Charles Dickens - The Pickwickians

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The Pickwickians, c.1839-1845. © Museum of London

  • 100% Silk
  • Hand-rolled
  • Designed and Printed in Britain
  • 42cm x 42cm

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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