Tales of walking, eating, watching and playing. Vintage treasures and simple pleasures ... the things that make her happy.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Queen Victoria's Teeth

Bought at auction last week …

A rather large print of Queen Victoria.  As I carried her into the house, little man piped up “she’s not very pretty is she?”. 

I guess not, but I rather like her.  Originally intended for sale, she is going to stay for a while and may go up on the wall on our landing when we finish decorating (we’ve been decorating the stairs and landing on and off for three years now!!)  She needs a good clean but I think she’s rather lovely.  Mr isn’t so sure about her looking on disapprovingly as he gets dressed in the morning …

Little man also commented “that she couldn’t have been a very good Queen because she had a very small crown!”. 

Following the death of her beloved Prince Albert in 1861 at the age of just 42, Queen Victoria sank into a deeply depressed state and withdrew from public life, wearing widow’s weeds until her death.  She returned to public life in 1870 but chose not to wear the imperial State Crown as she found it too large and heavy and it did not sit well on top of her mourning veil.  Instead she commissioned a miniature diamond encrusted crown from Garrard & Co.  Diamonds were an acceptable gem to wear during a period of mourning and the crown was set with 1187 of them.  The crown measures just 9cm (3 ½ inches) across and weighs just 6 ounces.  She continued to wear the little crown for all state duties.

Following her death at the age of 82, the small diamond crown was placed on her coffin for the State Funeral.  Since Queen Elizabeth II chose not to wear it, the crown was placed in the Tower of London’s Jewel House in 1937 where it remains on show today.
As well as the more traditional royal jewellery, Queen Victoria wore, in private, some rather more unconventional pieces.  Hair, animal parts, claws and teeth were popular jewellery decorations in Victorian times.  Victoria made several items of jewellery herself from her own hair including a bracelet for her governess and even had some pebbles, picked up by Albert from a Scottish beach, set into silver.  

One of the stranger pieces she had made was this gold and enamel brooch in the shape of a thistle with a tooth forming the flower head.  The tooth was the first milk tooth lost by Princess Victoria (known as Vicky), the eldest of their nine much adored children.

Another rather macabre piece is this gold and enamel necklace set with 44 stags teeth.  It was given to Victoria by Prince Albert as a macho display of love and passion.  All of the teeth are from stags hunted by Albert on the Balmoral estate.  Each tooth is engraved with the date the animal was killed and the clasp bears the inscription ‘all shot by Albert’.

A ‘pretty’ brooch featuring more teeth!

A pair of ‘trophy’ earrings.

I also received a lovely surprise package from Liz of 'Shortbread and Ginger' last week.  Just look at all the lovely goodies that arrived, beautifully wrapped in tissue with pretty lacy tape.  Two Ladybird books to add to my collection, a gorgeous hand knitted cosy, Scottish rock, a drinks mat (perfect for my cuppa at work) and a lovely card.  Thank you so much Liz (hope you don't mind me showing the world!).  What a lovely place the blogging world is ...


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Marina:
Well we rather like your Queen Victoria portrait and think that she has a regal look about her rather than a disdainful one. We should certainly give her pride of place hanging on a wall.

We were fascinated to read of some of Queen Victoria's jewellery, although there is a somewhat macabre feel about some of the pieces. The concentration on teeth we should not favour as this all too vividly reminds us of visits to the dentist which are events we should not like to dwell upon.

mrs cheese said...

Great print and I'm sure she'll look mighty fine on your landing.

Oh I'm not sure about her 'toothy' jewellery though.
Don't think I could wear my children's teeth.


Lorraine Young Pottery said...

The flowers around her bring some warmth. Queens are not meant to be beauty queens after all! I think she is very regal and has great attitude and presence - that's a great queen you have there.

Lorraine :-}

*Maristella* said...

Hi Marina...io amo l'Epoca Vittoriana, era così ricca di decorazione e di fantasia...che nostalgia! MOlto bello il quadro con la Regina Vittoria, starebbe bene anche a casa mia....;o))
Un caro saluto, *Maristella*.

My Spotty Pony said...

Spotty nearly took my hand off when he saw the carrot I was holding for him. I certainly would never want to keep any of his huge teeth!
I like your picture and think perhaps you should keep her to hang on your newly decorated walls. And Liz has sent you some lovely things.... how thoughtful :)
Abby xx

Floss said...

The portrait looks great! She was so pretty as a young woman - it must have been sadness that made her look so stern. Thanks very much for the history - even the creepy teeth. I've got a post about George V at the moment - I had a great time researching it!

greenthumb said...

I don't know about keeping the teeth, but it must have been the done thing.

Susy said...

I love the Queen Victoria,
scored a magnificent period,
the pins with his teeth are a little
impression, but they are fascinating.
Have a nice weekend, Marina
Suzy x

Fading Grace said...

We always expect queens to be beautiful, I suppose, royal blood and all that. I've always been fascinated by queen Victoria, quite a sad life really. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow xx

Fading Grace said...

I just noticed the tin bird in you photo on the side bar!! I saw him and ummmmed and arrrrhed for ages, kept going back!! He is gorgeous and makes a little bird sound when you squeeze his wings!!! love him xx

Liz said...

Love the picture of Queen Victoria - very strange jewellery, though!
Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

Alix said...

Hmmm...Some Victorians had questionable tastes, didn't they? Give me a Ladybird book over a valuable stags' tooth necklace any day!
Have a lovely weekend!

Eleni said...

Wow, I really need to get a good biography about Queeen Vic - she was just such an individual! Every new titbit I learn about her intrigues me more. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

She's pretty for her time, and in her own way!
I think she has a strength of character and an air of self confidence!
Thats beautiful to me.....

I'm not saying she'd win a beauty contest at all, but still...lol

Ciao Bella

Jane said...

That was a very interesting post, I really enjoyed reading about Queen Victoria. The "teeth" jewelry pieces are very interesting. I would never have guessed that they were teeth in some of them.
I'm just glad hair and teeth are not a popular accessory item today :)

Am Bothan said...

Good luck with the fairs this weekend and try to get some rest!

Brown Paper Packages said...

I loved the film about Queen V (Starring Rupert Friend and Emily Blunt) such a tender and true love. Having some African heritage I find the "teeth bling" rather intriguing. We have witch doctors in Africa who use teeth as a means of fortune telling and healing, they also used animal parts for decorative purposes - although nothing quite so stylish!

carrad said...

Lovely blog, I'll be following you now and helping you get to 100! I would love it if you would visit me and help me struggle to 50! The jewellery is fabulous xxx

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Well I've certainly learnt a lot more about QV than I knew yesterday!! The jewellery is beautifully macabre - maybe I can do something with all those milk teeth the tooth fairy took away? ;) xo

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,

My, my! What do you think drove QV to her love for teeth? I did notice that all the teeth were very white with no discoloration?

This was a very informative post!


Diane said...

I love the print, but I have to wonder how she kept that tiny crown on her head? It seems that she either wore it with a veil or on her widow's cap. Either way, you'd think it would fall off.