Nº. 1 of  3

The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged Queen Victoria:

An 1880s poster for General Mite and Millie Edwards, a pair of little people who were exhibited around the world as “The Royal American Midgets”, likely due their popularity with European monarchs.
As I’ve said before, I don’t find so-called “freaks” odd in the slightest, I do, however, find it odd that people would pay money to go and stare at them, especially when “people” are royalty. As the poster shows, for example, Queen Victoria was especially fond of these demeaning spectacles, as demonstrated by her inviting General Mite, and other little people, Lucia Zarate and Commodore Nutt, over to Buckingham Palace for her family to have a good old gawp at. According to Her Majesty’s journal, on February 26th 1881, after having breakfast, she:

saw in the corridor some wonderful little dwarfs, called midgets Gen: Mite, the boy, is American, perfectly well proportioned, like a doll, said to be 16, & weighing 6 lbs. He has quite a nice little face, & was dressed like a young gentleman. The girl, Signora Zarate, is a Mexican, weighing little over 4 lbs, perfectly hideous & semi-idiotic, very dark, & with a face like Aztecs. She was smartly dressed, with a train! They walked up & down a long table, arm in arm. Commodore Nutt, an American (very ugly) came at the same time. He is an ordinary dwarf. - The pond in the garden is frozen over.

The poster seems to depict a subsequent visit with Mite accompanied by Edwards. Lucia Zarate, “appeared by special command three times before Queen Victoria and the Royal Family”, whilst perhaps the most famous little person of the era, General Tom Thumb, appeared twice before the Queen and met a three year old Edward VII during a 1844 tour.
[Thanks to Sir Cecil for providing the inspiration for this]

An 1880s poster for General Mite and Millie Edwards, a pair of little people who were exhibited around the world as “The Royal American Midgets”, likely due their popularity with European monarchs.

As I’ve said before, I don’t find so-called “freaks” odd in the slightest, I do, however, find it odd that people would pay money to go and stare at them, especially when “people” are royalty. As the poster shows, for example, Queen Victoria was especially fond of these demeaning spectacles, as demonstrated by her inviting General Mite, and other little people, Lucia Zarate and Commodore Nutt, over to Buckingham Palace for her family to have a good old gawp at. According to Her Majesty’s journal, on February 26th 1881, after having breakfast, she:

saw in the corridor some wonderful little dwarfs, called midgets Gen: Mite, the boy, is American, perfectly well proportioned, like a doll, said to be 16, & weighing 6 lbs. He has quite a nice little face, & was dressed like a young gentleman. The girl, Signora Zarate, is a Mexican, weighing little over 4 lbs, perfectly hideous & semi-idiotic, very dark, & with a face like Aztecs. She was smartly dressed, with a train! They walked up & down a long table, arm in arm. Commodore Nutt, an American (very ugly) came at the same time. He is an ordinary dwarf. - The pond in the garden is frozen over.

The poster seems to depict a subsequent visit with Mite accompanied by Edwards. Lucia Zarate, “appeared by special command three times before Queen Victoria and the Royal Family”, whilst perhaps the most famous little person of the era, General Tom Thumb, appeared twice before the Queen and met a three year old Edward VII during a 1844 tour.

[Thanks to Sir Cecil for providing the inspiration for this]

Queen Victoria insists on staring at a bust of her dead husband during her eldest son and heir’s wedding photographs. 1863.

Queen Victoria insists on staring at a bust of her dead husband during her eldest son and heir’s wedding photographs. 1863.

(Source: Flickr / thelostgallery)

Jack Black, Her Majesty’s Rat-catcher
By the mid-19th century it was well understood that rats carried diseases, however, sanitation within large cities still left a lot to be desired and rats infested sewers and homes alike. As a result, rat-catching could prove a rather lucrative profession. Rat-catchers would capture rats by hand, often with specially-bred vermin terriers, or traps, and payment would be high for catching and selling rats to breeders.
Most famous amongst these rat-catchers was Jack Black: rat-catcher and mole destroyer by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Black is best know through his interview in Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, Vol. 3, where he tells of his work and experiences.
Black cut a striking figure in his self-made “uniform" of scarlet topcoat, waistcoat, and breeches, with a huge leather belt inset with cast-iron rats. He was reported to be “the most fearless handler of rats of any man living”, on one occasion, at a public display, placing half a dozen rats taken directly from the sewers inside his shirt while delivering a sales pitch on the rapid effects of rat poison. His face and hands were covered in scars from bites and by his own account there were numerous occasions on which he had almost died from infection following being bitten.
When he caught any unusually coloured rats, he bred them, to establish new colour varieties. He would sell his home-bred domesticated coloured rats as pets, mainly, as Black observed, “to well-bred young ladies to keep in squirrel cages”. Beatrix Potter is believed to have been one of his customers. The more sophisticated ladies of court kept their rats in dainty gilded cages, and even Queen Victoria herself kept a rat or two. Black also supplied live rats for rat-baiting in pits, a popular mid-Victorian pastime.

[Sources: Wikipedia (Jack Black) | Wikipedia (Rat-catcher) | History House]

Jack Black, Her Majesty’s Rat-catcher

By the mid-19th century it was well understood that rats carried diseases, however, sanitation within large cities still left a lot to be desired and rats infested sewers and homes alike. As a result, rat-catching could prove a rather lucrative profession. Rat-catchers would capture rats by hand, often with specially-bred vermin terriers, or traps, and payment would be high for catching and selling rats to breeders.

Most famous amongst these rat-catchers was Jack Black: rat-catcher and mole destroyer by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Black is best know through his interview in Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, Vol. 3, where he tells of his work and experiences.

Black cut a striking figure in his self-made “uniform" of scarlet topcoatwaistcoat, and breeches, with a huge leather belt inset with cast-iron rats. He was reported to be “the most fearless handler of rats of any man living”, on one occasion, at a public display, placing half a dozen rats taken directly from the sewers inside his shirt while delivering a sales pitch on the rapid effects of rat poison. His face and hands were covered in scars from bites and by his own account there were numerous occasions on which he had almost died from infection following being bitten.

When he caught any unusually coloured rats, he bred them, to establish new colour varieties. He would sell his home-bred domesticated coloured rats as pets, mainly, as Black observed, “to well-bred young ladies to keep in squirrel cages”. Beatrix Potter is believed to have been one of his customers. The more sophisticated ladies of court kept their rats in dainty gilded cages, and even Queen Victoria herself kept a rat or two. Black also supplied live rats for rat-baiting in pits, a popular mid-Victorian pastime.

[Sources: Wikipedia (Jack Black) | Wikipedia (Rat-catcher) | History House]

james-winston:
Queen Victoria was so annoyed by Princess Alice’s decision to breastfeed her children that she named a cow in one of her dairys after her.

james-winston:

Queen Victoria was so annoyed by Princess Alice’s decision to breastfeed her children that she named a cow in one of her dairys after her.

(via sansaofwinterfells-deactivated2)

Queen Victoria’s Christmas presents in 1900.


Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 15th

Queen Victoria’s Christmas presents in 1900.

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 15th

Prince Leopold: “Is the Ugliest”
Prince Leopold was the eighth child and fourth son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Leopold inherited the disease haemophilia from his mother and was a delicate child. Evidence suggests that he also suffered mildly from epilepsy, like his grand-nephew Prince John. Anyway, his mother thought he was hideous and had no qualms about sharing her feelings, as is evident in various letters and journal entries of her’s:





“Leopold…is the ugliest.” “I think he is uglier than he ever was.” “I hope, dear, he [Vicky’s young son] won’t be like [Leopold] the ugliest and least pleasing of the whole family.” “[Leopold] walks shockingly—and is dreadfully awkward—holds himself as badly as ever and his manners are despairing, as well as his speech—which is quite dreadful. It is so provoking as he learns so well and reads quite fluently; but his French is more like Chinese than anything else; poor child, he is really very unfortunate.” “I never cared for you near as much as you seem to about the baby; I care much more for the younger ones (poor Leopold perhaps excepted)…” [Quotes from the ever excellent Vintage-Royalty]

Prince Leopold: “Is the Ugliest”

Prince Leopold was the eighth child and fourth son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Leopold inherited the disease haemophilia from his mother and was a delicate child. Evidence suggests that he also suffered mildly from epilepsy, like his grand-nephew Prince John. Anyway, his mother thought he was hideous and had no qualms about sharing her feelings, as is evident in various letters and journal entries of her’s:

“Leopold…is the ugliest.” “I think he is uglier than he ever was.” “I hope, dear, he [Vicky’s young son] won’t be like [Leopold] the ugliest and least pleasing of the whole family.” “[Leopold] walks shockingly—and is dreadfully awkward—holds himself as badly as ever and his manners are despairing, as well as his speech—which is quite dreadful. It is so provoking as he learns so well and reads quite fluently; but his French is more like Chinese than anything else; poor child, he is really very unfortunate.” “I never cared for you near as much as you seem to about the baby; I care much more for the younger ones (poor Leopold perhaps excepted)…” [Quotes from the ever excellent Vintage-Royalty]

Christmas with the Saxe-Coburg and Gothas
When Queen Victoria’s German-born husband, Prince Albert, arranged for a fir tree to be brought from his homeland and decorated in 1841, it created a minor sensation throughout the English-speaking world. Everyone knew about Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree. A print of the royal family gathered about the Christmas tree at Windsor Castle [above] appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1848, then in Godey’s Lady’s Bookin 1850, and was reprinted again ten years later. The six-foot fir sits on a table, each tier laden with a dozen or more lighted wax tapers. An angel with outstretched arms poses at the top. Gilt gingerbread ornaments and tiny baskets filled with sweets hang by ribbons from the branches. Clustered around the base of the tree are dolls and soldiers and toys.
It was not, however, the first German tree in England, as is commonly thought. Queen Victoria had seen one as a girl in 1832. The little princess wrote excitedly in her diary that her Aunt Sophia had set up two “trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed around the tree.” And long before that, in 1789, Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, the last king of America, sent to her native Meckelberg-Strelitz in northern Germany for a Christmas tree. The queen’s physician, Dr. John Watkins, described it as “a charming imported German custom, [with] bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins in papers, fruits, and toys most tastefully arranged” on its branches. [Source]
During Christmas 1841, after the recent birth of Edward, Prince of Wales, there was great happiness within the palace. A joyful Queen Victoria wrote in her journal, “To think that we have two children now, and one who enjoys the sight [of the Christmas tree] already; it is like a dream.”
In addition, Prince Albert, writing to his father, said: “This is the dear Christmas eve on which I have so often listened with impatience for your step, which was to convey us into the gift-room. Today I have two children of my own to make gifts to, who, they know not why, are full of happy wonder at the German Christmas-tree and its radiant candles.” [Source]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 4th

Christmas with the Saxe-Coburg and Gothas

When Queen Victoria’s German-born husband, Prince Albert, arranged for a fir tree to be brought from his homeland and decorated in 1841, it created a minor sensation throughout the English-speaking world. Everyone knew about Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree. A print of the royal family gathered about the Christmas tree at Windsor Castle [above] appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1848, then in Godey’s Lady’s Bookin 1850, and was reprinted again ten years later. The six-foot fir sits on a table, each tier laden with a dozen or more lighted wax tapers. An angel with outstretched arms poses at the top. Gilt gingerbread ornaments and tiny baskets filled with sweets hang by ribbons from the branches. Clustered around the base of the tree are dolls and soldiers and toys.

It was not, however, the first German tree in England, as is commonly thought. Queen Victoria had seen one as a girl in 1832. The little princess wrote excitedly in her diary that her Aunt Sophia had set up two “trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed around the tree.” And long before that, in 1789, Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, the last king of America, sent to her native Meckelberg-Strelitz in northern Germany for a Christmas tree. The queen’s physician, Dr. John Watkins, described it as “a charming imported German custom, [with] bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins in papers, fruits, and toys most tastefully arranged” on its branches. [Source]

During Christmas 1841, after the recent birth of Edward, Prince of Wales, there was great happiness within the palace. A joyful Queen Victoria wrote in her journal, “To think that we have two children now, and one who enjoys the sight [of the Christmas tree] already; it is like a dream.”

In addition, Prince Albert, writing to his father, said: “This is the dear Christmas eve on which I have so often listened with impatience for your step, which was to convey us into the gift-room. Today I have two children of my own to make gifts to, who, they know not why, are full of happy wonder at the German Christmas-tree and its radiant candles.” [Source]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 4th

The Queen’s Corgi Cemetery

The Queen is known to be inseparable from her beloved Corgis. Now poignant pictures have emerged of the graves of royal pets from throughout the generations. The little-known plot is hidden away in a quiet corner of the 20,000-acre Sandringham estate in Norfolk. It was created by Queen Victoria after the death of her Collie, Noble, in 1887, and revived in 1959 when Elizabeth II wanted somewhere to bury her first Corgi, Susan.

The puppy was given to the Queen on her 18th birthday by King George VI, and her gravestone calls her ‘the faithful companion of the Queen’, an epitaph which is also used on the headstones of two of her descendants, Sugar and Heather. A stone boundary wall inset with plaques [commemorating more pets] separates the pet cemetery from the rest of the estate.

(Source: Daily Mail)

The Boy Jones: Queen Victoria’s Stalker
Edward Jones, or the boy Jones, as he was called by the British newspapers of the early Victorian era, was a notorious intruder into Buckingham Palace between 1838 and 1841. 
In 1838, aged 14, he entered Buckingham Palace, disguised as a sweep. He was caught by a porter in the Marble Hall and, after a chase, captured by the police in St James’s Street, with Queen Victoria’s underwear stuffed down his trousers. He was brought before court and it turned out that he had frequently mentioned his intention to enter the palace to his employer, a builder. Although he had apparently stolen linen and a regimental sword from the palace, he was acquitted by the jury.
On 30 November 1840, he “scaled the wall of Buckingham Palace about half-way up Constitution Hill”, entered the palace, and left it undetected. On 1 December he broke in again. Shortly after midnight a nurse discovered him under a sofa in the queen’s dressing room and he was arrested. His father’s plea of insanity being without success, he was sentenced to three months in a house of correction. This incident caused a stir because it was feared that it might affect the Queen, happening so shortly after she gave birth to her first child.
On 15 March 1841, after a snack in one of the royal apartments, Jones was caught by the police guarding the palace. This time he was sentenced to three months hard labour. A short time after his release he was again caught loitering in the vicinity of the palace and was sent to do duty on a warship, but after a year he found an opportunity to walk from Portsmouth to London. Having been caught before he reached the palace, he was sent back to his ship. He became an alcoholic and a burglar and later went to Australia, where he became the town crier of Perth. He died in Australia from a drunken fall in 1893.
Eat your heart out Michael Fagan. 

The Boy Jones: Queen Victoria’s Stalker

Edward Jones, or the boy Jones, as he was called by the British newspapers of the early Victorian era, was a notorious intruder into Buckingham Palace between 1838 and 1841. 

In 1838, aged 14, he entered Buckingham Palace, disguised as a sweep. He was caught by a porter in the Marble Hall and, after a chase, captured by the police in St James’s Street, with Queen Victoria’s underwear stuffed down his trousers. He was brought before court and it turned out that he had frequently mentioned his intention to enter the palace to his employer, a builder. Although he had apparently stolen linen and a regimental sword from the palace, he was acquitted by the jury.

On 30 November 1840, he “scaled the wall of Buckingham Palace about half-way up Constitution Hill”, entered the palace, and left it undetected. On 1 December he broke in again. Shortly after midnight a nurse discovered him under a sofa in the queen’s dressing room and he was arrested. His father’s plea of insanity being without success, he was sentenced to three months in a house of correction. This incident caused a stir because it was feared that it might affect the Queen, happening so shortly after she gave birth to her first child.

On 15 March 1841, after a snack in one of the royal apartments, Jones was caught by the police guarding the palace. This time he was sentenced to three months hard labour. A short time after his release he was again caught loitering in the vicinity of the palace and was sent to do duty on a warship, but after a year he found an opportunity to walk from Portsmouth to London. Having been caught before he reached the palace, he was sent back to his ship. He became an alcoholic and a burglar and later went to Australia, where he became the town crier of Perth. He died in Australia from a drunken fall in 1893.

Eat your heart out Michael Fagan
Sara Forbes Bonetta: Queen Victoria’s Goddaughter
Sara Forbes Bonetta was a West African orphaned at the age of eight and subsequently captured by slave-raiders. Intended by her captors to be a human sacrifice, she was rescued by a Captain Frederick Forbes of the Royal Navy, who convinced King Ghezo of Dahomey to give her to Queen Victoria, “She would be a present from the King of the Blacks to the Queen of the Whites,” Forbes wrote later. He named her Sara Forbes Bonetta.
Victoria had Sara raised as her goddaughter in the British middle class. She was sent to school in Africa, and later returned to England when she turned 20. 
She was then sanctioned by the queen to marry Captain James Davies at St Nicholas’ Church in Brighton in August, 1862. Captain Davies was a Yoruba businessman of considerable wealth for the period, and the couple moved back to their native Africa after their wedding. She died at the age of 37 in 1880 of tuberculosis.

Sara Forbes Bonetta: Queen Victoria’s Goddaughter

Sara Forbes Bonetta was a West African orphaned at the age of eight and subsequently captured by slave-raiders. Intended by her captors to be a human sacrifice, she was rescued by a Captain Frederick Forbes of the Royal Navy, who convinced King Ghezo of Dahomey to give her to Queen Victoria, “She would be a present from the King of the Blacks to the Queen of the Whites,” Forbes wrote later. He named her Sara Forbes Bonetta.

Victoria had Sara raised as her goddaughter in the British middle class. She was sent to school in Africa, and later returned to England when she turned 20. 

She was then sanctioned by the queen to marry Captain James Davies at St Nicholas’ Church in Brighton in August, 1862. Captain Davies was a Yoruba businessman of considerable wealth for the period, and the couple moved back to their native Africa after their wedding. She died at the age of 37 in 1880 of tuberculosis.

Nº. 1 of  3