The Queen of Valor and the Bull: 1901

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

DARING FEAT

Of a Young Woman Who Is Called “Queen of Valor.”

[Paris Cor. Baltimore American.]

A few weeks there appeared some alluring advertisements which were especially attractive to those Parisians who love excitement, and who had their appetite for such things tickled by the races of the Rue Pergolese. The attraction this time was a woman, Donna Tancreda, who, made up to resemble a statue, was to await, motionless, in the area, the assault of the bull, and to conquer it by her immobility. At the last moment this performance, which was to have taken place at Enghion, was forbidden. It did, however, take place in Roubaix. Here is an exact account of what happened:

At a given signal from the President, the doors of the arena opened and a magnificent carriage appeared, all draped in red velvet fringed with gold. In this carriage sat Senorita Mercedes del Barte, alias Donna Tancreda.

The “Queen of Valor” is dressed completely in white. Her face and her hair are powdered. The carriage stops just in front of the presiding party, and she gets out smiling and bowing and throws off her mantle, talking with the ushers while the attendants arrange in the middle of the arena a pedestal of wood about two feet high. When all is ready the impresario addresses the public and begs them to observe the most rigorous silence during the performance. This is indispensable. Then Donna Tancreda mounts the pedestal, helped by the matadora. She crosses her arms and faces the door from which the bull will emerge. The woman looks exactly like a marble statue. The arena is empty. All the ushers have disappeared behind the barriers and shelters. The deepest silence reigns in the vast amphitheater. Half a minute passes thus. Then the door opens and one sees tin the shadow the enormous head of the bull Gitano. The spectators hardly breathe. Many of the women cover their eyes with their hands. It is a terrible moment. The bull is a superb animal, with a powerful neck and long, straight horns. He raises his head, looks around, and at once bounds upon the white statue.

It is with the greatest difficulty that one can restrain a cry of horror, one’s sensations are too painful and a long endurance of such emotion would be unbearable. Donna Tancreda is as rigid as marble. The last movement would be fatal to her.

The bull starts back, looks at his strange adversary, and then with a terrible bound rushes up to the pedestal. Anxiety is at its height. But once more the bull stops short without striking. He draws back a few feet, and, taking advantage of this, Donna Tancreda jumps down and rushes behind a screen, while the ushers draw off the bull. The people breathe again. A long sigh escapes from all, and then thunders of applause are heard, and the “Queen of Valor” gets a tremendous ovation.

Donna Tancreda, who was born in Paris, has appeared with success at Barcelona, Valentia, Castile, Madrid, Seville and for the first time in France at Roubaix.

The Enquirer [Cincinnati, OH] 18 August 1901: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a very curious career—to be, essentially, a professional statue, a tableau vivant of one. The venue sounds most disagreeable: first there are the insects, which  invariably accompany bovines and their excretions. Then there is the smell and the incontinent spittle of the charging creature. And the damage to the complexion from the concealing powder and the  the sun is painful to contemplate. One wonders that the young lady was not carried off by sunstroke or that she did not as a precaution wear a helmet and appear in the character of Athena. That, of course, would have taken much of the fun out of it….

Mrs Daffodil supposes it cannot be that much different from being an artist’s live model, where one must stay very still and one’s virtue, rather than one’s life, is threatened by the amorous artist who fancies himself a bull of sorts. There are also persons who pursue this statuesque vocation by posing as wind-up tin soldiers, or automata, startling the public as they “come to life.”  Mrs Daffodil, who always thinks practically,  wonders if they can obtain insurance for the invariable injuries that will occur. And, of course, there are the Queen’s Guards, enjoined to immobility during sentry duty, but they, at least, are allowed to carry weapons to ward off the predatory, “selfie”-taking public.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

“No Flowers”: 1891

"Gates Ajar" funeral flower tribute. [private collection.]

“Gates Ajar” funeral flower tribute. [private collection.]

NO FLOWERS AT FUNERAL

But You Can’t Defeat an Enterprising Florist

[Chicago Mail.]

“Remember that that ‘Gates Ajar’ must go up to Brown’s before 9 o’clock to-morrow morning,” said a Wabash-avenue florist to one of his employes the other afternoon, “and don’t forget that it is to be an n.f. affair and that you’ll have to keep our eyes open.”

“What is an n.f. funeral?” I ventured to ask, after the young man addressed had left us.

“No flowers,” sententiously answered the proprietor.

“That means, then, that you are taking flowers to a funeral where they are prohibited?”

“Precisely.”

“Do so frequently?”

“Every day.”

“Then ‘no flowers’ really doesn’t mean no flowers after all, does it?”

“It doesn’t if we can help it—rest assured of that. We are here to sell flowers. The funeral trade forms an important part of our business, and we have to protect ourselves against the anti-floral cranks as best we can. The ‘no flowers’ order is a fashionable fad and nothing else. It originated in New York years ago at a funeral of one of the Vanderbilts, who requested that no flowers should be displayed during his obsequies. I was working for a new York florist at that time, and I well remember what a flutter this innovation caused among the tradesmen in our line of business. They did not care about losing the single Vanderbilt job, but they feared that such an example in the ultra-fashionable world would be followed by its general adoption. Thus a whim of fashion might deal a severe blow to the floral trade. The leading florists immediately held a conference and it was unanimously decided that the great funeral must not be permitted to set the fashion and inaugurate an anti-flowers era. Several very costly and elaborate floral pieces were prepared, but I spite of all we could do the orders of the deceased were obeyed to the letter and we were unable to get a solitary flower inside the Vanderbilt residence. An attempt to bribe the servants failed, as they had received ironclad instructions not to permit a floral offering of any kind whatsoever to be taken inside the house. This ultimatum fell like a wet blanket upon our hopes, but still we determined not to quit the field without making one last bold ‘bluff.’ A magnificent ivy cross was made—one of the finest that ever was seen in this country. I was about six feet high and was composed of a mass of English ivy leaves and tendrils. It represented a good round sum, let me tell you, and a good deal of work. But there was not a bud or a flower in it anywhere. Just before the time appointed for the exercises to begin we took the cross to the Vanderbilt residence, and, as we expected, were stopped at the door by a liveried lackey, who denied us admission.

“But there must be no delay about this matter, we insisted. ‘It must go in and at once. Come now; we have no time to parley with you.’

“’You can not come in.’

“’We must.’

“’I have strict orders not to admit any flowers. I can not do it.’

“’But there are no flowers in this. Look at it for yourself. It was built entirely in accordance with the wishes of the family. You have no orders against admitting ivy, have you?’

“He hesitated. Just then something round and hard dropped into his hand. He was lost. A moment later that beautiful cross stood at the head of the casket. I shall always remember the remark of my companion as we left the house: ‘Well, Jim. We’ve beaten the old man cold at his own game.’”

Talk about push and business enterprise! Are there any limits beyond which they can not go?

The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 8 August 1891: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “anti-flower cranks” came in several flavours:  reformers who felt that the tributes contributed to the extravagance of Victorian funerals; those who found them vulgar; and those who had medical grounds. Here is an argument from the latter:

The reformers suggest that the notice of the death which appears in the papers should end with the announcement: “No flowers.” A novel argument against the sending of these tributes is that the petals of the flowers serve to keep the germs which are given off from the dead body, and in the case of people who died from infectious diseases they may become a positive source of danger, and…be absolutely death dealing. Then again the custom of preserving these wreaths is denounced by many medical men, who contend that they, containing as they do morbific bacteria, are a constant source of danger and a menace to the healthy life of those who afterward occupy the rooms. Evening Star [Washington, DC] 14 February 1891: p. 12

“No Flowers at Funeral” is an excerpt from The Victorian Book of the Dead, which contains other stories about floral tributes at funerals in its look at the popular culture of Victorian death and mourning.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

 

 

The Picture Actress and Her Gowns: 1916

Dressmaker Is the Skeleton in The Picture Actress’ Closet

Brand-new Gowns Are Demanded For Almost Every New Scene in Photoplays.

MUST ALWAYS BE IN STYLE

Film Patrons Also Insist on Creations of Famous Modistes, and Players Provide Them.

“Gowns! Gowns!”

“And then some more gowns!”

This is the reason given by a motion picture star who is well known in Washington, why young girls should take something strong and positive when the symptoms of a desire to become a motion picture actress first appear.

The business of dressing a motion picture play is more serious than the play itself, declared this actress. She has had considerable experience on the stage, and has become very well known in motion pictures. As she has been a great stickler for proper costuming in her picture work, she desires that she shall not be named—but she is one of the real stars of the film.

“The average stock actress has a lot more trouble with her costumes than she has with her lines. And she thinks her troubles are the worst,” declared this actress. “But the stock leading lady has a comparatively easy time when compared with the picture player.

Cannot Wear Gowns Twice.

“Did you ever see your favorite staress in the same gown twice?”

“You never did. And, furthermore, you never will. She wouldn’t scintillate long if she wore the same gown twice. The stock actress when she gets tired of buying new gowns can go to a different town and wear her old dresses all over again, with a little fixing over.

“But the motion picture actress cannot do that. Her public follows her from place to place. I have worked for five motion picture companies—but my public has been the same. I’m glad to say my public has grown a lot in numbers since I started motion picture work. But the point I want to make is that I can’t change my audience like the stock actors. The same people go to see my pictures.
“And, furthermore, none of my stock wardrobe—the gowns I wore in stock company productions—will go in pictures because the public has seen me in all those gowns! The result is that every time I put on a picture I have to put on several gowns.

“And believe me, the public is becoming rather captious as to the number of gowns one must wear in the various scenes of a picture. We must appear in a different gown for every day the picture is supposed to cover.

New Dress for Each Day.

For instance, if I am to appear in scenes covering several days I must have a new gown for each of those days. It wouldn’t be right for me to appear in the same gown two days in succession.

“It seems absurd, of course, in parts where the character is a girl in moderate circumstances. I know that before I went on the stage, I considered myself lucky to have half a dozen gowns—one of which would be a regular-honest-to-goodness stylish affair. And when I went out I wore that stylish gown time after time. I couldn’t do it with the same sort of a character, in the same situation in life. In motion pictures though, I must have a new gown for every day the action covers.

“And the quality of the gowns must be right. You hear a lot about ‘Lucile’ and ‘Redfern’ creations on the screen, and you think the labels are sewed on by press agents instead of the people who own the copyrights to them. But that is not true.

Public Demands the Best.

“The public demands ‘Lucile’ and ‘Redfern’ and all the rest of them. And we must furnish them. It’s a horrid shame, too. I actually spend more time with a dress maker than I do with the play I am appearing in.

“I would ask a young girl anxious to go into pictures if she can stand quietly day after day and permit herself to be draped and stitched and pinned into something she must pay for, but will never have an opportunity to wear—nine cases out of ten—because she can’t afford to go where the gown belongs? That is totally aside from the business of trying to figure out something new.

“That is one of the real tests. One of the things I want to take a vacation from is gowns. Honestly, I almost cry when I think of a new play. It means new gowns—more gowns—and I’ve got so many already that I can’t do a thing with!”

The Washington Times 13 April 1916: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Poor thing! Sacrificed to the relentless whims of the public! What a horrid nuisance, having to be fitted for all those Redfern and Lucile confections! The anonymous narrator may be one of the genuine “staresses” of the Silver Screen, but she seems to be ignorant of the well-known solution to the problem of her bulging wardrobe: the second-hand clothes trade. This well-known dealer reported a brisk trade with stage actresses:

I deal extensively, too, with actresses. They can find among the stock of stage dresses gowns that are suited to the role they are to play, and the reduced cost of which is very gratifying both to their managers and themselves. In fact, the stage dresses go back and forth among the actresses, many times before they begin to show wear. I act the part of the middleman, you see, in these cases, and get paid for the bother of caring for the garments properly while they are here awaiting a new purchaser in the interval when they are not being worn on the stage.

Some of these richer gowns are sold to me by actresses who have no need for them off the stage, and dispose of them as soon as the play in which they were worn has run out its course at the theater.” The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 9 May 1891: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

The Sports of Queens: 1908

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, an expert equestrienne, 1853

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, an expert equestrienne, 1853

HOW QUEENS AMUSE THEMSELVES

They Drive Motor Cars, Play Tennis, Ride on Horseback, and Enjoy All the Healthful Out of Door Sports That Amuse Their Less Exalted Sisters Throughout the World.

It is a mistake to think that the royal women of the world set all the fashions. The women of lesser degree may indeed imitate queens in small matters of gowns and hats and coiffures, but in many of the large affairs of life the great world of women are the leaders and the queens are the followers.

The women of America and England, indeed, have taught the royal women of the world how to amuse themselves. Time was when a queen was a languid creature, too dainty almost to lift her fan. She would not have walked a mile for the sake of her kingdom. She had a page, or a procession of pages to carry her train, and she scorned every sort of physical exercise as beneath her caste.

But when the royal women saw how beautiful and healthful the athletic women of America and England were, they took advantage of the lesson. They found out that there was a good deal of fun to be had in playing golf, fishing, motoring, riding horseback and taking part in other athletic pastimes—and they, too, began to enjoy themselves. Now, outside of the Turkish harems or the courts of the orient, there is hardly a queen or princess to be found in the world who is not devoted to some form of sport. The result is that they are a great deal more vigorous than they were in the old days. Their cheeks are rosier, and they have more of the joy of life.

How Queen Alexandra Keeps Young.

Queen Alexandra always has lived out of doors a great deal, and she attributes keeping young and enjoying good health to this fact. When a young girl she was fond of swimming, rowing, and driving, and even now she never permits a day to go by without taking some exercise. If the weather is too bad for walking she passes several hours at billiards. She is wonderfully skilled with the cue and is proud of her game. The queen has taught all her daughters and her ladies in waiting for play billiards, and the room sometimes becomes lively when there is a championship game.

But in nice weather her favorite exercise is walking. When living at Buckingham palace and at Windsor she walks five or six miles a day, and nearly doubles the amount when at Sandringham. When she was younger she as so fond of walking that she could go miles and miles without getting tired, but since she became lame it is more of an effort.

At Sandringham she visits all parts of her farm twice a day and in the afternoon takes a long walk with the king. This is more of a pleasure than a task, because she usually amuses herself on the way by taking snap shots with her camera or playing with one or more dogs.

Fond though the queen is of outdoor life, she avoids hard exercise. Yachting and driving she enjoys, but she has never played golf, or put a ball over tennis net.

Persistent automobiling, she believes, offers the quickest means known for getting rid of a nice complexion and gaining 10,000 wrinkles. About once in a fortnight she takes a spin for about an hour, but always swathed in veils, quite like a Turkish woman.

Fishing Drives Out the Wrinkles.

Fishing is Queen Alexandra’s favorite sport after walking. She says that fishing rests the mind, steadies the nerves, and drives the wrinkles right out of the complexion. It is impossible to think of anything else while you fish. Her place at Sandringham, as well as the estate in Scotland, is well stocked with a wonderful variety of fish. Even when alone she spends hours in some shady nook waiting for a fish bite, and rarely goes home until she is satisfied with her haul.

When younger she rowed, but since her lameness has begun to annoy her she has a rowing machine at Windsor instead, and here, with the windows wide open she goes boating in a rowing machine. No longer able to ride a bicycle, she has a stationary machine fastened near one of the windows, and she rides it as energetically as if she were spinning over one of the country roads.

Queen Alexandra believes so much in fresh air and exercise out of doors that she often sleeps in a tent she had put up for her Sandringham. One day one of the younger grandchildren came to visit her, and hearing that the queen was sleeping out in a tent, the child asked: “Grandma, are you not afraid to stay there, alone?” The queen kissed the child and answered: “But, dear, I am not alone. I have the stars, God’s sentinels. They are taking care of me.”

At Windsor she has a roof garden, and as soon as it grows warm she sleeps out of doors.

Once asked how she managed to keep young, she said: “Fresh air and exercise are the best elixirs of youth.”

The Margherita Hut, the highest building in Europe, named for the Italian Queen Consort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margherita_Hut

The Margherita Hut, the highest building in Europe, named for the Italian Queen Consort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margherita_Hut

Queen of Italy a Mountain Climber.

But Queen Alexandra as a devotee of sports is forced to share honors with Queen Helene of Italy, for she is a Montenegrin, and the women from Montenegro are daring. As a child her time was divided between the field and the mountains, and it were hard to say which she enjoyed the more.

When the king came to court her she said to him mischievously: “I am so glad you came. I want to teach an Italian what mountain climbing means.” Their first day’s climb was not difficult, but her gallant cavalier confessed it was a fairly good ascent for a woman. At the end of the third expedition the king was growing desperate. But when she showed him the side of a mountain as straight as a wall he said, “Never!” But she would not yield, and, seeing that her gallant young escort could not be forced to go, she said: “Never mind. You wait here, and I shall go alone.”

The prince became pale at the thought of making the venture, and still he did not see how she could go alone, even without a guide. She went, he waiting for her below, until she returned that evening with rosy cheeks, but no worse for the climb. When his family opposed the marriage as being too bourgeoisie, he recalled her courage at mountaineering and realized that this was a little plebeian for a woman who would someday share a throne. But shortly after she beat him at tennis and then he explained to his parents. “This Montenegrin is the woman for me; she is as skilful in the fields as in climbing mountain heights.”

When the queen came to Rome she consoled herself for the mountaineering she lost by playing tennis. The first gift the king gave her was a tennis court and when the king was not busy with affairs of state they were seen playing tennis together, and she was as proud of her stroke as of climbing mountains.

Goes on Hunting Trips with King.

The king is fond of hunting and has beautiful hunting estates. She is equally fond of this sport, and they both go on long hunting trips together. Rare is the day on which some trophies do not fall to her gun, for it is hard to find a woman more skilful with a shogun or rifle. She is a beautiful horsewoman, and before her children were a year old she had them ride a pony. They were strapped in a basket so they could not fall.

Both Queen Helene and the king delight in yachting. They have a beautiful yacht and the family spend many happy weeks every year cruising in the Mediterranean.

It is at San Rossore, the country estate where they spend the summer time, that the king, queen and children have an idyllic life. Here they hunt, ride, drive and fish. There are beautiful streams and ponds well stocked with a great variety of fish and here the queen and children pass many happy hours fishing.

Before automobiling became so popular, Queen Helene was enthusiastic about bicycling, a pastime which Queen Margherita, her mother-in-law, before she became a widow, often enjoyed with her. Queen Margherita presented to Queen Helene shortly after her marriage a bicycle fitted with gold and silver and together the two royal women used to cycle in the park daily.

It was Queen Margherita who has made her son and daughter-in-law enthusiastic automobilists. At first they were indifferent about this sport, but the queen mother insisted on their making tours in her car and now they have several handsome machines. Not long ago they made an excursion of 225 miles in their car, completing this distance in fourteen hours. They started at 4 o’clock in the morning, dined in the open fields at Oneglia, and reached their destination that evening, confident it was the most unconventional and pleasantest short journey they ever made.

Queen Margherita has had many daring and exciting adventures; she admits that her happiest days are spent touring. At first she was prejudiced against motor cars and would not be persuaded to ride in one, as she considered them both ugly and dangerous. One day, however, she permitted a friend to persuade her to take a spin. Just as they were ready to speed down hill the brake refused to work and the queen was in a dreadful state of fright. But it cured her fear, and from that day she became wildly enthusiastic about machines.

Queen Margherita Daring Motorist

She keeps few horses in her stables, though she has a finely equipped garage filled with a half dozen machines of different makes. She has the most complete touring car in Europe and one of the handsomest in the world.

One day, with her chauffeur and a lady and gentleman in waiting, Queen Margherita started after luncheon for a spin, saying that they would be home for tea. Five o’clock came, and when they did not return the household grew worried and started a searching party. There was a wild ringing of telephones, flying of horses, and dispatching of servants. Nothing was heard of the machine until a carabineer reported he had seen a similar car in a small village. A little further on, looking through the vines in a garden, they saw the royal party dining at a small bare table while the chauffeur was struggling hard to repair the machine.

She has toured through all parts of Europe. A few years ago she planned an extensive tour through the United States, and it was only her dread of crossing the ocean that led he to change her plans.

The Empress Augusta-Viktoria on horseback.

The Empress Augusta-Viktoria on horseback.

German Empress Plays Tennis.

The emperor of Germany accepts the doctrine of the strenuous life quite as seriously as does President Roosevelt. When not engaged with affairs of state he is enjoying exercise out of doors. The queen shares all of these pastimes with him because she believes in fresh air and has a horror of getting stout. When they were first married she rarely let a day go by without riding or driving with the emperor and she has kept up this practice.

In Berlin they often are seen riding their horses or driving in the park. She has her own stables, selects her horses, and gives her own orders governing them. When younger she said that she never saw a horse she was afraid to mount, and the harder they were to govern the better she liked them. She is one of the few queens who are members of a royal guard, and she can go through a drill as well as a man.

The empress is also fond of playing tennis and has a beautiful court at Potsdam. She has had several unfortunate accidents while playing this game. Only a few months ago while playing she fell, and it was thought at first she had suffered some serious injury. The king begged her to give up this sport, at last for a while, but she could not bear the idea.

When she was younger she liked to play with some of the young officers at court. The emperor, who was then possessed of some of that jealousy natural to youth, always managed to watch the game, though he did not play.

The empress is known throughout Europe for her splendid complexion. One day a royal friend complimented her on this fact, when the empress answered: “I shall give you my recipe—plenty of fresh air and exercise.

The emperor also believes in this doctrine and all outdoor sports have played an important part in his children’s education.

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Crown Princess of Germany and Prussia, source: Wikipedia

Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Crown Princess of Germany and Prussia, source: Wikipedia

Princess Cecelia Is a Crack Whip.

Though the betrothal of the crown prince [Wilhelm, son of the Kaiser] to Princess Cecelia [sic] was not a love match, they had many tastes in common right from the start. They both were interested in photography. They were crack whips, and she could hold her own with him in managing the wildest horses. She is devoted to all outdoor sports, while he would rather be in the field than in the ballroom. Her mother-in-law taught her to play tennis, and she proved such an adept pupil that now she has hard work finding any one to beat her at singles. Her devotion to horses led her to accept the office of patroness of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And she likewise influenced her father-in-law to abolish the bearing rein it the imperial stables.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and the Duke of Alba. https://albherto.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/jimmy-alba/

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and the Duke of Alba. https://albherto.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/jimmy-alba/

Queen Victoria Takes Long Walks.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain—whose love for outdoor sports did much to win her a throne—if she were not a queen she could well be dubbed a nice boy, she is ever ready to rough it. The king and she walk miles every day, and she has taught him to play an excellent game of tennis. She is learning to play golf, is enthusiastic about it, and says that he must learn. Before she was married she did more reckless things. When a young girl she acted as stoker and engine driver once in the country.

A very young Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1887 https://mimiberlinblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/wilhelmina-of-the-netherlands/

The future Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, age 7, 1887 https://mimiberlinblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/wilhelmina-of-the-netherlands/

Though the young queen of Holland has few athletic tastes in common with her consort, they met in the fields. They are both skilled in managing horses and he cannot suggest a drive that can tire her. When the queen was a young girl she always begged for the most reckless horses. When the queen mother opposed this she often explained: “No, I must teach them that I am their mistress.”

Queen of Belgium Enjoys Many Sports.

The queen of Belgium is one of the best all round sportswomen. She is a superb and fearless horsewoman and thinks nothing of riding forty or fifty miles. She never gets into the country but she walks and climbs, and the more difficult the ascent the better she likes it. Though known as an equestrienne, she is even a better sailor. She never visits England without enjoying some delightful cruises with the king and queen. She understands all the fine points about yachting and is ever ready with some good sea yarns. [Queen Henriette-Marie died in 1902 so it is clear that there was a delay in publishing this article in the American press.]

Empress Alexandra of Russia

Empress Alexandra of Russia

The czarina of Russia inherits her sister’s love for outdoor life, but the conventionalities of court limit her pleasures. Her court ladies were much shocked when she told the czar that she wanted a billiard table. By means of her splendid tact she succeeded in getting some of her ladies in waiting to enjoy the game. She has wonderful saddle and driving horses.

She can mount and dismount with all the ease and grace natural to a well-trained officer. She rides horseback until the snow and cold force her into a sleigh. A few years ago she had a tennis court laid out at one of her country houses. But her ladies in waiting were so horrified at seeing her chase after a ball that she never again suggested playing tennis.

The Chicago [IL] Tribune 7 June 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: As the Olympics comes to a close, we look at the sports of Queens: their amusements and past-times. It is diverting to think of the Crowned Heads of Europe staging their own Olympic Games. One could compete in such categories as “Bazaar Opening,” “Ribbon-cutting,” “Plaque-unveiling,” and, most strenuously—ship-launching with a bottle. Other events might include clocking how many anodyne remarks can be made in a fifteen-minute walk-about or Synchronised Corgis. Given their fondness for horses, the British Royals would undoubtedly scoop the equestrian events; while the Scandinavian monarchies would provide keen competition in the Tiara Classes.

And, of course, the victors will be crowned with jewelled laurels.

Emerald, pearl, and diamond laurel wreath tiara, c. 1900 https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18932/lot/150/

Emerald, pearl, and diamond laurel wreath tiara, c. 1900 https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18932/lot/150/

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

Running for a Bride: 1888

runners

We read of the desperate struggles of to-day’s Olympic athletes to win that coveted gold medal, worth, in US dollars, $564.00—quite a paltry reward when one considers these foot-race competitors who ran for a bride worth $100,000.

THEY WILL RUN FOR A BRIDE.

Miss Douglass Will Wed the Man Who Wins the Foot Race.

Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 29 Miss Annie Douglass, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, who is known throughout Tennessee as “The Oil Queen,” because of her large possessions of oil property in Spring Creek district, is to be married next Thursday night to the winner of a foot race. Miss Douglass is an orphan, residing with her grandfather, James Douglass, proprietor of the noted “Calf Killer Farm.”‘ Nathan Overman, a neighbour, was a suitor for the hand of Miss Douglass, and he had no opposition until two years ago, when John Lane, of Indiana, a cousin of Mrs. Hendrick’s came to the neighbourhood. A rivalry for the hand of the young lady became intense and bloodshed was feared. Mr. Douglass, who had no preference between the young men, decided to end the matter, and being an eccentric man, hit upon a novel plan.

He got the three interested persons together and proposed that, as the lady herself could not decide between the men, that they run a race of eight miles on parallel roads, the winner to marry the girl before night. All agreed and promised to faithfully abide the result.

At 8 o’clock next Thursday morning the men will start, and on their return they will have a banquet, which will be followed by the marriage. The whole country is aroused, and thousands will see the race. All the persons concerned are well-to-do and well educated. Miss Douglass is worth $100,000.

The Sun [New York, NY] 30 January 1888: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Much as Mrs Daffodil wishes this story were true, she can find no trace of the actual participants, nor of the noted “Calf Killer Farm.” The story was told and retold, as late as the early 1890s with trifling variations such as Miss Douglass’s father being the race-proposer. To Mrs Daffodil’s disappointment, despite the wide syndication of this diverting anecdote, no one recorded the result of the race and the name of the happy, if breathless bridegroom. The inventive journalist who, one fears, paltered just the teensiest bit with the truth, was perhaps sacked before he could file the sequel.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

A Race with a Phantom: 1892

bicycle racer 1888

A GHOSTLY BICYCLIST

A Wheelman’s Story of an Effort to Overtake a Phantom Who Rode an Old-Fashioned Wheel

“I used to ride in races and only last year I spun around the track at my home in the east, but I was cured of the sport in a rather remarkable manner,” said a visiting bicyclist at the races of the Garden City Cyclers to a San Jose News reporter.

“The story is a strange one,” he continued, “and I have never told it to any one yet that I think really believed it, but so firmly am I convinced of the reality of an incident that was frightful in some of its details, that for fear of a repetition I have not had the courage to ride in a race since. “The races were run on a half-mile horse racing track that had been rolled and otherwise partially prepared for the purpose. I had never been especially fast, but just before the event I had bought a new pneumatic tire racer, one of the first seen in that part of the country. The machine was a beauty, full nickeled and with the object of making a display more than anything else, I entered for the five-mile race with a fifteen-minute limit, the conditions being the same as those of the last race in San Jose yesterday that Wilbur Edwards won.

“There were seven starters in the race and we had ten laps to make. I thought we were making rather slow time, and from some remarks that I overheard from the judges’ stand when we passed on completing the eighth lap I was certain that it would be no race, as the winner would not make the distance within the time required. By this time I was well winded and was sure that I would not come out first, but I did not feel in the least disappointed, as I had not expected to win the race when I started.

“In the beginning of the ninth lap, however, as I was tolerably well in the lead, I thought I would spurt a little, so I forged ahead and was allowed to make the pace for a while, each of the riders having done this in turn before me. I had been in the lead seemingly only a second when to my surprise I saw just ahead of me a strong-looking rider on an old-style solid-tire wheel. I had not seen him pass and did not know that any such man had entered the race in the first place.

“The stranger was well in the lead and I felt so much ashamed of myself to think that I was plodding behind on a new style racing pneumatic while he was making the pace at a swinging gait on a solid tire that I just dug my toe nails into the track, so to speak, and did my utmost in an attempt to pass him. It did no good, however. I could not decrease the distance, although spurred on as I was, my speed, as I afterwards learned, became something terrific.

“When I passed the grand and judges’ stands at the end of the ninth lap for the finish there was tremendous cheering. I could not understand what it was all about as I did not consider that my efforts on a pneumatic flyer to catch a man on a solid tire with a spring frame were worthy of much applause. I did not have time to look around and see what the rest of the riders were doing.

“On I flew like the wind, every muscle strained to the utmost in my endeavors to catch the stranger, who kept swinging along about ten feet in the lead. I felt that he must tire out at last, so I did not relax, but rather increased the immense strain to which I was putting every fibre of my being. When we neared the grand stand I could hear thunders of applause rolling up to greet us, and when I was within fifty yards of the scratch I made a last desperate effort to pass the stranger.

“In the strain that was upon me I shut my eyes and paddled like lightning. When I was certain that I had crossed the tape I looked up just in time to see a terrible spectacle. The wheel of the rider ahead struck something. He was thrown forward and struck on his head. I was sure his neck was broken and blood gushed forth from his nose, mouth and ears. The sight was horrible and in my exhausted state I could stand the strain no longer. I fainted and fell from my wheel.

“The next thing I knew I was stretched out on a blanket in the rubbing-down room with a crowd around me. As soon as the boys saw that I had recovered consciousness all of them began to talk to me at once. They congratulated me on my wonderful victory, all declaring they had never seen anything like it before. They all wished to know, however, why I had exerted myself so much when I was so far in the lead. I had left all the rest of the riders far behind, and yet I swept forward and saved that race, coming in just inside of the fifteen-minute limit.

“When I spoke of a rider that I was trying to catch all were dumb with amazement. They had seen no such wheelman and the judges had given me the race. When I described the man I saw and his wheel he was recognized as being identical in appearance with a man who was killed under similar circumstances several years before in a five-mile race on the same track. It is scarcely necessary to state that I almost fainted again when I learned that I had been urged forward by a spook. I have never had the courage to get in a race again for fear that there would be a repetition of my former terrible experience. I had before heard of ghostly riders on horseback, but it was my first and I hope it will be my last experience with a spook on a bicycle.”

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 24 October 1892: p.6  

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Wilber Edwards [1872-1951] was a record-setting speed-demon from San Jose, California who set the “paced” world speed record for one mile on a bicycle: 1:34 minutes, on 9 February, 1895. This story, in a chapter of ghosts haunting the roads and the out of doors, appears in The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past. That free-wheeling person over at Haunted Ohio has also told of a dead cyclist who won a race and wonders if this story somehow inspired that legend.

Mrs Daffodil has written previously on ghosts who ride velocipedes.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

The Lady Fencer’s Costume: 1902

The [London Ladies’ Fencing] club uniform consists of a short silk-lined black alpaca skirt with the regulation brass-buttoned white linen fencing coat. Silk linings ensure “slipperiness” and ease of movement, while the lightness of alpaca adds to the agility and ease wherewith the player makes successful lunges against her adversary. The skirts are cut somewhat after the fashion of the cycling skirt, and most of the members wear black or white shoes. A few elect to don brown shoes with scarlet trimmings, which look very smart. The stockings are either of silk or wool: the silken hose is distinctly to be recommended for daintiness and finish. A white glove with a black or scarlet gauntlet is drawn over the right hand.

lady fencers

Fencing develops the muscles of the right arm, and tends to cause the size of glove taken to increase by a size or two. Some one or two among the members adopt a kilted skirt. There are a few enthusiastic devotees who wish to abolish the wearing of any outward or visible sign of femininity in the shape of skirts, and who prescribe the undisguised satin knickerbockers. But one of the stringent rules of the club sternly decrees that no member may fence save in a skirt.

En Guard lady fencer

It must be confessed that from an aesthetic standpoint the ideal fencing dress for a woman has yet to be invented. And could not a more becoming mask be invented? The motorina’s mica mask is a joy and thing of beauty compared with that worn by the woman fencer.

Accordion-pleated silk, satin, or alpaca skirts have been tried, but on submission to feminine verdict have been rejected and despised. These skirts would doubtless prove lovely and becoming were the pleats graduated increasingly from the hips downward. With the width of the lower hem disposed around the hips, the accordion-pleated skirt is by no means a success. Black silk or satin knickerbockers are worn beneath the silklined skirt, so that no clinging draperies hamper the ease and dexterity of movement so essential to a display of good fencing form…

the salute lady fencers

But to return to the all-important question for a woman fencer: “What shall I wear, and wherewithal shall I clothe myself so as to present a beautiful translation of the fencing art to all beholders?”

Lady Colin Campbell, champion lady fencer.

Lady Colin Campbell, champion lady fencer.

One very skilful and graceful woman fencer deprecates—as does Lady Colin Campbell—the wearing of a skirt. She is assured by long practice that full knickerbockers of black satin or vicuna allow unfettered and more graceful play for the limbs. She wears a narrow corset belt with one bone only at back and front, and over this a loose silk shirt. A cunningly cut coat of scientifically padded soft grey or dull black suede is slipped over the silk shirt. The daintiest black silk stockings and silver-buckled shoes complete her most fascinating fencing kit. There is no denying that the linen coat can never be made to look shapely, and it undoubtedly bears too close a resemblance to that coat of many splotches worn by the common or spring house-painter.

To many conventional fencers the thought of a corset, though this be merely a waistband boasting but two bones, is anathema; and with a shapely suede tailor built coat its absence would scarcely be noticed.

Reverse of 1904 fencing jacket. Metropolitan Museum Collection

Reverse of 1904 fencing jacket. Metropolitan Museum Collection

Feminine Fencers and Their Clubs, Annesley Kenealy. Lady’s Realm: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine: 1902, pp 767-8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Captain Alfred Hutton, an expert gentleman fencer quoted in the 1902 article above, remarked that he did not think “masculine” weapons such as the épée or sabre were appropriate for ladies, who should confine themselves to the dainty foil. Mrs Daffodil notes that to-day’s Olympic lady fencers use whatever weapon they dashed well please. She further suggests that in watching the international teams of lady fencers, who bound and leap, lunge and feint in their electrified knickerbocker suits, one rather doubts that their first thought was “wherewithal shall I clothe myself so as to present a beautiful translation of the fencing art to all beholders?”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales