Monday, April 24, 2017

Sterling Silver Heart in Hand Rings - Gimmal or Fede Rings

     As promised last year, I have been working with a manufacturer to create a posy ring "Harbor the Harmles Hert" in a fede motif and to which Shakespeare refers to in The Tempest (III, ii, 89-90), when Ferdinando says 'Here's my hand' and Miranda replies 'And mine with my heart in it.' These are considered associated with love, friendship, and marriage.  Rings in the time period were not always worn on the "ring finger," but were also worn on the "index finger."  They are also defined as a gimmal ring which is essentially two or three loops linked together to form one complete ring.

My original - possibly 1930's revival

My original - possibly 1930's revival

     The motif was interpreted in two designs for fede rings published by the goldsmith Pierre Woeiriot in his Livre d'aneaux d'orfevrerie (Lyons 1561): one shows the hands firmly grasped by the thumbs, and one has them lying cradled one within the other, both supported by projecting volutes carried by herms at the shoulders.  An unusual variant is recorded in Hungary  with the two hands holding two interlaced rings with the letters S above and B below, crowned and enameled in black and white.  My version is the first style described.

Reproduction in the shop - open

Reproduction closed

Reproduction how it looks on

     I have been able to work out a sterling silver version in three connected rings that include a heart in the center.  this is unique from others available outhere!  They will be offered in sizes 5-9 - maybe with half sizes also available).

     I currently have two in a size 8-1/2 and two in size 9. Smaller versions are still in the works and available soon. Prices will change as metal prices fluctuate, but they are currently being offered at $50 per ring.

Rings, Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick, Thames & Hudson, Ltd., London, 2007

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Watch Strings or Ribbons

     The Gray Horse has partnered with Michael Halbert to offer reproduction ribbon watch strings! They are made with vintage ribbon, charms, seals, keys, and/or tassels, etc.  There are lots of variations.  So, what is a watch string, you ask?

Original with Ribbon
(Courtesy of the Victorian and Albert Museum)

     Watch strings were usually made with ribbon or woven tapes.  They were worn fairly early starting in the 17th century, sometimes around the neck and/or at the waist on a sash/belt. We also see them worn in the 18th century at waist level.  The ways in which they were worn up into the 19th century emulate the earlier fashions, sometimes with a twist (including seeing chains wrapped around a woman's neck in the Regency and Victorian periods that was connected to their watch and then said watch was hung or put into a watch pocket).  The Pragmatic Costumer wrote a blog post in 2014 which shows lots of lovely examples and useful information as well.

Original with Woven Tape
(Courtesy of the Victorian and Albert Museum)

     I have written posts about equipage/chatelaines over the past year or so that you can read here and here.  Further research has been done that suggests that they were also called an "equipage," "hanger," "string," or "chain with spring swivel."  This includes the watch and accessories that is now known as a chatelaine, but that term wasn't used until 1828 when the French magazine, The World of Fashion, announced a new accessory called the "La Chatelaine."  What a great marketing scheme!

     So what else have I found out about how they were worn?  

     Men would have had a fob (or pocket) sewn into their breeches to put their watch into.  It had a chain or "string" attached to it.  The chain/string hung down outside of the breeches and usually held a seal, key, charm, dangle, pendant, etc., of their fancy.  Men also may have placed their watch inside of their weskit (or vest) pocket, and if they did, then the chain/string would be hanging outside of said pocket.  

     As we get into the 19th century, the watch chain gets more elaborate and in some cases connect to the weskit with watches stretching outward, and being placed into a weskit pocket on each side.  My past articles show more examples in portraits and prints; however, below is one of William Wollaston, ca. 1759.  The weskits and coats were longer, but you can just see the seals/charms/keys peeking out from underneath.  As weskits get shorter, you can see more of the chain/string hanging down.

William Wollaston, ca. 1759, by Thomas Gainsborough
(Wikimedia Commons)

John Cockburn Ross, 1780
(Wikimedia Commons)

     Then we must talk about the women.  The general way in which women attached their watches was by using a hook.  The most common had a tongue style hook on the back that was pushed into and behind the waist band of the petticoat.  It had a number of chains hanging down with items they may have used when working. Some of these items were extremely elaborate, and others not so much.  Another style was specifically for the watch - which also included seals, charms, keys, pendants, dangles, etc.  This style was made with chain/string just as the men's were.  I have also seen them made of pearls that hang down from or over a sash as in the portrait of Margaret Sutherland dated 1792 or Marie Antoinette.  The sash or ribbon around the waist was a trend that started in the late 1770's and continued on and off into the late 19th century.

Margaret Sutherland dated 1792 
(Wikimedia Commons)

Marie Antoinette and her two children walking in the Park of Trianon (center) 
my reproduction of her watch strings on each side (both sold)

Blue and White Roller Print Gown, possibly for a young girl 
with lined watch pocket at the high waist dated 1820
(How the Watch was Worn)

     The chain/string also may have been worn within a pocket sewn into one of the two pockets which were worn tied around one's waist UNDER the petticoat (sometimes there was only one).  I have personally found it easier to have my pockets in between the under and outer petticoat for ease of reach of whatever I put inside. The watch itself would be in its own pocket inside the pocket.  The chain/string may have been hidden within the main compartment of the pocket in which to protect it instead of hanging outside of the petticoat. There is also an example shown above a pocket sewn into the top band of the petticoat for the watch to sit into.  I have seen one for an 18th century pocket, but it is eluding my search as of this writing, but there are pockets in petticoats all throughout the 19th century - but in the 18th it was common for the watch to hang down the front of the petticoat.

     Another way in which a chain/string could have been attached was possibly from a "stay hook."  I am not familiar with what a stay hook looks like, so when it was mentioned by Cummins (How the Watch was Worn), I was intrigued.  I think that stay hooks were generally on the front of a pair of stays and often of silver, steel, metal, or decorated with gemstones and/or paste.  Cummins mentions that the watch chain/string was hooked to the stay hook.  Supposedly the stay hook was "a waist hook with front plaque and smaller linked plaques most likely for a watch that we now call a watch chatelaine."

     I decided to do a search on-line and found a currently deaccessioned pair of stays for sale with Sarah Elizabeth Gallery Antiques showing bird and stag figural hooks.   I do not think this is what they they mean to hang a watch from; however, if these pair of stays had a stomacher front, I could see hanging my watch chain from the hook on the side to hang down in front of my gown.  Or, were these hooks added later?  I am intrigued enough to do more research on this.

Sarah Elizabeth Gallery Antiques

Side view showing sewn in hip pads
(Sarah Elizabeth Gallery Antiques)

     I have found reference to stay hooks within advertisements, so they were a "thing."

Stay Hook mentioned for sale
Boston Weekly News-Letter, 29 March 1750

     Now to the watch strings that I have in my shop!  They are really awesome, and I cannot wait to see everyone wearing them!  They measure about 9 inches long, come with a ring and swivel hook on one end, and the other has seals, charms, keys, and other adornments.  They are made with vintage and new ribbon and a tape style version.  

     For the women, I can add a shepherd style hook on the end so that you can hang it from your petticoat, and move the swivel clip on the other end for your watch (or not as many of these don't really need the watch and were worn for decoration) if doing 18th century.  

     The trade card below is from Marie Anne Viet and Thos. Mitchell, Jewelers, 1742.  It mentions all sorts of curiosities "in gold, silver, mother of pearl, tortoise shell, agat, amber, ivory...equipages after the newest and silver chains, strings for watches, seals, pendants"...notice the awesome detail of the card!  I've included it in original size so they can be seen. On each side of the clock are strings hanging with all manner of items - the bows remind me of those in my Georgian bow earrings - but I digress!

Marie Anne Viet and Thos Mitchell Jewelers, 1742 
Trustees of the British Museum

Hugh Douglas Hamilton, R.H.A., Arthur Hill, 
2nd Marquess of Downshire 1785-90
(Wikimedia Commons)

     The watch strings will be available in my on-line shop starting mid-May, but I will have them for purchase at the Fort Frederick Market Fair in Big Pool, Maryland from 27-30 April, and again at the Mount Vernon Battle Reenactment from 6-7 May 2017.  

Galerie des Modes, Figure 6e, 1779
(Wikimedia Commons)

Fashionable Spring Walking Dresses, fashion plate, hand-colored engraving on paper, 
published by John Bell in La Belle Assemblie, London, June, 1808 (the ribbon is hung over the sash on her gown)

     Prices start at $40 for some of the plainer styles, and up to $75 for the silver set.





1.  How the Watch was Worn, A Fashion for 500 Years by Genevieve Cummins, Antique Collector's Club, Ltd., 2010

2.  Sarah Elizabeth Gallery Antiques, on-line

3.  The History of Underclothes by C. Willett Cunningham, Dover Publications, 1992 (taken from a 1951 edition)

4.  Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Schuyler Mansion Historic State Park, Albany, New York

     I am pleased to announce that the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York, will soon have a selection of my jewelry geared towards the history interpreted there.  Schuyler Mansion was once home to Philip J. Schuyer, Revolutionary War general, US Senator, and also a business entrepreneur. He and his wife, Catharine Van Rensselaer, both descended from affluent Dutch families and together, raised eight children in their home.

     This is a special day for me in that my ancestors leased land from the van Rensselaer's in the 18th century, and I descend from some of the first families of Albany!  I have van den Berg, Hogle, and van Valkenburg (among others) in my family line, and "Kathryn" is also a family name that exists for several generations.

     Working directly with the Friends of Schuyler Mansion, we thought it a good idea to try to emulate a pair of earrings that Katy Schuyler wore.  This portrait was painted in 1795.  They are hard to ascertain the style from the portrait, but since it was done in the late 1790's, they could possibly be hoops of pearls from my studies of fashion plates and portraits of the time period.  

Katy Schuyler
(Courtesy of the Friends of Schuyler Mansion)

     I created a few variations, including hoops, for the visitor to decide.  We think the end result offered will provide a wonderful memento for the visitor to remember their experience.  

    Katy (Catherine) was the youngest daughter and fifteenth child of Philip and Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. George and Martha Washington were her sponsors when she was baptized in Albany - she was born in 1781. In May 1803, she married Samuel Bayard Malcolm, and they had four children before he died in 1814. In 1822, she married James Cochran, her first cousin. Details on her life are contained in 1897's "A Godchild of Washington," by Katharine Schuyler Baxter." (Check out Find A Grave for this and other information.)  Her older sister, Elizabeth, married Alexander Hamilton - yeah THE Hamilton.  While I am usually skeptical of books in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on biographies and genealogies, since Katy died in 1857, it wasn't that much later that this book was written.  So, I am interested in perusing this one!

     If you are in the Albany area, do call and schedule time to visit the mansion.  I will be doing so myself!  In the meantime, I will be following their blog and Facebook pages!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hearth Cooking at Valley Forge National Historic Park

     This past weekend, Krista Jasillo participated in hearth cooking at Valley Forge National Historic Park.  She decided to use a recipe from my cookery book, and I asked if she would be willing to tell us about her experience.       

     "Krista here - Yesterday at Valley Forge we fired up our earthen oven for the first time this season!


     The bad thing... it takes twice as long to preheat because the oven is still pretty cold from the winter months.  One good thing?  Plenty of time to prepare lunch! 

     I am a living history volunteer at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Along with other members of the Valley Forge Park Alliance we get together once or twice a month from spring until fall to demonstrate camp life, bread baking, etc. Our fully functional earthen oven is located at Muhlenberg's Brigade where a lot of our events take place, including our highlighted evening event, The Annual March In, commemorating the arrival of the continental army on December 19th. 

     And now, on to lunch over this Easter weekend! 

     We started the fire in the bake oven at 9:30am... preheating should be ready by 2pm.  (I’m already appreciating modern appliances!)  While the oven takes its sweet time, I will cook lunch on the side of the oven with leftover coals. 


     Today, it's fried sausages with cabbage from A Book of Cookery, by a Lady written and compiled by Kimberly K. Walters.  Here is the recipe:

“Fried Sausages.

TAKE half a pound of sausages, and six apples, slice four about as thick as a crown, cut the other two into quarters, fry them with the sausages of a fine light brown, lay the sausages in the middle of the dish, and the apples round.  Garnish with the quartered apples.  Stewed cabbage and sausages fried is a good dish.

      I started by placing the Dutch oven directly over the hot coals.  I cut sausages into bite sizes and browned them.  Then I sliced onions thinly and added them to the sausages. I had a good amount of drippings at this point. Once they had a head start and were nice and brown.  I took my sliced apples and cabbage and added that in.  I gave it a good stir and added some salt, pepper, and vinegar.  Once I had a good boil going I removed the Dutch oven from the direct heat so it would slow cook for about 40 minutes. When the cabbage was cooked through and wilted I served it with a loaf of bread. 

     I really do enjoy being a volunteer at Valley Forge! If you have visited you know it's a favorite place for joggers and recreation, but when a bunch of us are out there set up and in period dress there is something satisfying when you can stop a runner in their tracks and strike up a conversation about history!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sign of the Gray Horse soon to be sold at George Washington's Mount Vernon Giftshop!

     I am very excited to announce that the George Washington's Mount Vernon gift shop will soon be selling my jewelry!  Starting in April of this year, you will be able to purchase some of my select jewelry targeted to represent the 18th century lady.  Those offerings can be worn today or for your historical costuming needs!!  There are a few items that you will only be able to get from them and not within my shop.

     Please stop in and support Mount Vernon by purchasing a piece or two!  They will have my lovely collet necklaces and earrings, garnet necklaces and earrings, beautiful faceted amber necklaces that simulate Martha's, cameo and pearl earrings, tiaras, and more!  Going to a ball and need something quick?  Just stop in.   

(Photo Courtesy of Mount Vernon)

     My jewelry and/or books are also sold at other historic sites that include Historic Alexandria just up the road from Mount Vernon, Historic Annapolis, and Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania, to name a few.  The clients and feedback page here on my website mentions the other places that you can purchase my jewelry other than from my Etsy shop.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Paca House and Gardens, Annapolis, Maryland

     The jewelry has arrived at the Paca House and Gardens and is on display with many original pieces!  I am honored to be a volunteer there a few times a year and for special occasions.  

     A month or so ago, I posted on Facebook about the creation of several pieces for this house museum's dressing area.  I was able to work with Historic Annapolis's Curator of Collections, Pandora Hess on the project.  She and I discussed the style and materials of the pieces.

     We looked at several portraits between 1765 to 1772, and decided upon the look for their display that comes from the Martha "Patsy" Custis Washington miniature dated 1772. The Paca House and Gardens interprets the lives of William and Mary Chew Paca from the time the house was built to when Mary died in 1774.

Martha Parke Custis in miniature by Charles Wilson Peale, 1772

Pearl and Garnet Necklace with a Miniature of William Paca on display
(Gown made by The Silly Sisters)

     Pandora also wanted a personal touch as nothing is left that they know of of Mary, so we added a wedding ring with William and Mary's marriage date, another miniature by a different artist, and a pair of my garnet paste Charlotte buckles to match the strawberries in the gown on display. Garnets were very popular during this time period, and information can be found in newspaper ads in Annapolis that can be traced back to England imports.

Gold-Filled Ring with "W.P 23 May 1763 M.C.P" engraved inside

Garnet Paste Charlotte Shoe Buckles, Miniature on a Ribbon, and Wedding Ring

Gown Detail

Garnet Paste Charlotte Shoe Buckles, Miniature of William Paca hanging from a real Garnet necklace, Gold-Filled engraved ring, and White Cultured Rice Pearl necklace

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Archduchess Maria Christine by Marcello Bacciarelli, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria 1766

     A bespoke item for a special client - this was a custom order that I was recently asked to make.  I must confess, I have always loved this portrait of her jewelry - but how to recreate it?  

 Archduchess Maria Christine by Marcello Bacciarelli, Kunsthistorisches Museum, 
Vienna, Austria, 1766

     I started with the earrings and hair sprigs.  I love repurposing old earrings, so found some lovely 1950's clip-ons and layered them with brass filigrees that I was also going to use for the hair sprigs and converted them for a pierced ear - my client did not have any metal allergies which made it easier.  I found some lovely crystal clusters as well and put them together.


I then also created the hair sprigs by hand.  I have been creating these for awhile, so it was easy to make.  My client wanted five versus the eight or more on Maria Christine.

Hair Sprigs up top and Earrings on the bottom

The necklace was another challenge, and I studied it close up to figure out how I would create it.  I want something close, but also wearable.  I figured out that it was probably velvet with crystals and lace.

I sewed ribbon on the end of the velvet in which to tie behind as the portrait shows - it is fain, but you can see it.

Full set but the necklace turned out lovely 

Let me know what you think!