the domestic or morning robe, and is worn with lace cuffs and frill. Sold by Waithman and Son, corner of Fleet-street, Blackfriars.


My comments: Heh—another vintage quilting fabric look-alike, looking very American Civil War era to my eyes. The weave is smooth and even and the printing very sharp and precise.

No. 3. A checked ladies’ Merino cloth for habits, German coats, pelisses, &c. It is similar to that represented in the walking figure of the present Number of this work. The trimmings most fashionable and consistent for coats of this article are, Spanish silk braid and frogs, with divers kinds of fur, happily contrasted with the colour of the cloth.


My comments: A cozy, lightly flocked woolen, not so heavy that it wouldn’t fall nicely. Very curiously, while the check pattern isn't visible to the naked eye, it can been seen when scanned. I cannot tell if the square pattern was woven in or printed as it just doesn't show up in person; also, the scan makes it look like the contrasting check is a sort of faded acid yellow, which is not apparent in regular light--the fabric appears a uniform vanilla color.


No. 4. A Persian kerseymere, worked in tambour, first introduced in this country by the late Persian ambassador, and is much in vogue with our male fashionables. Some gentlemen trim the waistcoat, formed of this unique article, at the collar and breast with a border or edging of sable; it has a most comfortable and becoming effect during the winter months. This article, together with No. 3, is furnished by Messrs. Maunde and Co. wholesale and retail drapers and mercers, in Cornhill.

My comments: Similar in texture but slightly lighter in weight that the woolen in No. 3...but that yellow...and the black, white, and orange pattern...! The yellow is brighter in natural light than it appears to be under the scan. I’m trying to picture a gentleman’s waistcoat made of this and trimmed with fur, and expect that Beau Brummel would have had to have a brief lie-down in a darkened room with a cold compress on his forehead had he spotted one of his friends wearing it.

And an interesting side note on this month’s samples: in the next month’s issue is a note that reads We forgot to mention in our number for November that the Persian Kerseymere, No. 4,  furnished us by Messrs. Maunde and Co., is worked in tambour by a society of unfortunate, but industrious French immigrants, residing in the west of England. An interesting footnote on many levels...do I feel a story coming on about an impoverished but nobly-born French emigré and the foppish earl who falls in love with the fabric of his new waistcoat and moves heaven and earth to find out whose dainty hands stitched it? Stay tuned...

Any thoughts on this month’s fabrics?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Never Kneel

To a Knight, that is! I’m excited to report that the 5th book in my Fortune’s Brides series, Never Kneel to a Knight, is now out in ebook and print and available at fine online retailers.

When the thoroughly poised Charlotte Worthington requests that Miss Thorn and her cat Fortune find her a position, she never dreams the savvy employment agency owner would reunite her with Matthew Bateman, her brother’s former bodyguard. Matthew is about to be knighted for an act of valor, and he and his sisters could use some polishing if they’re to enter Society after his elevation. Yet how can Charlotte maintain her calm, cool demeanor as their sponsor when she harbors a secret love for him?

Matthew Bateman cannot forget the beauty who is miles out of his league. Once a boxer called the Beast of Birmingham, Matthew would like nothing better than to be worthy of Charlotte’s hand. As old enemies and new ones attempt to bring him low, can Matthew prove to Charlotte that their love is meant to be?

Here’s a little taste:

Charlotte inclined her head. “Our approach for your sisters is settled, then. What about you?”

Matthew frowned. “Me? I’m fine.”

She was watching him. “You’ve been told what will be expected of you at the prince’s levee, then?”

By no less than three lords, all of whom had seemed certain he’d embarrass himself even with their wise counsel. He shrugged. “More or less.”

She puffed out a sigh. “Come now, Beast. You must know there are expectations for your behavior.”

He could feel his frown deepening. “Like what?”

“Like introductions, for one. How do you bow to the prince?”

He rose and inclined his head.

She stood and put her hand on his shoulder. “Deeper. He is the sovereign.”

“And I’m a knight,” Matthew reminded her. “Or I will be soon. Don’t I deserve some dignity? If you’re supposed to keel over for a kingly sort, do you at least kneel to a knight?”

“Never,” she said. “Your obeisance is tempered by the elevation of the person you are greeting. Knights, even the hereditary ones, are at the very bottom.”

“No, that’s reserved for us common folk,” he said.

Either the tone or the look on his face must have said more than he’d intended, for her eyes dipped down at the corners, and she removed her hand from his shoulder. “Now, then, you and your sisters may need to brush up on Society’s expectations, but you know many things I’ve never been taught.”

“Like what?” he asked, struggling to see her as anything less than perfect.

“Like boxing,” she said with certainty.

Matthew snorted. “Fat lot Society needs to know about that.”

“Some know far more than they should,” she informed him primly. “But my point was that you are an expert in that area. For example, how would you go about besting me?”

His brows shot up. “What? You think I fight women?”

She laughed, a warm sound that made him want to move closer, as if he’d stepped through the door of his own home for the first time in a long time. “No, of course not. But you must have a strategy. Appearing before the prince is no different. You have to know what you hope to achieve.”

Matthew stuck out his lower lip. “All right. But when I fight, I mostly think about staying alive, avoiding injury.”

She frowned. “All defense? No offense?”

“Well,” he allowed, “I did have one particular move that served me well. I can take a punch better than most, but if a fellow was especially trying, I’d wrap him up.”

“Wrap him up?”

“Yeah, like this.” He reached out and wrapped his arms about her, pinning her against his chest. Her eyes were wide in surprise, but he didn’t see any fear in the grey. She fit against him as if she’d been tailored just for him.

He knew he should let go. Yet everything in him demanded that he hang on, hold her close, all the days of his life, no matter the cost.

Kobo 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Children of George III: Ernest


It’s been a while since we’ve met another one of George III’s numerous brood. As it happens, we’ve already met this particular son. But I’m getting ahead of myself...

The king’s fifth son and eighth child, Ernest Augustus, was born on June 5, 1771 at Buckingham House. His childhood seems to have been uneventful; it was spent growing up at Kew with his numerous siblings and sharing a household with his two younger brothers, Augustus and Adolphus. Ernest was a handsome, boisterous boy; unlike most of his brothers, he would never become corpulent, but remained lean his whole life.

At fifteen and still with his two younger brothers in tow, Ernest was sent to study at the University of Göttingen in Hanover, and received his earliest military training there as well. By 1792 he was commissioned as a cavalry colonel, being an excellent horseman and shot, and went on to fight against the French in several battles over the next few years, receiving a saber wound to his head (that would eventually result in a loss of vision in one eye) and other wounds. Though he would continue to serve in the military for another twenty years, returning to the continent and eventually attaining the rank of field marshal, his battle days were past.

However, his interest in politics was just beginning. When his father awarded him the title of Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale in 1799, he took his seat in the House of Lords and actually got involved. A dedicated Tory unlike his brothers Prinny and the Duke of York, he voted against bills for Catholic Emancipation and other liberal legislation and became a leader of the conservative end of his party. Also unlike his brothers, he was circumspect in his personal habits, which may have backfired on him as he acquired a reputation as a sinister figure who preferred to enjoy his vices privately. Rumors likely circulated by political opponents whirled around him, reaching their apex in the scandal around the death of his valet, Joseph Sellis.

The army and politics kept him sufficiently busy until 1813, when he became smitten by a cousin, Princess Frederica of Meckenburg-Strelitz. Though she was already married, the marriage was not a success and discussion of a divorce was underway when the princess’s husband died unexpectedly—a fact which became more grist for the rumor mill after Ernest and she married in 1815. Since Queen Charlotte did not approve of the marriage and would not receive her daughter-in-law, the couple eventually moved to Germany and had a son.

Over the next decade and a half, lurid rumors of murder and assault continued to circulate around Ernest, many of them probably politically motivated as he continued to involve himself in politics, being especially active in questions involving Ireland during the 1820s. The issue of the line of succession to the throne was an especially fraught one; after Prinny’s death in 1830, Ernest was next in line for the throne after young princess Victoria, and rumors that her life was in danger from her wicked uncle were rife even after she came to throne; only the births of her first children put those rumors to rest.

On the death of his older brother William IV Ernest became the king of Hanover, since Victoria as a female could not inherit the Hanoverian throne. He left England within the month to take up residence in his new kingdom, where he ruled according to his highly conservative bent (though he did eventually approve a more liberal constitution for Hanover.) He wasn’t very popular, but wasn’t unpopular either, and was appreciated for the fact that he kept Hanover out of the reaching grasp of Prussian expansionism. He died in 1851, at the age of 80.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Free, Free!


No, I’m not being redundant, although I am being enthusiastic. Until March 13, you have two ways to read one of my books for free.

1.  Sign up for my e-mail alert. I don’t call it a newsletter, because it’s not chatty. I figure you get enough of that here. 😊 What it will provide is a notification when a new book is out or an older book is on sale. I do not share your e-mail with anyone, and neither does MailChimp, my alert distributor. And after signing up, you will be directed to a webpage where you can download a free copy of my Regency novella, “An Engagement of Convenience,” originally published in Summer House Party

2.  Head to your favorite online e-book retailer and download a copy of The Husband Mission, book 1 in my Spy Matchmaker series. Lord Wescott cannot understand why he’s under surveillance, but it seems to be connected to the intriguing Katherine Collins. He’s been encouraged by England’s spymaster to marry, but what wife can compare to espionage? Unless, she’s up for a little espionage too.

Here are the links to the U.S. stores for your convenience (but it’s free in the UK, Australia, Canada, and India, too):


If you’ve read both, thank you! Feel free (see what I did there) to share with your friends and family. “An Engagement of Convenience” will remain free for a few months when someone signs up for my alert, but The Husband Mission will only be free through March 13, because Never Kneel to a Knight launches the very next day. Squee!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Good Habit to Emulate


I was so excited to acquire this La Belle Assemblée print! Riding habit prints aren’t all that uncommon (Ackermann did several, as did several of the French journals of the time) but this one is just so much fun: the saturation of the colors, the pose, and the fact that the person wearing the riding habit is, yanno, actually on horseback...!


Let’s look at the details.  The text at the bottom reads:

A French Lady on Horseback in the fashionable stile of Riding in the Long Champs & Elisée at Paris.
Engraven from an original drawing taken on the Spot for La Belle Assemblée.
Or Bell’s Court & Fashionable Magazine for March 1807

The text (from the April 1807 edition) reads Parisian Costume No. 3. Represents a Parisian lady, mounted in the most fashionable style, for the Long Champs and Elisées, at Paris.—An equestrian habit of fine seal-wool cloth, with elastic strap; the colour blue (but olive, or puce, are equally esteemed), with convex buttons of dead gold. The habit to sit high in the neck behind, lapelled in front, and buttoned twice at the small of the waist; a high plaited frill of cambric, uniting at the bosom where the habit closes. A jockey bonnet of the same materials as composes the habit, finished with a band and tuft in front. Hair in dishevelled crop. York tan gloves; and demi-boots of purple kid, laced with jonquil chord.

Isn’t it pretty? Note the long trained skirt (to keep the limbs modestly covered when riding side-saddle, the gold buttons detailing the back of the bodice and along what looks like decorative pockets to the side. The jaunty jockey cap decorated with a flower of the same fabric and the brim curling over the ears (excellent if one is wearing pretty earrings!) and the elegantly severe lapels—all wonderful. I’m also interested by the safety strap, to keep our stylish equestrienne safe in her (not illustrated, oddly enough) saddle. I’m only sorry we don’t get a glimpse of the purple kid demi-boots!

The one point I have to question is the “from an original drawing taken on the spot” part, as there is a basically identical print from an 1805 Journal des Dames et des Modes...but as we have seen before, copyright law as we know it was basically non-existent in the 19th century...

I hope you enjoyed today’s eye candy!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Oh, What a Knight!


A knighthood. Sounds like something King Arthur bestowed (and likely did). But being knighted wasn’t just something from medieval times (as we detailed here). During the early part of the nineteenth century, many gentlemen were knighted for various services to the crown, but the type of knight mattered in the level-conscious Society.

At the bottom of the knighthood ladder was the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, begun in 1725 for military or civilian service to the King. At ceremonial events like crownings or royal christenings, Knights of the Bath wore almost fuchsia silk cloaks emblazoned with a large gold sunburst with a center showing three crowns and the motto “Three joined in one” in Latin. In 1815, the order was split into three classes to include more military heroes from the war with France.

Near the top of the ladder was the Order of the Garter, founded in 1348. At ceremonial events, they wore deep blue velvet cloaks and short-brimmed hats with white ostrich plumes. Their emblem was an embroidered garter (see the buckle in the picture?) with the words “Shame on him who thinks ill of it” in Latin in gold.

Not to be outdone, the Prince Regent founded his own knightly honor in April 1818. The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George awarded commanders serving on the Continent. Their ceremonial garb were blue silk cloaks, and their emblem was a silver star surmounted by a crimson cross, a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, and the words “Token of a better age” in Latin.

While quite showy at times, none of these knighthoods was hereditary. You might be Sir William Pompousface, but your son would be Mr. Pompousface. A baronetcy was considered a hereditary knighthood. You would become Sir William, and your son would become Sir Frederick. Note that neither is Sir Pompousface. A baronetcy was not considered an aristocratic title like duke, earl, etc. And you had to do something rather special to earn it.

Like save the Prince Regent’s life.

Such is the case of my hero in Never Kneel to a Knight, available for preorder now. Some of you may remember Matthew Bateman and Charlotte Worthington from Never Vie for a Viscount.

When the thoroughly poised Charlotte Worthington requests that Miss Thorn and her cat Fortune find her a position, she never dreams the savvy employment agency owner would reunite her with Matthew Bateman, her brother’s former bodyguard. Matthew is about to be knighted for an act of valor, and he and his sisters could use some polishing if they’re to enter Society after his elevation. Yet how can Charlotte maintain her calm, cool demeanor as their sponsor when she harbors a secret love for him?

Matthew Bateman cannot forget the beauty who is miles out of his league. Once a boxer called the Beast of Birmingham, Matthew would like nothing better than to be worthy of Charlotte’s hand. As old enemies and new ones attempt to bring him low, can Matthew prove to Charlotte that their love is meant to be?

Preorder now from fine online retailers such as

Kobo 

And look for more information when the book launches in mid-March.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Universal Advertising Sheet, Part 1


As a corollary to my collecting Ackermanns! all the Ackermanns! early 19th century fashion prints, I’ve accumulated a number of the advertising supplements that were published along with Ackermann’s Repository and La Belle Assemblée...and they’re worth having a look at.

Concealed within the floridly-written, column-inch-gobbling ads for hair oil and patent medicines and ladies’ stays are tidbits that can be surprising and amusing, and definitely open a new window onto the world of fashionable London in those years.

For example, in The Universal Advertising Sheet for La Belle Assemblée dating December 1813, we have the following:

A YOUNG PERSON

Is desirous of obtaining a situation as Attendant on one or two Ladies, where she would be required to make Dresses and other Needle Work. Her Family are very respectable, and the most unexceptionable References can be given.
Letters directed, post paid, to M. A. at Mrs. Dovey’s, No. 7, Edward-street, Portman-square, will receive attention.

I wonder what M.A.’s story was? Was she an orphan? An eldest daughter in a large family? The writer’s mind begins to teem...

And for those coffee aficionados among us (raises hand...) – instant coffee and creamer! Not to mention samples!

HAWKINS’S ESSENCE OF COFFEE

Sold at his manufactory, No. 79, Great Titchfield-street, Mary-le-Bone, London; and by various Grocers, Druggists, &c. in Tow and Country, in Half-pint Bottles.
Turkey.................5s. 6d
Bourbon...............3s. 6d.   Bottles included
Plantation.............2s. 6d
A small tea-spoon full of the Essence, put into a coffee cup of boiling water, with sugar and cream, instantly makes a cup of strong clear coffee.
The Essence of Coffee, made from October to April, will keep for years in any climate.
Sold also as above, HAWKINS’S PRESERVED CREAM, which will keep good in any climate, and is equal to new Cream for enriching the Flavour of Coffee and Tea. Price 2s. 6d the Half-pint Bottle.
It being impossible to make good Coffee without Pure Water, HAWKINS’S PORTABLE FILTERING VESSELS are recommended, prince 4s. and upwards.
In order to give the Public an opportunity of judging for themselves, Coffee from the Essence and Preserved Cream will be made at any hour of the day, at 3d. per cup, including a biscuit.

Including a biscuit? I'm in!

This one piques my interest...

MRS. MORRIS’S PATENT INVISIBLE PETTICOATS, OPERA ELASTIC UNDER DRESSES, LADIES’ DRAWERS, AND WAISTCOATS

Mrs. Morris respectfully informs those Ladies that have honoured her with their commands for several years past, and the Nobility at large, she continues to make large supplies of her celebrated Patent Invisible Petticoats, Elastic Opera Under-dresses, Waistcoats, Hunting and other Drawers, for winter, made of Vigonia and real Spanish Lambs’ Wool; article for which safety against colds warmth, and comfort, cannot be equaled, and at the same time will add much less to the size than any other article that can possibly be worn for warmth; all of which are warranted never to shrink by washing....

I would love to know what a Patent Invisible Petticoat was made of. My fantasy writing instincts are all a-quiver...

And last, here’s a bit of a surprise...

TOMATA KETCHUP

JASPER TAYLOR and SON, have the pleasure of informing the Nobility, Gentry, and their numerous Friends, that by long perseverance, and at no inconsiderable labour and expence in the proper choice and selection of the Fruit, they have at length brought this admired article to the highest possible state of perfection. They now, therefore, confidently recommend it to the Public, from its great richness and utility; giving the most delicious flavour to made Dishes, Soups, Roast Meat, &c. It is an admirable addition to Fish Sauce, and is warranted to keep for a length of time in any climate. Sold in bottles, at 2s. and 4s. each, at their Family Oil and Sauce Warehouse, No. 17, Lower Holborn.

Not sure they were putting it on their fries (or should I say chips? ☺) but hey, there you go!

Did you find this interesting? Shall I post about any other ads that tickle my fancy or talk about something unexpected?