Archive for March, 2008

Resource: Never ride an attack without your French Riding Coat!

I’m in the process of finishing the next update for “Molly Joyful’s List of Useful Resources”, and while going through my links and files, I realised that I’ve never posted the following two pictures before. Not as spectacular as the flea trap, but I find the little red ribbon to be exceptionally fetching (was that a pun?)

And isn’t it typical that this French Riding Cloak has been made in England? I don’t know where the sheep whose intestines were used for these originated from, though…

French Riding Coat, 18h century condom

French Riding Coat, 18th century condom

31 March, 2008 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

“Blackbeard” – very likely one of the worst movies ever made

… “Troy” aside. And that one at least gave us Bloomsy in a skirt.

This… thingy was shown on television yesterday. It’s a TV movie. It features Richard Chamberlain. If you take a swig of rum (or, in my case, gin) for every historical blunder in it, you’ll be rat-arsed after five minutes.

Blackbeard is a pirate (big news), the heroine is a doctor, the golden locks of Lieutenant Maynard are crowned by a bicorne, the navy wears post 1800 uniforms, officers don’t shave and it all takes place in 1717. Richard in his nifty morning gown is NOT amused!



24 March, 2008 at 12:29 am 2 comments

Resource: Fashion Follies in 1796

I’m currently wearing a skirt with a pattern copied from 1960ies curtains in psychedelic greens and frog-shaped earrings, so I’m probably the last person who should talk about fashion, but I can’t help but smiling while looking at the following caricature by Gillray from 1796.

fashion follies

A soul without a body, a body without a soul. Sounds like haute couture to me…

21 March, 2008 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

Resource: Horatio Nelson – for that friend of yours who has everything…

“Nelsonia” are items of interest for collectors who collect items of, about, concerning, regarding, portraying, discussing etc. Horatio Nelson. As is the nature of collectible items, some are tasteful and fascinating, others are – not so much.

I haven’t made up my mind about the following item yet, but I simply couldn’t deprive you of this truly unique piece of decorative art, dating very early 19th century.

Nelson in a jarNelson in a jarNelson in a jarNelson in a jarNelson in a jar
Actually, I think there should be 18th century Royal Navy action figures. Perfect for history lessons at school – just imagine how much fun the kids would have if they could have sword-fights between Nelson and The Joker! Collingwood and Magneto! Emma Hamilton versus Harley Quinn!

And there had to be dinosaurs! And flying monkeys! And spaceships! HMS Victory versus a Romulan Bird of Prey. Oh the possibilities…!

18 March, 2008 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

Resource: itchy and scratchy… :)

If you had lived in the 18th century, you’d given an arm and a leg for this item, and you would very likely have packed it in your husband’s sea chest as a token of your love:

Fleatrap teaser

What might it be?

Why – a flea trap, of course!


No phallus jokes, please!

The 18th century was not exactly the century of cleanliness and hygiene – I’d just like to bring Eveiya’s perfect description of the way an 18th century Royal Navy officer would have smelled like up again: Eau de Wet, Rancid Sheep. The ships were scrubbed clean daily, the clothes washed twice a week, but as for the personal hygiene – well. I’m all for keeping my writing as historically correct as possible, but I’ll skip that part. There’s being accurate and then there’s murdering romance…

Anyway. Flea traps were filled with a few drops of blood and honey or resin, depending on your financial means. The fleas, attracted by the blood, would enter the trap and get stuck to the honey or resin. There were simple fleatraps, made out of wood, and highly expensive ones, carved out of ivory and decorated with precious stones. Ladies wore them in their skirts, they were kept in the beds and offered at least some relief from the hungry parasites.

So, a lock of hair aside, a woman couldn’t make her seafaring lover more happy than gift him with a fleatrap.

The things I learn…

16 March, 2008 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

Resource: … and the Great Byng Battle continues…

“In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others…”
– Voltaire, “Candide”

Admiral Byng campaign reaches Commons

“(…) The petition does not call for a pardon and Byng himself said in the days before his death that he did not want one.

“History is there to serve as a marker,” said Tisdale.

“We can’t change history, and we are not asking for it to be, but he was made a political scapegoat … and unjustifiably killed.”

Villagers feel strongly about the case, MP Burt added.

“They want a modern judgment.” (…)”

Admiral Byng

I fully understand the family’s point of view, and I have to wonder about a society which still gives them grief about an incident which dates back to the mid-18th century (way to hold a grief, folks!) – but how can you make a modern judgement about a case from… 1757?

I’m really of two minds about this – if this case should be ruled in favour of the family, where will the line be drawn in future? Who will be next? History is full of scapegoats. If Admiral Byng has his name cleared, then the same should apply for the many seamen who were executed for a variety of “crimes that we laugh off nowadays. AOW 29, I’m looking at you. Alas, those men didn’t leave wealthy families behind…

Well – if Admiral Byng gets a pardon, I demand the same for Lieutenant Henry Rice. Let’s face it, having your career ruined just because your captain is an arrogant prick and you had your hands in your pockets is harsh. I’m all up for the challenge…

13 March, 2008 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

Art: a most splendid officer and gentleman

I have no chance of catching up with everything today, but I want to send you into the week with a really great picture. It’s Lieutenant Collingwood – no, not Cuthbert: his brother Wilfred!

The following silhouette by W. Willings, created in 1781, shows Wilfred Collingwood as a lieutenant. He was 32 years old at that time, and died only six years later.

Wilfred Collingwood

You know, the profile reminds me of another lieutenant…

9 March, 2008 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

Art: Cuthbert Collingwood’s self-portrait

Today is the anniversary of Collingwood’s death. I’m more in favour of birthdays, but as just today the long searched-for book by Oliver Warner arrived, I thought I’ll share the following drawing with you. Collingwood knew he wasn’t very good at drawing faces (he preferred landscapes), but I find this self-portrait, showing Collingwood at the age of 35 as a post-captain, very charming, so I had to share.

Collingwood self-portrait

To Old Cuddy.

7 March, 2008 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment


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