top of page

The statue of Greyfriars Bobby is the peg from which Candlemaker Row is hung like a scarf winding down to the Grassmarket.
The street's name reminds us of far-off times lit by candles. Tallow candles were made here centuries ago.
You can amble down from Greyfriars Bobby to my shop, "STILL LIFE", 54 Candlemaker Row, the current home of Desirabilia.com.  

STILL LIFE is closing down so visit before it is too late.

Four locks of hair from Margaret Georgiana, Countess Spencer (1737 – 1814) ancestrix of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. From a box of photographs and miscellanea, a job lot,  in the extensive sale of property from the Howard Family, Earls of Carlisle held by Thomson Roddick Callan in Carlisle in December, 2022. There was a massive amount of material from this estate sold in 87 lots, some of which went very high in price, but these locks of hair were placed by the cataloguers in a mixed lot.  I purchased them from a bookseller who bought a number of the miscellaneous minor lots. The value and interest of such material is subjective but when I was shown them my reaction was, "wow!" and I could not not buy them.


The locks are stated on the antique envelope to be those of Margaret Georgiana Spencer, Countess Spencer. In 1754, she married John Spencer, a wealthy Whig businessman. The Spencers were ennobled in 1765. The King and the Prince of Wales are both descended from Margaret Georgiana by shared and different lines of descent. 

Locks of hair were articles of gift exchange among the living in eighteenth century English high society and are not considered to be "human remains".



 The first Lady Spencer was known as a philanthropist among her contemporaries. Her daughter, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, heroine of the tv drama, "The Duchess", lived at Chiswick House: one of the wrappers in this lot might be a billet doux to or from one of her lovers (there are no names used to address or sign off the note). The billet doux is on laid paper and has a watermark which has, unfortunately for legibility, been cut in two. The Chiswick House website discussed the love tokens of "The Duchess" on a page marking "Pride" a few years ago. 


The first Lady Spencer's granddaughter, Lady Morpeth, afterwards Countess of Carlisle, was given these tokens of memory and affection at Chiswick House.


Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire was portrayed by the finest painters of her day and her resemblance to the Late Princess Diana has been widely noted.


I photographed the locks under electric light.


PROVENANCE:-

"Thomson Roddick Callan15th Dec 2022 at 11:30am PHOTOGRAPHY, DRAWINGS & EPHEMERA. Lots 1 to 87 comprise a collection of mainly Victorian photographs in albums and loose; also lantern slides, drawings, sketches, testimonials & other Howard family related items (my Bold).

 i.e. the family and descendants of George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle..." - The sale catalogue introduction.


Thence to the bookseller I bought these "Howard family related items" from.



This story was first published in the United States in the late eighteenth century. It is grouped by scholars as an "anti-slavery" narrative. How closely this 1828 edition follows earlier ones, I do not know. It concerns a slave called Quashi who is a lifelong friend of his master with whom he grew up and who inherited the plantation. In a fight with his master, he cuts his own throat in order to avoid the shame of being whipped by his master. Priced at threepence, "The Portfolio, OF AMUSEMENT AND INSTRUCTION IN History, Science, Literature, the Fine Arts, &c." cost too much to be called a "Penny Dreadful", a slightly later type of popular story paper, but it shares the sensationalism of the Penny Dreadful.


The cover of The Portfolio graphic The Desperate Negro anti-slavery tale
The Portfolio No. 130 Nov. 1,1828 Price 3d.

The second page of story in The Portfolio no. 130 Nov 1, 1828
"The Desperate Negro" conclusion

William "Midshipman" Skinner is known today through the naval engravings and lithographs produced after his work. What the publishers did with his original drawings is unknown. This fine, original, signed watercolour is inscribed on the back as a portrait of Lestock Robert Reid (12 August 1799 – 27 October 1878) a Governor of Bombay from 1846 to 1847 under the East India Company. The little biographic material about Skinner indicates that around 1835 he was in the Gulf area of South Asia as was Reid, according to his Reid's own published memoir, "Indus".

Reid would have been 36 years old at the time the likeness was "taken" It is a credible portrayal of a thirty-six-year-old man and ties in with the little information we have. The inscription on the back misspells "Reid" as "Reed". It is not uncommon to know someone yet not how they spell their name.

Unframed.

Rare and perhaps unique as an autograph work by this skilled maritime artist. P.O.A. (price on application).

watercolour portrait of Lestock Robert Reid by William Skinner R.N. July 1835
Lestock Robert Reid by William Skinner, July 1835. Reid was later Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai).



bottom of page