Before Silver Paper Was Silver

      ". . . . . . Harriet unfolded the parcel, . . . Within abundance of silver paper was a pretty little Tunbridge-ware box, which Harriet opened: it was well lined with the softest cotton; but, excepting the cotton, Emma saw only a small piece of court-plaister. — . . . "

Chapter 4 of Emma
by Jane Austen

This is the moment in which Harriet confides to her friend, Emma, that she has long cherished the remnant of court-plaister with which the Reverend Elton had toyed after the cut on his finger was bandaged. Readers of that period would have instantly recognized how much Harriet had treasured her keepsake, since the box in which it was kept was nestled within an abundance of silver paper. But how many people who read Emma today know what "silver paper" actually was, or the purposes to which it was generally put during the Regency? Was the paper even silver in color?

A tracing of silver paper in the Regency . . .

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The Curious Corner Chair Through the Regency

In actual fact, this unique form of chair, which originated in England in the early eighteenth century, had any number of names, usually suggesting a possible use, for nearly a century before the Regency began. Though they had mostly fallen out of fashion by the Regency, so many corner chairs had been made during the height of their popularity, in the second half of the eighteenth century, that there were still many of them extant and in use during our favorite period. Knowing something about these curious chairs might enable a Regency author to find a special place for one in an upcoming romance.

Truth, myth and conjecture concerning the curious corner chair . . .

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Of Bilbo-catch and Bilbo Catchers

      ". . . just a family party, for those who don’t care a straw for fashionable squeezes, but like to spend a cozy evening playing Jackstraws, or Bilbo-catch, or Speculation — . . . "

Chapter 12 of Frederica
by Georgette Heyer

So Frederica told the Marquis of Alverstoke, when she was explaining the Sunday evening gatherings she regularly held at her home in London for a few friends. But just what was "Bilbo-catch?" From the context, it is clear it is a game, a game that, as Georgette Heyer knew, had also been played by Jane Austen. The game is of ancient origin and, though the name bilbo-catch has nearly been lost to history, the game itself is still played, even today. Once they know more about it, Regency authors may wish to play with it in one of their upcoming romances.

A brief history of Bilbo-catch and Bilbo Catchers to the Regency. . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   20th Anniversary of the Fishguard Invasion

Two hundred years ago this week, at least some of the residents of the tiny village of Fishguard in Wales, certainly the women, were preparing to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of what had been (and still is) the last attempt to invade Britain, as well as the courageous heroine who helped foil the effort. Though the whole affair reads rather like a comic opera script, it was a real and serious undertaking by which the French intended to gain a foothold in the British Isles, in preparation for a complete invasion. Curiously, this failed invasion also had another beneficial effect on the financial situation in Great Britain which would ultimately help win the war.

A brief sketch of the Fishguard Invasion and its aftermath . . .

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Hollandaise Sauce in the Regency

Eggs Benedict is one of my favorite breakfast dishes of all time. Sadly, Regency characters cannot enjoy that delicious dish, since it was not invented until the 1860s, in New York City. Or can they? As far as I am concerned, that which makes Eggs Benedict so scrumptious is the Hollandaise sauce which is spooned over the eggs and ham nestled on their muffins. And Hollandaise sauce did exist during the Regency, though it was not yet widely known in Britain.

A brief history of Hollandaise sauce . . .

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For Love or Death:   Locket Rings

Locket rings had been in use for more than two hundred years before the Regency began. But the purposes of those special, often secretive rings had evolved over the course of those two centuries so that, by the Regency, they were more likely to be associated with love than with death. Locket rings hold so much potential for use in a Regency romance that Regency authors must most certainly be made aware of them and their various properties.

Locket rings to the Regency . . .

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Andrew Robertson:   Miniature Painting Innovator

By the Regency, Andrew Robertson was one of the most prominent painters of miniature portraits in all of Britain. This was due in large part to the fact that he painted in a style very different from the majority of the miniaturists who had come before him. His distinctive portrait style was enhanced because he had developed a new formula for his paint which enabled him to capture his subjects with more realism and with deeper, richer colors. Though some people still preferred miniature portraits in the old style, there were many who found Robertson’s miniature portraits much more compelling.

How Andrew Robertson transformed miniature portraiture . . .

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