Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Regency Season

The Season

If you were a young lady during England’s Regency period (1811-1820) you looked forward to your release from the schoolroom and presentation to Society and the Season the way young women today look forward to their High School prom. But the Season was more, so much more, that a single fabulous night. It was a series of parties, soirees and dinners.

For a young lady of seventeen or eighteen, the first excitement came when her wardrobe was refurbished and expanded to include all of the ball gowns, riding habits, walking dresses, day dresses and most importantly, a court dress. If all went well during the Season, the elaborate court dress  as shown in this illustration from 1810 may eventually be remade into her wedding dress.

The ladies also were finally allowed to wear their hair up and could accompany their parents to dinner parties and balls. Girls were tutored to amuse their neighbors at the table and were always accompanied by their family or chaperones. At dances, they were not permitted to drift away from their chaperone and men had to go to the chaperone to obtain a dance partner and return the young lady to her chaperone when the dance concluded. No walking out to the gardens alone with a man!

The Season started after Christmas when men returned to London to attend Parliament. While this meant some families went early in January or February, most did not travel to London until after the Easter holidays. That’s when the Season really started, and it generally lasted for the next three months.

If you were a young lady, your first order of business would be presentation at Court. You would be fitted for a gown with hoops and a long train, and then drilled on performing a deep curtsey and walking backwards in your gown without tripping and falling over your skirts and train. Presentation was actually a very brief ceremony. Dressed in her white court gown, the young lady would have her name announced by the Lord Chamberlain. She’d walk forward toward the seated monarch and curtsey. Then she would curtsey to any other royals present and back out, hopefully without tripping. Under no circumstances could she turn her back on the monarch.

Once presented at court, the young lady could begin the exciting whirl of events including galas, concerts, private balls and dances. Dinner parties were often held on Wednesday or Saturday since there were no evening sessions of Parliament on those days. As you may guess, one of the main purposes of the Season was to introduce eligible girls to men, who were concentrated in London due to Parliament. So many of the entertainments were scheduled very late in the day. They had to wait until the men “got off work”.

The Season was definitely a highlight in a woman's life--the doorway to love. While the ladies in my Regencies, I Bid One American and The Bricklayer's Helper, may not be the belles of the ball, they take part in the festivities and it forever changes their lives.

Amy Corwin

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Good Bye, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

Born Leonard Slye, November 5, 1911, he became an icon to boys and girls, men and women known as Roy Rogers.

Dusty Rogers, son of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans announced that the Roy Rogers Museum has closed its doors forever. Here is a partial listing of some of the items that were sold at auction.

Roy 's 1964 Bonneville sold for $254,500, it was estimated to sell between 100 and 150 thousand dollars.

His script book from the January 14,1953 episode of This Is Your Life sold for $10,000 (est. $800-$1,000)
A collection of signed baseballs (Pete Rose, Duke Snyder and other greats) sold for $3,750
A collection of signed bats (Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter, Bob Feller, and others) sold for $2,750.
Trigger's saddle and bridle sold for $386,500 (est. 100-150 K)
One of many of Roy 's shirts sold for $16,250 and one of his many cowboy hats sold for $17,500.

One set of boot spurs sold for $10,625. (He never used a set of spurs on Trigger.)
A life size shooting gallery sold for $27,500.
Various chandeliers sold from $6,875 to $20,000. They are unique and artistic in their western style.
A signed photograph by Don Larsen taken during his perfect game in the world series against the Dodgers on Oct. 8, 1953, along with a signed baseball to Roy from Don, sold for $2,500
Two fabulous limited edition BB guns in their original boxes with numerous photos of Roy, Dale, Gabby, and Pat sold for $3,750.
A collection of memorabilia from his shows entertaining the troops in Vietnam sold for $938. I never knew he was there. His flight jacket sold for $7,500.

His set of dinner ware plates and silverware sold for $11,875.

The Bible they used at the dinner table every night sold for $8,750.
One of several of his guitars sold for $27,500.
Nellybelle sold for $116,500.
A fabulous painting of Roy , Dale, Pat, Buttermilk, Trigger, and Bullet sold for $10,625.
One of several sets of movie posters sold for $18,750.
A black and white photograph of Gene Autry with a touching inscription from Gene to Roy sold for $17,500.
A Republic Productions Poster bearing many autographs of the people that played in Roy 's movies sold for $11,875.
Dale's horse, Buttermilk (whose history is very interesting) sold below the presale estimate for $25,000. (est. 30-40 K)

Bullet sold for $35,000 (est. 10-15 K). He was their real pet.
Dale's parade saddle, estimated to sell between 20-30 K, sold for $104,500.
One of many pairs of Roy 's boots sold for $21,250.
Trigger sold for $266,500.

Do you remember the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robinhood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland? Well Olivia rode Trigger in that movie.

Trigger was bred on a farm co-owned by Bing Crosby. Roy bought Trigger on a time payment plan for $2,500. Roy and Trigger made 188 movies together. Trigger even out did Bob Hope by winning an Oscar in the movie Son of Paleface in 1953.

It is extremely sad to see this era lost forever. Despite the fact that Gene and Roy 's movies, as well as those of other great characters, can be bought or rented for viewing, today's kids would rather spend their time playing video games. Today it takes a very special pair of parents to raise their kids with the right values and morals. These were the great heroes of our childhood, and they did teach us right from wrong, and how to have and show respect for each other and the animals that share this earth. You and I were born at the right time. We were able to grow up with these great people even if we never met them. In their own way they taught us patriotism and honor, we learned that lying and cheating were bad, and sex wasn't as important as love. We learned how to suffer through disappointment and failure and work through it. Our lives were drug free.

So it's good-bye to Roy and Dale, Gene and Hoppy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Farewell to Sky King and Superman and Sgt. Friday. Thanks to Capt. Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers and Capt. Noah and all those people whose lives touched ours, and made them better.

It was a great ride through childhood.
A time in history, never to be seen again

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Regency Astronomer Caroline Herschel

Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) was a German/British astronomer and the sister of Sir William Herschel, telescope maker and discoverer of Uranus.

She was born in Hanover, Germany, the principality George I ruled before Parliament declared him king of England. One of six children, she contracted typhus when she was ten. The disease stunted her growth and she never grew taller than four foot three. Her father, although he encouraged all his children to improve themselves, advised her she would never marry. She became her parents' unpaid house servant until her father died and her older brother, William, invited her to live with him in England.

George II had united the crowns of England and Hanover, so Caroline and William were also English citizens. William had emigrated to Britain to pursue a musical career, but his astronomy hobby soon overshadowed his interest in music. He built many large and powerful telescopes and his fame grew. In 1782 he became King's Astronomer. George III awarded him a pension and William quit his job as chorus director to spend all his time on astronomy.

At first, William employed Caroline as an unpaid housekeeper, but soon he trained her in mathematics and used her as an assistant in his telescope-making. Eventually, Caroline became his apprentice in astronomy. In 1787 George III granted her an annual salary of 50 pounds per year for her work as William's assistant.

Comet hunting was a popular pastime in the late eighteenth century and Caroline spent her evenings observing the sky through her brother’s telescopes. Between 1786 and 1797, she discovered eight comets. One was a co-discovery, and one, comet Encke, a rediscovery. Six of them bear her name. A list of her comets are here. She also made an independent discovery of M110 (NGC 205), the second companion of the Andromeda galaxy.

Besides discovering comets, she reorganized the data and corrected the discrepancies in the difficult-to-use, two-volume star catalog of John Flamsteed (1646-1719), the first Astronomer Royal, and also added new observations. The Royal Society published this Catalogue of Stars in 1798.

She and William continued their astronomical observations until his death in 1822. She then returned to Hanover to live with her brother, Dietrich, and cataloged all her and William's work.

This publication earned her honorary membership in the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Astronomical Society. In 1828, the Royal Astronomical Society awarded her their Gold Medal, which no other woman would receive until 1996. Prussia also honored her achievements with the Gold Medal for Science in 1846. She died at the age of 98, one of the world's eminent astronomers.

I named Caroline, the astronomer-heroine of Lady of the Stars, my Regency time travel, for Caroline Herschel.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
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