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|Friday, February 05, 2010|
Though I have not yet read a Regency novel in which an orrery has been introduced, these complex and often exquisite objects were very popular during that decade. Many cultured gentlemen, or gentlemen with pretensions to culture, would have had an orrery on display in their library or book room, often alongside a terrestrial globe, usually paired with a celestial globe.
A brief history of the orrery and some personal recollections of these elegant devices ...
Condiments, that is. With a castar, a castor, or a caster. All spellings were current and acceptable during the decade of the Regency. However, today the name of this useful item of table furniture is most commonly spelled "caster." Though it had originated on the tables of royalty and the nobility in the late sixteenth century, the caster eventually became an item commonly used in most well-to-do households by the late eighteenth century.
By the Regency, the caster had joined forces with other condiments containers and together they held high court on most formal dining tables from the vantage point of the epergne
A diverting drinking vessel which could be found in village inns and public houses for centuries had a resurgence in popularity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These vessels had been made throughout England and northern Europe since at least the fifteenth century. Most commonly called puzzle jugs, they were also sometimes called teasing pitchers or wager jugs. It was a challenge to determine how to drink the liquor which they contained and wagers were often placed on the outcome of the attempt.
By the time of the Regency, puzzle jugs were being made not only for use in inns and taverns, but also for home use. Many gentlemen enjoyed entertaining their male visitors with drinking games using their own puzzle jugs.
During my career as a museum curator, I came across some rather unique English glass forms. The manufacture of some of these glass types pre-dates the Regency, but a large number of these vessels would still have been in circulation during those years, and any one of them would make an interesting prop for a scene in a Regency romance. As I have mentioned in other articles here, objects made before the Regency could easily appear in an historically accurate novel set during that decade. But objects made after that time would appear in a novel with a Regency setting only if the author had failed to do their research.
If one day you come across mention of a toddy lifter, a coaching glass, a celery vase or a yard of ale when you are reading an historical novel, you will now have some idea of how these curiosities of glass looked, and the purposes to which they might be put.
|Friday, February 06, 2009|
." Like "redingote
," for me it is a "Georgette Heyer word," since I first encountered it in the pages of one of her novels, though that was so long ago I cannot remember which one. I knew from the context that it was the centerpiece of a dining table. But of what was it made, how big was it, how was it shaped, what was its purpose? If you wanted to know things like that, Heyer
left it up to you to figure them out for yourself. Of course, a standard dictionary was not much help in that effort, as it provided essentially the same information I was able to glean from the context of the passage in the novel.
Years later, while a student of the decorative arts
, I finally did take the time to investigate the epergne. Only to discover that the epergne was something different in different countries and at different times. Here I shall outline the evolution of the epergne in England, with a focus on the Regency Epergne. You may then judge for yourself whether the epergne you encounter in the next Regency novel you read is accurately depicted.
Posted on 02/06/09 at 07:06:00 by Kathryn Kane
Thank you for your kind words, Cecile. I am glad you like the site. I thought other readers of Regency romances might feel as I do, and want to know more about how things really were at that time. I try to publish a new article every week, so I hope you will stop by regularly.
Wow! Very well researched and certainly interesting. I love your site and can see how passionate you are about the Regency era. I wish I could spend time studying this period, since I did not have the chance in college, but finding the time is difficult. I'm glad to have found this.
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A deliciously old-fashioned word, "garniture" first entered the English language in the sixteenth century and over the years acquired several different meanings. It has its roots in the French word garnir
, which translates as "garnish." But what was garnished?
Initially, it was used as a term for equipment, especially that found in the kitchen. In the seventeenth century it came to mean ornamentation of furniture, swords and horse harness. By the eighteenth century it was also used to refer to the trimming of significant dishes for the table. In the nineteenth century it added yet another definition, that of clothing as the embellishment or "garnishment" of the human form. But after this diverse career, by the years of the Regency, "garniture" had acquired a more specialized meaning and was used to designate a specific type of household ornament.
|Friday, November 28, 2008|
The Romans brought the closely-guarded secret of glassmaking to Britain during their occupation of those fair isles. But they did not share the arcane knowledge of the craft with the indigenous population. The first evidence of a native glass industry in England is in 680 AD, in the area of Jarrow
and Wearmouth. There is evidence of other glassmaking centers in operation by the thirteenth century in several areas throughout England.
The first major milestone in the development of glass since Roman times occurred in London in 1675. George Ravenscroft
, an English merchant who had spent some time in Venice
, and had traded in glass from the island of Murano
, began to experiment with new formulas for glass. His intent was to improve English glassware to compete with European, especially Venetian, products. He set up his glassworks on the north bank of the Thames at the Savoy in 1673. There he began his experiments, and eventually discovered that replacing part of the volume of silica in the glass with lead oxide
, called "red lead," enhances the properties of transparency, purity and lustre in the glass. Thus was born English lead crystal, called so because of it similarity to the natural quartz
stone commonly known as "rock crystal."
It is the considered opinion of most experts on glass
that the cut glass made during the Regency is some of the finest ever produced by English glassmakers. Within the study of glass, the stylistic "Regency" period is loosely defined as the years between 1800 and 1830. Why were these years so influential in the history of glass?