Shopping For the Wrong Gift

Have you ever ordered a gift for someone only to have the wrong thing delivered? Or not delivered at all?

It’s happened to me. And while online shopping is pretty convenient, it’s sometimes not so easy to get delivery errors corrected.

Gift delivery mix-ups aren’t anything new. I found a set of old Tuck & Sons illustrations from the early 1900s that illustrate the point.

The first illustration is titled “The Wrong Hamper.”

The lady looks a little unhappy to have her morning tea interrupted with a delivery of an order of snuff!

The second image in the set is titled “The Hamper He Got.”

The artist did a great job of creating an image of a man’s man, from the spurs on his boots to the glass of ale and pipe smoke, and the hunting trophies on the wall. No wonder the butler gives a little snicker over the delivery of a child’s toy.

I wonder how difficult it was to return a wrong delivery in the early 1900s?

 

The Village People

I always love finding images that help me visualize life during the Regency Era.

Recently I came across some of those kinds of images, and I thought I’d share them with you.

The artist is Graham Hyde, who was popular around 1900 to 1910 for his cartoonish illustrations.

In 1902 he produced a series of illustrations for Tuck & Sons that featured village people going about their daily lives during the late Regency/early Victorian time period.

One my favorites is this one, featuring a squire and his dog:

This one depicts children running to the town square, perhaps to see a Punch-and-Judy-style show.

Other village people illustrations include the local shepherd boy …

… and a farm worker taking a break from ploughing a field.

In 1908 Graham Hyde produced another set of illustrations along the same theme of characters you might find living in a village.

This set is more stylized and leans a little more toward Mr. Hyde’s cartoon-ish side.

This one is titled “Ye Doctor.”

Then there’s this one titled, “Ye Huntsman.”

Here’s “Ye Host,” which instantly makes me think of a landlord at a country posting inn:

And finally, here’s my favorite of the set, “Ye Village Dame.” It reminds me of Mrs. Philips running to tell Mrs. Bennet the gossip concerning Wickham’s iniquities:

What do you think of these illustrations? Do any of them remind you of characters you’ve read in classic literature?

How Many is Too Many?

Happy Saturday to you!

Do you have multiple copies of Pride and Prejudice on your bookshelf? Me, too!

My tattered, well-worn copy of P&P.

I’m on the Austen Authors blog today explaining why each copy is special and I really can’t get rid of any of them. Really, I can’t.

Click on the image below to join me at Austen Authors.

 

More on Beau Brummell and a Short Story

One of my favorite places to shop is my neighborhood antique mall and in Denver we have several. On Broadway, just south of the downtown area, is Antique Row, where antique stores of different varieties pack a seven block stretch. … Continue reading

Beau Brummell at Bonwit Teller

I’ve been working on a story that includes a secondary character who is an unabashed Regency Dandy. In his mind, appearance is everything.

In writing the character, I wanted to make certain I accurately described his attire, so I turned to my research files on the king of all dandies: Beau Brummell.

Beau Brummell, engraved from a miniature by John Cook.

When I skimmed through my files and the books I have about Beau Brummell, I realized they focused more on the events of his life and his sense of style, but really didn’t contain any actual descriptions of his clothing.

Beau Brummell, by Hubert Cole, from my library of Regency research books.

Also surprising: there’s precious little when it comes to detailed descriptions of Beau Brummell’s clothing on the Internet, either.

But in my online searches I did find something interesting. On The New School’s website, tucked into their online archives, were several photos of Brummell-inspired fashion from the 1950s.

Why were people in the 1950’s so interested in Beau Brummell? Because in 1954 MGM released a movie that was supposed to be about Beau Brummell’s life. The film starred Stewart Granger as The Beau, Peter Ustinov as the Prince of Wales, and Rosemary Harris (mother of Jennifer Ehle, my favorite Lizzy Bennet) as Mrs. Fitzherbert.

A black and white still from a scene in “Beau Brummell” starring (left to right) Elizabeth Taylor, Rosemary Harris, Stewart Granger, and Peter Ustinov.

Also in the film: Elizabeth Taylor as Lady Patricia, a totally fictional character who served only to showcase Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty and give Stewart Granger a heterosexual love interest in the midst of all the ruffles and tight breeches. (That’s the kind of thing they did in the fifties. Don’t ask me why.)

Poster for the 1954 movie, “Beau Brummell.”

The great New York department store Bonwit Teller caught a little of the Beau Brummell bug. They came up with an advertising tie-in to the movie and devoted several of their coveted 5th Avenue window displays to women’s fashion “inspired by” Beau Brummell’s dandyism.

Here’s a photo taken at the time of one of the window displays in 1954 (courtesy of The New School archives):

The female mannequin is dressed in 1950’s style high-waist pants, ruffled shirt, and a waistcoat that mimic the male’s attire. On the floor at their feet is an unraveled reel of film.

The male mannequin is wearing one of the actual costumes from the Beau Brummel movie. Here’s how that costume looked when Stewart Granger wore it in the film:

If you look closely, you can see his round hat tucked under his left arm.

Here’s another of the Bonwit Teller window displays from 1954. In this display the female mannequin is again wearing high-waist pants with a seam detail that mimics the brocade on the male mannequin’s military jacket.

He is is dressed in another costume from the movie. Here’s what Stewart Granger looked like in that same military uniform in the film:

There’s a scene mid-way through the movie when Beau Brummell joins the Prince of Wales on a hunt. Bonwit teller depicted the scene, matching their idea of a modern, 1950s woman in a red dress and heeled shoes with a gentleman’s hunting pink, which consisted of a long red coat, white shirt and pants, and black boots.

Here’s the same costume worn by Stewart Granger in the movie. With him in the scene is Rosemary Harris as Mrs. Fitzherbert and Peter Ustinov as the prince.

I was so glad to find these images, because they helped me realize Beau Brummell was not all about black tailcoats and understated fawn pantaloons.

Stewart Granger as Beau Brummel in the 1954 movie of the same name.

Those articles of clothing have been the mainstays of any Regency romance hero’s wardrobe since Georgette Heyer first described them in Devil’s Cub in 1932. But the movie costumes convinced me I can introduce color, stripes and pattern to my character’s attire and still hold true to the Dandy’s dress code.

With these costumes as a guide, I was able to write some descriptions of ensembles I think my Regency character will enjoy wearing. I even thought up an article of clothing he’ll wear that will end up playing a major role in the story.

I’m looking forward to sharing all of it with you soon!

In the meantime, if you’d like to see more photos of the Bonwit Teller window displays featuring costumes from the movie, click here to be taken to The New School Archive and Special Collections website.

 

A Gentleman’s Sporting Life

In a Regency era story I’ve been working on, my hero is a sporting man. Whatever the sport, he loves it: Fencing, boxing, fishing, shooting—they’re all on my hero’s list of favorite things to do.

Fencing at O’Saunessy’s Rooms in St James Street in 1820, by Cruickshank.

While researching different sports that were popular at the time, I came across a reference to the sport of hare-coursing.

A portion of a 17th Century painting on silk of a hunter and his dog hare-coursing.

Hare-coursing is a violent sport in which dogs are turned loose to hunt down hares by sight.

That’s all the description I’ll provide, because I find the concept of the sport too upsetting. I’m an animal lover through and through, so I’m glad to know the sport is banned in most places today.

Still, it was a normal gentleman’s pastime during the Regency, and while I’d never write about it in a story (except to condemn the practice), I was intrigued to discover there was a specific style of dress men wore for the sport.

I did a previous post (which you can read here) that featured gentlemen dressed for shooting pheasant or other game birds.

Likewise, when I stumbled upon a description of hare-coursing, I also found this image of a coat a gentleman would have worn that was specially designed for the “sport.”

From the John Bright Collection

The coat itself is made of wool, trimmed with velvet, which leads me to think hare-coursing was a popular pastime during the colder months of the year.

The coat has two deep pockets on either side of the back skirt. The size of the pockets indicates they may have been used to carry the dead hares.

But what I found most interesting was the buttons on the coat. They were cast with images of a running hare, which makes me think the garment belonged to a wealthy man who could indulge in a custom coat to wear just for engaging in hare-coursing.

I’d never glorify hare-coursing by including it in a story, but this image does inspire me to rethink my hero’s wealth. Is he the kind of man possessed of such an extensive wardrobe that he’d naturally have a custom coat made up to wear only one or two times a year?

Or would that be too vain of him?

Maybe I’ll have my hero be a little more altruistic—the kind of man who would rather put his wealth to better use.

Hmmm, the possibilities are endless!

Downton Abbey and Simpson’s-in-the-Strand

Last week I saw the movie, Downton Abbey. It was wonderful and perfect and all I hoped it would be. In fact, I smiled like an idiot through the entire 122 minutes of the film (and, yes, I sat through … Continue reading

Guys Who Read

In this post I’m going way to take a break from my usual Regency/Jane Austen topics, and linger a while in our modern world.

If you’ve been following me on this blog or on social media, you already know I love to read.

I always seem to have a book in my hand, or in my purse, or in my car, so I can make ready use of any free moment to get “just one more chapter” in.

About a week ago I realized something odd: When I think of avid readers, my mind naturally goes toward women. When I want to talk about a book, I talk about it with my girlfriends.

When I think of book clubs, I gravitate toward book clubs made up of women.

But the truth is, men read a lot, too.

Want proof? There’s an Instagram account titled “Hot Dudes Reading” you need to visit.

The account is aptly named. I didn’t have to scroll far to find plenty of examples of attractive men with books in their hands.

There are photos of military guys reading . . .

And guys reading in libraries.

There are photos of dudes reading while listening to music …

… and others who read while lowering their carbon footprint.

Some of my favorite photos are of guys who clearly get into the books they’re reading. They show it by biting their nails . . .

. . . secretly wiping away a tear . . .

. . . and holding the book a little closer as the story gets tense.

And then there’s this dude:

What could be sexier than a handsome guy reading a book while taking flowers to someone he loves?

The answer is this guy:

Oh, my heart! Yes, he is definitely a “hot dude reading,” and I’m a little bit in love with his pup, too.

I’d like to point out that viewing the photos on this Instagram account expanded my thinking considerably. I’m now much more aware of the fact that women don’t hold a monopoly on reading good books; and the next time there’s an opening in my book club, I’m going to suggest a guy fill it.

If you’d like to expand your horizons, too, and see more photos of Hot Dudes Reading, click on the link below: