“What a piece of work is a hat!” – Hat thoughts anyone?

“What a piece of work is a hat! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world!”.

― William Shakespeare, Hamlet (sort of)

As you might guess from the title, I’m rather keen on hats. I once went to a hat evening at Waterstones Deansgate (Manchester, UK). In those days budgets for book events were much higher than today, and Oddbins (a wine merchant) needed several trips with a porters trolley to bring the necessary supplies. Labels were covered up. Hat wearers got the high quality wine, non hat wearers got the cheap plonk chilled to within an inch of it’s life (to hide it’s dodgy nature). Blue Nun, any of you bareheaded folk?

Hats from the Chicago Mail Order Co, 1930's.

This print is from the Chicago Mail Order Co. (1930’s).

QUOTES:

“Personally I would never want to be a member of any group where you either have to wear a hat, or you can’t wear a hat.””
― George Carlin

“Mr. Galliano wore his big top-hat very much on one side of his head, so much so that Jimmy really wondered why it didn’t fall off .. Jimmy thought that circus ways were very extraordinary. Even hats seemed to share in the excitement!”
― Enid Blyton

“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”
― Neil Gaiman

And now a favourite since childhood:

“On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody every could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee ..”
― Edward Lear, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat

Any hat thoughts or words?

 

Victorian street performers on stilts – magic on sticks

I particularly like this print. It brings back memories of my having a coffee in an upstairs cafe in Leicester a few years ago – turning and looking out the window – and seeing a similar scene to this outside! Stilt walkers a few feet away, our heads at the same height, and within a moment I went from pondering stressful work issues to a huge grin.

Victorian street performers on stilts.

“Damn everything but the circus!. . .The average ‘painter’ ‘sculptor’ ‘poet’ ‘composer’ ‘playwright’ is a person who cannot leap through a hoop from the back of a galloping horse, make people laugh with a clown’s mouth, orchestrate twenty lions.”
E.E. Cummings

“What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!” – Waltzing (1816)

Illustration of the correct technique for waltzing (1816).

This Saturday, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ begins again [known as ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in the USA] – but over 200 years ago dance enthusiasts would have been excited to feast their eyes on dancing illustrations in magazines.

The illustration we have here shows the correct technique for waltzing (1816). An important social skill for people of a certain class. Perhaps Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley or Lord Byron might have seen this when it first came out.

Some dancing quotes:

“What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!
There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one
of the first refinements of polished society.”

“Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue
amongst the less polished societies of the world. Every savage
can dance.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”
― George Bernard Shaw

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Work like you don’t need the money. Dance like no one is watching. And love like you’ve never been hurt.”
― Mark Twain

 

A witch advertising Pears Soap (1899-1900)

Witch in Pears Soap 1899-1900

“Wither! Oh wither! Fair maiden so high?

To write the name of PEARS on the sky.

Why go so far from the land of your birth?

Because it is written all over the Earth.”

A witch on her broomstick advertising Pears Soap (1899-1900).

“Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft were written by men.” ― Neil Gaiman

‘Mr. Collins was not a sensible man’ Pride and Prejudice, Vol. 1, Ch. 15

Illustration (1894) of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Artist, Hugh Thomson.

Illustration (1894) of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. [Artist, Hugh Thomson]. Depicted here is the cousin of Mr Bennet – and clergyman of the parsonage near Rosing’s Park – protesting that he never reads novels.

‘ By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but on beholding it .. he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. — Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. — Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with … ‘

I rather like this from the excellent Mr Collins:

‘My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgment in all matters within the scope of your understanding … ‘

Victorian multitasking!

Man on strange bicycle. Linley Sambourne illustration for Punch

An excellent example of Victorian multitasking! Linley Sambourne (English, 1844-1910), illustration for Punch magazine (UK), 1869.

“Call it a toy, indeed! Why our ingenious friend, Glimmer, has a run before breakfast, and grinds his coffee and churns his butter with the greatest ease”.

Reminds me of a Heath Robinson invention.

The Victorians LOVED to shop!

The Arcade from London Town (1883) by Thomas Crane

The Victorians loved to shop. And there were now many new things the growing middle class could buy. Globalisation, improved transport, mass production, new materials – had transformed what was in the shops. Often in lovely, bright (sometimes toxic) new colours!

The Arcade from London Town (1883) by Thomas Crane (1843–1903) & Ellen Houghton (1853-1922). English artists.