Edwardiana in the News

‘Palm Beach County at 100’ reveals details of the Gilded Age on island

For Jan Tuckwood, editor of the new book Palm Beach County at 100: Our History, Our Home, one of the most surprising things about the history of Palm Beach was its use of advanced technology at the end of the 19th century.

“Figulus used a windmill and solar power to provide energy to the estate. I didn’t know they used advanced technology to run that estate,” Tuckwood said.

The estate, owned by C.W. Bingham in 1894, was also the first to be built on the ocean side of Palm Beach at a time when most residents lived on what is now the Intracoastal side.

Glittering treasures from Cartier’s 100 years in America

“King of jewelers and jeweler of kings” is how Great Britain’s Edward VII once described Cartier, the French jewelry design firm whose name is synonymous with understated elegance, superior craftsmanship, technical virtuosity and, of course, luxury.

The monarch’s hearty endorsement, offered during the Belle Époque at the turn of the 20th century, would be seconded by the patronage of a host of wealthy socialites, countesses and heiresses. There was Barbara Hutton, a bevy of Vanderbilts, assorted expatriate European royalty like the Duchess of Windsor and Princess Grace of Monaco and Hollywood glitterati from Liz Taylor, Vivien Leigh and Fred Astaire to Gloria Swanson, the faded movie queen in “Sunset Boulevard.”

At last, the rest of us have a chance to get up close and personal with jewels possessed by the fortunate few.

Holidays along the Hudson

Nestled between New York’s Hudson River and the Connecticut border, the magnificent estates of Dutchess County sit, decked out in true holiday style with comfortable, warm glows emanating from their Gilded Age-era rooms. These palatial homes once belonged to and hosted some of the most talked-about people of their time – Mills, Vanderbilts and Roosevelts alike.

During this holiday season, visitors are welcomed into a historic celebration of the season with festivals and parades in towns and villages aglow with the holiday spirit in the shadows of these giant homes of once prominent financiers and industrialists.

‘Editor & Publisher’ Bites the Dust

The death announcement of the venerable Editor and Publisher magazine last week is the latest body blow to the institution of print newspapers. E&P was founded in the height of the Gilded Age in 1884 to assist in the information explosion that attended the Industrial Revolution as telegraph and telephone lines began sewing the planet into a dizzying network of human communications. Adopting its E&P name at the turn of the century, it refereed the fierce competition between Hearst and Pulitzer for the growth of their daily newspapers.

In ‘Misalliance,’ Shaw examines the end of an era

Sometimes a small plane crash is just a plane crash — or, in a Bernard Shaw play, it might represent a brash new era smashing into the old ways of doing things.

As genteel, late-Victorian England behavioral constrictions gave way to modern Edwardian ideas, people were naturally resistant to the changes. Shaw was only too happy to portray stuffy societal norms being upended in his 1910 satire, “Misalliance.”

The Pearl Theatre’s zestful off-Broadway production fully embraces all the humorous aspects of Shaw’s writing. This “Misalliance” is a talkative play, filled with wit and energy, yet also laden with farce and slapstick.

Cortes Museum revives Edwardian Christmas tradition

Christmastime in the Edwardian era of 100 years ago was celebrated in a much simpler, more homespun manner than in the extravagant style of today.

Children of “La Belle Epoque” usually received only one gift, often a doll, teddy bear or homemade toy. Stockings were filled with fruit, nuts and small candies.

Singing songs and playing games was all the entertainment adults needed after the goose and the plum pudding had been eaten.

This year, the Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society will be reviving the charming Edwardian custom of sending Christmas greetings to friends and family by postcard.

Anglophile Alerts: Win a Sherlock Holmes Themed London Holiday from Visit Britain

Visit Britain has partnered with the makers of the movie, Visit London and the Radisson Edwardian hotel group to sponsor a lovely Sherlock Holmes themed vacation contest.

The prize for two includes:

  • Economy airline tickets for two from the U.S. to London, England.
  • Four nights hotel accommodation for two, including breakfast daily at one of Radisson Edwardian’s luxurious London hotels. Radisson Edwardian has a collection of individual hotels in London and Manchester, Radisson Edwardian Hotels range from bijou boutique to large-scale luxe.
  • A walking tour of Sherlock Holmes London
  • Dinner for two at the Sherlock Holmes Pub in London
  • Entrance tickets for two to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London

Before His Famous Portraits, Sargent Looked to the Sea

John Singer Sargent may have crossed oceans, but he was hardly a marine painter. This expatriate American artist (1856-1925) will always be remembered for his portraits, which charmed and flattered Gilded Age arrivistes on both sides of the ocean. So the theme of “Sargent and the Sea,” in its final weeks at the Corcoran Gallery of Art here, intrigues. Did the well-born and even-tempered painter have a rugged nautical side, or nurture fantasies of roiled, Turneresque waters?


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6 replies on “Edwardiana in the News”
    1. Technically, Sherlock Holmes is both Victorian and Edwardian: Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock stories well into the 1920s, but the settings for the stories ranged from the 1880s to the early 1900s.

  1. I just re-tweeted this post. Thanks for a great round-up of books and news. I’ve actually played Hypatia in Shaw’s Misalliance right around the time that the Pearl first produced Misalliance back in the 90’s. Love the play, but Hypatia talks alot!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I hope I can get to the Cartier display, and I have a trip to the Croker Art Museum in Sacramento to visit, as they have a bunch of Gilded Age heirlooms belonging to the Croker family on display. And how awesome that you played in Shaw–being in an Edwardian play is on my must-do list.

  2. says: Carolyn Bailey

    My great-grandfather, Melville Spencer, was a homesteader in West Palm Beach in the late 1800’s. He moved there from Pennsylvania after the Civil War. He had a tropical fruit plantation and owned about one mile of oceanfront property, according to family history. He also was a lighthouse keeper for awhile.

    When Rockefeller’s representatives came through seeking land for their railroad, they were very persuasive with land owners like Spencer. He sold out to them for an amount that would look infinitesimal compared with the value of his land today. It kept him comfortable, but there was nothing to pass down to his descendants. He was not known for hard work or attention to duty and family responsibilities, so it’s easy to imagine him frittering away his windfall.

    As an amateur photographer, he made a large number of photos of the area. I haven’t been able to locate them, but I’ve been told that some local historians in the Miami area know where they are. I hope to see them someday. I wish they would be given to a public conservator like the Library of Congress, where they would be preserved and everyone could see and copy them.

    1. That’s really cool Carolyn. It’s always amazing when family has been touched by long-forgotten history. I hope you can find these photos and perhaps share them in the nearby future.

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