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A Regency Exhibit

By Cheryl Bolen

As an author whose first Regency historical romance was published in 1998, I've long been a student of the period, and recently had the opportunity to visit a fabulous exhibit on the English Regency at the Huntington in Los Angeles County.

The Huntington (Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens) offered the exhibit to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Regency, which began in 1811 when George III was declared too mad to rule. His eldest son served as Prince Regent until his father died in 1820, whereupon the regent became King George IV.

I particularly enjoyed reading the era's newspapers. The following advertisement (these were intermingled with news stories) I think must be geared to men, but could also apply to women:

HAIR

A new oil which gradually changes white, gray or red hair to a beautiful brown gives softness, elasticity, curl and thickens 7 shillings, 6 pence per bottle
 

A loan office, located at 2 Craven, Strand, advertised that it gave loans "to persons of fashion, promisary notes to persons of known credit and consequence." The office was open from 10-4.
 

The most well-known jewelry store of the era offered this advertisement:

Rundell, Bridge, Rundell

Goldsmiths & Jewelers

to Their Majesties

Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales

and the Duke of York and Royal Family

Ludgate Hill
 


And the last advertisement I'm going to feature was for an on-premises auction by "Mr. Christie." Yes, that Christie's auction house!

Valuable Library Richmond Surrey By Mr. Christie on the premises by order of the Executors of Miss Hotham deceased, 6,000 volumes. Catalogues are preparing.
 

The Huntington Library and Art Museum itself is a treasure to visit. The former estate of rail magnate Henry Huntington, it's nestled on a few hundred acres of lush botanical gardens in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The Huntington collections of rare manuscripts and old master paintings is particularly geared for English history. It houses Gainsborough's Blue Boy (as well as Pinkie), first editions of Jane Austen, and an original Chaucer manuscript. And almost half a million rare manuscripts.

This article was first published in The Regency Reader in September 2011.
 

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