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The Pickwickians, c.1839-1845. © Museum of London
One of our favourite squares in this collection, this silk pocket square is reproduced from an original cotton handkerchief produced between 1839-1845. It commemorates the novelist Charles Dickens and his hugely popular Pickwick Papers. The handkerchief was designed by Hablot Knight Browne, or 'Phiz', who was the original illustrator for the Pickwick Papers.
The central image of Dickens is based on an engraving by Finden after a portrait by Daniel Maclise of 1839. This is surrounded by a wreath, which depicts the well loved characters from the papers including Mr Pickwick, top centre and Samuel Weller to his left. Around the border is printed a sepia graphic with, in each of the four corners, a gothic tracery arch with grotesque heads and two goblins pulling back a curtain to show an arrangement of books, the closest with the word 'Boz' on its spine - the pen name of Charles Dickens.
In front of the books lies an inkwell with two quills and, at the back, a cupid holding a further quill. This design is similar to the frontispiece of the 1837 edition of the Pickwick Papers illustrated by Knight Browne. The original handkerchief was likely printed in response to the huge demand for all things 'Pickwickian' at the time and may have been part of the regalia acquired by the many Pickwick Clubs that sprang up after publication of the book.
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Written for publication as a serial, The Pickwick Papers is a sequence of loosely related adventures given as occurring 1827–8. The novel's main character, Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, is a kind and wealthy old gentleman, the founder and perpetual president of the Pickwick Club. To extend his researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life, he suggests that he and three other "Pickwickians" (Mr Nathaniel Winkle, Mr Augustus Snodgrass, and Mr Tracy Tupman) should make journeys to remote places away from London and report their findings to the other members of the club. Their travels throughout the English countryside by coach provide the chief theme of the novel. A distinctive and valuable feature of the work is the generally accurate description of the old coaching inns of England.
The main literary value and appeal is formed by the numerous memorable characters. Each character in The Pickwick Papers, as in many other Dickens novels, is drawn comically, often with exaggerated personality traits. Alfred Jingle, who joins the cast in chapter two, provides an aura of comic villainy, with his devious tricks repeatedly landing the Pickwickians into trouble. These include a nearly successful attempted elopement with the spinster Rachael Wardle of Dingley Dell manor, misadventures with Dr Slammer, and others. Robert Seymour provided the illustrations for the first two instalments before his suicide. Robert Buss illustrated the third instalment, but his work was not liked by Dickens and the remaining instalments were illustrated by ""Phiz"" (Hablot Knight Browne) who went on to illustrate most of Dickens' novels. The instalments were first published in book form in 1837.
The Museum of London documents the history of the English capital city from prehistoric through to modern times. It is located on London Wall, close to the Barbican Centre as part of the stunning and now protected Barbican complex of buildings created in the 1960s and 1970s, an innovative approach to re-development within a bomb-damaged area of the City of London. The museum, a few minutes' walk north of St Paul's Cathedral, overlooks the remains of the Roman city wall and is on the edge of the oldest part of London, now the main financial district. It is primarily concerned with the social history of London and its population throughout time and is jointly controlled and funded by the City of London Corporation and the Greater London Authority. The museum, the largest urban history collection in the world, has more than six million objects.
The art of hand rolling pocket squares is a unique craft and truly makes each piece individual and unique. We feel that the precision and care taken by our skilled artisans gives each pocket square its own unique character, finish and feel. To create the finest rolled hems, the edge of the silk or cotton pocket square must be softy turned over with handheld needle and then small stitches are inserted approximately one half to one centimetre apart around the edge, creating a supple yet prominent border. It’s absolutely the best way to finish a pocket square for a variety of reasons but the key ones are for both visual effect and structure.
Rolling by hand is the only way to get a really nice clean plump finish on the edge and this gives a really nice depth to the edges. It’s a more expensive process than machine rolling but by using a machine you’re often left with a flat edge and you don’t get the same luxurious feel. On top of this, the rolled edges add a lot more structure to your pocket square.
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