Quirky Victorian Etiquette

First off, my technological problems are solved!! Yippie! Not having a computer for a few days really made me realize how dependant I am on it (even though I like to think I scarcely use it). As always, this thought led me back to thinking about the “olden days” before computers and cell-phones, which led me to thinking once more about one of my favorite topics – Victorian Etiquette (yay for trains of thought!).

Victorian Etiquette has become a modern fixation through movies and books. We are quite familiar with it, but there are also many quirky rules that have captured my attention. Today I’m going to share some of those with you. (Some of these are from the Edwardian Era too…)

Do not beat “the devil’s tattoo” by drumming with your fingers on a table; it cannot fail to annoy everyone within hearing, and it is an index of a vacant mind. (Hill)

As the [married] couple pass out of the front door it is customary for the guests to throw after them, for luck, rice, rose leaves, flowers, old shows, ect. (Green)

A bride does not usually dance at her own wedding, but she may join in a square dance I she chooses (Hall)

It is evident, therefore, that although a man may be ugly, there is no necessity for his being shocking. (Gentlemen)

If you have any defect, so shocking and so ridiculous as to procure you a nickname, then indeed there is but one remedy – to renounce society. (Gentlemen)

No lady worthy any gentleman’s regard will say “no” twice to a suit which she intends ultimately to receive with favor. (Young)

It lies with drivers to keep clear of pedestrians. All persons have a right to walk on the highways at their own pace. Dogs, chickens, and other domestic animals at large on the highway are not pedestrians, and if one is driving at a regulation speed, or under, one is not responsible for their untimely end. (Levitt)

Be careful not to be over-nice, or you will impress people with the idea that your life began in vulgarity, and you are now trying so hard to get away from it, that you rush to the opposite extreme. (Gentleman 2)

Some people prefer children to dogs, principally because a license is not required for the former (Graham)

The skin should be cut off [a banana] with a knife, peeling from the top down, while holding in the hand. Small pieces should be cut or broken off, and taken in the fingers, or they may be cut up and eaten with a fork. (Green)

-C

Bibliography:

Hints on Etiquette and the Usages of Society by Charles William Day (1843)

A Dictionary of Etiquette by Walter Cox Green (1904)

Social Customs by Florence Howe Hall (1887)

Laws of Etiquette, or Short Rules and Reflections For Conduct in Society by a Gentleman (1836)

Our Deportment by John H. Young (1882)

The Woman and the Car by Dorothy Levitt (1909)

The Perfect Gentleman by A Gentleman (1860)

The Bolster Book by Harry Graham (1910)

A Dictionary of Etiquette by Walter Cox Green (1904)

Photo Credits:

http://mistercrew.com/blog/2010/09/29/victorian-era-style-1872/

http://abedofroses.com/tag/bb-etiquette/

http://www.victoriana.com/bridal/prints/bridalprints.htm

http://www.victoriana.com/Mens-Clothing/mens-clothing-1868.html

http://cottageinthemaking.blogspot.com/2008/11/victorian-childrens-etiquette.html

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Walter Potter’s Whimsical World

A few weeks ago, I posted about rogue taxidermy and featured a photograph of kittens having tea (Kittens Having Tea and Squirrels Dueling). Recently, from some random internet browsing, I discovered who created this piece. It is actually much older than I expected and is not the only unusual piece that this artist created…

Walter Potter started to experiment with taxidermy in 1854 (at the age of 19). Although his profession was traditional taxidermy, he is famous for his anthropomorphic dioramas. These were displayed in his family’s pub, The White Lion.

Some of my favorites:

The Rabbits’ Village School – 1888

Features 48 rabbits performing multiple tasks from math to sewing.

The Upper Ten or Squirrels Club – unknown date

18 European Red Squirrels in a gentlemen’s club.

The Lower Five or Rats Den – unknown date

Companion to The Upper Ten. Made up of 15 Brown Rats in a much more rambunctious setting than the squirrels.

The Kitten Wedding – 1890’s

Potter’s only display with clothed animals.

After the Victorian Era, however, interest in taxidermy wavered. Unfortunately, in 2003 the collection was broken up in an auction. All together, the collection (consisting of 13 pieces) sold for £97,700. It is such a pity that the pieces could not stay together.

A very happy Easter or Passover to everyone!!! =)

-C

Many thanks for the pictures:

http://www.acaseofcuriosities.com/pages/01_2_00potter.html