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Serle’s Soft Boiled Eggs

220px-Egg_spiral_egg_cupBoiled eggs have been a mealtime staple probably since boiling anything was invented. In fact, egg cups (you know what these are: those adorable little cups perfect for holding hard or soft boiled eggs) have been found during archaeological explorations of Crete dating to as early as the 18th century BC. An early silver version from 74 BC was even found in the ruins at Pompeii.

Soft boiled eggs were, by Jane Austen’s time, not only served at breakfast, as the broken egg shells on the table at Mansfield Park suggest, but also served throughout the day, as a healthy, plain food for children and invalids. In Emma, they are one of the few foods that even invalid Mr. Woodhouse can recommend with grace:

“Mrs Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle understands boiling an egg better than any body. I would not recommend an egg boiled by any body else; but you need not be afraid, they are very small, you see — one of our small eggs will not hurt you.”

Soft boiled eggs in adorable cups, with, perhaps, little hats or “cosies” on top are a favorite childhood memory for many. Paired with hot, buttered toast “soldiers” (narrow strips of toast for dunking in the runny yolk) they can make the most important meal of the day a comfort food feast.

soft boiled eggs would look good in this
This silver egg service for 6 dates to 1820 and was recently sold by waxantiques.com

To make soft boiled eggs, bring 3 inches of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Once the water is rolling, turn down the heat to a simmer and add your eggs, allowing them to cook for six minutes (you may wish to set a timer) Remove the eggs to an ice water bath (a bowl of ice water will do) to halt the cooking process while you make and butter your toast. It couldn’t be simpler.

Laura Boyle is fascinated by all aspects of Jane Austen’s life. She is the proprietor of Austenation: Regency Accessories, creating custom hats, bonnets, reticules and more for customers around the globe. Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends is her first book. Her greatest joy is the time she is able to spend in her home with her family (1 amazing husband, 4 adorable children and a very strange dog.)

 

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Make Self Fabric Trim for your Georgian Gown

With a number of costumed events on the horizon, it’s often tempting to try creating your own ensemble. One of the easiest ways to coordinate your trim to your dress is to use left over scraps from your gown. This is called Self Fabric trim, and was widely used during the Georgian or Rococo period, as shown in this extant gown:

Robe à la Polonaise with Self-Fabric Trim, circa 1775-80
Robe à la Polonaise with Self-Fabric Trim, circa 1775-80

Liz, at the Pragmatic Costumer, offers a fabulously easy tutorial for creating trim like that seen on the gown above. Her blog is a treasure trove of sewing hints and tricks for turning over the counter patterns into historically (appearing) accurate representations of your chosen time period. It’s lots of fun to explore.

Liz's tutorial for making self fabric trim will have you embellishing your ensembles from head to toe (the technique also works for hat and bonnet trim, shoe roses, and more!)
Liz’s tutorial for making self fabric trim will have you embellishing your ensembles from head to toe (the technique also works for hat and bonnet trim, shoe roses, and more!)
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Create Regency Style Acrostic Jewelry

During the Regency, acrostic jewelry came into vogue. These brooches, rings and other ornaments used gemstones beginning with each letter of the alphabet to spell out sentimental sayings such as LOVE, DEAREST, of REGARD.

Georgian "Regard" brooch, circa 1810.
Georgian “Acrostic” brooch, circa 1810. Jewelers often used the French spelling of the gemstone name when creating their words and phrases, even when the phrases were in English.

First created by the Mellerio Jewelry company (they claim to be the oldest family company in Europe) in Paris in 1809, the idea was mentioned by Étienne de Jouy in an article in an 1811 edition of Gazette de France, which in turn led to the style being adopted in England.

Continue reading Create Regency Style Acrostic Jewelry

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The Well Dressed Clergyman

Mr Collins - the well dressed clergyman?

As the daughter and sister of Anglican clergymen, Jane Austen was intimately familiar with the rites, rules and habits of church ministers. Clergy members and their families were among her closest friends and feature strongly in all her novels.

What, however would a clergyman of her time have worn?

Portraits of the era give a good idea of what they would have had in their closet:

clergy
Clockwise from top left: James Austen (Jane’s brother), George Austen (Jane’s Father, circa 1764), Henry Austen (Jane’s Brother), John Wesley, Parson Woodforde.

The well dressed Clergyman, then, would have dressed somberly, in a black suit, with with stock or cravat. Over this, while preaching, he would have worn the black Cassock, mandatory to his office. Many clergy chose to augment this sober attire with white bands, also known as Geneva bands (named for the birthplace of the reformation). Additionally, while performing some sacraments, such as weddings, baptisms and funerals he might add a white surplice (hence the fee paid for such services was called a “surplice fee”.) Continue reading The Well Dressed Clergyman

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Tea Time

In 1662 King Charles II married the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza. Charles himself had grown up in the Dutch capital, while in exile. As a result, both he and his Portuguese bride were confirmed tea drinkers. When the monarchy was re-established, the two rulers brought this foreign tea tradition to England with them. Tea mania swept across England as it had earlier spread throughout France and Holland. Tea importation rose from 40,000 pounds in 1699 to an annual average of 240,000 pounds by 1708. Tea quickly proved popular enough to replace ale as the national drink of England. It was a hot item and boiling the water made it a safe drink. Tea became the favorite English beverage after 1750.

Tea Service
A Georgian Tea Service

Tea bowl or Tea cup and saucer: Getting a handle on Tea
The first tea cups in England were handless tea bowls that were imported from China and then later copies made in England. The first saucers appeared around 1700, but took some time to be in common use. The standard globular form of teapot had replaced the tall oriental teapots by 1750. Robert Adam’s Classically inspired designs for tea sets popularized handles and other Greek and Roman motifs.

 

Enjoy a selection of delicious teas and treats in our Tea Rooms.

Continue reading Tea Time

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Hermsprong: Man as He is Not

hermsprongMy favorite local secondhand bookshop (St Mary’s Books) is blessed with a split personality; in the back there’s a tidy room of locked glass cases containing special expensive editions, but to get to it you pass through two small rooms turned into a short maze of dusty shelves that display anything the proprietors think they might sell to someone…anyone. At the foot of some private stairs (that you pass by to reach the second room) there’s even a disorganized paperback section where you can find the odd Catherine Cookson pressed tightly between Chaucer and Ian Fleming or some long dead Greek playwright. It’s a very egalitarian bookshop. I went in hope of finding a cheap anthology of middle English poetry, but I couldn’t find anything other than Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (which I haven’t yet desired to read). I kept browsing. In the second room, the far left corner holding European history is separated from the shelves of literature by a grubby stand with more paperbacks, most of them cheap editions of great literature published in the fifties and sixties. I spun it round and caught sight of a book with a cover portrait of a beautiful young man with intelligent eyes. I’d never heard of Robert Bage or his book called Hermsprong; Man as He is not. Flipping it open I found the novel was published in 1796. Reading the back it said it was funny (and as it only cost £1) so I bought it.

Yesterday I finally picked it up. I was enjoying the narrator’s voice, but being a curious wench, the footnotes drew me to the back of the book and I was soon taking notes on the explanatory notes. I was quite interested to learn that the author, a self educated paper mill owner, had radical viewpoints on women. I turned back to a noted passage in the middle and started reading and kept reading. It is funny (if you enjoy dry ironic English humor) and the characters burst off the page. The hero of the story, Mr Charles Hermsprong, is a truth-fairy (he speaks truth as he sees it) and he explodes into the polite society of the local gentry. Raised in America, the son of a an English father and a French mother, he has returned to England to claim his inheritance. It’s a romance, but woven around what would have been termed in 1796 as ‘radical politics’. I don’t think it has any long boring speeches (some writers can’t resist euphemistically using a pile their books as a soap box which I find dead boring), just a lot of witty dialogue that must have made more than a few of Bage’s contemporaries gasp. Women be considered rational creatures and allowed mental liberty and legally considered man’s equal? Shock horror! (In England this didn’t really come about ’till the 1960’s so he was ahead of his time.)

I’m surprised the BBC hasn’t been made Hermsprong into a television production. The book has so much dialogue that a good cast of actors would bring it to life by showing all the unspoken dialogue. The original readers were no doubt familiar with the socially accepted body language and the faint visual clues to distinguish the speakers meant exactly the opposite of what they were saying. Another great thing about watching an older story being performed is that the set moves a lot of unimportant details into the background and allows the tale to be uninterrupted (at least for people like me) with checking footnotes and the dictionary.

hermsprong
Gainsborough Dupont (circa 1770-75) by Thomas Gainsborough

It turned out that the beautiful young man on the cover was Gainsborough Dupont (circa 1770-75) painted by Thomas Gainsborough (no doubt a relation). I’m now going to have to go back to where I left off at the beginning and read the first half of the book (after sitting up late into the night reading the latter part), because the characters and dialogue are that great. I wish I’d written it!

Hermsprong is available in many formats both new and used from booksellers such as Amazon.co.uk. It is also available for free from Google Books.


Cari Hislop discovered Regency romance novels at the age of twelve and it changed her life from wanting to be an author to wanting to write romances. Her current novels can be found on her website, Regency Romance Novels by Cari Hislop and are also available for Kindle readers, through Amazon.com.

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The Fashion of Portrait Miniatures

portrait miniatures

Portrait Miniatures

“Oh, Elinor!” she cried, “I have such a secret to tell you about Marianne. I am sure she will be married to Mr Willoughby very soon.”

“You have said so,” replied Elinor, “almost every day since they first met on Highchurch Down; and they had not known each other a week, I believe, before you were certain that Marianne wore his picture round her neck; but it turned out to be only the miniature of our great uncle.”
Sense and Sensibility

 

In 1761 King George III gave his bride a wedding gift of a tiny portrait miniature of himself. Little did he know he was inspiring a fashion. When the Queen posed for a full-size portrait wearing the miniature on a pearl bracelet, the fashionable of the day took note, and the fad took off.

The upper classes swarmed to have their own miniatures done, and a few artists became known for such work. Richard Cosway was possibly the most prolific and successful miniaturist, counting the Prince of Wales, among many others, as a patron.

Portrait miniatures were being produced all over Europe, but nothing paralleled the popularity it found in Britain, especially between around 1769 to 1830. In short, it was a favored Regency form of expression and decoration. The practice of making miniature portraits began as a way for monarchs and other members of the court to produce likenessess which could be given away, mostly for diplomatic purposes. Less costly than full portraits and much more portable, they were imminently practical in an age without photography. They soon became treasured as precious objects, however, and put in opulent settings of gold, pearls and ivory.

Their sizes ranged from as small as 1×1 and a quarter inch to 7x 4 with every variation in between. Most were oval, but there was variation in shape as well as their manner of being worn close to the body.

portrait miniatures

In addition to a bracelet, for instance, portrait miniatures were often worn as a necklace, on a watch fob, or as a brooch. During the Regency, it was no longer only royalty who commissioned them, but an increasing number of the middle class. The main reason for having or giving one away? To keep loved ones close at heart. What better way to remember one’s love than by sporting the likeness of the beloved? Miniatures were especially popular with sailors who would be at Sea for years on end. Only think of the circumstances surrounding Captain Benwick’s miniature Portrait in Persuasion!

An interesting variation of portrait miniatures was the Lover’s Eye–a tiny portrait of one whole eye! Miniscule and more intimate than a full portrait, the eye was considered the window to the soul–thus being given an eye likeness was a token of intimacy that “outranked” the usual miniature. In addition, even secret lovers could safely exchange these, since anonymity was guaranteed.

portrait miniatures In 1786 the prince of Wales (the future Regent) paid five guineas for eye miniatures of himself and Mrs. Fitzherbert, which were encased in gold lockets. Later the prince had another eye miniature made and even one of his mouth, presumably to give to Mrs. Fitz. And before his death in 1830, though he had abandoned her in life, the King insisted upon being buried with the miniature of Mrs. Fitzherbert around his neck; in effect, close to his heart. The Duke of Wellington, to be safe, checked the corpse before burial. Sure enough, the miniature, set with diamonds, was there.

Other uses for the portrait miniature were as tools for grief and mourning, in which the deceased would be remembered as they were in life; or as statements of deep emotional states, such as melancholia, in which the subject would most likely rest his or her head on one hand. The sentimental usage of miniatures as love tokens or means of remembrance, however, is largely what spurred their popularity in the past, just as photos are wildly popular for such reasons today.

The miniatures’ popularity peaked at about 1830 and then declined quickly with the advent of photography. The caliber of the artwork on them is no less superb than on larger works of art, and today they are museum pieces and heirlooms. Often these little works of sentiment are the only pictoral representation we have of historical figures, like Tom LeFroy, Jane Austen’s first Love. Without Portrait Miniatures he would only be a name lost to history.


Linore Rose Burkard writes Inspirational Regency Romance as well as articles on Regency Life, Homeschooling, and Self-Improvement. She publishes a monthly eZine “Upon My Word!” (website). Ms. Burkard graduated from the City University of New York with a Magna Cum Laude degree in English Literature, and now lives in Ohio with her husband and five children.

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Changing Tastes in Georgian Jewelry

Georgian jewelry was made between 1714 and 1830 during the reigns of the four English kings named George. Varying styles of jewelry were produced during this period.

The styles moved from Rococo during George the first’s reign through Gothic revival and Neoclassical (hearkening back to the Greek and Roman empires). Neoclassical styles reached their height during Napoleon’s reign. Neoclassical was all the rage in both England and France. Napoleon funded extensive excavations at Pompeii creating a vogue for the Neoclassical as more Roman houses and artifacts
were revealed.

All Georgian Jewelry was handmade. This was a period of discovery and innovation. Glass paste copies of real gems were developed as well as a substitute for gold called “pinchbeck” named after its inventor. The early Georgian fashion called for the use of large stones set in an elaborate rococo style.

Cameos, intaglios, mosaic, acorns, the Greek key, Urns, Doves, Phoenix, Wheat, and plumage were all popular Georgian motifs.


Men wore more jewelry in those days than is the custom presently. Miniatures, tiny portraits of a loved one, were already popular. A man’s locket with a secret became a fad during the reign of George III. The first ‘lover’s eye’ locket miniature may have been commissioned by Mrs. Fitzherbert for the Prince of Wales after their secret marriage in 1785. These lockets contained a painting of the eye area and a wisp of hair drooping across the forehead. This miniature was both intimate and anonymous.

Large jewelry in the form of bracelets, index finger rings, girandole earrings, memorabilia jewelry, crosses, hair combs, buckles, aigrettes, and tiaras were favored in Georgian
times. Dog collars or chokers as we call them today were popular in the period 1770 to 1790.

A wreath tiara similar to this one was purchased for Princess Charlotte’s wedding. Parliament granted the Princess the sum of 10,000 pounds for jewelry at her marriage in 1816. She purchased “a most superb wreath of brilliants, forming rosebuds with their leaves, a diamond fastener for her manteau, a diamond cestus, ear-rings, and an armlet of great
value, with a superb set of pearls from Rundell, Bridge & Co.”

At the beginning of the Georgian period diamonds were used to the almost total exclusion of other stones. To meet the increased demand for white stones in the first half of the 18th century, paste, rock crystal, marcasite, and cut steel were employed with increasing sophistication.

Originally, rhinestones were rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine. The availability was greatly increased when around 1775 the Alsatian jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass had the idea to imitate diamonds by coating the lower side of glass with metal powder. Hence, rhinestones are called Strass in many European languages. Strass is known as the creator of the best and most long lasting paste jewelry. Most paste and rhinestones are simply leaded glass made in colors and cuts that mimic gemstones. Because leaded glass has such a nice luster it gives a look similar to a gemstone, particularly at a distance.

Paste diamond imitations made it possible to make inexpensive copies of the real thing to guard against theft by highwaymen. Diamond alternatives were soon produced with such quality that it was entirely respectable for even royalty to wear them.

At this time diamond cutters were introducing exciting new types of gem cuts such as rose cut, cushion, and ‘brilliants’. In the 1750’s colored stones came back into vogue. Then emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were worn again along with new stones like white-imperial-pink topazes, amethyst, chartreuse chrysoberyl, coral, ivory, pearls, and garnets.

Lava, shell, onyx, and carnelian became popular with the introduction of carved classically themed jewelry. This Neoclassical style began with the discovery and excavation of Pompeii in the mid 1700s. Finds there greatly influenced fashion, architecture, interior design, and philosophy and literature. Cameos became very popular after Napoleon had antique Roman cameos placed on his coronation crown for his 1804 coronation.

Bezels, foilbacked stones, low flat goldwork, and cobalt blue and black and white enameling are common features of Georgian jewelry. Georgian pieces can sometimes be detected by the way the stones are mounted. Unlike the open work favored today for gem stones, Georgian gems were often set over gold or silver foil with their backs enclosed with metal as rhinestones generally are today. In more recent jewelry foil backing always indicates a fake stone.

Gold with high karat content was preferred. However, Berlin iron made in that city from 1806 was popular during the Napoleonic Wars as a show of patriotism. Pinchbeck a cheap replacement for gold was used for faux pieces.


Given the uncertainty of life and the state of medicine in those days, it is no surprise that memorial jewelry was common. However, it was not yet such a major force as memorial or hair jewelry was to become by Victorian times when the overcrowding of cities, poor sanitation practices, and plagues would take a terrible toll on families. The strands of hair in this pendant are believed to be Jane Austen’s, taken by her sister Cassandra just before her coffin was closed in 1817.


Reprinted with permission Sharon Wagoner, Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical
tour through Regency London!

Additional information from Wikipedia

“Charles has been buying gold chains & Topaze crosses for us…” – Jane Austen

complete any outfit with this beautiful Topaz cross

  • Inspired by the necklace that Charles Austen gave his sisters in 1801.
  • 18K white gold plated pendant and chain.
  • 5x8mm Yellow Topaz stones with a 4mm White Topaz centre stone.
  • Pendant measures 32 mm x 23 mm
  • Chain measures 47cm / 18″.
  • Comes in a delightful gift bag.
  • The finishing touch to your Jane Austen costume.