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Hi dear readers, it’s me, checking in with a tiny update! Recently I have been writing about steampunk and I want to share with you an article I just wrote, about how Victorians viewed the future. You can read all about it here. It’s all about things Victorians invented, and how they thought the future would look like. It’s short, but an interesting subject.

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Relatedly, I was asked to draw you attention to The Steampunk World’s Fair 2012, taking place this summer in New Jersey. Being in the Old World, I won’t be able to come, but it seems like an amazing event so do make sure to drop by if you’re able!

Lastly I want to thank you, readers, for visiting my blog! I haven’t been actively writing here for a very long time and was positively SHOCKED to see how many people still visit this blog on a daily basis. I never knew so many people were interested in the nineteenth century! This makes me very happy and I want to sincerely thank you for coming to read and learn about the Victorians.

Of all the many passions and crazes in nineteenth-century gardening and
natural history, none was as long lasting or as wide reaching as fern fever.
Ferns were not just the obsession of a few professional botanists, nor even
of the thousands of amateur gardeners and naturalists, but held a popular fascination
for much of society. If you decorated and furnished your house, went to the seaside,
strolled in pleasure gardens, patronised the theatre and concerts, visited exhibitions,
read novels, played music, or spent time in hospital, you encountered ferns and
ferneries. In numerous ways Pteridomania, as fern madness was christened, epitomised
the exciting, enquiring, innovative, industrious, creative, and contradictory reign of
Queen Victoria in which it occurred.

This is part of a book I just finished reading, called Fern Fever: The Story of Pteridomania, written by Sarah Whittingham. This book describes the popularity of ferns in the nineteenth century in all its aspects.

It could be possible that the idea of a book about ferns does not seem to exciting. Think again! This book will make you love ferns and fern-collecting, even if you only had lukewarm feelings about ferns before. This book is definitely a pleasure to read. Even though it contains lots of information, it is written in a very pleasant and comprehendible style. Throughout the book there are many colour plates and interesting images. The text is very well researched and thorough, so that it will be an interesting read both for people who are new to ferns and for the expert fern-lover. The book incorporates a lot of background information and general information on the nineteenth century, making it a good all-round book to read. Definitely recommended for everyone who wants to contract fern fever, or is already feeling feverish!

Topics included are: how to collect ferns, fern equipment, women writers, collecting and cultivating ferns, fern furniture, and more.


(Image Courtesy of the National Library of Australia, Canberra. From Fern Fever: The Story of Pteridomania (c) Frances Lincoln Ltd. and Sarah Whittingham. US $60.00.)

A downside might be is that the book is very extensive, counting 240 pages. It’s so thorough though that noone will ever have to write about ferns any more, it really covers every subject.

Weirdly, the front cover is an exact copy of an older book’s cover, which is reproduced inside the book. It seems just like the text was erased, and new texts inserted. It seems strange, for a book that is so well-researched, not to deserve it’s own front cover.

Anyway, don’t let that stop you! The book is available here: http://www.franceslincoln.co.uk/en/C/0/Book/3159/Fern_Fever.html

This is from Tours of a German Prince by Prince Pückler, I thought it was funny to see how some things don’t really change in almost 200 years time! “La petite bouche” means having a tiny mouth, or little appetite at dinner.

Victorian Lampposts

This is a guest blog by Benjamin Knowles from Victorian Lampposts

Firstly I would like to thank Geerte for creating this wonderful blog, I know many people have (like me) received a great deal of pleasure in reading it and I do hope you continue.

Victorian Lampposts, a family passion for the last 30 years, and despite common misconception, they’ve actually had a rather short lifespan to date. During the Victorian era, lampposts were quite different to the type we expect to see today. Mainly gas powered, a civil servant would be employed to perform his rounds at dusk and light each one in turn. Since the early 1900’s the lamppost has still stirred the same human emotions, if they’re dimly lit they become haunting and eerie, if they glow bold and bright they give us a feeling of safety and security. It’s strange to think how such an innate object can stir such feelings.
100 years later and the general public are increasingly fond of these pieces of Period Victorian architecture. Members of the public in a city suburb in Bristol recently complained when the Local council removed 30 Victorian lampposts and relocated them to a more fashionable and wealthy area.

For me and our small family business, this love continues, as we continue to enjoy, to restore and to recreate these timeless Victorian masterpieces, lighting up a small corner of our world whilst keeping integrity, craftsmanship and passion at the core of our efforts.
Picture taken of our latest Victorian Lamppost reinstalled in all its glory in Southport.

If you would like to know more about our Lamppost regeneration and recreation please see our Victorian Lampposts at EnglishLampposts.co.uk
Benjamin

The author of Mirrormist posted some great quotes which show a little more about Victorian dinner and cooking habits, like this one about ordering food to the house:

“Of the making of cookery books there is no end; and I hold it to be rather a public benefit than otherwise that there should be scarcely a solution of continuity in the production of culinary manuals; because, although in the vast majority of cookery books (always excepting the late Miss Acton and the Happily living Miss Mary Hooper) there is usually a considerable proportion of nonsense, there is scarcely one (especially if it be compiled by a lady) that does not contain hints always entertaining and occasionally useful on the subject of household management. As to the Art of Cookery, it is rapidly retrograding, and will retrograde more swiftly still, as well-to-do middle class people grow more and more “stuck up,” and have their “set dinners” sent in from the pastry cook’s instead of having them cooked at home.” (From “The Illustrated London News” in 1882)

And this one, from the book “Paris Herself again in 1878-9″
“I have always fancied that one reason why cookery books are, as a rule, such an excellent property to the publishers thereof is that newly-married couples are in the habit of presenting a copy of the last edition of Francatelli or Mary Hooper to their cooks. The volumes are reasonably well bound, to be sure; but of all Places of Destruction I know none more ruinous than a kitchen; and in a very short space of time the cookery book comes to grief. Either the cat steals it — a cat would steal the new chimes of St. Paul’s, belfry and all — or the kitchen-maid lights the fire with it, or it gets into the cook’s drawer — that ‘chaos come again’ — and is seen no more. So additional copies of Francatelli or Mary Hooper are demanded, and the publishers dance jigs of delight.”

You can read much more about Mary Hooper and read her books as well, here! There I found this recipe for Warwickshire Pudding, apart from the suet it sounds fairly good!

Warwickshire Pudding
Butter a pint-and-a-half tart-dish, lay it in a layer of
light bread, cut thin, on this sprinkle a portion of two
ounces of shred suet, and of one ounce of lemon
candid-peel, chopped very fine. Fill the dish lightly
with layers of bread, sprinkling over each a little of
the suet and peel.
Boil a pint of milk with two ounces of sugar, pour
it on two eggs, beaten for a minute, and add it to the
pudding just before putting it into the oven; a little
extract of lemon or shred lemon-peel may be added
to the custard. Bake the pudding in a very slow
oven for an hour.

The Times in 1832

Currently I’m reading the gossip columns of The Times, it’s very amusing. I’m sorry for the very small size, this is just how newspapers looked!

Gretna Green is where people eloped to who weren’t allowed to be married, it is quite a well-known thing in Victorian literature. You can read more about it here.

Also here you can see some Victorian advertisements, which I thought was nice.

My local museum is hosting an exhibition of some furniture from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Since many people come here looking for Victor Horta, and there was a beautiful cabinet by Horta, I decided to show you some pictures.

The above is the item from Victor Horta.


This is a cabinet made by famous Dutch architect Henry van der Velde. It was made for a room especially, and the entire room was recreated in the museum!

This is the museum hosting the exhibition (the Drents Museum in Assen.)
To see much more pictures, go to the museum’s own Flickr page!


The museum is partially situated in an old trainstation, with Art Nouveau decorations that I think are very typical of trainstations.

These next images are not strictly Victorian but they’re nice and festive, so I thought you might like to see them as well.

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