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Simplifying Regency Style

austable

In her 1983 book, Period Design & Furnishing, Judith and Martin Miller present a wonderful overview of historical furniture design along with stunning photographs of both extant homes as well as contemporary recreations. This book is fascinating, not only to the Janeite hoping to better understand the nuances of fashion during the eras Jane lived through (Georgian, Regency, Empire and Biedermeier) but also to the author seeking to set her stage, the miniature artist attempting to capture a moment in time and the home decorator feathering her nest in a style reminiscent of days gone by.

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The Miller’s book, Period Design & Furnishing.

Quoting from the chapter, Regency, Empire and Biedermeier, we find a lovely description of Regency taste and how it differentiated from the preceding Georgian Era:

“Life in the English Regency period, which in its broadest sense stretched from the late 1790s  until the late 1830s, was more intimate and informal than previously. Rooms, often with a bay window, were smaller and had lower ceilings, and the arrangement of furniture was much more casual. Instead of being ranged around the room, pieces were grouped close to the fireplace. Family and friends would gather around a circular table to talk or play cards. Interiors were better lit than before: the new, efficient oil lamps enabled several people to share a table fore reading or writing.

A sample Regency dining room from Ackermann's Repository, 1816.
A sample Regency dining room from Ackermann’s Repository, 1816.

Regency rooms were on the whole light and graceful with fairly plain walls in a clear pale color. There would be a narrow frieze, and the ceiling was usually plain or decorated with a small central garland with a chandelier hanging from it. Fabric was used in abundance– swathed and draped over valances and sometimes festooned between the legs of chairs. Continue reading Simplifying Regency Style

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Carlton House Table & Chair

Carlton House Table & Chair

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts was an illustrated, British periodical published from 1809-1829 by Rudolph Ackermann. Although commonly called Ackermann’s Repository, or, simply Ackerman’s, the formal title of the journal was Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions, and politics, and it did, indeed cover all of these fields.In its day, it had great influence on English taste in fashion, architecture, and literature. The following excerpt from the April, 1814 edition displays a table and chair set designed for the Prince of Wales‘ Carlton House.

 An early 19th century sketch of the entrance front of Carlton House in London.
An early 19th century sketch of the entrance front of Carlton House in London.

Though no where near as extravagant as the the Royal Palace at Brighton, Carlton House remained an icon of the Prince’s particular sense of style. The glowing terms in the following passage can only be seen as ironic in light of Jane Austen’s own personal struggle with the Prince. In 1815, she would be “invited” to dedicate her upcoming novel, Emma, to him, a figure whom she claimed to loathe. Along with this “invitation” came the opportunity for a personal tour of Carlton House, guided by none other than the Prince’s own librarian, James Stanier Clarke.

This began a series of correspondence between Austen and Clarke. He appeared fascinated by his brush with fame (possibly even painting her portrait) while she later lampooned his topical suggestions for her future novels in her “Plan of a Novel, According to Hints from Various Quarters”.

Fashionable Furniture
We know that a people become enlightened by the cultivation of  the arts, and that they become great in the progress of that cultivation. That a just knowledge of the useful and a correct taste for the ornamental go hand in hand with this general improvement, the dullest observer may be satisfied by looking around him. We now acknowledge, that it is alone the pencil of the artist which can trace the universal hieroglyphic; understood alike by all, his enthusiasm communicates itself to all alike, and prepares the mind for cultivation. A national improvement is thus produced by the arts, and the arts are supported in their respectability by the calls which the improving public taste makes for their assistance; they are inseparable in their progress, and mutually depend on each other for support. In the construction of the domestic furniture of our dwellings we see and feel the benefit of all this. To the credit of our higher classes who encourage, and of our manufacturing artists who produce, we now universally quit the overcharged magnificence of former ages, and seek the purer models of simplicity and tasteful ornament in every article of daily call. Continue reading Carlton House Table & Chair

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Fashionable Furniture: The Library Table

library table

“How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
-Pride and Prejudice

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts was an illustrated, British periodical published from 1809-1829 by Rudolph Ackermann. Although commonly called Ackermann’s Repository, or, simply Ackerman’s, the formal title of the journal was Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions, and politics, and it did, indeed cover all of these fields. In its day, it had great influence on English taste in fashion, architecture, and literature.

Many of the English fashion plates that remain from the Regency era are from Ackermann’s and while a wide assortment of topics were covered in each issue, fasshionable furniture was also highlighted. The following library table, from the January, 1814 issue, is suggested as the perfect piece for smaller homes and city apartments. Jane Austen spent time in London in 1814, with her brother Henry (his wife, Eliza, had passed away the previous year) Perhaps she wrote parts of her upcoming novel, Emma (1815) at a desk like this one, while staying at his home in Henrietta street.

Continue reading Fashionable Furniture: The Library Table

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The Lady’s Drawing Table

drawingtable

 

Elinor sat down to her lady’s drawing table as soon as he was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the general concerns of the family; and if, by this conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much solicitude on her account.
-Sense and Sensibility

Fashionable Furniture from The Repository of Arts by Rudolph Ackermann, February, 1814

The very elegant and tasteful article represented in the annexed engraving, is intended to serve the double purpose of usefulness and pleasure. In the first, it is convenient as a breakfast or as a sofa-table; it also forms a convenient writing or drawing-table, with drawers for paper, colours, pencil, &c. For the second, a sliding board for the games of chess, drafts, backgammon, &c. which slides under the desk. It is very light, goes upon castors, and is particularly pleasant to sit before, as there is sufficient accommodation for the knees by its projecting top.

The chair is contrived for study or repose. Its sweeping form is calculated to afford rest to the invalid; and the arms are sufficiently low to allow it to be used at the writing or reading-desk. It is lighter than its form would indicate, and it is easily moved, being placed upon traversing castors.


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How win at Speculation


In the evening it was found, according to the predetermination of Mrs Grant and her sister, that after making up the whist-table there would remain sufficient for a round game, and everybody being as perfectly complying and without a choice as on such occasions they always are, speculation was decided on almost as soon as whist; and Lady Bertram soon found herself in the critical situation of being applied to for her own choice between the games, and being required either to draw a card for whist or not.

 

Mansfield Park

How to Play Speculation

Deck: 52 card deck with Aces high

Players: 2 to 9

Object: To be the holder of the highest trump at the end of a round.

Preliminaries:Each player contributes to the pot. The dealer deals three cards to each player, face down. She turns up the next card in the deck to determine trump.

English playing cards from about 1750
Play: If the trump card is an Ace, the dealer takes the pot. If the trump card is a King, Queen or Jack, the dealer offers it for sale to the highest bidder. Players may check their cards to decide whether they wish to bid. The dealer may choose whether she wishes to accept the bid. If she does, the payment is made and the card passed to the buyer.
All cards are now turned face up, and the holder of the highest trump takes the pot.

If the faced up trump is a card with a number, the card is put up for bid, however the players may not look at their hands before deciding to bid. Whether it is sold or not, it is left face up on the table. If the card is sold, the buyer does not turn up her cards until a higher trump is turned. The player on the dealer’s left now turns up her top card. This continues in rotation to the left until a higher trump than the one face up is discovered. If a better trump shows, it may be offered for sale by its holder, who has the right to decide whether or not to accept the bid. The rest of the face down cards are turned up, one by one, until a higher trump is exposed. A higher trump may also be offered for sale. The player holding the highest trump at the end of the game wins the pot.

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The Type-Founder

The first part of the type-founder’s business is tot prepare the medal, which is a composition of lead and regulus of antimony, melted together in the furnace. In large foundries this metal is cast into bars of twenty pounds each, which are delivered to the workmen as occasions may require; this is a laborious and unwholesome part of the business, owing to the fumes which are thrown off. Fifteen hundred weight of this metal is cast in a day, and the founders usually cast as much at one casting as will last six months. We now come to the letter-cutter; that is, to him who cuts the moulds in which the letters are cast; and he must be provided with vices, hammers, files, gravers, and gauges of various kinds. He then prepares steel punches, on the face of which he draws or marks the exact shape of the letter, and with pointed gravers and sculpters he digs out the steel between the strokes or marks which he made on the face of the punch, leaving the marks standing. Having shaped the inside strokes of the letter, he deepens the hollows with the same tools; for, if a letter be not deep in proportion to its width, it will, when used at press, print black, and be good for nothing. He then works the outside with files till it is fit for the matrice.

A matrice is a piece of brass or copper about an inch and half long, and thick in proportion to the size of the letter it is to contain. In this metal is sunk the face of the letter intended to be cast, by striking the letter punch. After this the sides and face of the matrice must be cleared, with files, of all bunchings made by sinking the punch.

The Type-FounderWhen the metal and other things are properly prepared, the matrice is fastened to the end of the mould, which the caster holds in his left hand, while he pours the metal in with his right; by a sudden jerk of the hand the metal runs into the cavity of the matrice and takes the figure or impression. The mould consists of an under and an upper half, of which the latter is taken off as soon as the letter is cast, and the caster throws the letter upon a sheet of paper, laid for the purpose on a bench or table, and he is then ready to cast another letter as before.

When the casters have made a certain number of types, which are made much longer than they are wanted, boys come and break away the jets, or extra lengths from the types; the jets they cast into the pot, and the types are carried to the man who is represented sitting at his work in the plate, who polishes their broad sides. This is a very dexterous operation; for the man, in turning up the types, does it so quickly, by a mere touch of the fingers of the left hand, as not to require the least perceptible intermission in the motion of the right hand upon the stone.

The caster represented in the plate is seen in the act of pouring the metal into the mould. He takes it up with a small ladle from the pan, which is constantly kept over the fire in a sort of stove under the brick-work. The iron plate on the right hand of the caster is to defend him from the heat of the fire, and the screen between the two workmen is to prevent the man sitting from being injured by the metal, which is apt to fly about by the operation of casting. On the table near the newly cast types, are several blocks of the metal, with which the caster replenishes his pan as he makes the letters.

A type-founder will cast upwards of 5000 letters in a day; and the perfection of letters thus cast, consists in their being all strait and square; of the same height, and evenly lined, without sloping one way or the other.

What is called a fount or font of letter, is a quantity of each kind cast by the letter-founder and properly sorted. A complete font includes, besides the running letter, all the single letters, double letters, points, commas, lines, borders, head and tail pieces, and numerical characters. Letter-founders have a kind of list by which they regulate their founts: this is absolutely necessary, as some letters are much more frequently used than others, of course the cells containing these should be better stored than those of the letters which do not so often recur. Thus a fount does not contain an equal number of a and b, or of e and z. In a fount containing a hundred thousand characters, the a should have five thousand, the c three thousand, the e eleven thousand, the isix thousand, and the other letters in proportion.

Printers order their founts either by the hundred weight or by the sheet. If they order a fount of five hundred they mean that the whole shall weigh about 600 lb.; but if they demand a fount of ten sheets, it is understood, that with this fount they shall be able to compose ten sheets, or twenty forms, without being obliged to distribute. The founder reckons 120 lb. to a sheet, but this varies with the nature of the letter.

From “The Book of Trades, or Library of Useful Arts” published by Jacob Johnson, in 1807, with the original copper plate engraving.

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Advice to the Cook

The Cook must be quick and strong of sight: her hearing most acute, that she may be sensible to

when the contents of her vessels bubble, although they be closely covered, and that she may be

alarmed before the pot boils over; her auditory nerve ought to discriminate (when several

saucepans are in operation at the same time) the simmering of one, the ebullition of another, and

the full-toned warbling of a third.

It is imperiously requisite that her organ of smell be highly susceptible of the various

effluvia, that her nose may distinguish the perfection of aromatic ingredients, and that, in

animal substances it shall evince a suspicious accuracy between tenderness and putrefication:

above all, her olfactories should be tremblingly alive to mustiness and empyreuma.

It is from the exquisite sensibility of her palate, that we admire and judge the cook; from the

alliance between the olfactory and sapid organs it will be seen, that their perfections is

indispensible.

Good manners have often made the fortune of many, who have had nothing else to recommend them:

ill manners have as often marred the hopes of those who have had everything else to advance them.

Dinner tables are seldom sufficiently lighted, or attended; and active waiter will have enough to

do, to attend upon half a dozen good eaters: there should be half as many candles as there are

guests, and their flame be about eighteen inches above the table, our foolish modern candelabras

seem intended to illuminate the ceiling, rather than to give light on the plates, &c.

I am persuaded that no servant ever saved his master sixpence, but he found it in the end in his

own pocket.

A surgeon may well attempt to make an incision with a pair of sheers, or open a vein with an

oyster knife, as a cook pretend to dress a dinner without proper tools.

When the pot is coming to boil, there will always , form the cleanest meat and clearest water,

rise a scum to the top of it; proceeding partly from the foulness of the meat, and partly from

the water, this must be carefully taken off as soon as it rises; on this, depends the good

appearance of all boiled things. When you have scummed it well, put in some cold water, which

will throw up the rest of the scum. The oftener it is scummed, and the cleaner the top of the

water is kept, the cleaner will be the meat. If let alone, it soon boils down and sticks to the

meat; which, instead of looking delicately white and nice, will have that coarse and filthy

appearance we have too often to complain of, and the butcher and poulterer be blamed for the

carelessness of the cook in not scumming her pot.

In small families, we recommend block tin saucepans, &c as lightest, and safest; if proper care

is taken of them, and they are well dried after they are cleaned, they are by far the cheapest;

the purchase of a new tin saucepan being little more than the expense of tinning a copper one.

Let the young cook never forget, that cleanliness is the chief cardinal virtue of the kitchen;

the first preparation for roasting is to take care that the spit be properly cleaned with sand

and water, nothing else. When it has been well scoured with this, dry it with a clean cloth. If

spits are wiped clean, as soon as the meat is drawn from them, and while they are hot, a very

little cleaning will be required. The less the spit is passed through the meat the better, and

before you spit it, joint it properly, especially necks and loins, that the carver may separate

them easily and neatly., and take especial care it be evenly balanced on the spit, that its

motion may be regular, and the fire operate equally on each part of it.

A cook must be as particular to proportion her fire to the business she has to do, as a chemist;

the degree of heat most desirable for dressing the different sorts of food ought to be attended

to with the upmost precision.

A Good cook is anxiously attentive to the appearance and colour of her roasts, as a court beauty

is to her complexion at a birth-day ball.

Be very particular in frying, never to use any oil, butter, lard or drippings, but what is quite

clean, fresh, and free from salt. Any thing dirty spoils the look, anything bad tasted or stale

spoils the flavor, and salt prevents browning

There is nothing in which the difference between an elegant and ordinary table is more seen than

in the dressing of vegetables, more especially of greens; they may be equally fine at first, at

one place as at another; but their look and taste are afterwards very different entirely from the

careless way in which they have been cooked.

Unripe vegetables are as insipid and unwholesome as unripe fruits.

If you wish to have vegetables delicately clean, put on your pot, make it boil, out a little salt

in it, and skim it perfectly clean before you put in the greens, &c. which should not be put in

till the water boils briskly; the quicker they boil, the greener they will be; when the

vegetables sink, they are generally done enough, if the water has been constantly boiling. Take

them up immediately, or they will lose their colour and goodness. Drain the water from them

thoroughly before you send them to table. This branch of cookery requires the most vigilant

attention.

If vegetables are a minute or two too long over the fire, they lose all their beauty and flavor.

Made dishes are nothing more than meat, poultry or fish, stewed very gently till they are tender,

with a thickened sauce poured over them.

Be careful to trim off all the skin, gristle, &c. that will not be eaten, and shape handsomely

and of an even thickness, the various articles which compose your made dishes; this is sadly

neglected by common cooks; only stew them until they are just tender, and do not do them to rags.

Therefore, what you prepare the day before it is to be eaten, do not do quite enough the first

day.

Woolen blankets or woolen clothes of any kind as well as furs, may be preserved from moths by

sprinkling a little spirits of turpentine upon them, in the drawers or boxes where they are

deposited during the summer. The scent of the turpentine on the woolens or furs is immediately

removed on their exposure to air. Sheets of paper moistened with spirits of turpentine above or

below the clothes, furs, &c. will have the effect of keeping off moths, but not so effectually as

sprinkling.

When you open a bottle of catsup, essence of anchovy, &c. throw away the old cork, and stopit closely with anew cork that will fit very tight. Use only the best superfine velvet taper corks.Economy in corks is very unwise; in order to save a mere trifle, in the price of a cork, you run the risk of losing the valuable article it is intended to preserve. It is a vulgar error that a bottle must be well stopped, when the cork is forced down even with the mouth of it; this is a sure sign that the cork is too small, and it should be redrawn and a larger one put in.

The papering of a room, when soiled in spots as often happens, may be cleaned by a piece of brick loaf or biscuit, one or two days old. After gently rubbing til the bread is soiled, the soiled part of the bread should be chipped off, or a fresh piece taken; some caution is requisite not to injure the fabric of the paper-hanging, or the figures on it.

From The House Servant’s Directory or A Monitor for Private Families: comprising of hints on the arrangement and performance of servants’ work, with general rules for settings out tables and sideboards in first order; The art of waiting in all it’s branches, and likewise how to conduct large and small parties with order; with general directions for placing on table all kinds of joints, fish, fowl, &c. with Full instructions for cleaning Plate, Brass, Steel, Glass, Mahogany: and likewise all kinds of patent and common lamps: Observations on servants’ behaviour to their employers; and upwards of 100 various and useful receipts, chiefly compiled for the use of house servants, and identically made to suit the manners and customs of families in the United States By Robert Roberts. With Friendly advice to cooks and heads of families, and complete directions how to burn Lehigh coal. by Robert Roberts, Butler to The Honorable Christopher Gore, Governor of Massachusetts, 1809

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Advice to House Servants

Miscellaneous Observations, Compiled for the use of House Servants

Many well-meaning servants are ignorant of the best means of managing, and thereby waste as much as would maintain a small family, besides

causing the mistress of the house much chagrin by their irregularity: and many families, from a want of method, have the appearance of chance

rather than of regular system. To avoid this, the following hints may be useful as well as economical:–

Every article should be kept in that place best suited to it, as much waste may thereby be avoided, viz.

Vegetables will best keep on a stone floor; if the air be excluded.—Meat in a cold dry place.—Sugar and sweetmeats require a dry place; so does salt.—Candles cold, but not damp.—Dried meats, hams, &c. the same.—All sorts of seeds for puddings, saloop, rice, &c. should be close covered, to preserve from insects; but that will not prevent it, if long kept.

Bread is so heavy and article of expense, that all waste should be guarded against; and having it cut in the room will tend much to prevent it. It should not be cut until a day old. Earthen pans and covers keep it best.

Straw to lay apples on, should be quite dry, to prevent a musty taste.

Large pears should be tied up by the stalk.

Basil, savoury, or knotted marjoram, or thyme, to be used when herbs are ordered; but with discretion, as they are very pungent.

The best means to preserve blankets from moths is to fold and lay them under the feather-beds that are in use; and they should be shaken occasionally. When soiled, they should be washed, not scoured.

Soda, by softening water, saves a great deal of soap, It should be melted in a large jug of water, some of which pour into the tubs and boiler; and when the latter becomes weak, add more. The new improvement of soft soap is, if properly used, a saving of near half in quantity; and though sometimes dearer than the hard, reduces the price of washing considerably.

Many good laundresses advise soaping linen in warm water the night previous to washing, as facilitating the operation with less friction.

Soap should be cut with a wire or twine, in pieces that will make a long square when first brought in, and kept out of the air two or three weeks; for if it dry quick, it will crack, and when wet, break. Put it on a shelf, leaving a space between, and let it grow hard gradually. Thus, it will save a full third in consumption.

Some of the lemons and oranges used for juice should be pared first, to preserve the peel dry; some should be halved, and when squeezed, the pulp cut out, and the outsides dried for grati8ng. If for boiling in any liquid, the first way is best. When these fruits are cheap, a proper quantity should be bought and prepared as above directed, especially by those who live in the country, where they cannot always be had; and they are perpetually wanted in cookery.

When whites of eggs are used for jelly, or other purposed, contrive to have pudding, custard, &c, to employ the yolks also. Should you not want them for several hours, heat them up with a little water and put them in a cool place, or they will be hardened and useless. It was a mistake of old to think that the whites made cakes and puddings heavy; on the contrary, if beaten long and separately, they contribute a greatly to give lightness, are and advantage to paste, and make a pretty dish, beaten with fruit, to set in cream, &c.

If copper utensils be used in the kitchen, the cook should be charged to be very careful not to let the tin be rubbed off, and to have them fresh done when the least defect appears, and never to put any soup, gravy, &c. in them, or any metal utensil: stone and earthen vessels should be provided for those purposes, as likewise plenty of common dishes, that the table-set may not be used to put by cold meat.

Tin vessels, if kept damp, soon rust, which causes holes. Fenders, tin linings of flowerpots, &c. should be painted every year or two.

Vegetables soon sour, and corrode metals and glazed red ware, by which a strong poison is produced. Some years ago, the death of several gentlemen was occasioned at Salt Hill (London) by the cook sending out a ragout to the table which she had kept from the preceding day in a copper vessel badly tinned.

Vinegar, by its acidity, does the same, the glazing being of lead or arsenic.

To cool liquors in hot weather, dip a cloth in cold water, and wrap it round the bottle two or three times, then place it in the sun: renew the process once or twice.

The best way of scalding fruits, or boiling vinegar, is in a stone jar on a hot iron hearth; or by putting the vessel into a saucepan of water, called a water bath.

If chocolate, coffee, jelly, gruel, bark, &c. be suffered to boil over, the strength is lost.

The cook should be charged to take care of jelly-bags, tapes for the collared things, &c. which if not perfectly scalded, and kept dry, give an unpleasant flavor when next used.

Cold water, when thrown on cast-iron, when hot, will cause it to crack.

From The House Servant’s Directory or A Monitor for Private Families: comprising of hints on the arrangement and performance of servants’ work, with general rules for settings out tables and sideboards in first order; The art of waiting in all it’s branches, and likewise how to conduct large and small parties with order; with general directions for placing on table all kinds of joints, fish, fowl, &c. with Full instructions for cleaning Plate, Brass, Steel, Glass, Mahogany: and likewise all kinds of patent and common lamps: Observations on servants’ behaviour to their employers; and upwards of 100 various and useful receipts, chiefly compiled for the use of house servants, and identically made to suit the manners and customs of families in the United States By Robert Roberts. With Friendly advice to cooks and heads of families, and complete directions how to burn Lehigh coal. by Robert Roberts, Butler to The Honorable Christopher Gore, Governor of Massachusetts, 1809

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