WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Colquarron

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Colquarron

It seemed a travesty to do a hit-and-run on Regency era cravats last week, so this week I wanted to look at them more in depth. To do that, I needed a somewhat relevant slang term. The one I chose is about as old and obscure a Cant term that can be found.

Colquarron

A man’s neck. CANT.

So, let’s get our supplies. According to MY Mr. Knightley, there are two ways to make a Regency cravat:

  1. Cut a long strip of cotton or linen material about 4 to 8 inches wide and at least 60 to 80 inches long, depending on the types of ties you will make. If you want your cravat to go twice around the neck then 80 inches is best.
  2. Cut a triangular piece of material, with the base of the triangle 60 to 80 inches long and against the selvedge. The height or point of the triangle should be centred in the middle and measure 10 inches high.

Next, there’s a handy pamphlet entitled Neckclothitania or, Tietania : an essay on starchers and collars / by One of the cloth, published in 1820 and illustrated by George Cruikshank, that details the popular styles of men’s neck attire of the era. After reading the complicated and constricting instructions for each design, it’s no wonder we authors have heroines’ hearts flutter at the sight of a bared skin, and take delight in unwrapping inch after delicious inch of linen from our heroes’ confined necks.

Let’s explore.

Reproduction of Neckclothania’s illustration of Cravats of 1820, from Jennifer Forest, Jane Austen’s Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stores from Jane Austen’s World, Murdoch Press, 2009.

The Oriental

“…is made with a very stiff and rigid cloth… Care should be taken, that not a single indenture or crease should be visible in this tie; it must present a round, smooth, and even surface…”. The cloth is laid without crease on the front of the neck and wrapped around so the ends come to the front again for tying in a knot.

Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Tamworth Boroug.h Council

The Mathematical

“is far less severe than The Oriental – there are three creases in it.” Whereas the Oriental is smooth on the neck, the Mathematical is deliberately creased along the neck. It doesn’t look terribly less stiff to me, however.

Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles by George Francis Joseph, 1817, National Portrait Gallery.

The Osbaldeston

“This neck-cloth is first laid on the back of the neck, the ends brought forward, and tied in a large knot, the breadth of which must be at least four inches, and two inches deep. This tie is very well adapted for summer; because instead of going round the neck twice, it confines itself to once.”

I could not find any contemporaneous examples that I was sure of being an Osbaldeston. So I present this anonymous gentleman whose presence in a picture puts him in the Victorian era, but who is wearing an Osbaldeston cravat.

The Napoleon

“It is first laid … on the back of the neck, the ends being brought forwards and crossed, without tying, and then fastened to the braces, or carried under the arms and tied on the back. It has a very pretty appearance, giving the wearer a languishingly amorous look.”

Anonymous “languishingly amorous” gent.

The American

“differs little from the Mathematical, except that the collateral indentures do not extend so near to the ear [the diagonal crease between the ear and the knot are not as long], and that there is no horizontal or middle crease in it.”

Robert Stewart (1769-1822), Viscount Castlereagh, later second Marquess of Londonderry, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, Royal Collection Trust, Waterloo Chamber, Windsor Castle.

The Mailcoach/Waterfall

“is made by tying it with a single knot, and then bringing one of the ends over, so as completely to hide the knot, and spreading it out, and turning it down in the waistcoat. The neck-cloth ought to be very large to make this Tie properly”…. “A Kushmeer shawl is the best, I may even say, the only thing with which it can be made.”

Portrait of a Gentleman by Francois Mulard, 1805, York Museums Trust.

Let me just pause the historical portrait examples right here and give a shout-out to the dresser of Rupert Penry-Jones in 2007’s Persuasion adaptation for having the most perfect Mailcoach/Waterfall I’ve ever seen.

Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth, Persuasion, 2007.

The Trone d’Amour

“is the most austere after the Oriental Tie – It must be extremely well stiffened with starch.” Its only ornament is “one single horizontal dent in the middle.”

Portrait of Frederick H. Hemming by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1824-25, Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

The Irish

“This one resembles in some degree the Mathematical, with, however, this difference, that the horizontal indenture is placed below the point of junction formed by the collateral creases instead of being above.” If you squint you can see that the diagonal creases meet at the point under the middle dent, just above the knot.

Thomas Campbell by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery. I never thought I’d find an Irish cravat where you could actually see the two diagonal creases framing the center horizontal crease.

The Ballroom

“it unites the qualities of the Mathematical and Irish, having two collateral dents and two horizontal ones… It has no knot, but is fastened as the Napoleon.” In other words, just keep wrapping, just keep wrapping.

Joshua Tevis by Jacob Eichholtz, 1827, Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Horse Collar

“It is certainly the worst and most vulgar… It has the appearance of a great half-moon, or horse-collar.” But you can tuck a double-chin behind it!

Portrait of the Artist John Vanderlyn, 1800, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Hunting

“is formed by two collateral dents on each side, and meeting in the middle, without any horizontal ones.”

Other Archer, Earl of Plymouth by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1817, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Those horizontal creases are everywhere!

The Maharatta/Nabob

“is very cool, as it is always made with fine muslin neck-cloths – It is first placed on the back of the neck, the ends are then brought forward, and joined as a chain-link, the remainder is then turned back, and fastened behind.”

Portrait of Sir Edward Pellew by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1797, National Maritme Museum.

Want to see some neck cloths in action? Head over to Townsends, and 18th century reproduction clothing and accessories house. It’s American, but it’s a nice place to lose some time. They have a nice little video on neckwear, too.

 

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Steenkirk

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Steenkirk

Readers of Regency Romance may think only heroines can be found in dishabille. Au contraire!

Steenkirk

A muslin neckcloth carelessly put on, from the manner in which the French officers wore their cravats when they returned from the battle of Steenkirk [sic].

19th century wood engraving of a gentleman wearing a Steinkirk cravat, Probert Encyclopedia.

Apparently, those Frenchies were in such a rush to get to the fight, they had no time to properly tie their cravats. The Battle of Steenkerque was a fight from 1692, during the Nine Years’ War, where the French forces took on a joint English-Scot-Dutch-German army commanded by William of Orange. The French won, messy cravats and all.

Map and Overview of the Battle of Steenkerke, 3 August 1692.

Voltaire explained the Steinkirk neckcloth phenomenon in his 1751 tome, Age of Louis XIV:

The men at that time wore lace-cravats, which took up some time and pains to adjust. The princes having dressed themsevles in a hurry, threw these cravats negligently about their necks. The ladies wore handkerchiefs made in this fashion, which they called Steinkirks. Every new toy was a Steinkirk.

Steinkirk cravats consisted of a long, narrow, plainly trimmed neckcloth wrapped once about the neck in a loose knot. The ends were then twisted together and tucked out of the way into a button-hole, either of the coat or the waistcoat. This tyle was popular with men and women until the 1720s.

I personally think the Mailcoach and Waterfall styles of the Regency have their origins in the Steinkirk.

Portrait of J.B. Belley, Deputy for Saint-Domingue by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, 1797, Palace of Versailles.

Mr. Tilney seems to sport a bit of a Steenkirk.

JJ Feild as Henry Tilney, 2007, Northanger Abbey.

As well as Mr. Darcy himself, of a fashion.

Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy, 1995, Pride and Prejudice.

Go ahead. Just yank that annoying, slap-dash cloth off.

Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy, shedding that silly old Steenkirk.

Cravats are delicious things.

The only question I’m left with is exactly how many different ways are there to spell Steinkirk? I discovered Steenkirk, Steenkerque, and Steenkerke.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ditto

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ditto

Take each man’s censure but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
Polonius to Laertes, Act 1, Scene 3, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

The last line above, from Hamlet, is often misquoted as “clothes make the man.” It can also be said that clothes betray a man: within the first few paragraphs of Persuasion, Jane Austen has revealed much about Sir Walter Elliot.

Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man. Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society. He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion.
Chapter 1, Persuasion, by Jane Austen

A man so accustomed to the observation and worth of appearances would have never been so unseemly nor unfortunate as to fall victim to this week’s word.

Ditto

A suit of ditto; coat, waistcoat, and breeches, all of one colour.

The Regency era gentleman who dressed in ditto was likely no gentleman at all; those of means, and especially those with valets, wore the height of fashion, and that meant a variety of colors and patterns. So much so that I couldn’t find any contemporaneous examples of men in a suit of ditto, save vicars.

The Vicar of the Parish Receiving His Tithes by Thomas Burke after Henry Singleton, 1793, British Museum.

Caricature on the evils of drink, courtesy Jane Austen’s London post The Agonies of Gout.

And one entertained bystander of a distressed dandy.

An Exquisite Alias Dandy in Distress! 1819, Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

The Encyclopedia of Fashion reveals that by the mid-1800s, the Ditto Suit became the “dominant form of Western men’s dress clothing of the next century.” It was also called the sack suit, and was generally worn on more informal occasions, such as travel or street wear. Perhaps this more staid – and some might say lazy – style of dress was in reaction to and rebellion from the stylish, Brummelesque designs in demand (and all the crack!) earlier in the nineteenth century.

I did manage to find one example of a self-made gentleman dressed all a-ditto, albeit for a movie (although I think his waistcoat is actually a deep green rather than unrelieved black/navy).

Captain Wentworth, portrayed by Rupert Penry-Jones, Persuasion, 2007.

And he looks rather charming all dandified, too.

Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth, Persuasion, 2007.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mort

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mort

That moment when the French and Latin word for death becomes Thieves’ Cant slang for woman.

Yikes.

Mort

Woman or wench; also a yeoman’s daughter; when used by itself, denotes a girl or woman of loose morals; canting jargon of unknown origin from at least 1560s.

Maybe the connection to the word for death has something to do with the morality, or lack thereof, associated with this slang. Loose morals usually meant a worker in the sex trade, which usually meant an unfortunate association with mortality – early death. No matter the derivation, it’s not a flattering term in the least.

Well, just as we discovered with cove for gentlemen, when you add the right adjective, the character of women called mort becomes more apparent:

autem mort ~ a married woman; also a female beggar who hired or borrowed children for larger gain

Jane Gibbs – Mrs Gibbs the Notorious Street Walker and Extorter by James Gillray, 1799, National Portrait Gallery.

bingo mort ~ a female dram drinker; one who spirituous liquors in small amounts

bleached mort ~ a fair complexioned wench

dimber mort ~ a pretty wench

The Graces in High Wind – a Scene taken from Nature in Kensington Gardens by James Gillray, 1810, British Museum.

filching mort ~ a woman thief

gentry mort ~ a gentlewoman

Following the Fashion – St James’s giving the TON a Soul without a Body – Cheapside aping the MODE, a Body without a Soul by James Gillray, 1794, British Museum.

kinchin mort ~ a young girl, usually an orphan, trained as a thief

nazy mort ~ a drunken woman

DIDO, in Despair! by James Gillray, 1801, British Museum.

queer mort ~ a diseased strumpet; also queere mort

rome or rum mort ~ a queen or great lady

Launching a Frigate by James Gillray, 1790s, Public Domain.

strolling mort ~ beggar or peddler pretending to be a widow

mort wap-apace ~ a woman of experience, or very expert at the sport of copulation

Female Curiosity by James Gillray, 1778, National Portrait Gallery.

 

Words and definitions taken from the Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Prime Article

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Prime Article

Last week it was handsome gents. It’s only fair that the ladies get their turn. And just like last week, it’s Sir Thomas Lawrence whose brush was busy with flattering feminine portraiture.

Prime Article

A handsome woman. From whip slang, meaning she is quite the thing, well done, and an excellent and bang up woman; a hell of a goer.

Honestly, I hope my gravestone reads “She was a hell of a goer.”

Portrait of Elizabeth, Mrs. Horsley Palmer, date unknown, Sotheby’s.

Portrait of Elizabeth Farren by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1791, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Conyngham by Sir Thomas Lawrence, between 1821-1824, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.

Portrait of Lady Jane Long by Sir Thomas Lawrence, unknown date, Public Domain.

Portrait of Lady Emily, Lady Berkeley by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1791, location unknown.

Portrait of Miss Caroline Fry by Sir Thomas Lawrence, between 1820-1830, Brooklyn Museum.

Louisa Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrook by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1804, Christie’s.

Portrait of a Lady by Sir Thomas Lawrence, early 1790s, Denver Art Museum.

One of Sir Thomas’s most famous works:

Sarah Barrett Moulton: Pinkie by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1794, Huntington Library.

And one not by Sir Thomas, but in his style. And yet another Elizabeth.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Leveson-Gower by Henry T. Greenhead in the style of Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1891, Private Collection.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Swell

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Swell

Men men men men, manly men men men!
Men men men men, manly men men men!
Men men men men, manly men, oo hoo hoo, hoo hoo, oo!
~ lyrics to the theme song from the television show Two and a Half Men

Just to clarify, this week’s post is about men.

Swell

A gentleman. A well-dressed man. Sometimes, in alluding to a particular gentleman, whose name is not requisite, he is styled the swell, meaning the person who is the object of your discourse, or attention.

Based on caricatures and portraits of royalty, some might say the Regency period is an odd era in which to set romances featuring dashing heroes, but there are plenty of handsome gents upon which to base a swoon or two. And Sir Thomas Lawrence painted nearly all of them, the lucky devil. Whether it was Sir Thomas’s flattering brush or the good genes of his subject, we may never know.

Portrait of an Artist, Michael Martin Drolling, 1819, Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Hart Davis Jr by Sir Thomas Lawrence, date unknown, Private Collection.

The 4th Earl of Aberdeen by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1829, Private Collection.

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868) by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1825, National Portrait Gallery.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, date unknown, Wikimedia Commons.

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Humphry Davy by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery.

Thomas Campbell by Sir Thomas Lawrence, before 1830, National Portrait Gallery.

And finally, while scouring the web for devilishly handsome Regency era men, I came across this anachronistic beauty. It’s description reads “The Earl of Merton by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo,” according to Wikimedia Commons. But if I can’t spot my favorite JJ Feild at twenty paces, I’m no judge of “artwork.” Well played, Wikimedia Commons prankster.

The Earl of Merton by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo, according to Wikimedia Commons…but sharp and wiser eyes know this is JJ Feild portraying Major John Andre in the AMC television series Turn: Washington’s Spies.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove (from the archives)

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove (from the archives)

May looks to be a hectic month, what with the end of the school year melding into the beginning of summer activities, combined with me under deadline for my contribution to the upcoming Regency Legends Series (follow our Twitter handle now to catch all the updates – A Legend to Love).

So with all that busyness in mind, I’m dipping into the archives and freshening up some of my very first WOW posts.

Cove

Fellow, chap; can be used in speaking of any third-person whose name you are either ignorant of or don’t wish to mention; slang from at least 1560s, said to be from Romany (Gypsy) cova, “that man.”

Regency Era Men’s Morning.Coat Dress, 1807, courtesy Victoriana com.

But there’s more than one way to describe a cove. When you add the right adjective, they get interesting:

bang-up cove (well-dressed gentleman)

bene-cove (a good fellow; also a staunch-cove)

Men’s Clothing from 1812, with hat, courtesy Victoriana.com.

cross-cove (a person who lives by stealing, or in a dishonest manner)

dimber-cove (a pretty fellow)

Regency Era Men’s Morning Coat, 1807, courtesy Victoriana.com.

downy-cove (clever rogue; sly dog)

gentry-cove (a gentleman)

Regency Men’s Clothing, 1811, courtesy Victoriana.com.

kinchin cove (a little man)

leary-cove (vigilant, suspicious gentleman)

square cove (an upright, honest man)

Men’s Clothing from 1812, courtesy Victoriana.com.