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Friday, April 21, 2017

The Acquisition of a Dog

By Beppie Harrison

History being what it is—the story of people—it is not surprising to discover that people living in history, i.e. before we do, loved dogs in many of the same ways that we do. That their dogs were their cherished companions. That they even had dogs portrayed in their portraits, and sometimes even a portrait all of their own. But since the nature of dogs has not changed over the years, anymore than the nature of human beings has, they must have had to learn some of the same lessons that puppy owners learn now.






I have a puppy. She has just turned 7 months old, which seems incredibly ancient to me. We got the puppy because I wanted a dog, which is a fairly standard reason for getting a puppy. Some sensible people wait until puppies are young dogs before acquiring them, but since our last dog was 15 years old when she died it had been a long time since I was acquainted with the requirements of a puppy. Particularly because the interim between the death of our former dog and the acquisition of the puppy was 12 years—really more like 13, which is better since 13 is supposed to be an unlucky number. Unluckily, I’d forgotten a lot of facts about puppies.

1.     Puppies poop and pee in the house.
2.     Puppies do not have bladder or colon capacity to sleep all night without pooping or peeing, in or out of the house.
3.     Puppies have astounding amounts of energy.
4.     When a puppy attaches itself to you, it does so whole-heartedly. It goes where you go. Wherever you go. Upstairs, downstairs, across the room, around the house, into the bathroom. You and puppy, you first, puppy following.
5.     Puppies do not understand English. Or French, German, Spanish, or Esperanto.
6.     Telling a puppy to “come” is a waste of breath until the puppy has learned the command. Slowly.
7.     Teaching a puppy to heel (i.e. to walk at your right side) becomes necessary unless you want to be tied up like a maypole with the puppy’s leash whenever you take the puppy for a walk.
8.     Your puppy will love you. Unfortunately, at least to start out with, love does not equal obey.




This means the acquisition of a puppy involves a learning curve for both of you. In the case of my puppy and me, it was not just the two of us, but three. A month before we were due to get the puppy reserved for us, I tried to walk down a flight of stairs at midnight without turning on the light. Made all of the stairs safely until the last one, which I missed, pitched into the wall facing the staircase and broke my hip and wrenched an already-arthritic knee so that it had to be replaced. The puppy, of course, was delivered on schedule. Fortunately my husband soldiered up while I was post-surgical and in and out of the hospital, and he got stuck with basic puppy care, in particular the night shift. Even more fortunately, he is still around and has also fallen in love with the puppy, poor susceptible man that he is.

So is it all worth it? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes yes yes yes yes. Having one creature who does not answer back, who accepts your frailties, who loves you unquestioningly, who exercises with you even when you didn’t much want to exercise, who curls up in your arms is something people who have dogs thrive on. Well, those who have large dogs have to hug their puppies where they stand, since they rapidly grow out of the curling-up-in-your-arms stage. Since I love cuddling my puppy, and am totally committed to cuddling my dog, I decided to get one who stayed a cuddleable size. Your requirements may vary.

Some people say puppies are puppies for the first year. Others said puppies are really only puppies for longer—maybe two years. It is to be seen how long my puppy and I stretch out this business.

Is she house-trained?
            Well, sort of. If I am alert for her signals, and take her out, she’ll go out and perform
            there. If I miss them, she figures there’s always the upstairs hall.
Does she heel?
            Most of the time. All the time when it’s just the two of us. When there are others present,         
            Maybe. Maybe not.
Can she sleep all night?
            YES!!
Does she obey “come”?
            Not on your life. But if my husband whistles, she comes. I never tried to teach her that.
Do dogs have an important part in literature?
            That depends on which dog. And which literature. She will sit on my lap while I read, if
             that counts.
Do I regret getting her? No way. No how. And I’ll mourn for her puppyhood when she’s a grown dog. The same thing happened with my children.

I suspect the same has been true down the corridors of history.





Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Regency Carpets by Katherine Bone!

One of the greatest attractions of the Georgian and Regency eras are the grand estates with their luxurious interiors, plastered ceilings, and expensive Chinese papered walls. In the late Georgian and early Regency period, if one couldn't afford importing wallpaper from China, the English equivalent and more affordable high-quality Chinoiserie wallpaper sufficed. And just as paper gained popularity over stenciling, scagliola over marble, carpet and floor covering preferences evolved over time, thanks to the industrial age.

During the Regency era, Turkish and Persian rugs were extremely fashionable prior to 1790 and luxury carpet ownership spread from estate homes to the poor. With the Napoleonic Wars and the industrial revolution imports decreased and the rise of machines brought about a shift in the textile industry. Out of necessity, popular geometric and oriental patterns could be produced in England for a fraction of the cost of imported carpet. This technological advancement helped turn upholsterers and furniture-makers into successful and unique tradesmen.

There were varied types of carpet used in Regency homes and particular cities where they were constructed: Axminster and Moorfield, England.

“The centre for the manufacture of British knotted carpets, with their bold Neo-Classical patterns, was Axminster in Devon. The factories at Wilton and Kidderminster specialized in woven carpets, with the worsted warp brought to the surface to create a looped pile; this was either left as it was (a so-called ‘Brussels’ carpet) or cut to produce a velvet-like surface (a ‘Wilton’ carpet). Brussels and Wiltons were far cheaper and more versatile than Axminsters and other knotted carpets; woven in strips up to three feet wide, they were usually given frequently repeating patterns to enable them to cover all types of areas. They were also generally provided with a wide border and an elaborate fringe.” ~ Regency Style by Steven Parissien

English carpets: After visiting London, Thomas Witty began designing carpets to resemble Turkish rugs in Axminster, Devon, in 1755-1835. Witty’s carpets still adorn floors in Royal Pavilion, Brighton, Chatsworth House, Powderham Castle, Saltram House, DumfriesHouse, and Warwick Castle.

The Domesday Book of 1086 records Axminster as being Aixeministra, meaning ‘monastery or large church by the River Axe’ and stems from the Celtic ‘Axe’ and Old English ‘mynster’. Interestingly enough, Witty’s factory started at a Court House near a church. Every time one of his hand-tufted carpets was completed, a celebratory peal of bells sounded.

"...and Robert Adam produced some Neo-Classical designs that were woven at these two factories" (Moorfield and Axminster) "for rooms he was decorating..."

And "... some Axminster carpets were reaching New York and probably other cities on the East Coast of America by the 1770s." ~ Authentic Decor, The Domestic Interior 1620-1920 by Peter Thornton


Ingrain: Less grand than Wilton carpet, ‘Kidderminster’ or ‘Scotch’ carpets (or Ingrain carpets as they were known in North America) had no pile, were cheaper, made using a double-weave and coarsely constructed to be reversible. Best used on stairs.

“Stair carpets give an air of great comfort and finish to a house and a cottage should never be without one.” ~ Loudon

Floorcloths, or oilcloths, were canvas or tow cloths nailed to the floor and then painted to look like stones, wainscot, and tessellated marble blocks. Floorcloths were used in high traffic areas and didn’t last long.

Floorcloth colors and patterns: “By 1821 the floorcloth-makers Smith and Barber, according to the paint expert Dr. Ian Bristow, were offering ‘Plain Red’, ‘Yellow Mat’, ‘Green Mat’, ‘Alex. Pavement’, ‘Octagon Marble’, ‘Patera’, ‘Tessellated Marble’, ‘Fancy Flower’, ‘Oak Leaf’, ‘Foliage’, ‘Carlton’, ‘Green Cluster’, ‘Imperial’, ‘Turkey’, and ‘Persian’ floorcloths.” ~ Regency Style by Steven Parissien

Matting, thin and designed with colorful patterns, was an alternative to floorcloth. Barbary mats were imported from North Africa. The French referred to Dutch and English mats.  

"And advertisement in the London Evening Advertiser for 
29 October 1741 offered, 'Barbary, Dutch and English matting'."  

Druggets were ordered from Haig and Chippendale in green (most popular) or brown colors. Needlework borders offset various fabrics like baize (heavy wool), serge linen (twisted worsted), haircloth (a mixture of animal hair, cotton, linen, or wool), or similar heavyweight textiles that protected expensive carpets. A guest comprehended their status if and when the drugget was removed from the Axminster or Wilton because druggets caught crumbs, soot, and powder.

Patented Loom: "The cylinder printing of fabrics was first patented by Thomas Bell in 1783 and was widespread by 1810. Even more importantly, in 1801 a revolutionary new loom was invented by the Frenchman Jean-Marie Jacquard which, by replacing much of the effort of human labour by a series of punched cards, enabled complex patterns to be produced on a large scale and, once the initial investment on the cards and machinery had been recouped, very cheaply. In 1820, in a reinterpretation of the spirit of Waterloo, the Englishman Stephen Wilson employed an industrial spy to find out exactly how Jacquard’s invention worked, and—to a collective sigh of relief from the British textile industry—the following year was able to issue a British patent for a similar system.” ~ Regency Styleby Steven Parissien

Advertisements for carpets in the 18th Century:

"William Crompton ... Turner to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales [makes] a new invented Machine, Carpet of Cloth List, which for Beauty, Strength and Service far exceed anything of that kind hitherto made..." ~ Advertisement in London Evening Post, 24 May 1740

"Carpets of the Royal Manufactory at Chaillot which exceed every other kind of carpets for beauty, strength, and duration of colours." ~ The New York Gazetteer, 23 September 1774

Sources:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Origins of Easter




by Donna Hatch

Since I'm a total history nerd and I get all geeked out on questions like "how did X begin?" I decided to delve into the origins of Easter. As you may have already guessed, Easter, like most Christian holidays, has roots in Pagan celebrations and rituals.  Most of our modern-day customs and symbols in Easter are as ancient as the holiday itself.
The ancient Saxons celebrated spring's return with a wild festival commemorating their goddess of fertility and springtime, Eastre (or Eostre) during the spring equinox.  I'll leave the exact nature of their revelry honoring the goddess of fertility to your imagination :-)

The goddess Eastre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit, also viewed as a symbol of fertility, which is understandable considering rabbits are some of the most prolific breeders in the animal kingdom.  A reader suggested that the rabbit associated with Easter is an American custom because America has rabbits and other countries have hares.  In my research, I found no evidence of that and it's probably semantics--maybe it was a hare originally but was changed to rabbit in America.  *shrug*  I didn't stop to research in what countries hares are found as opposed to rabbits but I understand they are fairly different, just as there's a world of difference between a lop-eared bunny and a jack rabbit.
Anyway, the exchange of eggs in the springtime is a centuries-old custom. The egg is a symbol of birth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or boiled with the leaves or petals of certain flowers to color them and given to friends.

Horrified by the sexual nature of the rituals of this holiday, Christian missionaries, in their attempt to teach Christianity to the pagans in the second century, morphed the pagan holiday into a Christian holiday, and subsequently toned down the customs into a more family-friendly festival. 

Coincidentally, the pagan festival Eastre occurred about at the same time of year that Christians observed of the Resurrection of Christ.  Therefore, evolving the festival to a celebration they approved o,f while slowly indoctrinating the Christian beliefs, was a relatively smooth transition. At least it didn't reportedly involve bloodshed.

Some people believe the church later changed the name  from Eastre, to today's spelling of Easter. However, the name given by the Frankish church to Jesus' resurrection festival included the Latin word "alba" which means "white" refering to the white robes that were worn during the festival. "Alba" also has a second meaning: "sunrise." When the name of the festival was translated into German, the "sunrise" meaning was selected in error. This became "ostern" in German.  So another theory is that Ostern is the origin of the word "Easter".  So, who knows? *shrug*


The Germans are credited for bringing the symbol of the Easter Rabbit to America, as well as introducing the custom of coloring eggs. Apparently non-German Christians mostly ignored Easter as a holiday until after the Civil War when it appears to have caught on widely in America.

Easter was originally celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In  A.D. 325, Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea. The council produced the Easter Rule which states that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. The "full moon" in the rule is the ecclesiastical full moon, which is defined as the fourteenth day of a tabular lunation, where day 1 corresponds to the ecclesiastical New Moon.  In other words, it does not always occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon.  I'm sure that means something to people smarter than I am :-)
The ecclesiastical "vernal equinox" is always on March 21. As a result, Easter is now celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.  Personally, I wish they'd just pick the 2nd Sunday in April or something since our modern celebrations have little to do with fertility and the moon cycle, but that's just me.

The Sunday prior to Easter is called Palm Sunday. This commemorates the palm-strewn path Jesus took as he rode the colt or  young donkey in his Triumphant Entrance into Jerusalem prior to his last supper and later, his crucifixion and resurrection.

*Easter Symbols:

Easter Bells are rung in France and Italy throughout the year but they are not rung on the Thursday before good Friday. They are silent as way to remember the death of Jesus. They are then rung on Easter Sunday as way of telling people Jesus is alive again.
The Cross is the symbol for the Christian religion as Jesus was nailed to a cross but then came back to life.
The Easter Lily was a reminder to the Christians of how Jesus came back to life. The white Easter Lily is used in many Easter services. It is supposed to be a symbol of the purity of the Virgin Mary.
Easter Flowers such as daffodil, narcissus and the tulip are symbols spring and rebirth because they bloom in the spring.
Pussy Willows are picked at Easter in England and Russia. People tap each other on the shoulders with a branch of the pussy willow for good luck.
Lambs are a symbol because people thought of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who would watch over them as if they were His lambs. Lambs are born in spring. The Israelites also used lamb's blood to save their firstborn in ancient Egypt.  Perhaps more significantly is that Christ is also referred to as the "Lamb of God" because He was perfect and pure and sacrificed Himself for us.
Rabbits are reminder of spring and new life and. They were reportedly the favorite animal of the spring goddess Eastre because they represented fertility.
Eggs are a symbol of spring as well as Easter. They are a sign of new life.
Chicks are born from eggs and are a reminder of spring and Easter.
Candles give light in darkness. Jesus is seen as "the eternal light" showing Christians the way from death to eternal life.
Palm Branches are used as a symbol of peace.
Bread or hot cross buns, or even unleavened flat bread is eaten to remember Jesus's sacrifice.
Wine is drunk to remember Jesus shedding His blood for all of us.
Fireworks are believed to frighten away evil spirits. They also show that out of darkness comes light.

What is your favorite Easter tradition?



Notes:
*symbols were taken from here
Sources:
The Historical Royal Palace Blog
Lesley-Anne McLeod, Regency author blog, an article written by Regina Scott
Nancy Mayer, Regency Researcher
Gaelen Foley

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Regency Coinage



In one of my books, Proper Conduct, the heroine spends a good deal of time worrying about money, particular after her father spends nearly 1,000 pounds on a horse. That was not an excessive sum to someone such as the Prince Regent, whose racing stud farm cost him 30,000 pounds a year. But in an era when we talk of millions, billions and trillions and when a new car can cost that 30,000 pounds, all these numbers seemed to need to be put into perspective.

 The value of a pound sterling (£) had changed considerably--the purchasing power of a pound was about 50 to 60 times more than in our current era. So you can basically multiply by 50 to get an idea of the value of having a single guinea in hand or twenty-one shillings.

During the Regency...

  • Four farthing made a penny--otherwise known as a pence (or marked by d for denarius)
  • Twelve pennies (or twelvepence) made a shilling
  • Five shillings made a crown
  • Twenty shillings made a pound
  • Twenty-one shillings made a guinea


Copper farthings and haypence, silver pennies, shillings and crows, and the tiny gold guineas.
The term farthing comes from 'fourth' of a penny. Two-penny coins were called tuppence. The three penny coin was known as a thruppence, or thripp'nce, thrupp'nce, threpp'nce, thripp'ny bit depending on your accent and area. And there were all sorts of slang names for other coins including: a quid (pound), a bob (shilling), a goldfinch (guinea).



 Coinage in use in the Regency included:

  • gold for one, two, five and half-guinea coins
  • silver for one, two, three, four, six penny (or pence), shilling and crown coins
  • copper for half-pence and farthing coins
Gold Guinea

Due to a shortage of copper and silver coins in the late 1700's, firms began to use tokens to pay wages. There was also a growth in payments by foreign coins.

The sovereign--a gold coin worth 20 shillings or 1 pound--and half sovereign coins came back into production in 1816/1817 (they had been around from the 1400 to 1600s).

The five guinea coin was at first valued as five pounds, but became five guineas in 1717 when the guinea's value was standardized at one pound and one shilling. 


Due to the silver shortage, in 1804 the Bank of England issued light-weight token silver coins for one shilling, three shilling and six pence coins. But special silver coins were also struck to celebrate Maundy, the celebration of the Last Supper when Christ gave the command or mandatum to love one another.
1800 Maundy Silver Penny
 The 1802 Royal Maundy notes recipients were given 4 pounds of beef and four threepenny loaves. Sets of 1d (one penny) to 4d silver coins were struck for Maundy gift from 1731 and on. To avoid statutory prohibitions on the striking of silver coin during the war (due to silver shortages), all Maundy coins from 1800 to 1815 bear the date 1800. Maundy coins and gifts were gradually phased out by King William and Queen Victoria. In 1820, 1,100 years after the first English silver pennies were minted, the last British silver pennies were minted.

It should be noted that the florin had been around in the 1300's, made of gold and worth 6 shillings, and was reissued in 1849 as a 2 shilling coin (or 'two bob bit'), but did not exist in the Regency.

You'll note that most of this discussion is about coins--paper money was rather uncommon and not trusted by many. A coin carried its value in the metal of the coin--if the worst happened, the coin could be melted and the value retains. This was not true with paper.
1821 banknote --partially printed and handwritten


Bank notes had been around for centuries, many of them private notes issued for gold deposits, and the Bank of England started to issue notes for such deposits in 1694. These were all hand written notes. By 1745 notes were being part printed in denominations ranging from £20 to £1,000. The £5 note came out in 1793, and the £1 and £2 notes in 1797. The first fully printed notes do not appeared until 1853--until then, cashiers had to fill in the name of the payee and sign each note. You can see why coins proved to be so much easier to use in transactions.

What this meant is that those with money did not carry money--coins are bulky and carrying a lot of them can also be heavy. Aristocrats would buy goods on credit and expect tradesmen to present bills. Someone who was traveling might have some coins with him--but a few coins went a very long way as well.


From 1811 to 1812, an estimated 250,000 people lived comfortably on more than seven hundred pounds a year each. A half million shopkeepers made a hundred and fifty pounds a year each, two million artisans lived on the edge of poverty at 55 pounds per annum, and one and one half million laborers earned only 30 pounds a year each.

With an income of four hundred pounds a year, one could employ two maids, one groom and keep one horse in London. 

On seven hundred a year, one could have one manservant, three maids and two horses.

For a thousand a year, one could have three female servants, a coachman, a footman, two carriages and a pair of horses in London.



And then the expenses went up--a great house could cost between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds a year in maintenance, including housekeeping, repairs, stables, parklands, gardens, home farm costs, servants, and taxes.   


Land still meant riches. There were three to four hundred families whose income was over 10,000 pounds a year, due to vast land holdings. The Earl of Egremont saw a rise in income due to land rentals that increased from 12,976 pounds in 1791 to 34,000 pounds in 1824. But it cost money to make money--the capital to secure an estate was approximately thirty times the desired income. In Somerset (where Proper Conduct is set) 30 acres for let went for 35 pounds per annum, with the tenant paying all taxes except land tax.


The down side in all of this is that anyone with a debt of twenty pounds or more could be sent to debtor's prison. Only a member of Parliament could not be imprisoned while Parliament was sitting. This was a threat to anyone facing debts--but that is another article.



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ABOUT SHANNON DONNELLY

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a nomination for Romance Writer’s of America’s RITA award, the Grand Prize in the "Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer" contest, judged by Nora Roberts, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: "simply superb"..."wonderfully uplifting"....and "beautifully written."

Her latest Regency romance, Lady Chance, the follow up to Lady Scandal, is out on Amazon.com. In addition to her Regency romances, she is the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the SF/Paranormal, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes the Historical romances, The Cardros Ruby and Paths of Desire

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and has also written computer games and offers editing and writing workshops. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and the one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at shannondonnelly.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.