Thursday, October 23, 2014

Enamelled gold scarf pin: 1850-70

Enamelled gold scarf pin set with brilliants in the shape of stars on a blue background.


1850 AD - 1870 AD

Museum of London

Riding top hat: 1863-65

Riding top hat: 1863-65

Riding top hat. Beaver felt riding hat with a lace veil, dated c. 1864. This hat was retailed by W.C. Taylor.


1863 AD - 1865 AD

Museum of London

Medium blue ribbed silk corset: 1851-1860

Medium blue ribbed silk corset: 1851-1860

Medium blue ribbed silk corset with top and bottom edge bound with self silk. Cream cotton lining previously stitched, possibly from another corset. The front fastenings are done with back lacing, lightly whale-boned and metal petticoat hook. This corset appears unworn and was possibly displayed at the Great Exhibition in 1851 or the International Exhibition in 1862. It is made of dark blue silk with centre front opening with four keyhole and stud fasteners, and opening at centre back with metal eyelets for lasing. There are two whalebone busks at the centre front. Whalebone is used throughout to shape the corset. The edges at the top, bottom, and along the back openings are bound with dark blue silk ribbon.

Roxy Anne Caplin

1851 AD - 1860 AD

Museum of London

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The "Victorian Blood Book", 1854

 And now, for the "you can't make this up" files...

Yes, this is a real book.  

It is dated September 1854.  And was a gift from father to daughter, possibly as a wedding gift.  

The pages are images from engravings, lithographs and such, cut out and decoupaged onto the page, then embellished with diluted red India ink.  The various natural and religious images seem to be conveying various Christian imagery, heavily laced with possible Freemason and/or Knights Templar themes. 

Here, you can read the collections information as well as I can:


Alternate Title: Victorian Blood Book; "To Amy Lester Garland--A legacy left in his lifetime for her future examination by her affectionate father"

Creator: Garland, John Bingley; Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966, former owner

Date:   September 1, 1854 (inscribed)

Evelyn Waugh, whose manuscripts and 3,500-volume library are now at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, was an inveterate collector of things Victorian (and well ahead of most of his contemporaries in this regard). Undoubtedly the single most curious object in the entire library is a large oblong folio decoupage book, often referred to as the "Victorian Blood Book."

Its decoupage was assembled from several hundred engravings, many taken from books of etchings by William Blake, as well as other illustrations from early nineteenth-century books. The principal motifs are natural (birds, animals, and especially snakes) and Christian (images of the crucifixion, scenes from the Bible, and crusaders). Drops of red india ink and extensive religious commentary have been added to many of the images. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and after more than 150 years, the adhesion of the decoupages is still perfect. The book bears an inscription by one John Bingley Garland to his daughter Amy and dated September 1, 1854: "A legacy left in his lifetime for her future examination by her affectionate father." Shortly afterwards, she married the Reverend Richard Pyper, so the album was probably an early wedding present.

A 2008 Maggs Brothers catalog includes a group of eccentric decoupages taken from one or more albums, described as being in the style of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones. The style and content of these works, which feature groups of angels and blue or gold doves, are aptly described as "weird" and "rather elegant but very scary." They are unmistakably from the same hand as the Waugh book.

The existence of other such items suggests some kind of mass production, yet internal evidence indicates otherwise. John Bingley Garland was a prosperous Victorian businessman who moved to Newfoundland, went on to become speaker of its first Parliament, and returned to Stone Cottage in Dorset to end his days. A document still in the Garland family bears the same sanguinary ornamentation along with his signature. J. B. Garland's will mentions in passing "all the mythological paintings in the Library purchased by me in Italy"—perhaps a small clue to his artistic interests? Most importantly, the inscriptions in the dedication and the text are in the same hand. In recent years scholarship has focused on the significance of Victorian scrapbooking, which was almost exclusively the province of women. Scrapbooking was largely a means of organizing newspaper clippings and other information; the esthetic aspect was entirely secondary. In the lack of any information to the contrary, this apparently conventional paterfamilias must be regarded as the principal, if not the only, begetter of the decoupage, and if it was his alone, he must have spent hundreds of hours at the task.

How does one "read" such an enigmatic object? We understandably find elements of the grotesque and surreal. But our eyes view it differently from Victorian ones. As Garland's descendants have written, "our family doesn't refer to...'the Blood Book;' we refer to it as "Amy's Gift" and in no way see it as anything other than a precious reminder of the love of family and Our Lord."

The first plate contains a short table of contents and the title "Durenstein!" (Dürenstein, the Austrian castle in which Richard the Lionhearted was held captive). The title and the theme of many of the plates relates to the spiritual battles encountered by Christians along the path of life and the "blood" to Christian sacrifice. According to the Garland family, "it is full of symbols of both Human and Non-Human 'Crusaders and Protectors' of God and Christianity and most of the Verses, Quotes, etc are encouraging one to turn to God as our Saviour."

The Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Mrs Hicks, Mary, Rosa and Elgar, 1857

George Elgar Hicks, RBA (British, 1824-1914)

Mrs Hicks, Mary, Rosa and Elgar, 1857

watercolour heightened with white and gum arabic,

64 x 45.5cm (25 3/16 x 17 15/16in).


Edward Hicks and thence by descent.

Geffrye Museum, London George Elgar Hicks Painter of Victorian Life (October 1982), no. 6.

(ex. cat.), R. Allwood, George Elgar Hicks Painter of Victorian Life (Geffrye Museum, London 1983), no. 6.

The present lot depicts Hick's wife, Maria, and their three youngest children. It is likely that they are depicted at their home in 16 Ladbroke Villas although Allwood suggests that the house may be 2 Aubrey Street where the family moved to in 1857.

Look at the Time, n.d.

Look at the Time

Gustave-Leonard de Jonghe

Date unknown

Measurements:  25 5/8 by 20 1/2 in. alternate measurements 65 by 62 cm

image via the Athenaeum

Marie Adeline Plunket (1824–1910), 1854

Marie Adeline Plunket (1824–1910)

by Richard Buckner

Date painted: 1854

Oil on canvas, 89 x 54.5 cm

Birmingham Museums Trust (UK) [via the BBC]