Archive for May, 2011

Last week I featured the book, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, a moralizing children’s book that Jane Austen kept all through her lifetime. As she was growing up, she was probably familiar with the Cinderella fairytale. Hundreds of versions of the folk tale from a variety of European sources exist, but the myth goes as far back as ancient Greece and China.  The story of the cinder maid and the glass slipper was popularized in 1697 by Charles Perrault in Histoires, ou Contes du Temps Passè.  

Written for the aristocratic Salons of C17th French society, Perrault’s ‘Cendrillon’ is stripped of all violent, bawdy or socially moralizing material and is instead focused primarily on entertaining. – The Origins of the Cinderella Story

The images in this post show the paper dolls based on Perrault’s tale that were popular during Jane Austen’s time.

1814, Cinderella or the Glass Slipper. Image @Theriault's.

The images shown above and below are for sale at Theriault’s: The Doll Masters

Lot: 17. An 1814 English Paper Doll and Book “Cinderella” by S&J Fuller
A paper bound miniature book,5″ x 4″,recounts in “beautifully versified” form the favored fairy tale,and was designed to be read while playing with the paper dolls,vignettes and accessories that illustrate the tale,comprising six costume scenes including the wedding,and Cinderella’s coach and horses (in two sections). An inscription inside the front cover reads “To my dear little niece Constance Foley”. S&J Fuller,Temple of Fancy,Rathbone Place,London,1814. Structure and lovely delicate colors of paper dolls and scenes well preserved,coachman’s head missing,one hand missing,stain on book cover. England,1814.

Image @Theriault's.

Around 1810, the London firm of  S. & J. Fuller published books with paper dolls. The 1814 book (or Book of Instruction, as printed on the cover) relates the Cinderella story in verse and is illustrated with cut out figures.

It is interesting to note that Cinderella’s head is removable and can be placed on various paper cut bodies. You see her in the image below walking through a town scape and churning butter. Children could arrange the characters in the paper sets, or drama sheets, and reenact the story.

While these scenic play books became increasingly popular, I imagine that they must have been very expensive and affordable only by the well-to-do.

Image @Theriault's.

The image below contains fancy gowns and the marriage ceremony in which Cinderella marries her prince. Cinderella’s high-waisted costumes have a decided Renaissance influence, and the prince could have doubled for Romeo.

Image @Theriault's.

Cinderella’s head becomes much more refined once she hooks up with the prince, as you can see below. She is given a fashionable hat and a jeweled tiara with feathers. The head can also be placed on the figure in the carriage, when the Cinderella story has come full circle.

Image @Theriault's.

The beautiful versified edition of Cinderella below was donated in 1991 by Ms. Julia P. Wightman to the  The Morgan Library in New York.  Printed in 1819, the paper cut dolls seem more refined than in the 1817 version, especially Cinderella’s head, which has blond hair. Click on the open book images to read portions of the verse.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

Image @Morgan Library.

The image below is from Picturing Childhood: The evolution of the illustrated children’s book.  Therieaults the Doll Master, Cinderella Paper Dolls, 1814, Published by S. and J. Fuller, London, 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm) (approx.) Note that Cinderella’s elegant head is placed in the wedding scene. In this instance her hair is dark again..

Image @Picturing Childhood

Below is a more traditional children’s book version of Cinderella. It was published in 1827 and illustrated with hand–colored woodcuts. By the mid-19th century, lithography and printing were being used routinely in book illustrations, but such drawings were still rare when this book came out.

Cinderella, John Harris, London. 1827

In 1812, the Brothers Grimm wrote the Cinderella story that seems more familiar to readers today. By the end of the 19th century, over 300 versions of the Cinderella story existed in Europe. In those years:

The Fairy–Godmother seems more frightening than her later benevolent renderings, such as in Disney’s film version of the story. – Past Times: Cinderella :18th and 19th century Cinderella books.

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Mansfield Park, Brock. Image @Austenprose

During the 17th century, ladies used parasols for protection from the sun. A century later they were using oiled umbrellas as protection from the rain as well. By the early 19th century, the design of the umbrella had improved and its use had become widespread. After Maria’s marriage, Fanny Price was overtaken by a heavy shower close to the Parsonage and sought shelter under an oak. When the Grants spotted her, they sent out a servant, but Fanny was reluctant to come in:

A civil servant she had withstood but when Dr Grant himself went out with an umbrella there was nothing to be done but to be very much ashamed and to get into the house as fast as possible; and to poor Miss Crawford, who had just been contemplating the dismal rain in a very desponding state of mind, sighing over the ruin of all her plans of exercise for that morning, and of every chance of seeing a single creature beyond themselves for the next twenty four hours, the sound of a little bustle at the front door and the sight of Miss Price dripping with wet in the vestibule was delightful. – Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Beauty in search of knowledge, 1782. This 18th century woman carries an early version of an umbrella. These models were heavy and cumbersome. Image @Harry Elkins Widener Collection, Harvard College

A century before Mansfield Park was published (1814) men did not use umbrellas, which were regarded as women’s accessories:

A young man who borrowed one from a coffee house in a downpour in 1709 was excoriated as effeminate in a newspaper. It would have been a cumbersome model, ill-suited to being carried around. Similar heavy umbrellas were kept in churches to protect the parson during burial services. – A Brief History of the Umbrella 

Yet the following passage from Notes and queries, Volume 54, William White (Oxford University Press, 1876,  p. 202), suggests that men began to use umbrellas earlier than Jonas Hanway, who braved ridicule from street urchins and hackney coachmen, who regarded the use of the umbrella as a threat to their livelihood:

1745 – Paid for umbrella, box and carriage.
It is not stated for whose use this was intended; most probably for the minister when officiating at funerals. This is a remarkable entry, as the introduction of umbrellas into England is attributed to a much later period. The employment of the umbrella in the streets London is said to have been by Jonas Hanway, who died in 1786; but the following passage from the Trivia of Gay, who died in 1732, shows it was in use at a much earlier period

Good housewives Defended by th’ umbrella’s oily shed,
Safe through the wet on clinking pattens tread.”

Wet under foot, James Gillray. Image @Wikigallery. The woman is wearing "clinking" pattens as well as carrying an umbrella.

In 1893, Georgiana Hill wrote this descriptive history of the umbrella in England:

Umbrellas were a recent fashion in the earlier part of the century. During the first ten years of George the Third’s reign, the only umbrellas in use were large carriage umbrellas, which required an attendant to hold them. In the country they were hardly known at all. The philanthropist, Jonas Hanway, in 1756, boldly unfurled an umbrella in the streets of London, being the first man who ventured upon such an innovation. Surely Hanway deserves to be held in grateful remembrance by the male sex for this spirited effort towards the emancipation of his brethren from the thraldom of custom. He was jeered and ridiculed by the populace, but was not to be laughed into giving up the sheltering oilskin. About twenty years later, a valiant footman named John Macdonald began to use a silk umbrella, which he had brought from Spain. The boys shouted after him: “Frenchman, why don’t you get a coach?” but he grasped his umbrella more firmly and went on his way, and in some three months time he was able to use it without exciting remark. Miss J. Gay Trivia Hutton, writing in 1779 from Derbyshire, says: “Mrs Greaves lent us their umbrella, and servant to carry it.” Miss Hutton’s brother was the person to use an umbrella in Birmingham, a Frenchman being the first.

Jonas Hanway. Image @Wikipedia. This caricature depicts how long early umbrella handles were.

The town beau, when he first carried an umbrella, was caricatured in the prints as the rain-beau holding a tiny parasol over his head. A gentleman once borrowed an umbrella from the mistress of a coffee- house in Cornhill, and after the following satirical advertisement in The Female Tatler: “The young gentleman belonging to the Custom house, that for fear of rain borrowed the umbrella from Will’s Coffee house in Cornhill, of the mistress, is hereby advertised to be dry from head to foot on the like occasion he shall be welcome to the maid’s pattens.”

A meeting of umbrellas, James Gillray, 1782. By now, men used umbrellas as a matter of course.

An illustration of the want of umbrellas afforded in one of the caricatures of the period, showing a respectable citizen’s family from Vauxhall in a downpour of rain – the old gentleman with a handkerchief tied over his head to save his wig, and his wife’s cardinal on his to protect his best coat, while the wife herself and her daughters are tripping along in gowns turned up round their waists, and their heads enveloped in coloured handkerchiefs. In 1797 there was one umbrella in all Cambridge, and that was kept at a shop, and let out like a sedan chair ,by the hour. In London women carried umbrellas before men had taken to them, but the first umbrellas were heavy awkward machines made of oilskin or taffeta. Still, in spite of their cumbrous character, women who had to trudge along the streets on rainy days rejoiced in their shelter. With cloak and umbrella, they were able to face the dripping roofs and waterspouts, which were as much to be avoided as the rain. To the fashionable lady. who only walked in fine weather, the one important consideration was the parasol, but it was otherwise with the thrifty citizeness. Great must have been the relief and saving of clothes when the new invention came into use:

Good housewives all the winter’s rage despise,
Defended by the riding hood’s disguise;
Or underneath the umbrella’s oily shade,
Safe through the wet on clinking pattens tread.
Let Persian dames the umbrella’s ribs display,
To guard their beauties from the sunny ray;
Or sweating slaves support the shady load,
When Eastern monarchs show their state abroad;
Britain in winter only knows its aid,
To guard from chilling showers the walking maid.”
– J Gay Trivia

– A history of English dress from the Saxon period to the present day, Volume 1, By Georgiana Hill , 1893, p. 173-74.

The Umbrella, 1820. This cartoon depicts how little protection these early umbrellas afforded. Cruikshank exaggerates the woman's size to demonstrate the point. Image @Art Tattler

Early umbrellas were heavy and cumbersome to use:

Early umbrellas were made of oiled silk with heavy wooden frames which made them difficult to open or close when wet. Whalebone (baleen) was also used but this still made the article heavy. It wasn’t until 1852 that Samuel Fox invented the steel ribbed umbrella claiming that he was using up stocks bought for making corsets. This made umbrellas much lighter and more portable. – Come rain or shine: historic umbrellas and parasols 

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The Magnificent Ceremonial Horses of the Wedding Procession Conduct the Royal Couple to a New Life is an article written by Patty of Brandy Parfums for Horse Directory Magazine. Patty and the editor of the magazine have graciously allowed me to publish the article on this blog.

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment surround the Royal Couple

Royal-horse-loving early-risers who tuned in on April 29, 2011 for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now the Duke and
Duchess of Cambridge, may have noted that the trip to Westminster Abbey was a break with royal tradition in that there were no horses. Instead, the procession included a motorcycle escort, a 1950 Rolls-Royce Royal Phantom IV for Kate and her father, and other limos and mini-vans. In absolute contrast, the splendid procession back to Buckingham Palace featured the trotting Royal Mews carriage horses, and the trotting mounted Household Cavalry regimental horses of the Life Guards, and the Blues and Royals.

Panoramic view of the wedding procession

The carriage horses in the procession were mainly Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays from the Royal Mews, a 32 horse stable near Buckingham Palace. All the royal carriage horses are first trained to be ridden, and then they are taught to pull a carriage. Most were bred at the private Royal Mews, Hampton Court Palace. The Greys pulled the 1902 State Landau of the newlyweds, as well as the 1830 Scottish State Coach with the Queen and Prince Philip. The Bays pulled the Ascot Landaus, and the 1988 Australian State Coach. In the procession, there were four outriders on four of the carriage horses.

A team of Windsor Greys pull the 1902 State Landau. Image @USA Today

Riding alongside a beaming Prince William and his bride Catherine in the 1902 State Landau was William’s friend, Major Nicholas van Cutsem of the Household Cavalry, on his beautiful charger Darcy. The happiness of the royal couple in the open landau delighted the crowd.

The procession. Image @USA Today

Other notable horses in the Household Cavalry mounted procession included Valerian, Goliath, and surprisingly, the horses Beatrice, William and Catherine (also known as Fat Kat!). Viper and Valerian are twenty years old, the oldest of the 184 horses on duty on that day. While the average regimental horse stands at 16.2hh or bigger, Goliath is18.2hh. According to his regiment, Goliath is a “loveable horse with great manners, that is, until he is in sight of the feed stall. He will certainly escape and get his fill.”

A horse and four team pull the carriage with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Image @USA Today

These and the other mounted horses are all Irish Draught/Thoroughbred Crosses, bred in Ireland to be strong enough to carry the weight of the rider, heavy regimental kit, and tack. There are 235 Cavalry Black horses, along with 14 greys, and 3 drum horses (not used on the day), all housed in the Hyde Park Barracks.

The Life Guards practice in Hyde Park

The Life Guards, regimental horse troops who protect the sovereign, originally date back to the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. All the mounted riders in the wedding procession took great care with their kits. One of the riders, Lance Corporal Daniel Hughes told the Telegraph “We’re proud and we’re always striving to be the best.”

State harness cleaner David Oates polishes the round buckle part of the state harness. Image @USA Today

It took 5 hours to clean the tack, and 6 hours to clean the uniform, shine the brass armor and helmet topped with horsehair, whiten the gloves, and then he had to shine the boots to a mirror image, and extra time, of course, to groom the horses to a glossy coat, with perfectly cut mane.

Once ready, the horses and riders were given an official inspection by the Silver Stick (the historic protective officer for the monarch), Colonel Stuart Cowen, Commander Household Cavalry. Captain Roly Spiller told the Telegraph, “The main thing is that we get the bride and groom from the Abbey safely back to the Palace.”

Soldiers from the Household Cavalry

Most of the mounted riders are primarily operational soldiers who have been deployed in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan. A special charity looks after the returning soldiers – the Household Cavalry Central Charitable Fund which incorporates the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund.

Lewisham horses train to be part of the Grey escort

The hours of training of the all the horses by the coachmen and regimental riders resulted in a resplendent joyous procession on the royal wedding day of William and Catherine

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Among the possessions Jane Austen passed down after her death is a miniature book for children, The History of Goody Little Two-Shoes, whose pages were filled with moral lessons for children. During the 18th century, it was regarded as one of the most popular children’s books, and its popularity lasted into the 19th century. As you can see in the image below, Jane’s copy of the book is bound with gilt and and flowered Dutch paper boards. The frontispiece is crudely colored; the front page is inscribed with the name, ‘Jane Austen.’

Jane Austen's copy of Little Goody Two Shoes. Image @Jane Austen em Portugues

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes was an early book for children that had a huge influence on the way that children were taught to read, from its publication in 1765 until the mid 19th century. Although its sententiousness and overbearing morality might cause hilarity today, it was in several ways a revolutionary publication in its time. – Read the rest of the passage in this link 

The History of Little Goody Two Shoes taught a moral lesson: Good behavior on earth will bring heavenly rewards.

In it, a young orphaned girl called Miss Margery Meanwell is so poor she only has half a pair of shoes. When a friend gives her an actual pair of shoes as a gift, she becomes known to the other children as Little Goody Two Shoes. Little Margery becomes not only a mentor and tutor to the children, she grows up to become a wise teacher, helping adults learn peaceful techniques for resolving quarreling and promoting tolerance. Through her acts of charity and benevolence, Miss Margery is carried from her humble station in life and becomes a lady of means. – Shoes are more than just fashion accessories 

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes was originally published in 1765.  The text is typically attributed either to John Newbery or Oliver Goldsmith, and the illustrations by “Michael Angelo” were most likely by Richard Johnson, who used the pseudonym as author of Juvenile Sports and Pastimes, published by Newbery’s stepson Thomas Carnan. – The History of Goody Two Shoes, Rare Book Room

Image @Wikipedia

The phrase  “goody two-shoes” is often used to describe an excessively virtuous person. (Wikipedia)

Image from a digital version of the book. This image is more refined than the one in Jane Austen's miniature book

Listen to a History of Little Goody Two Shoes: Podcast 

Image from a digital version of the book

Some of the reading exercises for children are evident on these two pages.

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From the desk of Shelley DeWees…The Uprising.

If Elizabeth had not known better, she would have sworn he was deliberately throwing himself in her way, but she did know better. Whenever they were in company together, Darcy was usually cool and aloof, yet he chose to stare at her constantly, and with a level of intensity that had begun to make her uncomfortable. Sure such a handsome, wealthy, intelligent man, who was used to nothing but the very finest in society, could not deign to look upon a woman of her inferior station and circumstances in life unless it was to find fault; and, indeed, she knew he had found fault with her, almost from the very first moment of their acquaintance at the assembly in Meryton some weeks ago.”

A departure from P&P while still calling itself a re-telling, The Truth About Mr. Darcy is a middle-of-the-road revisit to the beloved land of Jane’s Hertfordshire….it’s not stupendous, it’s not terrible. It starts slow. It ends slow. But the middle is a moderately interesting take on Darcy and Elizabeth’s path to matrimony, with all its major ups (money money everywhere) and smallish downs (minor disagreements followed by make-up sex).

The back of the book poses a question to Mr. Darcy. Should he tell the truth about his old nemesis George Wickham in order to protect the good citizens of Meryton from Wickham’s lies and secrets? Well, in a word, yes. He should. And does within the first two chapters, employing a moment of self-truth that would, had it occurred in the original P&P, caused all measure of heartache and sadness to be averted. What to do now? Especially since Elizabeth immediately follows suit in working out her out neurosis with prejudice right away, denying his first proposal but agreeing to a courtship that she reasons (admirably and in a drastic departure from Ms. Austen’s typical character attributes) will help her actually know this guy, this supposed husband/lover/friend/parent/guardian person she’s to spend her life attached to. Thus, the relationship begins, burgeoning passions ensue, then the wedding, and before you know it the book is over.

It’s a lovely story in all actuality, and Adriani tells it well. There seem to be a lot of modern flavors working here, including the aforementioned “let’s get to know that dude over there before agreeing to marriage” thing and the departure from the “let’s not have any sexual contact before the big day” thing. Having always suspected that many people in Regency England were guilty of violations of propriety in the name of love and/or passion, I found that rather refreshing and, frankly, long overdue in Austen spin offs. That Adriani should take a modern view of relationships and graft it onto Darcy and Elizabeth I found impressive and inspiring! Go you, Ms. Adriani! The courtship is honest and communicative, and paves the way for many heartfelt conversations and even more heartfelt turns in the sack (which were all super sexy but got to be little gratuitous by the end).

Spoiler Alert in this paragraph:

The rest of the experience in The Truth About Mr. Darcy was good-ish, not great, not horrific. There was, however, one moment where my hand went to my forehead, accompanied by an outspoken “Oh come ON!” and an exasperated sigh when Mr. Wickham’s nature was explored. Not only is he a debt-ridden scoundrel mired in controversy, he’s a near-rapist, and one sly wink away from a serial killer. Really? I mean, he’s a snotty spoiled dandy, but a rapist? It seemed like the dichotomy of good vs. bad was just a wee bit overused, both with Wickham and with Mr. Collins, whose refused proposal sparks a deluge of conceit and even revenge. In The Truth About Mr. Darcy, it seems as though you’re either a shining paradigm of virtue or the scum on the bottom rung of the ladder of humanity. A little bit of creative character development would’ve been a better choice.

Still, Susan Adriani’s debut novel is not entirely without success. It’s well written and fairly engaging, sexy, and compelling in a conventional sort of way. Those of you gentle readers whose hearts go aflutter at the notion of revisiting P&P won’t be disappointed. If you’re on the fence about these sorts of things, you might be better off skipping this one.

Be aware that this book is for mature readers only.

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This post was published by Mags at Austenblog, who also graciously allowed me to publish it on this blog.

We are pleased to announce that the Gentle Readers of AustenBlog, as well as Janeites everywhere, have been invited to join a discussion of Sense and Sensibility at Classroom Salon, a free discussion platform from Carnegie Mellon University. Using this tool, one may select any section of text, make comments, answer questions, and see and respond to the comments and questions. The Salon team at Carnegie Mellon is starting to post the text of Sense and Sensibility so that you can now join fellow Janeites inside the novel. The Editrix has contributed some discussion questions as well.

A few things you should know about this Austen playground:

1. This is the latest, the greatest and the coolest, but it’s also a beta. It’s not difficult to use and there are basic instructions (which you can annotate and improve), but you’ll need to find your own way without too much guidance. An adventure!
2. The Sense and Sensibility beta is limited, so you’ll need to be one of the first fifty people to sign up. If you’re not, they’ll put you on a waitlist.
3. A new chapter will be opened for annotation about once a week.
4. If there is sufficient demand, the Salon team will start to post Jane’s other works as well.
5. The beta is completely free. It’s always possible that the University might decide to commercialize the platform at some point in the future, but the inventors are hoping to always maintain a free version.
6. Don’t worry if you’re the first or second or third commentator. Responses will breed more responses, and with lots of participation, we’ll have a rich, crowd-sourced online version of Sense and Sensibility.

How to Sign Up:

1. Go to http://www.classroomsalon.org/redirect/redirect.aspx?action=viewSalon&id=172 (new link; will take you directly to the S&S Salon)
2. Enter a name, email address and password and the registration code “Facebook Jane,” then click on Sign Up.
3. Sign in. This should take you to the Sense & Sensibility Salon.
4. Click to Join the Sense & Sensibility Salon.
5. You will receive email notification when you’ve been approved by the Salon owner. When you receive the approval, just click on the link in the email and you’re in.

Before you start annotating and engaging, you might want to have a look at the “Working with Documents in a Salon” document in the Salon. Feel free to annotate this document, as well.

Chapter 1 opens on Sunday morning, May 22 at 7 a.m., so sign up now and be the first on your block.

Happy Annotating!

NOTE: Classroom Salon works best in Firefox.

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Lady Catherine de Bourgh's formal table: Pride and Prejudice 2005

When dinner is announced, the mistress of the house requests the lady first in rank, in company, to shew the way to the rest, and walk first into the room where the table is served; she then asks the second in precedience to follow, and after all the ladies are passed, she brings up the rear herself. The master of the house does the same with the gentlemen. Among the persons of real distinction, this marhalling of the company is unnecessary, every woman and every man present knows his rank and precedence, and takes the lead, without any direction from the mistress or the master.

When they enter the dining-room, each takes his place in the same order; the mistress of the table sits at the upper-end, those of superior rank next [to] her, right and left, those next in rank following, the gentlemen, and the master at the lower-end; and nothing is considered as a greater mark of ill-breeding, than for a person to interrup this order, or seat himself higher than he ought. – John Trusler, 1791

The Bennets seated at table en famille, with the two oldest daughters next to their father at the head of the table. Mrs. Bennet sits at the lower end. Pride and Prejudice 1995

As the eldest daughter, Jane and Elizabeth sat nearest their father during family meals, with Jane to his right. When Lydia returns as Mrs. Wickham, she unceremoniously bumps Jane to a position towards the middle of the table, for her married state gave her a higher rank than her eldest sister:

Elizabeth could bear it no longer. She got up and ran out of the room; and returned no more till she heard them passing through the hall to the dining parlour. She then joined them soon enough to see Lydia, with anxious parade, walk up to her mother’s right hand, and hear her say to her eldest sister, ‘Ah, Jane I take your place now, and you must go lower, because I am a married woman.’ – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sumptuous dining table at Castle Howard. Image @Tony Grant

As hostess at her father's table, young Emma Woodhouse sat opposite her father at the upper end of the table. The ladies sit next to Mr. Woodhouse in hierarchy. As in the description by John Trusler, the gentlemen are seated nearest Emma's end of the table.

Emma Woodhouse (Kate Beckinsale)

Custom, however, has lately introduced a new mode of seating. A gentleman and a lady fitting alternately round the table, and this, for the better convenience of a lady’s being attended to, and served by the gentleman next to her. But notwithstanding this promiscuous seating, the ladies, whether above or below, are to be served in order, according to their rank or age, and after them the gentlemen, in the same manner. – John Trusler, p 6

From: The honours of the table, or, Rules for behaviour during meals : with the whole art of carving, illustrated by a variety of cuts. Together with directions for going to market, and the method of distinguishing good provisions from bad; to which is added a number of hints or concise lessons for the improvement of youth, on all occasions in life. By the author of Principles of politeness, &c. … For the use of young people, John Trusler

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Scarborough Beach today. Image @Tony Grant

Post contributed by Tony Grant. All rights reserved, Tony Grant.

At the start of our Easter Holidays, on the 11th April, Marilyn, Abigail and myself drove up to Scarborough to spend a few days. Scarborough is on the beautiful rugged Yorkshire coast in the North East of England. We wanted to visit somewhere different and take a refreshing break from South London. We spent three days up there and drove on the North Yorkshire Moors, had a day in York, visited the fishing port of Whitby and went to Castle Howard, a few miles east of York, for one whole afternoon. Many of you will know Castle Howard as the wonderful, rich pile, used in the film and TV adaptations of Brideshead Revisited.

Castle Howard

Castle Howard has been home to the Howard family for over three hundred years. It is an 18th century residence set within over a thousand acres of landscaped gardens and vistas.

Castle Howard. Image @Tony Grant

Marilyn, Abigail and myself took a tour of this wonderful place. One of the things that has always interested me and I have often wondered about, is what books and authors an 18th century gentlemen has on his shelves. Reading Claire Tomlin’s biography of Jane Austen, it is her father’s library, consisting of hundreds of books that was part of Jane’s partly self lead education at Steventon. A short while ago we visited Sir John Soane’s house in Holburn. He had an extensive library. I asked one of the assistants in his house if I could take pictures. I was told politely that I could not.

Library at the Sir John Soane's house. Image @Sir John Soane's House Museum

I had a discussion about the books on John Soanes shelves with the assistant but he did not know much about them. I looked at them, stared at them closely, extremely closely and tried very hard to remember titles, authors and general themes that ran throughout the library. My memory is not that good. I remember large leather bound atlases, the works of Shakespeare, books containing prints and sketches of ruins from classical Greece and Rome, philosophies, histories and there were many religious tracts. There seemed to be a variety of dictionaries. It is interesting to remember that Dr Johnson had many rivals before his Oxford English Dictionary became the definitive one.

The Library at Castle Howard sits along a grand hallway. Image @Tony Grant

Anyway, getting back to Brideshead, sorry, Castle Howard. There is a magnificent library there. Shelves and shelves of beautiful volumes with gold-tooled titles and gold leaf flower and leaf patterns adorning, the light tan, dark brown and black leather bound volumes.

Detail of the book shelves in the library at Castle Howard

I asked, timorously, of a smiling gentle looking lady standing to one side of the library, the gallery assistant, if I could take photographs of the books expecting a negative reply. “Yes,” she said enthusiastically, “go ahead, and are there any particular books you would like to see?” I couldn’t believe my luck. She continued,“We have many first editions by great authors here.” I did ask about Jane Austen first editions. She thought there might be some somewhere amongst the novels section. We looked, but could only find Swift, Dryden, Byron, Congreve and others. We couldn’t find Jane. These first editions were there, on shelves, within touching distance. AAAAAGH!!!!

Brown Leather and gold-tooled lettering

One thing I discovered as we went around Castle Howard was that the gallery assistants were not your run of the mill gallery assistants, these people know a lot about the contents of the rooms. They had really studied what they watched over. An example was when we walked into a bedroom and on the wall was a portrait of Henry VIII and it was a Hans Holbein but the same room had Gainsboroughs and Lawrences, on the walls too. No, not copies, the real thing. Rooms throughout the Castle were full of original masterpieces. I couldn’t believe it. A lady there when I asked her, gave me a great art historians analysis of one particular Gainsborough. She, never mind the painting, was the real deal.

Library at Castle Howard. Image @A Life Less ORdinaRY

So back to the books, where I started. I was allowed to take photographs of the books. I must have looked odd. Other visitors looked through the windows at the magnificent views around the grounds, or studied beautiful gleaming vases and glanced at magnificent paintings and there was I, getting close and personal with brown dusty looking things crammed on shelves. I am a constant embarrassment to my family. Ha! Ha!

Books on the shelves at the library. Image @Tony Grant

Some of the books I came across were by authors I had never heard of, for instance, “Col. Napiers Peninsula Wars.” I discovered later that,Sir Charles James Napier was born in August 1782 and died in August 1853. He was a general in the British Army and became the British Army’s Commander in Chief in India. Napier commanded the 50th (Queen’s Own) Regiment of Foot during the Peninsular War in Iberia against Napoleon Bonaparte.

A luminous Greek statuette in the library. Image @Tony Grant

General Napier put down several insurgencies in India during his reign as Commander-in-Chief in India. Some of his rather perceptive insights into dealing with insurgencies included:

The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed.
which may help explain why he felt rebellions should be suppressed with such brutality.”

He also once said that:

the human mind is never better disposed to gratitude and attachment than when softened by fear.”

Charles James Napier

An example of this idea in practice was after the Battle of Miani, where most of the Mirs surrendered. One leader held back and was told by Napier:

Come here instantly. Come here at once and make your submission, or I will in a week tear you from the midst of your village and hang you.”

He also mused that:

“so perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another”

I would have loved to have met him. Wouldn’t you? Imagine him at your dinner party.

Castle Howard. Image @Tony Grant

Other books on the shelves included: Davies’s Micelanie, J. Orton’s Works ERASMUS, Murphy’s Works, alongside some more tried and tested volumes that have lasted the travails of time: Ben Johnson’s Work, Defoes’ History of The Stage, Drydens Plays, and Smollett’s England, to give you a flavour and taste of the contents of this library. I tried to search for information on some of the more obscure authors and as you can tell I found a bit about Colonel Napier. Many of the authors I could find nothing about, but an interesting discovery I made was about Murphy and his works. He was an Irish playwright. Here are some play titles to slake your thirst and satiate your appetite.

The Upholsterer (1758)
The Way to Keep Him (1760),
The Old Maid (1761)
Three Weeks After Marriage (1764)
Know Your Own Mind (1777)

Arthur Murphy wrote about eighteen plays in this vein. I wonder about The Upholsterer though. I’m sure it was a very “comfortable” play. You would probably fall asleep on your deeply “upholstered” seat during it, mind.

HOW can you write a play about upholstery???

He also wrote biographies of David Garrick, Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding.

Globe Fountain on Castle Howard Grounds. Image @Tony Grant

With my experiences in two 18th century gentlemen’s libraries, Sir John Soanes house in Holburn, and the vast and airy gallery of the Howard family at Castle Howard, amongst their fine varied brown leather covers and illuminated gold leaf lettering, what sort of conclusion can I come to? After a swift and furtive voyeuristic delving into their interests and source of deep thought and emotions? What can I say?

The book titles have a familiar ring to them. If you spend an afternoon in a Waterstones [bookstore] it too has many of the same book divisions and sections as those two 18th century libraries. Nowadays the novel provides the larger section in Waterstones but at Holburn and Castle Howard they provide a rather smaller section. History, biography, philosophy, poetry, plays and dramas, atlases and travel accounts are there in varied abundance. Dictionaries are very prevalent in the 18th century library and dictionarys produced by different people using different criteria. In the 18th century there was a great interest in words, their meaning and origins. There was a hunt going on for words in the 18th century and need for conformity. There was the need for one language and one set of words accepted by all. You can only speculate the economic consequences. Local dialects were all very well within a locality. There was a sort of race to be the best amongst word gatherers, dictionary makers. Of course, we know now that Dr Johnson won. Hurray!!

In 1815, Thomas Jefferson sold 6,487 volumes of his vast collection of books from his library at Monticello to the U.S. Library of Congress.

Many of these interests shown in the books displayed can be connected to interests in the classical world, which is not so much of a concern these days for the majority, unless you do a degree or are doing the Romans at school, or are watching a BBC documentary about Delphi or the Olympics.

I imagine plays by Dryden or Arthur Murphy were in great demand, because people didn’t have television and radio then to entertain them. We can see people’s interest in owning written drama scripts, reflected in Jane Austen’s own family’s exuberant enacting of plays and the writing of them at their home in Steventon. Jane uses the play, Lover’s Vows, as home entertainment in Mansfield Park, with many meanings and personal interactions connected to it.

So there are differences in the use and purpose of books between now and the 18th century, but the subjects covered and the systems of organisation were recognisable. Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) didn’t create his system until later, but the general system used for organisation was grouped in familiar ways. How we think about the world was being formed. Dewey and some others made it far more sophisticated. The organisation of books has had a big impact on the way we think and learn.

So there you are. We are not the only generation with a thirst for reading. The next time you visit a country house or stately home, get in amongst the musty smelling, brown leathery things. They will speak volumes to you.

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Ladies shoes, 1810

In a previous post, I discussed how ladies slippers and boots were so delicately made that they could not withstand much wear and tear. In fact, a lady would not venture to walk outside the house in rainy weather and would be confined inside, whether she was in the city or country. Jane Austen described a rainy day in Mansfield Park:

… to poor Miss Crawford, who had just been contemplating the dismal rain in a very desponding state of mind, sighing over the ruin of all her plan of exercise for that morning, and of every chance of seeing a single creature beyond themselves for the next twenty-four hours; the sound of a little bustle at the front door, and the sight of Miss Price dripping with wet in the vestibule, was delightful. The value of an event on a wet day in the country, was most forcibly brought before her.”

1801, Two ladies in morning dresses, Nicholas Heideloff, Gallery of Fashion

In the country a lady would not soil her delicate kid slippers on grass or muddy lanes, but would walk along gravel paths in the shrubbery, as shown in the Heideloff image above. Elizabeth Bennet, who walked the three miles to Netherfield Park, muddying her petticoats in the process, would have worn sturdier shoes, such as those worn by the women in the watercolor below.

Studies of female figures with children, James Ward

Female fashionable attire in the eighteenth century was very ill fitted for country life, which is so largely spent out of doors. Indeed, it was not fitted for out door wear at all. No fashionable woman was properly shod in the first place, for the coloured shoes, which, as has been stated, all ladies wore, were not adapted for vigorous exercise, or damp weather, with their high heels and very open tops. Those were the kind of shoes worn for walking in London. Country life in shoes of that sort would mean endless expense. The wonder is that town bred women did not insist upon the shoemakers providing something more fitted for the dirty, uneven pathways. But, then, walking was not a daily exercise as it is now. Foot gear has undergone much reformation in the present century, in spite of the persistence of high heels…”

Knife Sharpener, W.H. Pyne. This traveling craftsman would have worn sturdy old boots like William Conway.

“… A notable itinerant trader of the middle of the eighteenth century, known to all Londoners, was William Conway of Bethnal Green, who made a living by selling and exchanging metal spoons. As he walked twenty five miles a day, Sundays excepted, his shoes were the most important articles of his attire, and these he made out of the uppers of old boots. A pair of shoes lasted him six weeks. He was an odd figure, with his long spindle legs encased in tight knee breeches, short coat, high hat, and bag slung over his shoulder.” – A history of English dress from the Saxon period to the present day, Volume 1, By Georgiana Hill , 1893, p 181

"Cash", Rowlandson, 1800. Note the dark leather slippers worn by the maid, and the sturdy buckled shoes by her elderly swain.

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Review by Tony Grant.

To start with, it is a pleasure to be holding a book with a hard cover and with a glimpse of the brown and cream page binding at the top and bottom of the spine. It gives the reader the interesting, pleasurable knowledge that this is a sewn binding in the old style. Kindle can give us the effect, on its screen, of real paper but this book, solid and sharp cornered, is the real thing, an object with weight, a valued, well made artefact nice to hold. Having it in your hands is a pleasure to experience.

I love the contents pages divided into sections and then all the different article headings within each section beginning with,”How to…” There is something poetic in the repetition of these opening two words followed by an assertive verb.Yes, the contents are a pleasure to read in themselves and could be read out with passion, emphasise and feeling at any live poetry night, at my local pub anyway.

How to Become an Accomplished Lady…………………..16
How to identify “ The Quality”………………………………….22
How to ensure a good yearly income……………………..26
How to provide for your daughters & Young Sons…28

And so on. It’s mesmeric!

A couple of things made me wince. In Margaret’s introduction there is a sentence that goes thus. (I will come back to why I have just used the word ,”thus,” in a short while.)

“ All Janeites have heard the question at one time or another, whether from a friend, significant other, care worker, parole officer or a math teacher who caught said Janeite reading Emma under the desk during class.”

Margaret gives the game away with these, “Americanisms.” OK it is her introduction but I hope she intends this book for us British English speakers too? And also, I know I’m nit picking here, there are the odd occasion when these words appear: neighbor, endeavor, watercolor. I’ll say no more.

But on the whole and almost a hundred percent of the time, I absolutely love the way she uses language. I can hear the fun in her voice, the absolute thrill and joy of thinking and using the most gorgeous words and phrases., aplomb, guttersnipe, I chuckled at that one, impoverish, genteel, repine, overly impecunious, oh I just wanted to repeat that phrase again and again and she goes on, sentence after sentence, line after line, page after page, defray, small beer and skittles, a bit of working class culture creeping in there and it’s just such a joy to read and wallow in. I even think she used the word. “wallow,” at some stage. The best thing about this book is the joyous pleasure Magaret has with words. Oh yes!

So, coming back to why I used the word, “thus.” The above paragraph really provides the reason. Margaret, through her use of language, captured my mind and released my 18th century vocabulary store deep within my brain. I couldn’t help myself. It slipped out.

I do think this book is aimed at women rather than men. Here are some examples of Section headings and chapter opening lines.

“Well bred young ladies must acquire a store of accomplishments….”

“The mistress of the house is rather like a CEO of a major corporation…”

Get him back after you have quarrelled.

Converse with your dancing partner. (this chapter refers to how the female should make conversation with the male.)

There are references to male things, education, being a house owner and so on, but they are written about from a female point of view often just there to make a comparison with the female side of things.

It is also written as though the reader is middle class and discusses mostly middle class things. Once in a while there are references to the serving classes and aristocratic life, often written in the same breath as things about the middle classes. Perhaps there should be an explanation of the differences between the classes and the different lives they lead.

I think the sections at the back of the book are excellent. There is a very thorough and detailed index, a good glossary covering many words and terms. There is a good bibliography and resources list. These end sections will give the Jane Austen, and 18th century student a good starting point in a life long exploration.

Who do I think this book would be a good buy for? My daughter Emily is just completing her A’levels before she goes to university next year. Some of her friends are doing A’level English literature. This book would give them an excellent background and springboard into the life of Jane, her characters and the world of the 18th century. It would be an ideal companion to anybody beginning to read Jane Austen. They would be able to get their compass bearings set on a true course.

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Contributed by Tony Grant, all rights reserved. Images by Tony Grant.

Brighton, the old Pavilion and Steyne, Charles Richards

Towards the end of her life Jane Austen was writing a new sort of novel, Sanditon. It appears to have been, in it’s far from completed form, an analysis of change going on in the world of the 18th century.The main female character in this story, Charlotte Heywood, is an observer of Sanditon, its development and its occupants. Through her eyes we the reader can see the social and environmental forces that are unfolding at Sanditon and the forces that act on its attempts to be attractive to people.

Brighton pier

In our own day we are creating new communities that we hope will be sustainable in materials, energy production and lifestyle. A community called Bedzed, near Croydon in Surrey, is just such a new development.

Brighton today

Sanditon is an 18th century exploration of how a new settlement may have occurred and mistakes made and Bedzed is a modern version showing how we can learn from the past.

Royal Pavilion at Brighton

Charlotte soon learns on her way to Sanditon that there are two Sanditons. There is the old fishing village set in a sheltered valley leading down to the sea and there is the new Sanditon high on a hill with cliffs overlooking the sea. The old home of the Parkers is set in the valley just outside the fishing village and it has orchards, gardens and meadows, all the resources for self-sufficient living and it is in a sheltered aspect away from gales and the worst of the elements.

Scarborough Beach

..in a shelterd dip within 2 miles of the sea, they passed by a moderate-sized house,well fenced and planted,and rich in the garden,orchard and meadows which are the best embelilishments of such a dwelling.”
The new Parkers home, Trafalgar House, is set high on a hill with no orchards and meadows and gardens and when they first arrive is being windswept by a minor gale.

Mr Parker has a concept of a seaside settlement centred around fresh air and spectacular views. Two very good ideals but missing many other requirements for a comfortable community to work.

Trafalgar House ,on the most elevated spot on the down, was a light elegant building, standing in a small lawn with a very young plantation around it about a hundred yards from the brow of a steep, but not very lofty cliff.”


Bedzed, near Croydon, has been created to revolutionise people’s lives enabling them to live without wasting the resources of this planet and to live sustainably. It is situated outside a well-established town with major roads and rail links very close by. It is for people who live ordinary lives and it is designed to help them improve those ordinary lives and the planet they live on.

People move to Bedzed with typical lifestyles, and over the years change their behaviour significantly.”

The purpose of Sandition was to attract people to the seaside for health reasons. Seawater and sea air were considered, in the 18th century, the panaceas for all known ailments. They were the elixir of life. While people were there it was also hoped by Mr Parker, that they would spend their money in the new shops, buy the latest fashions, stay in the smart hotels and take part in the events of the new town, billiards, going to the library, buying presents in the gift shops, hiring bathing machines and eating the local produce.


Bedzed was designed for people to interact in ways that improve their lives. Much of what is hoped for Bedzed are things that communities over the ages have provided for their people. It is small enough and big enough to create what is termed a,” a community spirit.” People come together in sports teams, community events such as fetes and to meet and make community decisions; a sort ground level politics. What is necessary for our modern age is to do it sustainably.

the community have created their own facilities and groups to improve quality of life and reduce their environmental impact.”

Sustainability in the 18th century has many of the elements we think of today as sustainability. People grew their own produce, many house roofs were made from straw or reeds, recycled waste was used as food for animals or dug it into the soil to fertilise it, as with human waste and they used the natural elements as a power source. The wind to dry clothes, animals to move machinery and dead wood or sustainable forestry were used to provide fuel. Clay for bricks, rocks, slate and large amounts of wood were also taken for building and these might not have been sustainable practices even the 18th century. The increasingly massive use of coal certainly was not.

A calm, Gillray, 1810

The old fishing village of Sanditon and the Parkers first home, set snuggly in the valley, kept to these mostly sustainable principles. The new Sanditon, on the hill got rid of many of these essential practices. All the services, shops, hotels houses and transport were imposed on the hill and materials had to be got up there.


People become the secondary thought in that they were expected to fit in. The new Sanditon is what Mr Parker thinks people want. It is an example of modernisation removing peoples connection with the world they live in. It is an example of the designers of our world not listening to the people they are providing for. The new Sanditon is a vision of the way the world has gone. The old Sanditon is an example of where we could go.


Total sustainabliltiy in our modern age is technically possible. Bedzed is run completely on sustainable practices. Water is recycled, the use of insulation, materials from sustainable sources, some of it recycled, the use of local materials as much as possible to reduce transport costs and pollution, the sharing of electric cars and the provision of sustainable energy from it’s own pwoerplant fuelled by waste materials are all sustainable practices. What is most important of all, the people who live in Bedzed make the choices and think of the ideas that create the world they live in.

the design solves problems such as heating and water usage.” And “the design and services offered help people make sustainable choices such as walking rather than driving.”

Windmill, sphagnum moss roof, recycled water

One of the most encouraging things I have seen in recent years in south London, is an enormous DIY store that has recently been built about half a mile from where I live. It uses rain water to flush the toilets, has a sphagnum moss roof, triple glazing for extra insulation, solar panels, a heating system where water is heated naturally through underground pipes, and one enormous windmill surmounting the lot. Impressive? You bet!!!!!! There is a new high rise office tower in central London that looks as though a knife has sliced off the top at a sharp angle. There are three gigantic oval holes in this angular top. Each oval hole contains a wind turbine. The world really is adapting.

Sliced off top and wind turbines

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Gentle Readers, this lovely post comes from Patty at Brandy Parfums. I think she captured the day and its history perfectly, don’t you?

“Are you happy?  Yes, are you happy?  Yes, very happy.”  These words the experts say were spoken by Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton in the 1902 state landau right after their wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Catherine and Prince William in the State Landau

How remarkable to witness a royal marriage with British pomp and grandeur with the added pleasure of observing the attractive couple’s affection for each other.

Prince William and his bride in the Landau

The day began auspiciously with the rain that had been forecast never occurring.  The crowds that had gathered watched the Welsh Guards band circling about the Queen Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace.  Then, at various intervals all the royals and members of the wedding party alighted royal limos in black and claret, other limos and mini-vans to go to Westminster Abbey.  This was a break with tradition that perhaps was a courtesy to those concerned with security.  In years past, horse drawn state landaus and royal coaches with elegant Windsor greys or Cleveland bays transported the wedding party to and from the ceremony.  Afterwards, when horse drawn vehicles conveyed the wedding party back to the Palace, the BBC did not focus their cameras on the pageantry – the Household Calvary or any landaus. Besides fairly close shots of Kate and William, there were brief glimpses of the Queen and Prince Philip.  Prince Charles was seen only fleetingly as his landau pulled into Buckingham Palace.  In this remarkable newsreel from 1923, the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, are shown in elegant horse drawn coaches and landaus.

Duke and Duchess of York, 1923

So important to the festivities were Kate’s lace and satin wedding gown and William’s bright red Irish Guards uniform.  The minute Kate stepped out of the 1950 Rolls Royce Phantom IV, the BBC presenters and guests both praised and criticized her Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen creation.  One said it was too severe, and the other said she was thrilled it was a Sarah Burton and Kate looked lovely.  Many in the press compared Kate’s gown to Grace Kelly’s Helen Rose wedding gown with its lace top.  The press also made reference to the times we live in with its economic hardship for many people, and for this reason they speculated that perhaps Kate preferred a less flamboyant gown than Princess Diana’s.

A puff of a breeze lifted Catherine's veil

While similar to Catherine's gown in the front, Grace's elegant gown is quite different from the back.

Diana's wedding gown with large puffy sleeves was perfect for the 1980s

Full British pomp and formality is on display in this 1947 newsreel of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mounbattan getting married at Westminster Abbey.  The royal coaches and state landaus are in use, and in the Abbey, the women are wearing evening gowns. The Princess’s gown is by Norman Hartnell.  In this video, the commentator describes eloquently the euphoria everyone feels watching the royal wedding, and the same is true for all royal weddings.  He says, “For the people who had come from afar, the wedding was a family wedding for the entire British people.  Everyone gladly shared in the rejoicings because the Crown once again was serving to remind us of the common humanity that unites us all.” The wedded union of royals represents hierogamy.

Princess Elizabeth and Philip

The marriage ceremony of Princess Elizabeth and Phillip

Click here to see the YouTube video

Princess Elizabeth and Phillip

While it is sad to watch the actual wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the procession back to Buckingham Palace in the same 1902 state landau used by Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is still majestic.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Click here to see the YouTube video

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

The most fashionable lady at the Prince William/Catherine Middleton wedding may have been the Queen in a flattering, dazzling yellow ensemble and hat designed by Angela Kelly.

The Queen

Queen Elizabeth

A source of great amusement and interest in the Prince William and Kate Middleton wedding were the hats, and fascinators.  Many hats were flattering if a trifle large, but the Philip Treacy fascinators worn by Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were singled out by the press as among the most bizarre.

Treacy fascinators

Eugenie (left) and Beatrice (right)

No wedding is complete without a lovely cake. Here are photos of Prince William’s and Catherine’s wedding cake – a fruit cake from baker Fiona Cairns in the language of flowers and a groom’s chocolate biscuit cake from McVities.

William and Kate’s cakes

Kate's and William's wedding cakes

The following newsreel of the 1923 wedding cake for the Duke and Duchess of York completes this royal wedding survey. The cake was ten feet high, designed in St. Brides tiers – an object of great beauty.

1923 Cake

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