How to cheat at Whist in the 18th century

Gaming table in a country house. Would you hve dared to play Whist with strangers?

Whist was one of the most popular card games in Georgian England. It began its career as a plain game for common men. With the rise of the coffee houses in London, the gentry picked up the game. Reputedly it was Lord Folkestone who brought the game into fashion in high society around 1728, when he adopted it as a challenging strategic card game requiring good memory, sympathetic partnering and psychological acumen.

The rules of Whist were written down in Edward Hoyle’s “ A short treatise on the game of whist” in 1742. As early as this, methods of cheating were discussed. While Hoyle advocated fair play, the stakes at Whist could be high, and thus tempt many to force luck their way. Besides, cheating at whist is very easy. Continue reading

Beautiful Carriages from the Napoleonic Era

Like cars today, carriages were the subject of changing tastes and fashions. Stately carriages are an ideal object to study the influence of fashion on their design.
During the Baroque Age carriage where heavily decorated with symbols of power, such as figures of gods or animals representing power. In the Napoleonic Era a greater restraint and elegance became popular, it’s predominant artistic style being Neoclassicism. We will find out why in this post. Continue reading

Books & Coffee – a Perfect Match

A stylish local roasting facility hosted the latest literary event organised by book shop Kempter in Hoehenkirchen / Germany. The treat for the audience: tasting freshly brewed espresso, and listening to three new authors presenting their books.

It was a lovely idea, and I am delighted to have been offered the chance to read from the first chapter of my historical novel “Von tadellosem Ruf” (‘Of impeccable reputation’).

Joining Simon Gerold, author of a novel set in ancient Rome, and Thomas Buttgereit, who read from the travel diary of this motorbike tour along the Pan-American Highway, was great fun.

Thanks to everybody for creating an inspiring and entertaining event!

Thomas, Anna, Simon

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The Poor Man’s Son Who Usurped the British Market of Optical Lenses

Since the mid-18th century, England had been the centre of the optics industry, due to the work of instument-maker John Dolland (1706-1761). Dolland manufactured small ‘achromatic’ telescopes with high-quality lenses made of flint glass (instead of the inferior crown glass). His products were in high demand from astronomers all over Europe. This began to change, when a poor man’s son who had had a lot of bad luck in his youth, met the Bavarian Prince Elector. Continue reading

Panoramic Scene Wallpaper for the Fashionable Home of the Regency Period

In this post:

  • The marvel of the panoramic scene wallpaper
  • Technical innovations of the early 19th century
  • Keeping the craft alive

Panoramic scene ‘L’Hindoustan’ in the Garden Room of Basildon Park / England

Wallpaper has been known since at least the 15th century. Starting as a rare luxury item for the elite, wallpaper became more popular in England at the beginning of the 18th century. By then, wallpaper had become a cheap alternative to tapestry or panelling. 1712, the government even imposed a tax on it. Despite the taxation the demand for wallpaper grew in the mid-18th century.
Most wallpapers had been brought to England by the East India Company from China, where Chinese artisans produced hand-painted, dedicated wallpaper for their rich English customers. By the end of the 18th century, producers in France specialized in printed wallpaper became an important competitor on the market.
Continue reading

Focus on Mary Shelley

In this post:
– The movie
– New non-fiction books about Mary Shelley scheduled for 2018
– Frankenstein Events

The year 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. We can look forward to a global celebration of Shelley’s work with a variety of exhibitions, research projects, scientific demonstrations, competitions, festivals, art projects, and publications. Continue reading

One Dance, Many Dangers: the Waltz during the Regency Period

May I have the pleasure of this Waltz? It is the most controversial dance of the Regency Period. That the Waltz was considered scandalous certainly isn’t new to you. But there were more reasons than too much intimacy between the dance partners that made people turn up their noses at the Waltz. Among the despisers was e.g. Lord Byron who can hardly be counted among the moralisers of the age. So what was wrong with the Waltz? Continue reading

The Lady is A Spy: Joanne Major and Sarah Murden Uncover the Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs

Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs (c. 1763—1827) lived an incredible life in an age when the world was dominated by men. Joanne Major and Sarah Murden, dedicated historians and authors of several non-fiction books about the Georgian Age, have written an amazing biography about an extraordinary lady. In A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs, they uncover the bizarre but true story of Mrs. Biggs, who was a playwright and author, a political pamphleteer and a spy, working for the British Government. It’s a treat for me to present Sarah’s and Joanne’s post about Mrs. Biggs’ connection to the man who plotted to kill Napoleon.

The Plot of the Infernal Machine Continue reading