prince of wales feathers

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British Presentation Sword, first quarter of the 19th century

Osborn & Gunby Prince of Wales sword has a slightly curved 32-¾" blade with double wide fullers and clip-point. Upper portion of blade with fire-blued finish, the left side profusely decorated with gold-inlaid images of warriors, crown, eagle, maidens and floral motifs. Right side with Poseidon, eagle, crown, centaur and floral details. Stirrup hilt with rouletted languets, twist gold-inlaid grip. Dark red transparent cabochons. Steel gold-inlaid scabbard with sculpted gold-finished mounts, the top with four vertical rows of circles with floral drape below. The central mount with poly-chromed oval containing three-feather Prince of Wales emblem with Latin motto that reads: ‘He adds honour to the Ancestral Honour’. Two rope pattern ring mounts. Reverse side of scabbard engraved with legend: Osborn / and / Gunby / Sword Cutlers / To His Majesty / & His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales / Birmingham / Pall Mall / London. Surrounded by engraved wreath. Drag with ornate gold-inlaid floral patterns, the obverse deeply engraved. Blade and scabbard with wear and losses to finish. Minor dents present.

Show us the blade, for the love of Evolution!

Royal July 2017 Photo Challenge

Day 8: Favourite Photo of a Royal Engagement Ring.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s intertwined fingers showing his Prince of Wales Feathers Signet ring and her stunning engagement ring consiting of a 12-carat Sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds.

The royal signet of the Prince of Wales

The use of the left-hand pinky finger as the wedding ring and royal signet or initial ring of the British Royal Family is shrouded in family secrecy. Nevertheless, it is an ironclad tradition dating back to the sons of Queen Victoria. The Queen’s son Prince Leopold wore many rings on his left pinky, as did all of the sons of King George V.

It was previously common for men of the upper class to wear a signet with their arms or badges engraved on them. In the days when letters were sealed with sealing wax, the ring was used to press the seal into the wax so the recipient would recognize who the sender was.

In present day, Prince Charles wears the official signet of the Prince of Wales, which is nearly 175 years old and was last worn by the former King Edward VIII (styled as the Duke of Windsor following his abdication) when he was still Prince of Wales.

The royal signet bears the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales. It consists of three silver (or white) feathers rising through a gold coronet of alternate crosses and fleur-de-lys. The motto “Ich Dien” is on a dark blue ribbon beneath the coronet. The motto is written as a contraction of the German phrase for “I serve”.

Its use in royal heraldry goes back to the time of Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) in the 14th Century. Experts in heraldry believe the feathers may have been used by the family of Edward’s mother, Philippa of Hainault, but the “Ich Dien” motto formed part of the arms of the King of Bohemia.

Wedding Night, or, The Fashionable Frolic
21 March 1786

‘It took the satirists five months to depict the 'marriage’ between George and Mrs Fitzherbert. Here his reprobate companion Hangar, dressed in a Prussian uniform, plays the fiddle while the happy couple dance towards a double bed under which there is a chamberpot bearing the Prince Of Wales feathers. The Wedding Night had been an unsuccessful musical farce.’

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British Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword

For an officer of the 10th Hussars (The Prince of Wales’s Own).   89cm blade by Henry Wilkinson, Pall Mall, London, etched with foliate scrolls, crowned VR cypher, regimental titles, Prince of Wales feather and battle honours, Peninsula and Waterloo, regulation steel three bar hilt, wire bound fish skin covered grip, in its steel scabbard, two suspension ring.

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Prince Frederick’s Royal Barge

This royal barge was built in 1732 for Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George II. It was built by John Hall and designed by the architect William Kent. The barge is an open rowing boat, accompanied with 24 oars and is carved and gilded with the royal coat of arms, sea creatures, Vitruvian scrolls and Prince of Wales feathers.  Inside there is upholstered seating, carpet and a painted ceiling, this section is topped with a crown. The barge was intended to be rowed by 21 oarsmen and a Barge-Master. 

The first outing of the barge was a trip with Prince Frederick, his mother Queen Caroline and his five sisters, from Chelsea Hospital to Old Somerset House to see paintings from the Royal Collection being restored. On this outing they were accompanied by a second barge of officers and ladies and a third barge of musicians. Frederick went on to use the barge for numerous pleasure trips, including one notable trip in 1749 where the entire barge was decorated in the chinoiserie style and the bargemen were dressed in oriental uniforms. The barge continued to be used in state processions until 1849. The last outing of the barge was to take Prince Albert and his daughter the Princess Royal to the opening of the Coal Exchange. After this it was placed in the Royal Barge House in Windsor and has been loaned to various museums in the years since. 

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Welcome to another exciting episode of FRIDAY FASHION FACT! Today we’re going to be talking about a fairly obscure piece of fashion history- hair jewelry. That’s right, in times gone by, people would wear human hair around their wrists, hanging from their ears, and wrapped around their fingers. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? It was a very common practice, though, and many of the pieces created were extremely elaborate and quite beautiful.

It is a common belief that hair jewelry was created for mourning. This is not completely inaccurate, but it is far from the whole truth. Hair held strong significance and symbolism in many cultures across the world. Since hair takes centuries upon centuries to decompose, it was a common symbol of the eternal. This is where the tradition of giving a lock of hair to a loved one stems from. Since hair comes from the head, it also held myth that the one who held the hair had a sort of influence over the giver. Though it has become a romance genre trope to see lovers give each other a lock of hair, in reality, locks were also given to friends, family members- anyone with a deep, personal connection.

Scandinavian folklore commonly spoke of the power of hair, and thus people in that region would carry the locks of their loved ones around with them. In the Early Renaissance Age, the curls of hair would be placed into lockets, often worn on necklaces or pinned over the heart. Shortly after, instead of putting the hair inside of jewelery, it became part of the jewelry itself. Sometimes the hair would be twisted and knotted, then set into a pendant, or it would be woven like a rope, becoming the band. These pieces that were woven into bands required much longer locks of hair, and so they were more commonly made once a love one passed away, and were worn as mourning jewelry.

While hair jewelery was not uncommon from the Renaissance through the 18th Century, the style exploded in the Victorian Age. There are a few reasons for this. At the beginning of the 19th Century, elaborate hair styles, including men’s wigs, had fallen out of style, as did ostentatious jewelry. To save their livelihoods, wig-makers and jewelry-makers paired up to create sentimental pieces. This was the start of hair jewelry’s rise in popularity. Later in the century, Prince Albert famously gave Queen Victoria a charm bracelet, with each heart charm containing a lock of each of their childrens’ hair. When Albert died at a young age, the entire country went into mourning, bringing mourning fashion into style. It was at this point that hair jewelry worn as a mourning piece became extremely popular.

The style faded out around World War I, when all mourning fashion faded from popularity. Today, most people see hair jewelry as “creepy,” but it’s important to remember the amount of emotion that was once attached to these cherished pieces.

Want to learn more about hair jewelry? Check out these books:

Sentimental Jewellery, by Anne Louise Luthi

Collector’s Encyclopedia of Hairwork Jewelry, by C. Jeanenne Bell

Have a question about fashion history that you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!