Friday, April 29, 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday and Sepia Saturday - Time for Tiaras

 The Penny Black

 The suggested theme for this Postcard Friendship Friday is "time".  Time for Tiara's, I thought, might be appropriate for this day of celebrating the wedding of Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton.  We'll go from something old to something new beginning with the Penny Black stamp.

 The Penny Black was the first adhesive backed postage stamp issued in the United Kingdom in 1840.  A young Queen Victoria is featured on this penny postage stamp. She is wearing the King George IV Diadem.  This diamond crown was made for the coronation of George IV and has been handed down in time though a succession of Kings and Queens to Elizabeth II.  The diadem is among the personal jewels of the Queen as opposed the The Crown Jewels which belong to the United Kingdom.  The Queen has to resort to her personal collection when she travels, as the Crown Jewels cannot leave the country.

Queen Victoria is wearing another of her diamond tiaras.  the George III Tiara, in this "Gifts of the Magi" styled painting. 

It was Queen Victoria who initiated the bridal tradition of wearing white with her white satin and lace gown. In lieu of a tiara she wore orange blossoms in her hair. Prior to 1840, and certainly for many years after, women wore a dress in colors and materials that they could wear for other occasions. Wearing a white dress became - not a sign of purity as we were led to believe - but as a sign of wealth!   It was the wealthy who followed Victoria's lead at first.  Orange blossoms, according to my 1830 etiquette book was reserved for the bride.  Bridesmaids and ladies in waiting must not wear them. The custom of orange blossoms began in ancient China.  They are a sign of purity and fruitfulness.  The custom spread through Europe during the crusades and became popular in England during the early 1800's.

 Queen Elizabeth II wore  the George III Tiara - also called the Diamond Fringe -on her wedding day as "something borrowed" from her mother.  It was incorrectly speculated that this tiara would be the "something borrowed" for today's bride.  Instead, Kate Middleton is wearing the "halo" tiara which was made by Cartier and given to Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday.

Princess Diana's "something borrowed" were the diamond and pearl earrings lent by her mother.  Her beautiful tiara -which she said gave her a cracking headache - is from the Spencer family jewels.

Queen Elizabeth II is featured on this 1960 postage stamp.  She is wearing, 120 years later, the same tiara worn by Queen Victory on the Penny Black.
The new bride, the Duchess of Cambridge is shown wearing "something borrowed"  halo tiara. Her lace and satin gown is very reminiscent of Grace Kelly's wedding gown.

Queen Victoria's Handmade Wedding Shoes

Kate's wedding shoes have been hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. Do you suppose a sixpence has been sewn into the lining for good luck?

Now that you have your shoes on, dance over HERE for more Postcard Friendship Friday, and HERE for Sepia Saturday

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sepia Saturday - A Bite of Altruism for Easter

Headlines on April 19, 1908
 Women's Altruism Shown By The Growing Custom Of Dining In Public On Easter Sunday

I spent  quite a bit of time trying to understand what "altruism" had to do with dining out on Easter.  I finally enlarged the picture so I could read the subtitle:

 In Church or On The Avenue She Could Not Give So Much Delight To Others Who Might Wish To Examine Her New Spring Finery At Close Range And In Exhaustive Detail

Well, that sure explains it

 The custom of Easter finery began in early Europe when ones finest clothing and special clothing for special occasions was considered a sign of respect.

Easter Parade, 5th Ave. New York, 1912

The New York Easter Parade began in the late 1800's as a spontaneous event that continues today.
My guess is the cars  - with attached chauffeurs - are riding, as instructed, next to their owners. Should Mr. or Mrs. Weatherscoop, III tire, turn an ankle, or suffer from the vapours, they might repair to the automobile for a respite from the exhausting crowds.
Couple in their Easter Finery, 1914
Henry, this hobnail skirt is going to be the death of me yet!
Eloise, the sound of that velvet swishing with each and every one of your mincing little steps is setting my teeth on edge.
Mince, Henry? You've made me feel a bit peckish.  I think I shall be altruistic and dine out with you this afternoon.

Easter 1952, Royal Oak Michigan

l-r Back, Janet, Mom (Delphine), Cynthia age 6
Front: Jim, Joe

See the white sugar egg with a little Easter scene inside in my Easter basket (second from the left)?  I asked for that specifically and was delighted to find it on Easter morning. Along with the usual jelly beans you'll see a delicious nest with jelly bean "eggs" from Saunder's (yum!) and a card with jacks to play with.  I don't see the ball though. It's probably already under the couch. 
By the time this picture was taken we had already attended 8:00 Mass at St. Mary's and had waffles for breakfast..  I remember the basket and the dress (white with purple and aqua wheels on it) but I don't recall what we did for the rest of the day. Probably the sugar high has blurred the remainder of that Easter memory.
For more Sepia Saturday go HERE!

Have a Blessed Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sepia Saturday - Demimondes and Loose Women

Irene Bordoni - French Singer, Broadway and Film Actress - 1885-1953
I recently acquired "The Ladies Book of Useful Information" compiled from "many sources" and published in 1896 in London Ontario.

If one wishes to enhance one's charms and maintain a rosy complexion this is THE book to have.  Every possible subject is covered - everything!  Hair and complexion care, how one can make a medicine to cure dyspeptic water brash, rid one's mattress of bedbugs, make a fine coffee starch for dark shirt bosoms and the art of Decalomania. Oh, and sex. It's all there.

Chapter I jumped right in on the subject most important to women who wish to find themselves a man and also maintain their youthful looks when they surpass the age when beauty often begins to fade - twenty - one.  Included are helpful hints and recipes for a graceful figure, melting eyes, brilliancy of the complexion, and luxuriance of the hair.

Make-up, or rather, paints is the first item of discussion. The authors may mince meat, but they don't mince words: These paints are "characterized as a species of corporeal hypocrisy as subversive of delicacy of mind as it is of the natural complexion...a destruction of beauty..." Women of all times and nations have fallen into this deceitful habit worldwide, including "the denziens of London and Paris...and certain ladies of the demimonde...The ladies of Eastern nations commonly heighten the hue and freshness of their lips by means of cosmetics, a practice which in Western Europe is only adopted on stage, and occasionally by courtesans and (it's them again) the ladies of the demimonde."
Lucky for us, I have an old unabridged dictionary which explains that a demimonde (demi-half and monde - world)  is of class of women who indiscriminately conduct themselves in such a way that their character is suspect. This might be, perhaps, a neighbor lady who is seen stepping  aboard a streetcar without an escort.  It could be a maiden of age who entertains a male who is unrelated, or related beyond first cousin, in her apartments.  Perhaps you see your cousin Elvira dining with several other ladies in a place where there is dancing and boisterous music.  Demimondes all!

But I digress.

Hair, the luxuriant crowning jewel of the lady, is discussed in great detail. It is recommended that one should wash one's hair no more than once every two or three weeks.  If some lady out there in bloggy-land would be kind enough to follow this instruction, along with before and after pictures we would all appreciate your doing so. Be sure and dress your hair daily using pomatum to which a few grains of carbonate of lead have been added.

The authors have apparently accepted the idea of hair colouring and have taken pains to suggest ingredients (do not try these at home) for safe and satisfactory hair colours of various shades:
shade: ingredient
auburn to black:  iron and bismuth
fine natural chestnut to auburn to black: salts of silver
reddish brown to auburn and black: lead
lead dyes are suggested for both ladies and children to impart a light reddish brown tint to hair.

Mrs. George Beltrious Megaboof died this morning at age 32. The cause of death is unknown, but suspected to be an ailment of the nerves, weak blood flow to the limbs and dyspepsia.  She will be remembered for her luxurious auburn hair.

A recipe for lovely golden hued hair:

1. procure a packet of gold powder from your hairdresser
2. Have a perfume atomizer filled with a weak solution of gum of Arabic and water at the ready.
3. After hair is dressed, spritz all over with the gum and water solution.
4. sprinkle liberally with gold powder.

This may be put on thick enough to hide the color of the hair and owing to the gum, will stay on while the lady is dancing.  The effect by artificial light is beautiful.

Despite their earlier thoughts about face paints, the authors were kind enough to include a recipe for liquid rouge - a harmless natural looking bloom and perfect imitation of nature:

Add to a pint of French brandy, 1/2 oz benzoin, 1 oz. red sandalwood, half an oz. Brazil wood, and the same quantity of rock alum. Cork the bottle, shake it well once a day and at the end of twelve days it should be fit for use.  The cheeks are to be lightly touched with it. 

Mrs. Aloyisous Billentort was last seen boarding a streetcar without an escort.  She appeared to be carrying a pint of French brandy, a little bundle of sticks and a druggist's brown paper packages tied up with string.

Stay tuned - this sepia text is filled with information to share. Perhaps we will discuss the lady's lips and complexion care in our next installment.  Or a delicious restorant made with mercury. Or sex.  One or the other.

In the meantime, check out our Sepia Saturday posts HERE!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poetry Bus - Has an Egret Perched on the Seat

Titus is driving the Poetry Bus this week - well, more of an ark, really which is appropriate based on all of the rain that has visited Florida during the last 4 days. Probably about 12 inches total.  I'm not complaining!  I love a good thunderstorm. 

Titus' prompt is an inventive list of feathered and furry beasts that deserve nothing less than a poem about themselves.  I chose a feathered friend that isn't even on the list - but Titus allows for those of us who feel the need to change seat assignments.

The Egret

Poised at water’s edge
With steady gaze
For silver glint of fish to blaze
And briefly cut the surface
Of the pond

Barely breathing
He waits
With instinctive stillness

Time passes around him
But not for him

As he observes
The mirrored surface
And sees beyond his beauty

Cynthia Ann Conciatu, 1994

Marjorie Shuck Award, 1996
Florida State Poets Association

Hop on the Bus HERE!