Though I’ve never collected it, I’ve always liked blue and white pottery, and will gaze in delight at specimens in the display cases of museums—even though, as is often the case with objects in museums, I don’t know much about it.
One thing I didn’t know was that Lord Byron inspired a china pattern. It’s called Byron Views, and was made by Copeland & Garrett about 1834. “The views are adapted from Finden’s ‘Landscapes and Portrait Illustrations to the Life and Works of Lord Byron’, published by John Murray in 1832 and after in three volumes.” Turns out there was also a series based on William Coombs’s “Three Tours of Doctor Syntax,” with illustrations by Rowlandson.
Like other Shire books in my collection, this is a wonderful little volume packed with a great many pictures and tons of information. I’ve used these books time and again in my research—sometimes for facts, sometimes for inspiration. This one offers plenty of both, starting with a Glossary and History and going on to detailed photos of the manufacturing process, and proceeding to discussions of the patterns and colors (including a chart of the tones of blue). IOW, perfect for Nerdy History Girls and Boys. Like other Shire books, it offers an extensive bibliography and suggests places to visit.
What I especially liked about this volume was all the surprises it held. Along with the Byron and Doctor Syntax series, I discovered a Regency-era vegetable dish in a Spode pattern called Sunflower and Convolvulus—which I could have sworn was modern.
The Blue and White Museum has some examples of the Byron Views pattern (on the Museum page, type “Byron Views” in the Pattern Name section). Here’s one. Other examples of the pattern, but in green, are here.
The illustration at right, which was used on one of the plates shown in the book, is Rowlandson’s "Doctor Syntax and the Bees," from The Tour of Doctor Syntax Vol 2,available online at the Internet Archive.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.