Tuesday, January 30, 2018

1810, What a Year It Was...Except When It Wasn’t

Last week I mentioned that I had intended to write a post for my 1810 series about the celebrations in observance of George III’s fifty years on the throne. It was kind of a big deal—only three other monarchs since the Norman Conquest (Henry III, Edward III, and James I—and James only squeaks in because of his years on the throne of Scotland as James VI before he became James I of England) had been fifty years on the throne. I blithely assumed that the king’s jubilee took place in 1810—specifically, on October 25, which was the 50th anniversary of the day he became king on his grandfather George II’s death in 1760. But all my poking around into the events of 1810 made no mention of a jubilee celebration in 1810. Weird, I thought. Maybe it wasn’t celebrated because of the war, or...or something.

And so I continue to think...until last week's research into a darling Jubilee cloak print from La Belle Assemblee made me dig deeper and discover the real reason why there were no jubilee celebrations in 1810... Because they'd all happened in 1809!

I was able to find a fair bit of information about the jubilee observances themselves, but no explanation for why they were held at the start of the 50th year of his reign and not on the anniversary of his assession. The closest I've gotten to an explanation is that it was generally known that the king's health was not good, and it seems that many people were worried that he might die before the anniversary itself. Evidently plans for celebrations were a bit of a last-minute thing They needn’t have worried: in fact he lived for another ten years, outliving Queen Charlotte, though nine of those were spent in a twilight of dementia. By summer 1809 it looked as thought the poor old man would survive, so the tentative plans began to firm up (evidently the first sign of the impending celebrations was a sharp increase in the cost of candles, which were being hoarded for illuminations.)  Sadly, he would not be able to enjoy many of the spectacles that were eventually held in his honor, because his eyesight was almost completely gone by this time.

So how was the jubilee observed?

The King and the royal family attended a service of thanksgiving at Windsor, where the queen later threw a spectacularly splendid fete for the court. But there were plenty of less solemn observances all over the country: many of the nobility had oxen and sheep roasted and basically held barbecues for their tenants and workers, with games and races and bread and ale to go with the meat. Assembly balls for the middle classes in towns and larger villages and fireworks and illuminations in the cities were also widespread. After the fact many communities erected public monuments and statues in honor of the king's anniversary. And of course, there was merchandise. You can still buy George III Jubilee medals on eBay (yes, really), and for the wealthier souvenir hunter there were commemorative dishes, glassware, and my favorite, a child’s game celebrating the glories of the kings of England.

In a way it was probably a good thing that George's jubilee celebrations happened in 1809; by the actual anniversary of his accession in October 1810 he would be in even poorer health—on the verge of his final collapse (the Regency would be declared in January)—and his beloved daughter Amelia on her deathbed. I doubt anyone would have felt much like celebrating.

Friday, January 26, 2018

I'll Take the Dead Salmon, Size 10

Marissa’s post reminded me of how much I love the names of Regency colors. I quite agree that “aurora-colored” is quite evocative for the Jubilee cloak. According to Emily Hendrickson’s Regency Reference Book, aurora was the color of the sky at sunrise and became popular around 1791.

Like today, certain colors rose and fell in popularity. Pistachio, for example, was popular in 1819. Some were named for people (Wellington brown) or places (Egyptian brown).

Colors weren’t just for clothing, though. They typified wall coverings, upholstery, front door paint, and carriage lacquer, among others. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Pomona green—a warm green with yellow overtones (like those of the hat and coat of the lady at the left).

Coquelicot—the color of poppies (like her parasol)

Evening primrose—a deep yellow, brighter than mustard (like the wrap of the other lady)

Amaranthus—purple of a pink shade

Naccarat—a rosy orange

Celestial blue—like the sky on a summer’s day

Dead salmon—a dusky red. Yes, dead salmon truly was a color available in early nineteenth century England. I absolutely must use it in a story someday. Can’t you see the exchange?

“Oh, Sir Egbert, your house is wonderful.” Penelope gazed around with worshipful eyes.

Egbert fidgeted. In truth, he’d thought the house a little overdone when his architect had proposed the scheme. “Thank you,” he said with what he hoped was the proper humility.

“And that dusky red color on the divan is divine,” she continued. “I must have it for a new pelisse. What is it called?”

Egbert drew himself up, glad to have the answer. “Dead salmon. I think you would look very well in it.”

I think I would too.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Mystery of the Jubilee Cloak

It’s wonderful how one thing can lead to another in historical research.

Take this charming print from La Belle Assemblée which I recently added to my collection. The line at top calls it a Jubilee Cloak; it’s certainly a bright, celebratory color, isn’t it?  The bottom text reads “Published for La Belle Assemblee #52 by J. Bell, Southampton Str. Strand.”  No date was given, so I jumped on-line to see if I could track down when this print was published. I guessed it had to be 1810, because that was the 50th year of George III’s reign, and I hoped that the issue of the magazine in which this print appeared would have further information on his jubilee celebrations, because I had not been able to find any information elsewhere and wanted to write a post on his jubilee for my "what happened in 1810" series...a lack of information which seemed odd.

After a good deal of paging through scanned issues of La Belle Assemblée from 1810, I was stymied: there was no Jubilee Cloak in any of them. In fact, the “No. 52” implied that this was from an earlier issue. So on to 1809...and there it was, in the November 1809 issue, listed under “Fashions for December.” (There were also articles on “Authorities touching the actual existence of mermaids” and “Anecdotes of depravity in London from 1700 to 1800”, but that’s for another post.

So why wasn’t this listed in an 1810 issue, in which, strictly speaking, it should have appeared since 1810 would have marked his 50th year on the throne? We’ll discuss that—and the Jubilee—next week.

Oh—and the Jubilee Cloak itself? Here’s what La Belle Assemblée had to say:

A simple Village robe of white corded cambric, a walking length, with long sleeves; ornamented round the bottom with four rows of small tucks; made to sit high in the back, and over the shoulders, meeting in front with a gold broach; trimmed round the neck with vandyked ribband, and confined at the waist by a purple velvet girdle.  A Jubilee cloak, of aurora colored merino cloth; lined with royal purple silk, ornamented with gold braiding; tied at the throat with gold cord and tassels. A Turban hat, with a full plume of shaded down. Necklace and earrings of gold or coral. Shoes of purple Morocco. Gloves of York tan.

“Aurora colored merino”—isn’t that a lovely description? And the royal purple silk lining is most appropriate under the circumstances, don’t you think?

Friday, January 19, 2018

We Interrupt This Program...

For illness, alas. I won’t go into the details but a) I am slowly recovering, and b) I should be much better tomorrow (I’ve been telling myself that for nearly 2 weeks, but it has to be true sometime!).

So, being unable to sit at the computer for more than a few moments, I could not publish a post for you this week. Instead, I bring you Regency theater! This video shows how to dress a Regency lady. 

Hoping you are well, warm, and well dressed as well. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Accessories, Part 11: More Scarves and Wraps

We’re back for another installment in our fashion series on NineteenTeen focusing not on dresses and gowns (gorgeous as they are) but on the little things that complete a fashionable ensemble—hats, shoes, gloves, purses, parasols, and other accessories.

Our accessory of the week is the scarf or shawl, a particular favorite of mine (you don’t want to know how many scarves I own!) I’m not including fitted wraps or mantles (basically, colder weather wear) in this survey—we’ll look at those at a later date. In this era of no central heating, the shawl was a ubiquitous—and needed—garment. Ladies made a virtue of necessity by turning it into not only a fashion statement, but also a status indicator via expensive imported shawls from India, of silk and cashmere.

We’ll be seeing examples from 1822 through 1829. Look for lots of images rather than commentary, though I’ll try to supply original text if I have it—the point is to be able to examine multiple examples of each item. Images are drawn from my collection of prints from Ackermann’s Repository. Happy accessorizing!

Full Dress, January 1822, Ackermann’s Repository
Full shawl with decorative edging—embroidered or woven?

Evening Dress, July 1822 Ackermann’s Repository
Again, large shawl with decorative edging like that in the previous image

Walking Dress, August 1822 Ackermann’s Repository

Promenade Dress, December 1822 Ackermann’s Repository
From the accompanying text: “Long tippet and muff of chinchilla.”

Evening Dress, March 1823 Ackermann’s Repository
Appears to be a lighter weight shawl—silk?—in a tartan pattern.

Ball Dress, August 1823 Ackermann’s Repository
A light silk gauze wrap.

Evening Dress, September 1823 Ackermann’s Repository

Evening Dress, February 1824 Ackermann’s Repository
From the accompanying text: “...lace scarf...”

Morning Dress, March 1824 Ackermann’s Repository

Evening Dress, March 1824 Ackermann’s Repository

Dinner Dress, May 1824 Ackermann’s Repository
A very large (and elaborately drawn!) lace shawl.

Ball Dress, August 1824 Ackermann’s Repository
I can’t tell if those are beads on the fringe ends, or just knots.

Evening Dress, September 1824 Ackermann’s Repository
Another silk tartan shawl or scarf.

Evening Dress, January 1825 Ackermann’s Repository

Evening Dress, July 1825 Ackermann’s Repository
Another surprisingly modern-looking scarf with knotted fringe.

Morning Dress, August 1825 Ackermann’s Repository
Perhaps a wool tartan shawl here?

Evening Dress, January 1826 Ackermann’s Repository
I wish I had the text for this one, because the coloring on the scarf is very interesting. 

Evening Dress, April 1826 Ackermann’s Repository

Ball Dress, June 1826 Ackermann’s Repository
This shawl looks almost ombre dyed!

Evening Dress, July 1826 Ackermann’s Repository

Evening Dress, August 1826 Ackermann’s Repository

Evening Dress, December 1826 Ackermann’s Repository

Evening Dress, March 1827 Ackermann’s Repository

Dinner Dress, November 1827 Ackermann’s Repository
A pretty tartan gauze scarf.

Ball Dress, March 1828 Ackermann’s Repository
From the accompanying text: “...gauze scarf...”

Evening Full Dress, September 1828 Ackermann’s Repository
Another pretty lace scarf to end with!

Any shawls or scarves you'd fancy for your wardrobe?
To be continued...

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cool 19th Century Places to Visit: The Kennel Club Library and Art Gallery

I have a list—a very, very long list—that continues to grow each time I delve into research for a book. It’s a list of places related to the nineteenth century that I’d love to visit (and I few I already have). This year I’ll be sharing them with you, so you can add to your list too.

I came across this one recently purely by accident, but my wonderful critique partner Kristy J. Manhattan and I are already making plans to go to the Kennel Club Library in London next time we’re in England.

The Kennel Club was the first of its kind in the world, a club devoted to the showing and health of dogs. Dog shows and field trials were gaining in popularity in England toward the middle of the nineteenth century, and the founders wanted a way to standardize rules and ensure no harm came to the animals. Founded in 1873, the Kennel Club published its first registry of purebred dogs, its Stud Book, a year later.

The Kennel Club library includes all its Stud Books, listing animals and owners, as well as catalogues from many historic dog shows. Some books predate the club by more than two centuries. Can you imagine what you might learn about our nineteenth century heroes and heroines? Did some manly duke prefer to show Pekinese? Was there a dainty lady who distinguished herself for breeding gun dogs?

In addition, the Kennel Club makes available its art gallery, featuring thousands of paintings depicting dogs through the ages. Many pieces have been borrowed from private collections or major English collections such as the Tate. Artists include such renowned nineteenth century painters as award-winning landscape artist Richard Ansdell and prolific puppy painter Arthur Wardle.

You can learn more about the library and art gallery at the websites, including directions, hours of operation (by appointment only), and holdings.    

You can also get the details on the Twilight Bark, I suspect. 😊

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Regency Fabric, Part 17

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. So here we go!

Today’s three samples are from the January 1811 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is excellent: the page has been trimmed but is otherwise free of foxing and toning, and the fabric samples themselves appear to be in fine shape.

Here we go!

Nos. 1 and 2. A printed cotton, lace pattern, particularly adapted for half-mourning dresses. From the elegance of the pattern, we presume that it is likely to become a favourite article with our fashionable females for morning or domestic wear. It is furnished by Churchill and Blomefield, 36, King-street, Cheap-side.

My comments: All of the fabrics in this month’s offering are suitable for mourning use, likely in acknowledgement of court mourning after the death of George III’s youngest daughter, Princess Amelia, in November 1810. This print looks remarkably like a net lace, doesn’t it? It’s similar in weight to today’s quilting cotton fabrics, though the weave itself is not as smoothly woven as a quilting cotton, having a lot of slubs not visible on the printed face of the fabric but clearly in view on the reverse..  

No. 3. A silver grey embossed satin, particularly adapted for slight mourning. With robes of this article every order of black trimming, and bugle or jet ornaments, are consistent. The robe should be constructed plain, with a short Grecian sleeve and demi-traine, the robe sitting close to the bust. Furnished by Messrs. Cooper’s, Pall-Mall.

My comments: What lovely fabric! It’s hard to judge whether the color has changed—it is over two hundred years old, after all—but this appears more blue than silver grey. I’m guessing the fiber is silk, based on the sheen and the smooth hand; it would drape beautifully

No. 4. A grey and black imperial cambric, calculated for the intermediate or morning costume. The Flemish jacket, and simple round gown, with antique stomacher and sleeve, each trimmed or ornamented with black velvet, and trimmed round the throat and cuffs with full plaitings of black net, or black Vandyke lace, are the most tasteful habits we have seen of this material. It may be procured at Messrs. Smith’s, 43, Tavistock-street, Covent-Garden.

My comments: Again, I would call this blue rather than grey, but there may also have been some color change over the centuries. The fabric is woven with a slight rib set on the diagonal which, combined with the print, gives it pleasant visual interest. The weave is very fine and even with a smooth, drape-y hand, opaque enough not to require an underdress.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year! One More Present to Open

Is Christmas over? I wasn’t ready (I’m never ready). I spent time with friends and family, I received some lovely cards and gifts, including a set of laser-carved walnut bookends of sailing ships and a fabulous new cowl from my wonderful critique partner, Kristy J. Manhattan, in yarn died to match the cover of Mail-Order Marriage Promise.

I don’t know about you, but coming back to work after the holidays was harder than usual this year. Some of you have had it harder than I did. Hugs to those of you shivering in the snow and cold.

How about one more present? A free book.

The Husband Mission, book 1 in my Regency-set Spy Matchmaker series, will be free on all major online retailers through January 6, 2018. That gives you two days for you and all your friends and family to download a copy. This is an update of one of my personal favorite novels, Lord Borin’s Secret Love.

Katherine Collins is on a mission. The spirited spinster is financially beholden to her stepsister, who will inherit a fortune--if she marries in the next six weeks. Katherine even mounted an espionage campaign to locate the perfect husband, Alexander Wescott, Viscount Borin.

Alex cannot understand why he’s under surveillance, but it seems to have something to do with the intriguing Katherine. Rejected for service by England’s spymaster, he ought to be searching for a wife. But what wife can compare to the excitement of international espionage? Unless, of course, she’s up for a little espionage herself.

“Regina Scott pens a fast-paced riddle of a tale… Her excellent cast of characters brings great charm and humor to this romantic romp.” – RT Book Reviews

Here’s to many more books to read and enjoy in the new year!