Interview with a Chandelier

Cut-glass chandeliers were among the most sought-after luxury products of the 18th century. Only the super-rich could afford to buy them. Thus, chandeliers were often designed to match the interior of a room, meaning that they were custom-designed.
Regency Explorer interviews an elegant chandelier from 1815 about the makers, customers, and the influences from fashion, science and politics.

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How to cheat at Whist in the 18th century

Gaming table in a country house. Would you have 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

KABOOM at noon: The meridian cannon

Of course there were clocks, cannons and sundials in the 18th century. There also was an elaborate instrument that seems to be a mix of all of them: the meridian cannon – a sundial with a little cannon announcing 12 o’clock noon with a loud bang.
What looks like a pyrotechnic gadget to amuse your guests or annoy your neighbours is actually a scientific instrument to measure true solar time correctly in an age where many timepieces lost or gained 15 minutes a day.

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Read like it’s 1804

In 1804, Britain is uneasy. The short peace of Amiens ended the previous year, and now war is escalating in Europe again. Napoleon keeps a large army at the Northern coast of France. The British government builds small defensive forts to protect the coasts of south east England and Ireland against the threat of a French invasion. In December, Spain will again declare war on Britain. What can you read to distract the mind in these difficult times?

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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 craze for transparencies

Transparencies – translucent hand-coloured prints or drawings – became common from around the 1770s. Their popularity peaked from the 1790ies until well into the early 19th century.

Transparencies were displayed at home or, in larger size, at nearly every kind of festivity from assemblies and dinners to astronomical lectures and theatres. You would find them at fairs, pleasure gardens and public celebrations.

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Object of interest: A pianino with a ‘long neck’

In 1709, Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano. From the second half of the 18th century, keyboard instruments underwent many improvements: When London became a major centre of piano building in the mid-1760s, inventive companies such as Broadwood hit the market with the so-called square piano. It was built in a form resembling the clavichord. Compact and less expensive than wing-shaped grand piano, the square piano quickly became the keyboard instrument of choice in the late 18th century – the one Jane Austen’s heroines would play. However, competition for the square piano arose on the Continent: a tall, strikingly looking instrument called the pianino.

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Daring & Skill: 10 Women who Conquered the Art World

Art had long been the domain of men. However, from about 1760, women in Britain and France made a splash in painting, engraving and even, sculpturing. Most famous are today the painters Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Angelika Kauffmann, both superstars of their time. However, many more women made careers in the art scene. Let me introduce you to 10 British female artists from all ranks of life.

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