Draughts or Checkers — A Brief History

Checkers, or Draughts, are two different names for the same board game. One is more commonly used in England, while the other is most common in America. Curiously, in this case, it is the former colonies of England which uses the older name for this seemingly simple game. By the mid-nineteenth century, tournament-level checkers was played around the world, with the first world championship awarded in 1847. However, during the Regency, draughts was still mostly an amusing pastime which was enjoyed by many people, across all classes.

What is in a game name . . .

Continue reading

Posted in Sport | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Prinny’s Taylor by Charles Bazalgette

Or to give this new history its full title, Prinny’s Taylor:   The Life and Times of Louis Bazalgette (1750 – 1830). As is probably obvious from the fact that the subject of this book and the author share a rather unique last name, Charles Bazalgette has researched and written a history of his ancestor, Jean Louis Bazalgette. Born in southern France, into a family of tailors, Louis emigrated to Great Britain about 1770. He began his career in London as a tailor, but by the end of his life, he had become a man of affluence who was able to enjoy a comfortable retirement and give all his children a good start in life.

The remarkable career of Louis Bazalgette . . .

Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The Origin of the Dust Jacket

Or, as it is more usually known in the United Kingdom, the dust wrapper. Once purely utilitarian, these charming bits of publishing ephemera are now a crucial part of the package for most hard-cover books which are to be found on bookshelves today. Though, yet again, at least in terms of the history of books in the Regency, this article might be seen as leaning more toward the negative than the positive. Nevertheless, there were at least a few Regency books which had paper jackets or wrappers and it is probable that this topic is something which will be of interest to those true bibliophiles among authors and readers of Regency romance.

How and why books got jackets . . .

Continue reading

Posted in Oddments | Tagged , | 9 Comments

When the Lilies Were Cut Off the Bees

In 1804, when Napoleon Bonaparte was plotting to promote himself from First Consul of the French to Emperor of France and all its conquered territories, he created a "Council Commission" which would have the responsibility of planning all of the events related to his grand coronation ceremony. A large part of that responsibility was to select the unique emblems and other ornamentation which would visually reinforce Bonaparte’s right to kingship. To the upstart Corsican, the trappings of royalty were nearly as important to him as the real power he had gathered to himself, for they were the illusion which he needed to maintain his position, not only with the French people, but with the crowned heads of Europe. And so the cycle began. Napoleon supplanted the royal emblems of the Bourbon kings with his own, only to have his emblems supplanted when the Bourbon king was restored to the French throne a decade later.

Then, Napoleon surprised nearly everyone and returned to Paris from Elba . . .

Continue reading

Posted in Furnishings | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Of Hot-Beds and Cold Frames

About a half century before the term "hot-bed" was used to refer to a place or group which promoted the rapid development of some philosophy or phenomenon which was considered to be politically or socially subversive, a hot-bed was a simple, but ingenious, means by which to nurture tender plants early in the cool British spring. There were also some plants that did not require heat, but simply shelter from the harsher elements of the early or late weeks of the growing season. In these cases, cold frames proved the best solution. Both of these garden structures could be constructed for relatively modest costs, using simple materials. Thus, they could be found in a wide range of gardens during the Regency.

Of Regency hot-beds and cold frames . . .

Continue reading

Posted in Household Maintenance | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Quill-Work or Quilling?

This delicate craft had been known for more than five hundred years when it became popular once again in the late eighteenth century. A popularlity which continued right through the Regency, especially among gently-bred ladies of the upper and middle classes. Though the materials and techniques of the craft remained fairly consistent, the names by which it was known did not, causing some confusion, particularly in the new United States of America.

A popular Regency paper craft, its names, materials and techniques . . .

Continue reading

Posted in Hobbies & Crafts | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Regency Bicentennial:   Mount Tambora Erupts

Two hundred years ago, today, began the single most violent and explosive volcanic eruption ever to occur on this planet in recorded history. Though this volcano erupted halfway around the world from Great Britain, and few there were aware of the event, in the years that followed, this eruption would have disastrous effects on the climate of not only the British Isles, but all the way round the globe, for a period of over three years. Beyond the immediate physical horror wrought by the actual eruption, and the climatic devastation which followed, this event would also be responsible for a pair of fictional horrors which are with us to this day.

When Mount Tambora blew its top and changed the world . . .

Continue reading

Posted in Oddments | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments