Breakfast Links are served! Here's your weekend helping of our favorite links to other web sites, blogs, articles, photographs, and videos, gathered for you from the Twitterverse.
• Stewed cheese, a favorite of Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Johnson, & Charles Dickens.
• The mail-order catalogues of fashion designer Lady Duff-Gordon (aka Lucille) 1916-1917.
• The New Steam Carriage, operating 'twixt London & Bath, 1829.
• George III's birthday ball, 1783: who "sported the most patient grizzle in the room"?
• Victorian workhouses made "unchaste" women wear "ignominious" clothes & given poor food to shame them.
• Easter bonnets galore!
• Margaret Sanger, the mother of modern contraception.
• What Pompeii's victims tried to save as they fled.
• Fishscales & fluting: investigating the 1805-07 Nash stairs at Attingham Park.
• The New York apartment house where a spoiled young heiress found it impossible to survive on $25,000 a year in 1915.
• 'To the Faire Murderess of my Soul": compliments from 1699.
• This set of 52 cards constitutes the only known complete deck of illuminated playing cards from the 15th c.
• Dramatic story of how a family of dwarves survived Auschwitz.
• Casino Royale: the magnificent 18th c. Casino Marinois located not in Italy, but Ireland.
• A young girl's beautiful Easter bonnet, 1852, with a poignant story behind it.
• Inspiring web site features suffragists & other remarkable women of West Kent.
• "What a wicked Man!!!" - Lady Melbourne to Lord Byron, March 25, 1813.
• 18th c. woodcuts of the world turned upside-down.
• Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Civil War soldier and spy.
• Return of the Edwardian Sartorialist: Sambourne's Kensington street style photographs.
• Policing the crowds in Aberystwyth when the Prince & Princess of Wales visited in 1896.
• Noel Coward's brilliant, stern relationship advice to Marlene Dietrich.
• Page through a digital facsimile of a Gutenberg Bible.
• Here comes the Daisy Buchanan bride: the Gatsby Look of the 1920s is favorite for 21st c. weddings.
• Secrets of the Medici granducal pharmacy.
• "Are you suffering from heats to the face?": selection of 18th c. news stories & advertisements.
• How a disgraced Civil War general became one of America's all-time best-selling novelists.
• The owls are not what they seem on the Herald Square clock atop Macys, NYC.
• Edwardian servants' quarters, Montacute House: stockman's "hole", governess's room.
• Roman shrine to Minerva, goddess of quarrymen, in source of Chester's sandstone.
• Something was afoot: Victorian deaths from poisoned stockings. Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for daily updates.
Last week I left my keyboard for the day and went to see the latest art & fashion exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Impressionism, Modernity, & Fashion may have an unwieldy title, but it's a glorious, thoughtful show, filled with beautiful late 19th c. paintings and examples of the equally beautiful clothes that inspired the artists - artists that include Cassatt, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Tissot, and Seurat. There's also a fascinating selection of fashion plates, photographs, and accessories, all dating from 1860-1880. I'm going to be writing several blog posts about this show over the next weeks, but today I'm sharing a brief video tour to give you an overview.
Impressionism, Modernity, & Fashion will be at the Met in New York through May 27, and then will travel to the Art Institute of Chicago from June 28-September 22, 2013.
It was about this time of year, when New England was showing faint signs of spring, that Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, a long letter that included the following words. I post the excerpt without comment, leaving commentary to you.
Braintree, 31 March, 1776…. I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.
That your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute; but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend. Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex; regard us then as beings placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.
There's nothing like a ring to capture the romantic imagination. Circling the finger, catching the light with every gesture, symbolizing love and fidelity – little wonder that rings often become a part of the wearer in a way no other piece of jewelry can. And little wonder, too, that the rings worn by famous people of the past have a special magic. Remember the bidding frenzy surrounding the auction of Jane Austen's ring last summer?
This week another very special ring in history came up for sale, and this one, too, sold for far more than the original estimates. The elegant gold band, left, was the ring that Napoleon Bonaparte gave to Rose Tascher de la Pagerie de Beauharnais – later known simply as Josephine – to show his love and seal their engagement. They were married on March 9, 1796.
At the time of the time of the engagement, Napoleon was a young officer of 26, full of promise and ambition, while she was 32, the wealthy, fashionable widow of an aristocrat who had died on the guillotine. The attraction between the two had been instant. Wrote Napoleon in his memoirs many years later:
Everyone knows the extreme grace of the Empress Josephine and her sweet and attractive manners. The acquaintance soon became intimate and tender, and it was not long before we married.
As is often the case with young men desperately in love, Napoleon likely spent more than was prudent on the ring for his bride. Two tear-shaped stones - a diamond and a sapphire - are placed in a gold setting that was sentimentally called toi et moi (you and me) in the 18th century. Each gemstone weighs just under a carat each.
While in time the marriage faltered and Napoleon went on to marry a second time for the sake of a male heir, Josephine always treasured the ring, and gave it to her daughter. The ring remained in the family until the present sale, scheduled on March 24 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Josephine's birth.
So what was the price for the ring that symbolized the union of two of the most famous lovers in history? The Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau had predicted the bidding would reach $20,000. But by the day of the sale, there were more than fifty bidders from around the world interested in the ring, bidding by phone and internet as well as those seated in the auction room. The winning bid by an anonymous bidder was an astounding $949,000; adding the buyer's 25 percent commission to the auction house, the final price was $1.17 million.
Top left: Diamond & sapphire engagement ring belonging to Josephine Bonaparte, late 18th c. Osenat auction house. Lower right: Study of Josephine Bonaparte, by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, c, 1805. Louvre Museum.
During a very short visit to Charleston, SC, I happened upon this interesting object. As the sign makes clear, this isn’t an accurate image of the famous Civil War submarine—famous, that is to lots of people who aren’t me. I had never heard of the H.L. Hunley—the Civil War is not my favorite historical era—but Nerdy History Girl took over, and I commenced sleuthing.
In February 1864, the Hunley sank a Union ship, the USS Housatonic. This, the first successful submarine attack, turned out not to be a major turning point in the war: The Hunley sank, too, shortly thereafter, losing all eight of its men, while the Union ship lost only five of its entire crew. Still this was definitely a major development in naval warfare.
Along with being amazed that eight men could fit into this thing and turn cranks to make it go, I was particularly interested, as a Nerdy History Girl, in the difference between what the Hunley was believed to look like, as of info available in 1967, and what it did look like, once it was recovered and uncovered.
In deciphering the mysteries of historic dress, a picture is worth a thousand words...except when it isn't. When Loretta and I have seen fashion plates like the one, left, (full image here) from 1812, we've assumed that the colored bodice was part of the dress itself, an early 19th c. version of colored-blocking. We also assumed that the word "bodice" in the plate's description simply referred to a section of the dress: "a peasant's bodice of pink satin or velvet, laced in front."
However, we don't have to elaborate on what happens when you assume, especially about fashion. Fashion changes constantly and always has, and what often seems like a logical description can refer to something entirely different.
Fortunately, one of our readers and fellow nerdy-history-girls is Natalie Garbett. Natalie is a professional historical researcher, costume-maker, and re-enactor whose work has appeared in productions of the BBC, Shakespeare's Globe, and many others. While she specializes in creating reproduction clothing from 1600-1940, she is especially drawn to the clothing of the early 19th c.
Natalie had also seen bodices like the one above, but while we assumed, she researched. Turns out that peasant bodices and evening spencers were in fact separate garments. Usually made of a luxurious fabric like silk or velvet and often decorated with fringe, lace, and other trimmings, these bodices added a touch of color and richness (and a smidgen of warmth) to the white and light-colored dresses of the day. In an era when the cost of fabric still outweighed labor, they were an economical indulgence, too, as well as being a way to change or update the look of an existing plain gown, or make it more suitable for evening wear.
The photograph, right, shows a reproduction evening bodice that Natalie created based on her research. It's made in silk satin with a military inspired decoration using vintage linen cord and Dorset high top buttons. The lace is antique silk blonde lace.
Here's the link to Natalie's own blog post on the bodices, with more examples of fashion plates, plus several actual examples. Also included are photographs of the bodice that Natalie recreated, both inside and out – very useful to historical seamstresses as well writers like us who worry about correctly getting our characters dressed (and undressed.)
Above left: Fashion plate, "Ball Dress: a round Circassian robe of pink carpe,or gossamer net, over a white satin glip, fringed full at the feet; a peasant's bodice of pink satin or velvet, laced in front." c. 1812 Lower right: Reproduction evening bodice by Natalie Garbett. Photograph by Natalie Garbett.
Anyone visiting the Margaret Hunter millinery shop in Colonial Williamsburg this spring will see this gown, left, on display in one of the display cases. Just like all the other garments and gowns found in the shop (and on the staff as well), the gown is a modern copy of an 18th c. original. Also worn with the gown is a decorative apron of white silk organdy, a style that dates to the 1770s-80s.
But this particular gown is a bit special: it's the star of the newest video-vodcast on the CW history resources website. Called "Dress in a Day," part one of the vodcast can be watched here. Part two, featuring more of the actual construction, will be up on the same page soon.
For the vodcast, Janea Whitacre, Mantua-Maker and Mistress of the Trade in CW's historic trades program, and her staff were determined to follow in the footsteps (or is that stitches?) of their 18th c. predecessors, and create an entire gown from start to finish in a single day. Eighteenth-century customers were no different than those of today: when it came to high-fashion attire, ladies wanted their gowns yesterday. All women's clothing was still made to order, and custom-fit to the wearer. The raw materials of a gown - the fabric, linings, thread, and other notions - were the majority of the gown's final cost. Labor, however skilled, was comparatively cheap. The mantua-maker (the 18th c. term for a dressmaker) whose shop could create a gown in a day or less would be the one who prospered.
This gown is a copy of an original English gown from 1770-85 in the CW collection. Like the original, the copy is made from a ribbed silk called lustring, in an ultra-fashionable color of the time called "laylock", or lilac. (The museum's gown has since faded to a pale pink, but interior seams reveal its original lavender.) Also like the original, the copy was made of silk woven to a width of 221/2". Modern sewers will realize how unusual this width is - today fabric usually runs at widths of 44-45", 60", or 72" - yet the specially woven 22 1/2" silk permitted the selvages to be used for neat, perfect seams in the petticoat in the copy, a feature of the original gown.
The gown was begun at 8:43 in the morning, with four women (Janea, journeywoman Doris Warren, apprentice Sarah Woodyard, and intern Kristin Haggerty) working together, and was completed at 4:20 p.m. All fitting, cutting, stitching, and pressing was done entirely by hand, exactly as it would have been done 240 years ago. Even the pinked edging of the silk trimming the neckline and sleeves was created by using a replica pinking tool, made for the mantua-makers by the CW blacksmiths.
How did they do? The gown is undeniably lovely, and I'm sure that their phantom customer must have been delighted. Janea admits that by 18th c. standards, her team was very slow. A top-notch shop in London in the 1770s could have produced the same gown in even less time. But then, Georgian seamstresses didn't have to pause for video cameras to be set up or lighting to be checked, either, so I'd say the ladies from the Margaret Hunter shop did very well indeed.
Years ago I worked on some material for a museum in Central Florida. One of our topics was the Tin Can Tourists. Automobiles were barely on the road before people started driving them hundreds of miles to warmer climes. Never mind the constant breakdowns. Never mind having to drive through rivers and swamps because there weren't any bridges. Never mind the lack of filling stations. These people wanted sun and did what they had to in order to get it. As a recent convert to snowbirdism(and yes, we drove, and the car was packed to the roof), I decided it was time to renew my acquaintance with these intrepid travelers.
The northern states, in the past few years, have developed a new type of migrant… He is a sun-hunter. He is sick of four months of snow and ice. He is heartily tired of cold feet, numb ears, red flannel underwear, rheumatism, stiff necks, coal bills, coughs, colds, influenza, draughts, mittens, ear-tabs, snow shovels, shaking down the furnace, carrying out ashes, and falling down on an icy sidewalk and spraining his back. … The bane of his existence is sitting around the house for four months waiting for April to come along and unstiffen his joints. He wants sun and lots of it. If he must spend four months doing nothing, he prefers to spend it amid the Spanish moss and the palm trees, harkening dreamily to the cheerful twittering of the dicky-birds and to the stirring thuds of coconuts, oranges and grapefruit as they fall heavily to the ground...
Such is the modern American migrant, and Florida is the goal of his migration. As soon as the first snow begins to fall in the North, or when the earth has tightened up under a black frost, the sun-hunters prepare for their flight to the South. Great numbers of them travel by automobile; and their automobiles are completely stocked with folding chairs, collapsible beds, accordion mattresses, knock-down tents, come-apart stoves, telescopic dishwashers and a score of dishpans, tables, dinner-sets, tin cups, water-buckets and toilet articles that fold up into one another and look like a bushel of scrap-tin. In addition to this, each automobile carries a large assortment of canned goods. There are canned goods under the seats, slung against the top, packed along the sides, tucked behind cushions and stacked along the floor. Some of the automobiles are so well stocked with canned things that they could make a dash for the Pole. And as one passes some of them on the road, they sound as though their owners were carrying a reserve supply of canned goods under the hood—loose.
This week I'm swamped with more deadline-itis, coupled with the much more delightful diversion of having my DD home for spring break. What better excuses to revisit one of my favorite past posts from 2010?
"Intrepid" doesn't begin to describe the character and life of Ann Ford Thicknesse (1737-1834). Genteelly born, her father indulged her with an excellent education (she spoke several languages) and extensive music lessons. She soon displayed a rare talent for music and sang beautifully, as well as playing several instruments.
But while her father encouraged her in concerts for friends, he forbid her to perform on the stage. They quarreled so violently that she moved from home and into the house of a friend, announcing that she would support herself by her music. Her furious father had her arrested and hauled back home. Undeterred, she arranged a series of subscription concerts, and her father hired ruffians to disturb her first theatrical performance. Only the intervention of one of her aristocratic supporters permitted the show to go on.
Her concerts were a sensation, and made her a celebrity. Among other instruments, she played the viola da gamba, scandalously (albeit properly) positioning the viola between her knees. More scandal followed when she had her portrait painted by friend Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788 ), himself an amateur musician. Shown with her instruments, her pose – with her legs crossed at the knee like a man – shocked society almost as much as her independent, intelligent gaze looking to one side that ignored the viewer. Handsome though she was, there was clearly none of the melting, doe-eyed society beauty about Ann.
The Earl of Jersey was smitten, and proposed that Ann become his mistress for a sizable annual sum and the promise to wed her when his ailing wife died. Indignantly she refused, and in defense of the rebuffed earl's attempts to slander her, Ann published A Letter from Miss F--D, addressed to a Person of Distinction in 1761. In it, she argued that "a young woman may sing in public...or be a public singer, with virtue and innocence." Over 500 copies were sold the first week, and the letter was also published in the Gentleman's Magazine. The earl's rebuttal, A Letter to Miss F--d, was not nearly as popular.
After performing in London and in Bath, she traveled to Suffolk with her good friend Elizabeth Thicknesse, who sadly died soon after in childbirth. Six months later in 1762, Ann married her friend's widower, Captain Philip Thicknesse (last seen here on the 2NHG writing travel guides.) The match raised eyebrows: not only was Philip twenty years Ann's senior, but he drank, whored, gambled, and took laudanum to infamous excess. He was litigious, quarrelsome, and an open supporter of slavery, and his personality was so irascible that he was known as "Dr. Viper." He wrote ferociously and often slanderously, on subjects as wide-ranging as male-midwifery to fraudulent automatons.
Yet it was a most happy marriage for nearly thirty years. The couple traveled extensively through Europe. Their eccentric entourage included not only a parakeet, but a monkey who was dressed in livery and rode postillion before their carriage; Ann's personal luggage included her viola, two guitars, and a violin. She also began writing and publishing books of her own, including works on playing the guitar and glass harmonica, travel, a novel, and, in 1778, the three-volume Sketches of the Lives & Writings of the Ladies of France.
Undeterred by the French Revolution, Ann and Philip were traveling to Paris in 1792 when Philip suffered a seizure and died in Ann's arms in their carriage. Griefstricken, Ann buried him in Boulogne, but before she could return home, she was arrested as a foreigner and imprisoned for eighteen months. She was finally released by proving that she was no idle, unattached gentlewoman, but could support herself –– as a musician.
Returning to England, Ann continued to write and publish. In 1806, when she was 68, she was described as "the most singular, and if it may be added, the most accomplished woman of her day." How can we argue with that?
Click here for more about Ann and one of her favorite instruments, the glass harmonica.
Above: Mrs. Philip Thicknesse, nee Ann Ford, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1760, Cincinnati Art Museum
I’ve posted before about Francis Grose, whose slang dictionary (under various titles) is a part of many Regency-era writers’ collections. A couple of different print editions (including the splendid one edited by Eric Partridge) sit on my bookshelves, and the online editions at Google Books make it available for free to anybody with an internet connection. Recently, author Candice Hern let us know on Facebook that it was available as a free download for Kindle.
While not for the missish, squeamish, or politically correct, it’s highly enlightening. As well as the bawdiness and scatological humor one expects —and which gradually goes deeper underground as we move further into the Regency, Romantic, and Victorian eras—we find a number of surprises.
Some terms that sound very modern appear, other familiar terms have changed their meaning slightly over the years. And of course, there’s the plain fun of language used inventively or learning about old forms of humor, like Bargain.
After recently posting the early film clip from 1896 of a snowball fight, the creation of the pioneering French film-maker Louis Lumière (1864-1948), I looked for more of his work to share here.
This short silent clip is known as Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon (La Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon), and it's exactly that. Using natural daylight, Lumière set his camera across the street from the exit of his family's factory at closing time and recorded the workers – mostly women, though there are a few men in top hats – leaving for the day, plus a single large, inquisitive dog. Lumière filmed the same scene three times, on three different days, which accounts for the varying light as well as other differences like the carriages that come through the gate.
While I love seeing the clothes worn by everyday working women (plus the hats!), this film is famous for another reason. It was one of ten short films shown together to an audience on December 28, 1895 at the Salon Indien du Grand Cafe on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris, making this the first public screening of films with an admission fee charged. Each film ran about 50 seconds, shown through a hand-cranked projector. And, as the old saying goes, the rest is history.
Here and elsewhere in the American Craftsman-style house, two things struck me: one, its unpretentiousness (which some visitors, I discovered online, have found disappointing); two, the electrical items, especially the lighting. The torchieres didn’t photograph well in the bright light, but you can see the overhead “Electrolier” fixtures, with their Edison bulbs, pretty clearly.
The Family Home Living Room visible through the door includes the George Steck grand piano that Mina Edison liked to play after dinner, as well as another interesting “Electrolier” fixture. We arrived in February, and the table is set for celebrating Thomas Edison’s birthday (11 February), complete with birthday cake. At the time I was there, I had an idea what those round metal things were on the stand next to his chair, but now I’m drawing a blank. Do you know?
Fashion is often dismissed as a frivolous non-necessity, but in 18th c. Paris and London, it was big, big business. Even simple clothing employed literally dozens of skilled tradespeople to create a single garment.
On my recent visit to Colonial Williamsburg, I sat down with Janea Whitacre, mantua-maker in the Historic Trades Program and mistress of the Margaret Hunter millinery shop, and together we came up with this list of all the different trades necessary to dress a fashionable lady c. 1770.
Trades were highly specialized, requiring different skills – the maker of straight pins didn't also make needles - and each one supported a tiered system of workers that ranged from apprentices to journeymen to masters. We're sure there are probably many more trades, too, but this does give you an indication of why fashion was so important to the 18th c. economy.
The haberdashery trades that made the "ingredients" for garments:
• Thread spinner
• Tape weaver
• Cord weaver
• Baleen processor (for whalebone stays)
• Ribbon weaver
• Artificial flower maker
• Lace maker
• Linen spinner & linen weaver
• Silk processor, silk designer, & silk weaver
• Cloth fuller & dyer
• Gauze weaver
• Foil ornament & sequin maker
• French floss trimming knotter
• Bead maker
• Carved button makers
• Wrapped-thread button makers (which, as Janea noted, could simply be called "children.")
The construction trades that assembled the garments:
• Milliner (who made shifts and other undergarments)
• Mantua-maker (the master dressmaker who designed, cut, & fitted gowns)
• Seamstresses (lesser skilled stitchers)
The trades that created accessories:
• Jeweler, silversmith, goldsmith, & paste (faux stones) maker
• Stocking weaver
• Ivory worker
• Fan mount-maker, fan printer, & fan painter
• Shoemaker, shoe heel carver, & shoe last maker
• Garter weaver
• Buckle maker
• Milliner, straw plaiter, straw stitcher, & plume maker (all for hats)
• Wig maker
Above: Robe à la française in white & pink plaid silk taffeta; double flounced pagoda sleeves; stomacher with échelle of ribbon; engageantes; quilles and lappets of Argentan lace. All French, c. 1760s. The Kyoto Costume Institute. Click here for the KCI's zoomable image - the details of the handwork are incredible.
I was excited in recent weeks to discover at Internet Archive a fine online collection of the beautiful early 19th C magazine, Ackermann’s Repository, courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Though the magazines online at Google Books have been cleaned up, the fairly complete (so far as I could determine) collection of color plates and the generally good condition of the pages at Internet Archive compensates, I think, for the yellowing.
I was particularly interested in checking out the very first volume of a high quality magazine that lasted about twenty years.
From that first volume, I present what seems to have been been London’s first department store, called Harding, Howell & Co. in 1809. The text indicates that the firm was founded by “Messrs. Dyde and Scribe” twenty-five years previously. Naturally, I had to look them up—and wandered into a shoplifting case, here at The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.
Thanks to our friends in the historic trades program in Colonial Williamsburg, we've seen what several ordinary women might have worn in 18th c. England and North America, including a housewife, a mantua-maker's apprentice, and a blacksmith. Today we're outfitting some of the male servants in a wealthy household: the grooms and stable-boys who looked after the horses and carriages.
This stable jacket is a reproduction based on original garments, cut, tailored, and stitched entirely by hand. It's one of the first projects for the shop by apprentice tailor Michael McCarty, who is also shown wearing the jacket. It's made from red and white striped twilled woolen, cut with the stripes running horizontally, and lined in cotton fustian that is napped on one side for additional warmth. The buttons are wrapped thread, red and white to coordinate with the striped fabric.
While servants who worked outside the house did not wear livery, the master usually provided smart stable jackets like this one as a kind of uniform for his grooms and stable-boys, and to reflect well on the household in general. The jackets are often seen in the paintings by English artist George Stubbs (1724-1806.). Here's an excellent example: Lord Torrington's Hunt Servants Setting out from Southill, c. 1765-8.
Stable jackets were closely tailored to the body, with the narrow shoulders typical of 18th c. gentleman's coats. Yet as Michael demonstrated to me, there was still plenty of room for the movement necessary for work in the stables. While this is long before the ease of Lycra, the sleeves are cut on the bias (the diagonal), which provides a woven stretch to the fabric. The jacket's cuffs, below right, are cut on the straight of the grain to keep the bias-cut sleeves from stretching out of shape.
Stable jackets could be worn either simply over a shirt, or as a warmer waistcoat with sleeves beneath another coat. They were also occasionally tucked into to breeches, giving the jacket the cropped look that often appears in paintings of jockeys.
But just as modern young bankers will affect cowboy boots or heavy overalls on the weekend, "buckish" young gentlemen in the 18th c. wore stable jackets, too – albeit bespoke versions from their London tailors. They were particularly popular with sporting gentlemen with a love of racing, expensive horses, and gambling.
The photograph, top, recreates a classic Stubbs pose, with Michael dressed as a stable-boy, wearing the stable jacket, linen shirt, sheepskin breeches, and a round cap. The gentleman on the horse is interpreter/actor Mark Schneider (and another of our CW friends - remember him herewith Loretta? ), and the horse is Toby, also a CW employee.
Many thanks to Michael McCarty and Mark Hutter for their help with this post, as well as the photographs here. For more pictures of the stable jacket, see the tailors' Facebook page - and please give them a "like" while you're there.
Our Breakfast Links make the perfect weekend treat - low in calories, but extra-rich in content! All our favorite links of the week gathered for you from the Twitterverse, including web sites, blogs, videos, articles, and photographs.
• What became of the pets of the upper class French people following the Revolution?
• Regency Rollerblades? Here's the print from 1823 to prove it.
• Pure love - no Instagram filter could ever recreated the look of this genuine c 1915 image of a young soldier on leave.
• The curious 1877 railway bridge of Lord Henley, Northamptonshire.
• A beautiful marigold-colored silk damask neoclassical apron, c. 1810.
• Rediscovered portrait of 16th c. feminist Lady Anne Clifford to be auctioned.
• Short video about 18th c. feral resident of Kensington Palace Peter the Wild Boy.
• 'Visibly parted, ever united': rare gold bracelet found inscribed with poignant message from Queen Victoria.
• Winter King: the dawn of Tudor England and Henry VII.
• The Passions, Humorously Delineated, c. 1773.
• Colonel Shaw's drummer boy: Alex Johnson, one of the youngest soldiers in the 54th Massacusetts.
• A 15th c. physician's "belt book", clipped to the waist for easy access to information.
• On making the best of a bad matrimonial bargain, 1887.
• Cris Skaife, Master Raven Keeper at the Tower of London, & Merlin the Raven.
• Singer Polaire, as famous for her extreme tight-lacing as for her voice.
• DIY advice from the 18th c.
• The East-End midnight meetings that aimed to improve the lives of Victorian London prostitutes.
• "Monokeros," or unicorns in imagery and myth.
• Showing some ankle: fashion of the suffrage movement of the 1910s-20s.
• Put your hankies in your pockets: the underground secret language of Polari.
• The charming breakfast scenes of 18th c. artist Liotard and a French breakfast conversation, c 1803.
• Dean Mahomet & his Marylebone curry house, opened in London in 1809.
• Could there be anything more charming than this box of silk handkerchiefs, c 1926?
• Images from the 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC.
• The New York City mansion where a U.S. president was a member of the wedding of a future president and first lady, 1905.
• Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the fifth most-quoted woman in the OED.
• Photo set of riding habits, suits, hats, boots, saddles, more, from the Charleston Museum's exhibition, Hunt & Habit.
• Advertisement from 1943: candy as "fighting food" for soldiers.
• Sentiment that's gone today: Victorian male friendships in photographs.
• Ten classic urban myths which you may not know are false.
• Hot air balloons and the luxuries of travel in the 1800s.
• A little history (and a few paintings) of fans.
• "Spring Fruit": A savoury soup and other 19th c. rhubarb recipes from the Cook's Oracle, 1817. Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for daily updates!
We spend some time here passing onto you news from the past and occasionally debunking myths. We are, after all, Nerdy History Girls. And so the question of historically accurate language makes our hearts go pitty-pat. Certainly this broadcast on NPR’s Fresh Air got my attention. Please give it a read or a listen (it’s not very long)—and feel free to comment.
We've often wondered how early 19th c. ladies kept warm wearing thin linen gowns in draft, unheated houses. A wool paisley shawl was a fashionable solution, but in many cases, it probably wasn't sufficient to keep away wintery chills. Flannel drawers were an apparent solution, and also apparently soundly rejected, if this 1807 caricature by George Moutard Woodward is any indication. (Click on the image to enlarge it for details.)
The print is called A Hint to the Ladies - or a Visit from Dr. FLANNEL!! The good, red-faced doctor has heard from Her Ladyship's maid that her stylish clothes leave her shivering, and has brought an old-fashioned remedy. Says Dr. Flannel: "Mrs. Jenny said your Ladyship complain'd of being cold about the loins - so I have just stept in with a warm flannel petticoat."
But Her Ladyship will have none of it. "I have no loins, fellow!" she shrieks. "Do you want to make a monster of me?!!"
What more can I say?
Above: A Hint to the Ladies - or a Visit from Dr. FLANNEL!!, coloured etching by I. Cruikshank, , after George Moutard Woodward. London, 1807. Wellcome Library. Thanks to Lindsey Fitzharris, The Chirurgeon's Apprentice, for spotting this print first.
Since it was the Edison-Ford winter estates I visited a few weeks ago (and blogged about here and here), it's only fair to give Ford some attention, too. The collection of artifacts included these two early-model autos.
I’ll let the museum’s sign tell the story, and will only add that I was struck by the apparent fragility of the vehicles, and impressed with the courage of early drivers, especially those who dared to cross a continent in these machines—on bumpy and rocky dirt roads where road signs were precious few, where gas stations were practically unknown, along which you would be sure to break some part about every five or ten miles, and the auto repair shop was the village blacksmith. Thus the supplies needed for long trips, as shown on the sign. (For more on this topic, please see my blog about Horatio’s Drive.
Please check out the vehicles, and tell me: Would you be one of the intrepid ones? Would you learn to drive in, say 1915? Would you set out on a long road trip?
I've spent the last week in Colonial Williamsburg, and as usual, I've spent much of my visit in the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop with our friends the mantua-makers and tailors. But not all of their current projects involve fine silks. This week they were stitching together a very large, very shaggy green bed rug.
Bed rugs were a heavy-duty blanket popular in 18th c. houses without central heating. In his famous dictionary, Samuel Johnson defined bed rugs as "a coarse nappy coverlet used for mean beds." Those "mean beds" primarily belonged to servants and children, who were often the individuals sleeping in the chilliest parts of the house under the eaves. Bed rugs were also used by soldiers and sailors, other demographics that slept far from a fire.
Bed rugs were purely utilitarian and decidedly unlovely, and no house-proud mistress would want one on her best bed. To modern eyes, they look like bad shag carpeting from the 1970s. Rug blankets are woven in wool on a loom, with short tufts of dyed wool yarn woven into the undyed fabric at regular intervals. The resulting fabric is dense, warm, and heavy -the completed bed rug I saw weighed about twenty pounds.
The width of the pieces are determined by the size of the loom, as can be seen with the bed rug in progress on the loom in Colonial Williamsburg's Weavers' Shop, above. The bed rugs are woven by senior weaver Max Hamrick and his apprentice Karen Clancy. The woven lengths are then sent to the seamstresses in the Margaret Hunter Shop, who sew them together into a finished bed rug to fit a double-sized bed. Below is a detail of the finished pile.
An 18th c. weaver could weave a bed rug in a day, as long as he had assistants standing by to prepare and hand him the clipped tufts of pile as he worked. Most were woven in England and imported to America, and cost around five to eight shillings. Bed rugs are frequently mentioned in advertisements of the time, and are often described as "thick spotted Rugs." Always used on the bed pile-side down, the smooth side showed the white backing punctuated by the spots where the tufts had been woven in, making the characteristic "spotted" pattern.
Few 18th c. bed rugs survive. Unlike a beautiful quilt, they weren't carefully preserved and handed down. More likely they were used until they fell apart, and all that piled wool must also have been a tasty treat for long-ago moths – as well as a haven for a good many bed-bugs and fleas as well.
Which leads back to the old expression "snug as a bug in rug." Its first noted appearance is 1772, when Benjamin Franklin used it in a satirical epitaph for a lady's pet squirrel named Skugg:
Here Skugg Lies snug As a bug In a rug.
Whether Franklin specifically meant a bed rug or not isn't known, but on a cold winter's night both poor departed Skugg and the bug could have done a lot worse than curling up with a sturdy "thick shagg'd" rug.
Post Waterloo, fashion started to move away from the simple, “classical” elegance that was the dominant look between 1800-1815. The waistlines stayed above the natural waist, for the most part, but the lines of the dress changed. While still vertical, the skirt doesn't fall quite so naturally from the waistline, and we see the early stages of that lower triangle shape that becomes more pronounced in later years. These two carriage dresses caught my eye while I was browsing, and demanded to be posted. I suspect the green and red number was a knockout in real life.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.