Sunday, March 7, 2010

NHG Library: Royal Ice Pails and other trinkets

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Loretta reports:

When my heroes buy jewelry for their mistresses or the heroine, they always go to Rundell and Bridge, goldsmiths familiar to readers of Regency-era stories.  I did find No. 32 Ludgate Hill, where the shop once was, and had my picture taken there, and closed my eyes and tried to imagine what it would have looked like in, say, 1818 or 1828.  Not easy.  Rundell & Bridge is mentioned frequently in books and magazines, fiction and non-fiction, but illustrations are very thin on the ground. 

Too, one sees pictures of objects the Prince Regent/King George IV bought from the firm and reads about the amounts of money he spent, but this Nerdy History Girl’s nerdiness was never fully satisfied:  What exactly did the shop look like?  How about an interior?  What kinds of little trinkets did the Regent buy for his favorites?  Here's a cartoon interior .  And here are further glimpses.   But I wanted more.

Then one day I discovered Christopher Hartop’s Royal Goldsmiths: The Art of Rundell and Bridge 1797-1843.   I don’t remember what led me to it, but I do remember my NHG jump-up-and-down excitement and complete lack of hesitation in ordering it.  It’s a wonderful book, a beautifully detailed and splendidly illustrated catalog that accompanied an exhibition.  Among other wonderful things, it includes a large 1790s illustration of Ludgate Hill and the shop front.  You can find out more about the book at the Christopher Hartop site

Then, the other day, I came to a dead stop in my perusal of the Wall Street Journal , riveted by an advertisement with a picture of a fantastically ornate silver thing with gods and goddesses flailing about.  "That looks familiar," thought I.

“Fit for a King…and  a Queen,” the copy read.  And so it was.

It turns out that you, too, can own an actual Rundell and Bridge sterling silver ice pail made for the Royal Family in 1827.  You’d probably better hurry and put it in your shopping bag before Her Majesty does, but for a mere $1,500,000 you, too, can cool your wine in the same cooler King George IV used.  Or his brother, the Duke of Cumberland.  Somebody royal, at any rate.  You can read more about it under “Item Details,” at the M.S. Rau Antiques site.

Bottom right illustration is The Crimson Drawing Room of Carlton House (pulled down in 1826-27), a watercolor by W.H. Pyne.  It gives an idea of the rich furnishings supplied by Rundell & Bridge and others.


nightsmusic said...

So,. the shop died with it's last surviving owner did? It reads that Bridge died in 1843 and that's when the store closed. How sad to lose such a legacy of wonderful artistry.

Oh, and maybe I'll run out and buy that wine cooler tomorrow.

Just to have...


Jane O said...

LOL! I knew there was something missing from my table setting. That wine cooler would have been perfect next to the pizza box.

The book, on the other hand...

Vanessa Kelly said...

Snap! A wine cooler from Rundell's! That's what's been missing.

Ladyrose said...

Is the room with the red curtains in the lower picture in one of the English royal palaces? Maybe where the silver pails were used?

LorettaChase said...

Ladyrose, I've added the missing caption for the illustration. I chose the drawing room because it showed more of the objets d'art with which the Regent/King filled his abodes. Carlton House was deemed "one of the finest royal residences anywhere in contemporary Europe," according to David Watkin's The Royal Interiors of Regency England. The author goes on to say, "George IV's barbarous decision to demolish his exquisite miniature palace can never be forgiven...the ghost of so much vanished magnificence still haunts the eastern end of Pall Mall." I must say, I felt the same way when I came upon the site.

Emma J said...

Ha, I need one or three of these, too!

Can you imagine how much the prince's dining tables must have sparkled under the candlelight with so much silver being used? Must have been blinding!

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I'm so delighted to hear of this book, Loretta. Thank you so much for the post. I've been interested in Rundell & Bridges for years, and this book is a must have, I think!
Off to a bookshop...

Historical Reminiscing with Marilyn said...

Ornate and incredibly beautiful...Someone will snap this up! (Collector or Museum)

Leah Marie Brown said...

Thank you for another fascinating blog entry.

On a side note, I just found out that Christie's recently auctioned off the alliance rings of the wife of the Duc de Chartres. Can you imagine such an intimate object, with so much history connected, ending up on the auction block?

I have to admit, I had never even heard of alliance rings. I think the design is unique and very romantic - two bands intersecting to form one.

If you want to read more or see images of the alliance rings, visit my blog:

Thanks again for another interesting read.

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket