History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

12 December 2011

Rodney for ever

I love novelty mugs. My roommate and I have a pretty hefty collection.

And I love looking at other people's mugs when I'm in their kitchen. It's not as good as snooping in their bookshelves, of course--but then, what is?

A Lily Among Thorns has a scene where my hero makes hot chocolate for my heroine after she wakes up from a nightmare.  I knew if Solomon were living today, he'd be one of those guys who owns six mismatched plates and four mugs, all of which were given him by his family ("Team Jacob" from his little sister, "Chemists do it on a table periodically" from his uncle, and a Moulin Rouge souvenir mug from his twin brother's semester in Paris).  But I wasn't sure what the Regency equivalent would be.  Turns out the Regency equivalent is novelty mugs!  Consumer impulses haven't changed much at all.  There were commemorative mugs, mugs with political cartoons on, souvenir mugs from places...

I ended up giving Solomon one that said "A Present from Swansea" (he's from Cheshire, which borders Wales), and one with Nelson's portrait on it. I took the first one directly from this lovely plate in the Swansea Museum:

It's from 1855, but I couldn't bring myself to care. I'm a little in love with this plate, to be honest.

Nelson memorabilia was a huge thing. You can see lots more of it in this Molly Joyful blog post and this auction website, but here's one of my favorites (from that second link), a Staffordshire jug with Nelson on one side and Hardy on the other. The site gives it a tentative date of 1810, but all the other similar ones I've seen were released closer to Trafalgar, so who knows. (Any Nelson/Hardy 'shippers in the house? If you haven't seen this Kate Beaton comic, you definitely should.)

Amazingly, I found another example of the EXACT SAME JUG, only painted to say "Captain Berry"!  I like to imagine that it was common for girls to ask each other, "Are you Team Hardy or Team Berry?"

Here are a few of my favorites from Martyn Edgell Antiques, a great resource for these. This one was apparently put out for an election. The caption says, "Sir Philip Musgrave was elected M.P. for Westmoreland."

Neatly painted blue-and-white plate reading 'Sir Philip Musgrave Bart. and the Constitution' over crossed flags

Why don't politicians do this now? Or do they and I just don't know about it?

 Here's one that I almost want to leave without any context because it's so amazing:

Rodney for ever! You can see some more angles and the outside of the bowl at the site, here, which says "Pearlware bowl commemorating Lord Rodney, circa 1790." Turns out he's another British naval hero. My favorite line of his Wikipedia entry is probably, "In London he suggested to Lord George Germain that George Washington could 'certainly be bought--honours will do it.'" (But the whole thing is really interesting!)

I'll end with a couple of cool Queen Caroline mugs:

Short round white mug with a wide painted red rim and a black-and-white design. In the center is a faded portrait of Queen Caroline surrounded by the text 'If you wish, to know a Bright Star of the Morn, That cheers a whole nation, all lost and forlorn, 'Tis that Feminine Planet long may she shine, Heaven protect her, our QUEEN CAROLINE'

The site says this is to commemorate her death in 1821.

mug with a metallic rim, missing handle, and black and white portrait of the queen with 'God save Queen Caroline' written below it

This one's in the Museum of London. Apparently the other side reads:

As for the Green-Bag crew 
Justice will have its due 
God Save the Queen! 
Confound their politicks 
Frustrate their knavish tricks 
On HER our hopes we fix 
God Save the Queen! 

("Green-Bag crew" is a reference to the royal divorce trial, when George IV submitted the alleged evidence of his wife's adultery to the House of Lords in two green bags.)

Tell me about your favorite mug!

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Blogger Isobel Carr said...

Love it! Esp Rodney for ever. I'd never thought much about the dishes my people used, but now you know I will, LOL! Great first post, Rose.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Alyssa Everett said...

What a great topic. I love the "Team Berry" vs.
"Team Hardy" mug rivalry. My favorite mug is only my favorite because it's oversized. It's boring blue Delft but it holds an amazing amount of whipped cream on top of a hot chocolate. I need to collect more interesting mugs.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Rose Lerner said...

Isobel--I almost died when I saw that bowl. Rodney 4eva!!!1! Weird consumerist items of the past seem to be a thing of mine, there was a whole bit about china monkeys-dressed-as-lords-and-ladies in In for a Penny...

9:31 AM  
Blogger Rose Lerner said...

Alyssa--I think whipped cream is a great reason to love a mug! Of mine, my favorite might be the one that says "You're special today." What about yesterday, and tomorrow? I also have one that says "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn," which I love.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Cecilia Grant said...

Love it! Rodney For Ever! And please, nobody ever refer to me as a "feminine planet!"

My own favorite mug is lackluster by compare, a heavy thick-walled thing with the logo of a local doughnut shop. I like mugs with some heft, but now I'll need to look for one with a splashier design.

I'm curious as to how potential consumers would find out about these dishes. Were they sold in print shops, maybe? Were they advertised in the back pages of Ackermann's? I wonder what the Regency equivalent of late-night commercials & home shopping networks would have been.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Rose Lerner said...

Ceci--Yeah, if you owned a dish store, how did you find out you could stock Nelson jugs? And yeah, apparently print-shops sold lots of weird stuff. In the book on provincial newspapers I was reading, it seems like it's not uncommon for newspaper editors to be like "Hey readers! I have fifty bushels of lemons in my office, come by and buy some"...

Do you think there were street stalls for this kind of thing?

And the million dollar question...which donut shop? (I'm rooting for Top Pot...)

11:37 AM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

My fav mug is an arty one made by a local potter I've known since I was a kid. It's HUGE and kinda hippie-funky with a Japanese aesthetic to the glaze.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Cecilia Grant said...

Whoa! I would've sworn my mug was Top Pot, but I just went downstairs to look and it turns out it's actually from Cupcake Royale. Major mug shame now...

Dying to know how that provincial newspaper editor wound up with fifty bushels of lemons. I'm picturing some London tar who wants a country-bred wife, placing lonely-hearts ads in provincial papers and paying with whatever goods he got from the last voyage.

And I wish Isobel C. would post a picture of her mug, because I'm trying, and failing, to imagine what a glaze with a Japanese aesthetic would look like.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Rose Lerner said...

Legalize frostitution! I'm not a huge fan of cupcakes, but Cupcake Royale really knows how to merchandise, which I respect.

Awww, a merchant ship's officer, smuggling lemons to set up his household! His bride can expect the best tea and a nice lace shawl, too.

Yes! Everyone should post pictures of their mugs! I went back and added one of our collection, although you can't really see the individual mugs very clearly...

12:34 PM  
Blogger Susanna Fraser said...

Mugs! None of my current ones are all that funny, but I have one that came with my Amazon Fresh order awhile back informing me that I'm a Big Radish (i.e. a frequent shopper who gets free delivery on my groceries), one with my name and the West Point logo from when my Army brother was an instructor in the Mathematics Dept. there, and a small, worn white-and-yellow one I'm fond of because my parents used to have a whole set.

Oh, and in my recent research into the 1815 Times of London archives, I've run across ads for limited-edition commemorative prints of Wellington directing his generals and a book explaining the prophecies of the Book of Revelation and how they've been fulfilled right up to the then-present day, with special attention to Bonaparte. The past--familiar in unexpected ways.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Rose Lerner said...

You're a big radish! That's pretty great. Are there other levels of shopperness also named after vegetables? Or just regular person and radish?

I remember in War and Peace there was this whole thing about Pierre assigning "l'empereur Napoleon" Hebrew letter/number values and making it add to 666, too!

N'awww, so many people with Wellington tie-in merchandise!

9:44 PM  
Blogger Susanna Fraser said...

AFAIK, Big Radish is the only frequent shopper level. Which is too bad--I kinda like the idea of, say, Small Scallions for new customers or maybe Grand Truffles for the really big spenders.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

I'll have to take a pic tonight as their is no website I can find ...

10:37 AM  
Blogger Rachel Donnelly said...

Thanks for posting all of the great research sites, Rose. Regency is one of my favourite eras.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Love this! And sorry I'm chiming in so late, Rose! I collect Nelsoniana (I have a bust of him made from copper melted down from the Foudroyant) as well as Emma Hamilton memorabilia (I have 2 of her autographs -- probably from bills due). When I wrote TOO GREAT A LADY, I became passionate about both Nelson and Emma (this is one reason I can't stand Napoleon) and tried to find every affordable, but meaningful and one-of-a-kind thing I could, and it really fed my research and made me feel closer to my real-life lovers.

6:31 AM  

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