Archive for October, 2013

October 31, 2013

A Pleasant Comedy

Called a Mayden-head Well Lost. As it hath beene publickly acted at the Cocke-pit in Drury-land with much Applause by her Majesties Servants. Written by Thomas Heywood. First published in 1634 this was a popular play that was reprinted several times. The plot was typically labyrinthine and involved Julia the daughter of the Duke of Milan who discovers she is pregnant just before she is supposed to be marrying the Prince of Parma.

The introductory ‘Letter to the Reader’ is interesting as in sounds a note of caution to indicate that innocent entertainment like this might become a bone of contention: ‘this can be drawn within the critical censure of that most horrible Histriomatix, whose uncharitable doome having damned all such to the flames of Hell, hath itself already suffered a most remarkeable fire here upon earth’. Histriomatix was written by the puritan William Prynne and was a scathing attack on the Rennaissance theatre and festivals such as Christmas. It was a foretaste of the religious turmoil that was just around the corner.

The image is an engraving from the front page and shows a scene from the play. Most of the men are dressed in doublet, hat and falling band, but note the clown on the right of the table in a long checkered petticoat and striped hat. This was the uniform of the fool; Tom Skelton of Muncaster Castle, the original Tom Fool was roughly contemporary and was painted in a similar garb. Julia is pictured in a petticoat, bodice and a decorated collar.


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October 31, 2013

The English Hermite

or, Wonder of this AGE.

A short pamphlet printed in 1655 that detailed the lifestyle of Roger Crab who it seems had left the rat race and taken on the new age lifestyle and veganism 300 years or so before the Summer of Love. The title goes on to explain. Notice the capitalised nouns. Very seventeenth century.

Being a relation of the life of ROGER CRAB, living neer Uxbridg, taken from his own mouth, shewing his strange reserved and unparallel’d kind of life, who counteth it a sin against his body and soule to eat any sort of Flesh, Fish or living Creature, or to drinke any Wine, Ale or Beere. He can live with three farthings a week.

The first page goes on helpfully to list his diet and what his clothes are made of:

His constant food is Roots and Hearbs, as Cabbage, Turneps,  Carrets, Dock-leaves, and Grasse; also Bread and Bran, without Butter or Cheese: His Cloathing is Sack-cloath.

In the introduction, the anonymous publisher describes Roger’s clothes:

“His apparel is as meane also, he weares a sackcloth frock and no band on his neck”

Here is Roger pictured (in an engraving facing the title page) in his garden, wearing his sackcloth frock (and no band); generally thought of as a porter’s uniform, breeches, shoes and perhaps a shirt underneath. He is also wearing a wide brimmed hat, probably from his hat shop in Chesham which he sold before taking up the hermit’s existence. The house (a mean cottage of his own building) is behind him, though in this copy of the engraving we can only see part of the roof and a small curlicue of smoke rising from a fire. © The Trustees of the British Museum

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October 23, 2013

Chimney Sweep

From “The Manner of Crying Things in London” printed in 1640 by an anonymous author. The sweep has obviously been working as he is covered in filth and is looking at us with a surly expression. On his back is a snapsack and the tools of his trade. I’m not sure what the golf-club like instrument is, possibly a rake to gather the soot from the lower parts of chimneys. If so it is doubling as the lever to hold the pack on his back.

He’s wearing a battered hat and some kind of belted coverall or smock to keep his clothes in some kind of decent condition. I don’t blame him, I’ve had a go myself. Soot goes everywhere!

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October 23, 2013

Rats, Milk and Collyflowers

From an etching dated 1655, part of the Cryes of London series by Robert Pricke. The rat catcher displays his prowess on a board and is dressed smartly in doublet, breeches and shoes with a wide brimmed hat and sober falling band.

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The milk seller has perched a bucket of milk on her head. She’s dressed in a waistcoat and petticoat over which she has sensibly added an apron and neckerchief. She is also wearing a hat and coif combo on her head, presumably to help her cope with the weight of the milk.

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This lady is selling nice ripe colly-flowers. They don’t look quite like our cultivated ones, though they’re not that far off. I wonder if they were as white as modern cultivars? She is dressed identically to the milk seller. Compare her shoes with the rat catcher. They are the same style.

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October 21, 2013

Lady Ann Fanshawe

Painted by Cornelius Johnson, Lady Ann was wife of Sir Richard Fanshawe the royalist courtier and diplomat. After the war she wrote an account of their adventures and travels during the hostilities. Here, in a more peaceful time she is painted in a black silk bodice and wrap over a fine low cut linen smock with lace edging to the collar. The linen and lace is so fine as to be transparent. The painting is kept at Valence House Museum in Barking, Essex.

Ann Fanshawe (1625–1680), Wife of Sir Richard Fanshawe

October 16, 2013

The School of Artificial Fireworks

Also from A Rich Cabinet With A Variety of Inventions in Several Arts and Science by John White ,1658. This is a chapter explaining (not surprisingly) how to make fireworks. Luckily there are several figures showing the processes required.

First, How to Order, and make the Coffins of Paper. This chap is making the tubes (or coffins) for the rockets. He’s wearing a hat, short tabbed doublet, breeches (note the leg ties), hose and some sensible shoes.

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Second The Order and Manner how you should choak a Rocket. This seems to show how you secure the rockets to prevent them flying off before you are ready, but there seems to be a bit of overkill going on here. The fellow is sporting a nice lace edged day cap and a darted band to go with his doublet and breeches.

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The Manner of driving a Rocket, with the Instruments belonging thereto. How to pack the rockets with gunpowder. This bareheaded man is hammering the black powder to make a firm base for the rockets. Darted band and a doublet with shoulder wings. nice shoes under the table.

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A Wheel fixed upon a post, which will cast forth many Rockets into the Air. Fantastic idea. I want one. Nice ribbon decoration on the bottom of his breeches.

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Of Night Combatants with Falchions and Targets, Clubs, Maces etc. This is an idea for two guys to fight a mock battle in the dark. Their swords and shields (targets) are wooden and packed with explosive fireworks. The fun they had before health and safety got involved. These guys are wearing long coats, presumably for protection and hopefully doused in water.

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October 16, 2013

A Pretty Trick

to tell, or name all spots or court Cards in the Pack, and yet never see them. From A Rich Cabinet With A Variety of Inventions in Several Arts and Science by John White. First published in 1658.

On of those books that are kept by the toilet these days for easy reading when you have a moment. This particular ‘receipt’ in the book is a cunning card trick to amaze your friends or win money down the pub. In the illustration, our protagonist is performing the trick (I won’t give it away here, but the instructions are below) in a wide-brimmed hat, short tabbed doublet with shoulder wings and breeches.

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You must privately drop a drop of water or drink (about the bigness of two-pence) on a table before you where you sit and let any body shuffle the Pack of Cards, and then taking them into your hand place a candle on the table before you (for this trick is best to be done by candle-light) and holding down your head (as you may see in the Figure) lift the cards above the brim of your Hat, close to your head, that the light of the Candle may shine on the Cards, then in the drop of water (like a Looking-glass) you shall see every speck of each Card before you draw them, which you may name; or putting your finger upon the spots, you may say that you feel them out; then lay down your first Card, and name the next, as your first Card was the Deuce of Clubs, the next in the five of Spades, and so the rest.

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October 12, 2013

The Foure Complexions: Phlegmatic

And the last print from William Marshall in 1637. I like this picture, there is more humour in it. Phlegmatic shows a rather vain lady staring out at us from the edge of a river in which a rather odd fish with a human face is watching her. The verse reads:

“In Beauty have I share of Rose and Lilly, But I lack Breeding and my wit is Silly”

She is wearing a tightly laced boned bodice with slashed balloon sleeves, a petticoat and a still lace edged collar. On top of the ensemble she has a gown with open sleeves that fasten around her elbows and reaches down to cover her petticoat skirts. © The Trustees of the British Museum

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I also like the vacant look on her face and the flowers she has in her hair.

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October 11, 2013

The Foure Complexions: Cholerick

Continuing the series of prints executed by William Marshall in 1637-7, we now have Cholerick, a lady facing away from the artist, helpfully displaying to us the back of her clothes.

The verse gives away the choleric nature:

“Nature because Shee would not doe Mee wrong, Instead of Stature hath awarded Tongue”

She is wearing a tight waisted bodice with wide, though short sleeves and two petticoats, which we can see as she has helpfully hitched her over petticoat skirts so we can see the under petticoat. The detail is not good on this image, but it seems to me that the bodice and over petticoat have been slashed or pinked all over as a decoration. Follow this link to a pink silk bodice in the Victoria and Albert Museum that has a very similar pattern and form of decoration to this one. From the back you can also see the darts on her linen collar.


October 10, 2013

The Foure Complexions: Sanguine

Second of the set of prints by William Marshall published in 1637. Here the verse reads:

“I was not at my birth with beauty blest, But I as coy and proud am as the best.” and the text in the picture says (interestingly) “Black and Proud”

The sanguine lady standing in front of a set of musical instruments (that Salvador Dali would have been rather proud of) is wearing another boned bodice tied at the waist with a ribbon over a rather untidily gathered petticoat. Her collar is a multi layered one with the lower layer edged with lace. She is also wearing a rather amorphous black veil over her fave that is blown back in the wind.  © The Trustees of the British Museum

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This close up shows the decoration of her bodice and the slashing of the sleeves.

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