Posts Tagged ‘Ackermanns Repository’

Dr. Syntax Visits a Boarding School for Young Ladies

One of the most unexpected (and wonderful) finds in the Emporium at the 2012 JASNA meeting in NYC were the four Rowlandson prints that I purchased. One, entitled “Dr. Syntax Visits a Boarding School for Young Ladies” is charming. I included a number of images I found online to accompany this post. Except for the composition, t is remarkable how strikingly different each looks. My print resembles none of the ones displayed here – it is slightly yellowed and delicately colored, but the colors are neither bright nor faded. I can’t wait to frame it.

Dr syntax visits a boarding school for young ladies,1821. This image from the Yale Center of British Art is much paler than mine, in which the headmistress’s skirt is colored red and the young ladies in the foreground wear colored dresses.

This 190+ year old hand-colored aquatint came from The Tour of Doctor Syntax, published by Ackermann’s Repository in London from 1812-1821. Dr. Syntax, a British clergyman, sits under a tree next to a stern looking Lady Governess, who addresses the young pupils arrayed around them. The scene accompanies text in The Second Tour of Dr. Syntax, In Search of Consolation. The illustration reveals how Rowlandson works, outlining the figures with a reed pen and then delicately washing certain areas of the print with color. His pen and inks were then etched by a professional engraver, an artist in his own right. The impressions were then hand colored.

Rowlandson’s Prints

Rowlandson was prolific. Art historians deem his earlier works to be more artistic and carefully observed. As his reputation spread, he began to produce his designs in haste and the quality of his art began to suffer. His caricatures became predictable and in some instances overly exaggerated, but he never lost the facility with which he handled his pen.

In this series, Rowlandson created the illustrations first. Writer James Combe then wrote the narrative that accompanies the images. “This series is one of the best parodies of the more traditional narratives on journeys to different parts of England featuring more “serious” landscape illustrations and prose.” ( Prints from The Tours of Dr. Syntax, Prints With a Past.)

This print is similar to the one I purchased, but slightly more colorful. Image from Dr. Syntax’s Three Tours at Internet Archive, Cornell University Library

Doctor Syntax talks to the Young Ladies at Boarding School

Below sits the text (in verse) that accompanied this image, in which Dr. Syntax expounds on his listeners’ youth and character, and how they can learn from good example:

In the following page, Dr. Syntax exhorts his young charges to never swerve from virtue’s path and to take care of their good looks, for “flowing looks display’d to view, of black or brown or auburn hue, and well combin’d in various ways, a certain admiration raise…”:

Dr. Syntax does not want for words. In fact, he is a bit of a windbag. How those girls could sit enraptured during this speech is a marvel to me. In this section the rich graces of the mind hold the beauty of the whole, the mortal form, th’ immortal soul.

I wonder if Dr. Syntax even drew breath! In this section the good doctor reinforces the concept that a woman’s place is in the home, overseeing the family and household.

The Doctor says his goodbye, admonishing the listeners to pay attention the kind preceptress, who “will explain what of this subject doth remain, and bring the whole before your view, to prove my solemn doctrine true.”



  • Dr. Syntax’s Three Tours Doctor Syntax’s three tours in search of the picturesque, consolation, and a wife. By William Combe. The original ed., complete and unabridged, with the life and adventures of the author, now first written, by John Camden Hotten. Eighty full page illustrations drawn and coloured after the originals by T. Rowlandson. Published 1868 by J. C. Hotten in London . Library of Congress, PR3359.C5 D6 1868

Other posts about the JASNA NYC 2012

Read Full Post »

I’ve placed these gorgeous Ackermann fashion plates here  to wish my readers who are mothers a Happy Mother’s day. Aren’t these images precious?

1812 morning dress or domestic dress.

Click on images to enlarge.

1826 evening gowns, March.

Read Full Post »

Coquilla nut ink stand, late 18th- early 19th c. Image @Antiques Atlas

Yesterday I came across an interesting description in Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions, and Politics, April, 1812, about coquilla nuts, which a certain Mr. R. Ackermann displayed at his Repository, No 101, Strand (having purchased a considerable quantity of this fruit).

From whence the Portuguese obtained it, is so little known, that even the botanical library of Sir Joseph Banks cannot ascertain the circumstance. The probable conjecture, however, is, that it is the produce of the Portuguese possessions in Africa. It is, in a great measure, unknown in this country, nor can it be otherwise, as it is near sixty years since the custom-house entries mention an importation of it…”

19th c. coquilla nut pounce pot or spice shaker. Image @Ruby Lane

The coquilla nut is in fact the fruit of the Brazilian Palm, which is closely related to the coconut palm. The nut is 3-4 inches long, and has a very hard, richly streaked brown shell that is capable of taking a fine polish. It is a source of palm oil. The tree also offers up a stiff, wiry leaf fiber that is used for making brooms and rope. Coquilla nuts were routinely converted into a variety of highly ornamental articles:

The uncommonly pleasing colour of the  shell, the hardness and the native mottle which appears when it is highly polished, renders it capable of being employed, with the most agreeable effect, as it is susceptible of the most tasteful forms — on the writing-table, in wafer-boxes and seals, pounce, sand-boxes, &c. — on the ladies’ work-table, in needle-cases and thimble-cases, cotton-boxes, pincushions, &c. — or on the toilette and dressing-table, in boxes for lip-salve, rouge, scented sponges, and every kind of pomade. In the form of egg-cups, the nuts will be found to decorate the eating ‘table. As bell-pulls, they are very elegant.

19th c. coquilla nut pomander and nutmeg grater. Image @Christie's.

Coquilla nuts were also made into umbrella handles, candlesticks, and dice cups. The carved product was combined with ivory, or in the case of jewelry, with jade. I could find no examples of jewelry, and wonder it the nut was widely used for such a use.

As they appear to great advantage when worked up into beads, rosaries, and crosses, they will, doubtless, give a pleasing variety to personal decoration, when shaped into necklaces, bracelets, ear-rings, and other trinkets. Little useful pocket articles, as nutmeg-graters, cases for smelling-bottles, and other similar portable conveniences ; in short, whatever has been formed from ivory, may be produced from the shell of the Coquilla, whose beauty will not fail to attract, while the price of the article will satisfy the purchaser.”

Coquilla nutmeg grater. Image @Historic Cookery

Antique coquilla nut items are still quite reasonably priced, as this nutmeg grater from Historic Cookery attests. The Ackermann’s description indicated that the item was carried in the owner’s pocket, in order to season food ordered at a chopping house or club, no doubt.

19th century coquilla nut flea trap. Image @Physick.com

The most interesting coquilla nut item is this one: a flea trap.

It is easy to forget the squalor, poor hygiene, stench and infestations which our forefathers endured. In the 18th and 19th century flea traps were filled with a few drops of blood and honey or resin, depending on your financial means. Supposedly, fleas attracted by the blood would enter the trap and get stuck to the honey or resin. They were hung around the neck, worn in ladies clothes or kept in bed. – Physick.com

Coquilla nut flask. Image @Millers Antiques Guide

This coquilla nut flask seems a relatively simple item (One wonders how much liquid such a small flask would contain, unless it was whiskey or laudanum, or some other potent substance). Examining it closely, one can read inscribed on its top:

 ‘In the West Indies, I did grow upon a tree so high a negro come and cut me down a soldger…did me buy.., H. Neal, 35, Royal Sussex’. – Millers Antiques Guide 

Some coquilla nut items were larger and more elaborate. One surmises that a series of nut carvings were joined and glued together to create these beautiful candlesticks carved by Indian artisans in Bengal, who worked from designs supplied by locally based European tradesmen.

Late 18th C. Anglo Indian coquilla nut and ivory table candlesticks. Image@Online Galleries: The Antique Portal

…these candlesticks typical of the Murshidabad workshops delicately carved decoration, may have stood on an ivory ‘teapoy’, whose form was directly taken from a European candlestand.” – The Antique Portal

Carved 19th c. coquilla nut case thread, thimble holder. Image @WorthPoint

More about the featured items:

Read Full Post »

Copyright (c) Jane Austen’s World. A fine mist and cool air will  greet my dog and me on our morning walk. I intend to put on a thick short coat and scarf, and faux fur lined boots. How would my Regency counterpart have dressed in November, 1810, precisely 200 years ago?

More elegantly, I decided. While I putter on my computer in my jammies and robe, and sip coffee upon first rising, my Regency counterpart would have sipped hot chocolate from a delicate china cup and written letters, read from a book, or practiced on the pianoforte, as Jane Austen was wont to do in the early morning.

The maid would have started a fire in the morning room, but the house overall would have felt much cooler than it did even a month ago. A Rumford stove, which was becoming quite popular, would have retained  more heat, but as you can see, our Regency miss is swathed in a cap, long sleeved dress, and a high-necked chemisette. She wears gloves, stockings, and thin slippers. Layered as she is (for she probably wore a corseted petticoat underneath her ensemble and perhaps even a chemise), she would have felt comfortably warm. Had she still felt cold, she could opt to throw a thick shawl around her shoulders and a small throw over her lap.

Morning dress, or undress, were dresses worn by ladies who expected to be seen only by close members of the family or guests in the home. They were never meant to be seen by visitors. Undress outfits, especially in more modest households where women worked alongside their servants, preparing vegetables or overseeing household duties, gardening and the like, were covered by aprons and pinafores.

In this image from Sense and Sensibility 1996, Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood are shown wearing undress. As soon as Edward Ferrars nears the house, the women tidy themselves, taking off their aprons, and making sure they look neat and presentable. They would not have had time to change into nicer outfits, nor would they have likely had many choices of dress to choose from.

Some Regency ladies who stayed at home all day would remain in a state of undress until dinner, when they changed into a gown suitable for the dinner table. Others would change their outfit much sooner, when they were ready to leave the house or if they had arranged to receive visitors. After I finish writing this post, I shall put on my half-dress, replacing my morning robe with a walking outfit consisting of a hooded sweatshirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans a short coat and a scarf. I’ll exchange these outdoor exercise clothes with a more formal office look for work, which means that I will have worn three outfits by nine a.m.

My Regency counterpart would also change her outfit. A lady of fashion would look vastly more elegant  in her walking outfit with its little fur tippet artfully arranged over a long-sleeved spencer jacket than me in my walking suit. If she was married or a spinster, she would place her  jaunty hat with its  soft capote crown over a cap, whose lace trim would peep out from beneath the hat’s brim. Sturdier leather slippers, leather gloves, a reticule and umbrella or parasol would complete the ensemble.

A middle class lady would look less modish than the idealized women depicted in Ackermann’s Repository, which was the Vogue magazine of its day. She would have fewer clothes to choose from, and most likely possessed only one walking outfit instead of a variety, and certainly not in the first stare of fashion.

Whatever her social background, our Regency lady was now ready to meet the world and visit friends, go shopping, or generally run errands outside of the house. The walking outfit in the Ackermann plate provided sufficient layers for a lady to stay warm during her walks and errands. Should the November day turn particularly windy and wet, she would most likely trade the tiny fur tippet for a more substantial shawl or cloak. The middle class Regency lady might trade her shawl for her only cloak, which she would keep for years until its usefulness was outworn.

More on the topic:

Read Full Post »

January, 1815 Drawing Room window treatment

Ah, spring. Time to open the windows and air the rooms … and to consider redecorating. Ackermann’s Repository (1809-1829) didnt just cover fashion. The magazine also featured furniture and embroidery patterns, for example, and window treatments. This is simply a visual post. Enjoy!

1815 window treatment, Ackermann's Repository

1816 Regency dining room curtains, Ackermann's Repository

July, 1820, Window Draperies, Ackermann's Repository

1820 Window Treatment, Ackermann

Wallpaper frieze with drapes, woodcut print on paper, 1800-1820, V&A museum

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: