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Coffee-Milk: The Regency Café au lait

It is rather impertinent to suggest any household care to a housekeeper, but I just venture to say that the coffee-mill will be wanted every day while Edward is at Steventon, as he always drinks coffee for breakfast.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
June 11, 1799

Regency coffee and milk has been part of the European kitchen since the 17th century (there is no mention of milk in coffee pre 1600 in Turkey or in the Arab world). ‘Caffèlatte’, ‘Milchkaffee’ and ‘Café au lait’ are domestic terms of traditional ways of drinking coffee, usually as part of breakfast in the home. Public Cafés in Europe and the US it seems has no mention of the terms until the 20th century, although ‘Kapuziner’ is mentioned in Austrian coffee houses in Vienna and Trieste in the 2nd half of the 1700s as ‘coffee with cream, spices and sugar’ (being the origin of the Italian ‘cappuccino’).

Café au lait is a French coffee drink. The meaning of the term differs between Europe and the United States; in both cases it means some kind of coffee with hot milk added, in contrast to white coffee, which is coffee with room temperature milk or other whitener added.


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The Jeweller

It appears from history that the profession of a jeweler is of very ancient date; for we read in the Bible that Aaron had a breast-plate set with a variety of precious stones: and in succeeding ages there is frequent mention of rings and other ornaments being made of gold and set with stones.  Hence the name jeweller, one who sets jewels, or precious stones, is properly derived. There is scarcely a nation in the world who have not employed jewellers of some kind or other.  When captain Cook visited the South Sea islands, where, perhaps, no civilized being had been before, they found the natives with their ears, noses, and arms, ornamented with pearls, gold, shells, and curious teeth of fish, in a fanciful manner.

Civilized countries have greatly improved the art of jewellery.  The French for lightness and elegance of design have surpassed their neighbours; but the English jewellers, for excellence of workmanship, have been, and still are, superior to every other nation.  The name jeweller is now commonly applied to all who set stones, whether real or artificial; but, properly speaking, it belongs only to those who set diamonds and other precious gems.  According to the general application of the term, jewellers make rings of all sorts in gold, lockets, bracelets, broaches, ornaments for the head, earrings, necklaces, and a great variety of trinkets composed of diamonds, pearls, or other stones.

The DIAMOND was called by the antients adamant: as a precious stone, it holds the first rank, in value, hardness, and lustre and weight, of all gems. The goodness of diamonds consists in their water, or colour, lustre and weight. The most perfect colour is the white. The defects in diamonds are veins, flaws, specks of red and black sand, and a blueish or yellowish cast.

In Europe, lapidaries examine the goodness of their diamonds by daylight, but in the Indies they do it by night: for this purpose a hole is made in the wall, where a lamp is placed, with a thick wick, by the light of which they judge of the goodness of the stone.

Diamonds are found in the East Indies, principally in the kingdoms of Golconda, Visapour, Bengal, and the island of Borneo. They are obtained from mines and rivers.  As the diamond is the hardest of all precious stones, it can only be cut and ground by itself and its own substance.  To bring diamonds to that degree of perfection which augments their price so considerably, the workmen rub several against each other; and the powder thus rubbed off the stones, and received in a little box for the purpose, serves to grind and polish others.

The PEARL is a hard, white, smooth, shining body, found in shellfish resembling an oyster, and is ranked among the gems.  The perfection of pearls, whatever be their shape, consists chiefly in the lustre and clearness of their colour, which jewellers call their water. Those which are white are the most esteemed in Europe; while many Indians and the Arabs prefer the yellow: some are of a lead colour; some border on the black, and some are quite black. The oriental pearls are the finest, on account of their largeness, colour, and beauty, being generally of a beautiful silver white: those found in the western hemisphere are more of a milk-white.

In Europe pearls and diamonds are sold by carat weight, the carat being equal to four grains; but in Asia, the weights made use of are different in different states.

In the print we have a man at work, who will represent either a jeweller, or a small worker in silver; one who makes rings, perfume-boxes, &c.  The board at which he works is adapted also for a second workman.  The leathern skins fastened to the board are to catch the filings and small pieces of precious metals, which would otherwise be liable to fall on the ground. The tools on the board, and in the front under the window, are chiefly files of various kinds, and drills; beside which there is a small hammer, a pair of pliers, and, on a little block of wood, a small crucible. On his left hand above the board is a drill bow: this is a flexible instrument, consisting of a piece of steel, to the ends of which is fastened a cat-gut: the cat-gut is twisted round one of the drills which stand before the man, and then it is fitted for his business.

Behind him is fixed the drawing-bench, on which he draws out his wire to any degree of fineness. The method of drawing wire from gold or other metals is this: The metal is first made into a cylindric form; when it is drawn through holes of several irons, each smaller than the other, till it be as fine as it is wanted, sometimes much smaller than a hair.  Every new hole lessens its diameter; but it gains in length what it loses in thickness: a single ounce is frequently drawn to a length of several thousand feet.

In the front of the plate is represented a German stove, which is rarely used for any other purpose than that of heating the shop: for jewellers cannot work in winter, unless the temperature of the shop be pretty high.  At the top of the stove is a crucible, and on the floor is another: these are useful for many purposes; they are not however heated in the stove, but in a forge, which is an essential article in a jeweller’s shop, though not exhibited in the plate.

Another very material tool found in every jeweller’s work-room is the anvil and block.  A flatting-mill is also wanted, and indeed cannot be dispensed with where the business is considerable. The flatting-mill consists of two perfectly round and very highly polished rollers, formed internally of iron, and welded over with a plate of refined steel: the circumferences of these rollers nearly touch each other; they are both turned with one handle. The lowermost roller is about ten inches in diameter, and the upper one is much smaller. The wire that is to be flattened, unwinding from a bobbin, and passing through a narrow slit in an upright piece of wood, called a ketch, is directed by a small conical hole in a piece of iron, called a guide, to any particular width of the rollers; some of which, by means of this contrivance, are capable of receiving forty threads.  After the wire is flatted, it is again wound on a bobbin, which is turned by a wheel, fixed on the axis of one of the rolls, and so managed that the motion of the bobbin just keeps pace with that of the rolls.

Besides those which are already mentioned, jewellers require a great variety of other tools; such as gravers, scorpers, spit-stickers, knife-tools, straining-weights, brass-stamps, lamp and blow-pipe, ring-sizes, spring-tongs, piercing-saws, boiling-pans, shears, &c. &c.

The trade of a jeweller has always been considerable in London; but, like many others, it is very much affected by a war, and at this moment it is exceedingly flat.  During the American war, thousands of that business were almost in a starving condition: those only who are capable of turning their genius to other mechanical pursuits are likely to obtain employment at such times.

Some jewellers will earn as journeymen four guineas a week; but the general run of wages is about 28 or 80 shillings.

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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Meissen’s White Gold

Many of the object d’art familiar to Jane Austen (and used extensively as set pieces in the many adaptations of her works) are based on the pieces produced by the famous Meissen Porcelain factory in the mid 1700’s. The company became known for their exquisite china patterns, including the Blue Onion pattern, still in production today, clocks, vases, figurines and just about any other decorative item which could be made of porcelain. Among the first to discover the secret of China’s “White Gold”, craftsmen in the artist town of Meissen protected and improved the recipe long before Josiah Wedgewood or Josiah Spode set up their showrooms in London or artisans in Sevres could create their first vase.

The Chinese had mastered the production of porcelain long before the west became aware of it, and by the seventeenth century oriental porcelain had become a valuable export commodity in the China trade. Mostly provided by the Dutch East India Company, porcelain from China and Japan represented wealth, importance, and refined taste in Europe, while local attempts to produce porcelain, such as the brief experiment that produced “Medici porcelain” had met with failure.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century Johann Friedrich Böttger pretended he had solved the dream of the alchemists, to produce gold from worthless materials. When the Elector of Saxony Augustus the Strong heard of it, he kept him in protective custody and requested him to produce gold. For years Johann Friedrich Böttger was unsuccessful in this effort. At the same time, Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, a mathematician and scientist, experimented with the manufacture of glass, trying to make porcelain as well. Tschirnhaus supervised Böttger and by 1707 Böttger reluctantly started to help in the experiments by Tschirnhaus. When Tschirnhaus suddenly died, the recipe apparently was handed over to Böttger, who within one week announced to the Elector that he could make porcelain. Böttger refined the formula and with some Dutch co-workers, experienced in firing and painting tiles, the stage was set for the manufacturing of porcelain. In 1709, the Elector established the first Meissen manufactory, placed Böttger’s laboratory at Albrechtsburg castle in Meissen and production started officially in 1710.

The first type of porcelain produced by Böttger was a refined and extremely hard red stoneware known in Germany as Böttgersteinzeug. It retained very crisp definition in its mold-cast applied details, on bodies that could be polished to a gloss before firing. Models were derived from Baroque silver shapes and Chinese ceramic examples. Meissen’s production of a hard paste white porcelain that could be glazed and painted soon followed, and wares were put on the market in 1713.

An example of Böttgersteinzeug pottery

Böttger’s experimental wares rapidly gained quality but never achieved successful painted and fired decor. The first successful ornaments were gold decorations applied upon the fired body and finely engraved before they received a second firing at a lower temperature. Multicolor enamelled painting was introduced by Johann Gregorius Höroldt in 1723, with an increasingly broad palette of colors that marked the beginning of the classic phase of Meissen porcelain. His enamel paints are still the basis for ceramic paints today. Initially paintings often imitated oriental patterns. The signature underglaze “Meissen Blue” was introduced by Friedrich August Köttig. Soon minutely detailed landscapes and port scenes, animals, flowers, galante courtly scenes and chinoiseries— fanciful Chinese-inspired decorations— were to be found on Meissen porcelain. The Kakiemon vases and tea wares of kilns in Arita, Japan were imitated as Indianische Blume (“Flowers of the Indies”). Paintings by Watteau were copied. Wares were also sold in solid glazed colors, to be enamelled in private workshops (Hausmalerei) and independently retailed. The support of Augustus’ patronage attracted to Meissen some of the finest painters and modelers of Europe as staff artists.

The Albrechtsburg was utilized to protect the secrets of the manufacture of the white gold. As a further precaution, very few workers knew the special secret (arcanum) of how to make porcelain, and then perhaps only part of the process. Thus, for a few years, Meissen retained its monopoly on the production of hard-paste porcelain in Europe. By 1717, however, a competing production was set up at Vienna, as Samuel Stöltzel sold the secret recipe, which involved the use of kaolin, also known as china clay. By 1760 about thirty porcelain manufacturers were operating in Europe, most of them, however, producing frit based soft-paste porcelain.

In order to identify the original Meissen products, Meissen developed markings that initially were painted on, but were soon fired in underglaze blue. Early markings such as AR (Augustus Rex, the monogram of the King), K.P.M. (Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur), M.P.M. (Meissener Porzellan-Manufaktur), and K.P.F. (“Königliche Porzellan-Fabrik) were eventually replaced by the crossed swords logo. Introduced in 1720, it was used consistently after 1731 by official decree. Variations in the “crossed swords” logo allow approximate dating of the wares.

Augustus II charged first Johann Jakob Irminger with the design of new vessels. In 1720 Johann Gregorius Höroldt became the director and introduced brilliant colors which made Meissen porcelain famous. The next sculptor, Johann Jakob Kirchner, was the first to make large-scale statues and figurines, especially of Baroque saints. His assistant was Johann Joachim Kaendler; in 1733 Kirchner resigned, and Kaendler took over as chief “modelmaster”. He became the most famous of the Meissen sculptors. Under his direction Meissen produced the series of small figurines, often depicting scenes of gallantry, which brought out the best of the new material. His menagerie of large-scale animals, left in the white, are some of the high points of European porcelain manufacture. His work resulted in the production of exquisite figurines in the rococo style that influenced porcelain making in all of Europe. Supported by assistants like Johann Friedrich Eberlein and Peter Reinecke, he worked until his death in 1775.

In 1756, during the Seven Years’ War, Prussian troops occupied Meissen, giving Frederick II of Prussia the opportunity to relocate some of the artisans to establish the Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur Berlin. With the changing tastes of the neoclassical period and the rise of Sèvres porcelain in the 1760s, Meissen had to readjust its production, and in the reorganization from 1763, C.W.E. Dietrich of the Dresden Academy became artistic director and Michel- Victor Acier from France became the modelmaster. The practice of impressing numerals that correspond to moulds in the inventory books began in 1763. Sèvres styles and ventures into Neoclassicism, such as matte bisque wares that had the effect of white marble, marked the manufactory’s output under Count Camillo Marcolini, from 1774.

In the nineteenth century Ernst August Leuteritz modernized many of the rococo figurines, and reissued them, creating a “Second Rococo” characterized by lacework details (made from actual lace dipped in slip and fired) and applied flowers; English collectors used the term Dresden porcelain to describe these wares, especially the somewhat simpering and coy figurines. Under Erich Hösel, who became head of the modelling department in 1903, old styles were revived and reinterpreted. Hösel also restored eighteenth century models. Some appealing work in the Art Nouveau style was produced, but Meissen’s mainstay continued to be the constant production of revived eighteenth-century models.

After 1933, the artistic freedom of the artists became restricted by the State of Saxony in accordance with the contemporary indoctrination process in Germany. Some artists (i.e. Ernst Barlach) who had contributed to progressive Meissen during the Weimar period were banned.

After World War II and under Communist rule, the manufactory that had always catered to the rich and wealthy had some difficulty finding its way. The danger was that Meissen would become a factory merely producing for the masses. It was not until 1969, when Karl Petermann became the director, that Meissen went back to focus on its old traditions and was also allowed a freer artistic expression. Production continues to this day. Meissen products can be found online, in antique stores world wide (look for the crossed swords logo) and at buymeissen.com.

Information from antique-china-porcelain-collectibles.com, Victoriamag.com and Wikipedia.com

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Period Lighting and Silhouette Making

Jane Austen News

Period Lighting and Silhouette Making

When the butler would have lit his master’s candle, however, he was forbidden. The latter was not going to retire. “I have many pamphlets to finish,” said he to Catherine, “before I can close my eyes..”
– Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

What exactly does this statement mean? Why would a person sitting in a drawing room full of candelabra need a personal candle? Let us step into that candlelit age of period lighting and try to get a better feel for Jane Austen’s time.

Lighting “his master’s candle” refers to lighting a candle with which to light the way to bed. There were even special candle holders called chamber candlesticks for the purpose. They had a wide base to prevent wax from dripping on the hand or carpets, a handle for ease of carrying, and sometimes an attached snuffer to make it easy to put out the candle before going to sleep. Some chamber candlesticks even had a shield on the side opposite from the handle to prevent the flame from being blown out by an errant breeze in the hallway. Why not just light the hallway with candles in wall scones? It was expensive to light a hallway not in constant use and dangerous to leave the candles unattended, so candles were used only as needed.

Strike a Match?

The dimness of the light her candle emitted made her turn to it with alarm; …Alas! It was snuffed and extinguished in one. A lamp could not have expired with more awful effect. Catherine, for a few moments, was motionless with horror. It was done completely; not a remnant of light in the wick could give hope to the rekindling breath. Darkness impenetrable and immovable filled the room.
– Northanger Abbey

A candle going out totally overset Catherine. Why doesn’t she simply relight it? The idea of quick lighting matches started with the discovery of the highly flammable element phosphorous in 1669 by a German merchant who dabbled in alchemy named Henning Brand. Several 17th century chemists used the newly discovered element to manufacture devices that could be used to light a fire quickly, but since phosphorus cost the equivalent of several hundred pounds per ounce and was highly unstable, these first matches were terribly expensive and rather dangerous.

In 1781, a group of French chemists developed the phosphoric candle or ethereal match. It consisted of a sealed glass tube containing a twist of paper tipped with phosphorus, which ignited when it was exposed to oxygen by breaking the glass. However these matches were expensive and the delicate glass tube cracked easily frequently bursting into flame in the pocket!

It would be 1826 before John Walker, an English pharmacist, created the strike-anywhere friction matches. Wood splints tipped with potassium chlorate, antimony sulfide, and gum Arabic ignited when the match head was drawn through a fold of fine sandpaper. By 1829, similar matches known as “Lucifers” were sold throughout London. Thus it seems unlikely that the butler in Northanger Abbey was about to strike a match to light “his master’s candle” or that Catherine would have a match.

Flint and Steel

…how much better to find a fire ready lit, than to have to wait shivering in the cold till all the family are in bed, as so many poor girls have been obliged to do, and then to have a faithful old servant frightening one by coming in with a faggot!
– Northanger Abbey

Flint and steel remained the main method of kindling a fire until the mid 19th century. This method involved forcefully striking a piece of flint against a piece of steel so that the resulting spark fell on tinder or a rudimentary match, made by wrapping a bit of cotton or paper coated in wax about one end of a splint of wood. It often took several strikes to get a good spark that ignited the tinder or match.

Flint and steel came as a kit in a small round box made of wood or tin called a tinder box. It contained a piece of steel made in a handle shape so that it was easy to grasp and a chunk of sharpened flint. The tinder box which held the flint and steel was used to contain the material called tinder that would be ignited with the sparks. Tow was the most commonly used tinder. It is a by product of flax or linen production. When flax fibers are combed before being spun into linen, the coarse and broken fibers are removed. This scrap is called “tow” in Old English. If dry, it is highly flammable.

The process of striking a spark involves shaving tiny pieces off the steel with the sharp edge of the flint. The sparks come from the friction heated steel shavings, not the flint. To strike a spark, the steel was pointed into the tinderbox to direct the sparks into the tinder. Then the flint was struck down the steel at a shallow angle so that the steel remained close to the tinder without hitting the tinder with the flint. Fingers had to be kept back from the edge of the steel to avoid cutting them with the sharp flint. When the flint became dull, it was chipped back to form a new sharp edge. On cold winter mornings a spark had to be struck in the dark with cold hands. This was generally the task of the under cook who rose first to get the kitchen fires going for the day. Servants could then carry faggots from the kitchen fire to kindle fires in the rest of the house.

Candles

This is strange indeed! I did not expect such a sight as this! An immense heavy chest! What can it hold? Why should it be placed here? Pushed back too, as if meant to be out of sight! I will look into it — cost me what it may, I will look into it — and directly too — by daylight. If I stay till evening my candle may go out.
– Northanger Abbey

Candles were made of beef tallow or beeswax or both. Beef tallow candles though cheaper, smoked, smelled bad, and were rather soft and tended to bend. The gentry preferred beeswax because it smelled better and gave off less smoke. Some thrifty households used tallow candles in the servant’s quarters.

Since beeswax sticks to molds, this type of candle could only be made with the dipping method. Wicks of twisted cotton or linen were draped over a length of wood to allow creation of multiple candles at once. The wood when lowered and raised repeatedly over a pot of melted beeswax dipped the wicks into the hot wax and then out to cool. Gradually layer after layer of wax built up around the wicks eventually producing a pair of long thin tapers on each end of the draped wick. The piece of wick that had been over the wood was not coated with wax. It could then be cut separating each pair of candles.

Tallow candles were made by pouring rendered beef tallow into candle molds with a wick held in the middle by a piece of wire laid atop the mold. Once the tallow cooled, the mold, which contained multiple long slender openings, was opened. It split in half for easy removal of the candles. Sometimes some beeswax was mixed with the tallow to produce a candle less prone to bending or the tallow candle was coated in a few layers of beeswax to strengthen it.

A Source of Entertainment

Candles also provided a source of evening entertainment. A candle brought close to a person’s profile could cast a shadow on a piece of paper attached to the wall that might be drawn around and blacked in with lampblack or gauche resulting in a silhouette. In those days before photography, a silhouette provided a simple and inexpensive way of taking someone’s likeness. Because anyone could create a silhouette, their making became a popular party activity in the 18th and 19th century. Jane Austen did not portray this activity in her books but silhouettes of Austen family members exist.

The term “silhouette” derived from the name of Etienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), a Frenchman who was a finance minister to Louis XV. Etienne de Silhouette, though not the originator of this type of tracing, became synonymous with the art form because of his ability to create elaborate pieces. The English called them “shades.” Making silhouettes was a favorite pastime at the court of George III. The King loved to throw shade parties.

In 1775, Mrs. Samuel Harrington invented the pantograph. This mechanical device could be used to enlarging or reduce the size of a drawing. A silhouette, normally made life size, could be reduced to a smaller size using the pantograph. These miniature silhouettes were extremely popular because they could be used in jewelry such as lockets and cameos. Popular decorating trends also influenced silhouettes. During the period when Wedgwood was marketing decorative copies of Sir William Hamilton’s collection of Etruscan red-figure vases, it became popular to paint silhouettes in terracotta colored gauche so that the finished product took on the appearance of a red figure on a black background.

The candle, its use, and accessories helped to define the world in which Jane Austen lived and portrayed in her books. Throwing a little light on the candle may illuminate Jane Austen’s novels.

 

*****

Sharon Wagoner is Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical tour through Regency London!

Illustration Sources:
Chamber Candle, Dover, copyright free.
Flint & Steel illustration originally from William Smith, Morley: Ancient and Modern, London, 1886. I took this illustration from Raffaella Sarti, Europe at Home: Family and Material Culture 1500-1800. London: Yale University Press, 2002. copyright free
Silhouette Making: Artist Unknown

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Scent-Sational: Regency Perfumes and the Man who Made them

Regency perfumes and hairstyling

Scent-Sational: Regency Perfumes and the Man who Made them

Emma’s very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken the following day, by hearing that he was gone off to London, merely to have his hair cut. A sudden freak seemed to have seized him at breakfast, and he had sent for a chaise and set off, intending to return to dinner, but with no more important view that appeared than having his hair cut.There was certainly no harm in his travelling sixteen miles twice over on such an errand; but there was an air of foppery and nonsense in it which she could not approve.
Emma

The word perfume used today derives from the Latin “per fume”, meaning through smoke. Perfumery, or the art of making perfumes, began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt but was developed and further refined by the Romans and the Arabs. Although perfume and perfumery also existed in East Asia, much of its fragrances are incense based.

Knowledge of perfumery came to Europe as early as the 14th century due partially to Arabic influences and knowledge. But it was the Hungarians who ultimately introduced the first modern perfume. The first modern perfume, made of scented oils blended in an alcohol solution, was made in 1370 at the command of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary and was known throughout Europe as Hungary Water. The art of perfumery prospered in Renaissance Italy, and in the 16th century, Italian refinements were taken to France by Catherine de’ Medici’s personal perfumer, Rene le Florentin. His laboratory was connected with her apartments by a secret passageway, so that no formulas could be stolen en route. France quickly became the European center of perfume and cosmetic manufacture. Cultivation of flowers for their perfume essence, which had begun in the 14th century, grew into a major industry in the south of France. During the Renaissance period, perfumes were used primarily by royalty and the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from the sanitary practices of the day. Partly due to this patronage, the western perfumery industry was created. By the 18th century, aromatic plants were being grown in the Grasse region of France to provide the growing perfume industry with raw materials. Even today, France remains the centre of the European perfume design and trade.

The wearing of scents was first introduced into England through barber shops, which also sold wigs and the scented powders used on them. Women would put sponges moistened with fragrances under their clothes to cover up body odors because deodorant did not yet exist. By the 18th century, all of Europe had become obsessed with fragrances. Noble women created their own personal fragrances by experimenting with different aromas. With the discovery and exploration of the Americas, new scents came to Europe. Balsam of Peru and American cedar, sassafras, and vanilla toilet waters, colognes, and perfumes were introduced into the European scent market.


Juan Famenias Floris, a Spaniard from Minorca, first opened a barber shop in London’s fashionable quarter of St. James’s in 1730. He soon began making the scents of his homeland for clients in a refreshing alcohol base. This portion of his business was so successful that he changed his business to a perfume shop where he created toilet waters of jasmine, orange blossom, and ‘Lavender’, the fragrance that made him famous and which still can be bought today. Toilet water is a scented liquid with a high alcohol content used in bathing or applied as a skin freshener. Floris has been a perfumer to royalty for eight generations.

Floris fragrances quickly became the talk of fashionable London society, the barber`s shop gave way to become the elegant setting for fragrances and accessories: Beautiful handmade hair combs were imported from Menorca, while shaving brushes, hatpins, toothbrushes, fine-tooth combs and razor-straps were made on the premises. Jermyn Street was the epicentre for distinguished London gentlemen in the 18th century. Close to the Royal Court of St.James, and at the heart of Gentleman’s ‘club-land’, it was also a fashionable location for wealthy gentlemen to keep their London address, and was once residence to the Duke of Marlborough, Gray the Poet and Sir Thomas Lawrence among others.

The customer list at the shop was no less elegant, including Mary Shelley (while abroad she sent friends clear instructions on where to purchase her favourite combs: Floris) and Beau Brummell, who loved to discuss his current fragrances at length with Mr.Floris.)
In the 18th and 19th centuries, where the Court shopped, the gentry followed and the Floris ledgers of this period detail accounts held by an incredible array of public figures, including practically every European Royal


The first Royal Warrant granted to J.Floris Ltd was in 1820 as ‘Smooth Pointed Comb-makers’ to the then newly appointed King George IV. Today this first Royal warrant is still on display at 89 Jermyn Street together with no less than sixteen others. Ever since that first auspicious day Floris has always held at least one Royal Warrant, and today holds two.

J.Floris Ltd is now run by the eighth generation descendants of its founder, Juan Famenias Floris. Soon after his arrival in England, Juan Floris married an Englishwoman, Elizabeth Hodgkiss, and they had seven children. The current Floris generation, Directors John Bodenham and Christopher Marsh are both great great grandsons of Mary Anne Floris – who in turn was the great granddaughter of Juan. Mary Anne Floris married James Radford Dutton Bodenham and together they handled the family business, eventually handing it on to their sons – hence the family name changed.

 

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Cravats, Tail Coats and Breeches

Regency Dress for Gentlemen

Towards the end of the 18th Century the tail coat appeared: a style based on the English riding coat. This was made of good wool cloth and gradually became the fashionable garment for men in Europe and America.

Tail Coat The tail coat on display at the Centre is made from 100% English wool doeskin, and is fashioned after a style current about 1810. Notice how few seams there are – just one on each side of the centre back seam. A waist seam to give a better fit to the body was first seen about 1820 and the underarm seam appeared between 1820 and 1830. The tails of the coat at this time finished just above the knee and if you look carefully, you will find that each tail has a pocket concealed in its central seam.

The tailcoat was usually only partially lined and that lining was the same fabric as the body of the garment. The cloth was so tightly woven and heavily milled that most of the edges of the garment were left raw and finished with a row of hand stitching all the way around. Here it is possible to see this detail on close examination. This practice survives in top-quality tailoring with the “hand pricked” finish only on the lapels.

The waistcoat shown here is in a fancy fabric suitable for an evening occasion: for day wear, the fabric would be plainer and of a sober colour – cream, buff, or grey. Only the fronts are in the fancy fabric, the back being made of a plain cotton cloth; a gentleman never removed his coat in company so it would not be seen. The stand collar was very popular for both day and evening. The back is adjusted by means of lacing rather than a buckle.

Tail Coat Breeches were very popular and did not completely fall out of fashion for day wear until about 1825, thereafter still being required for court dress, riding and country wear. The waist is high and the braces were worn to support them. They were often embroidered by the females in the family. The rear of the breeches is quite full to ensure comfort in the saddle, and the waist is adjusted by lacing. The fabric from which the display breeches are made is 100% cotton moleskin.

Following the example of Beau Brummell, a gentleman and his valet would spend a great deal of time and effort in the morning, in search of the perfect arrangement for the cravat- discarding several along the way. Most shirts and cravats were made at home, again, by female relatives. In a letter of January 1799, Jane wrote to Cassandra, “When you come you will have some shirts to make up for Charles [brother]; Mrs. Davies frightened him into buying a piece of Irish [linen] when we were in Basingstoke.” The next year she wrote, “I have heard from Charles, & am to send his shirts by half dozens as they are finished. One set will go next week.”

Costume researched, designed and constructed by Yvonne Roe, Gloucester. Special to the Jane Austen Centre, Bath.

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A Passion for Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

A Brief History of Hot Chocolate – And Top Variations to Try!

He took his own cocoa from the tray, which seemed provided with almost as many teapots as there were persons in company —

Miss Parker drinking one sort of herb tea and Miss Diana another — and turning completely to the fire, sat coddling and cooking it to his own satisfaction and toasting some slices of bread, brought up ready-prepared in the toast rack; and till it was all done, she heard nothing of his voice but the murmuring of a few broken sentences of self-approbation and success.

When his toils were over, however, he moved back his chair into as gallant a line as ever, and proved that he had not been working only for himself by his earnest invitation to her to take both cocoa and toast. She was already helped to tea — which surprised him, so totally self-engrossed had he been.

“l thought I should have been in time,” said he, “but cocoa takes a great deal of boiling.”

“l am much obliged to you,” replied Charlotte. “But I prefer tea.”

“Then l will help myself,” said he. “A large dish of rather weak cocoa every evening agrees with me better than anything.”

lt struck her, however, as he poured out this rather weak cocoa, that it came forth in a very fine, dark-coloured stream; and at the same moment, his sisters both crying out, “Oh, Arthur, you get your cocoa stronger and stronger every evening,” with Arthur’s somewhat conscious reply of “Tis rather stronger than it should be tonight”

Sanditon, by Jane Austen, 1817

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