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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for December 2004
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,
Fine Art, and Artisans
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o Happy Holidays From Ruby Lane!
o The English Traveler and Their Passion for Souvenirs, by
Andrew Puckering of Puckering's
o Share Past Times with A Friend
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM RUBY LANE!
We at Ruby Lane, would like to wish everyone a safe and happy
holiday season, and a wonderful New Year!
THE ENGLISH TRAVELER AND THEIR PASSION FOR
SOUVENIRS, BY ANDREW PUCKERING OF PUCKERING'S
To be well traveled in Victorian times was to be well respected.
The well-heeled British traveler wanted to flaunt his wealth
with a prominent display of souvenirs collected when touring. A
prime place in the home was awarded to those from foreign lands.
Up until the 1850's travel in England was prohibitively
expensive and only the wealthy would have traveled for pleasure.
The "Grand Tour" of the continent was common amongst the upper
classes and thought to be an essential education for the young.
In Paris purchases may have included; a pretty tortoiseshell
change purse with a gilt mount of the Eiffel Tower or a darling
gilt trinket box with a hand-colored illustration of the Place
Vendome, commemorating Napoleon's adventures.
In Italy one may have picked up a small pill box adorned with
colorful micromosaic or a piece of wooden Sorrento ware; Travels
in Bavaria may have produced pieces of carved "Black Forest"
wood, such as a postage stamp box or carved Bear mounted on
items such as sewing novelties or desk accessories.
The older generation stayed in Britain and generally visited
luxurious spas such as Tunbridge Wells and purchased expensive
woodenware souvenirs known today as Tunbridgeware or Tunbridge
Ware. Originating in the Georgian town of Tunbridge Wells,
Kent, visitors began buying wooden souvenirs from the
woodworkers of surrounding areas such as Tonbrige and
Speldhurst. During the 1830's James Burrows developed the
tessellated mosaic technique which became the most well known
type of Tunbridge Ware. These highly decorative souvenir pieces
could have been as simple as a ruler or pin cushion, or as
lavish as a wine table.
Between 1840 and 1880 in excess of 17,000 miles of new railway
were built in Great Britain, creating the industrialization of
the entire country, bringing renewed prosperity to the working
and middle classes. Less expensive rail tariffs took hordes of
people to the coastal towns and villages. Resort hotels and
monuments within these towns and nearby areas would have been
reproduced on souvenir wares such as Mauchline.
Mauchline ware items, once described as "Scottish white wood
products" and "Scottish fancy goods" are today highly
sought-after and collectible. From 1830 to 1930, the souvenir
woodenware industry flourished in the small Scottish town of
Mauchline, fueled by the Victorian and Edwardian passion for
travel. The factories produced souvenirs for an endless array
of activities such as reading, writing, knitting and sewing.
Examples would be an egg-shaped etui decorated with a transfer
of Battle Abbey and containing thread, needles and a thimble; a
set of napkin rings featuring various scenes of an English
seaside resort; or a knitting needle case decorated with a scene
from the botanical gardens in a Welsh coastal village.
Of course it was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their
1850's purchase of Balmoral Castle in Scotland that made the
Scottish highlands a popular holiday destination. This was of
course excellent news for the Mauchline factories where all
sorts of souvenirs were produced with a Scottish theme.
Scottish clan tartans were used to adorn all sorts of novelties
such as playing card boxes, writing accessories, snuff boxes and
Also popular was Fern Ware, fern decorations covering wooden
objects such as a cover for "The Poetical Works of Sir Walter
Scott", a small needle case or paper knife for the desk.
Little did the Victorians know that the souvenirs they once
purchased to prolong their fond memories of an adventure home or
abroad would be prized by collectors around the world in the
We invite you to visit Andrew's shop, Puckering's.
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