Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Glory of Old England, 1803

"The Glory of Old England" (subtitled "Briton's Protection"). London, England: 1803. British Museum

Today's image is an interesting detail from a poster that the catalog suggests might be a music cover. The publisher is listed as Laurie & Whittle of London, who produced several broadside ballads of the early 1800s that I've covered in previous posts. Published in August, 1803 after the wake of the end of the Peace of Amiens, the image is a snapshot of the patriotic fervor of the time. It reminds the public of where their protection from the ravages of Bonaparte and his threats to invade England comes from: the might of the Navy (personified not as an officer, but as a common British tar) and the Army.

In the center of the image Brittania sits in a seal inscribed with the caption "My country's supporters". To her left in the sea are ships at sea, and to the right are the tents of an army, while outside the seal, leaning on it, are the sailor and soldier. Supporters is meant in the heraldric sense of figures standing on either side of a shield in a coat of arms, and holding it up.

The Royal Navy sailor at left wears black shoes with square buckles left white. His trousers, tight in the lower leg, showing his calves, and stopping just above the ankle to show white stockings, are a light tan. His blue jacket is worn open with four buttons on his sleeve - worn buttoned shut for once - and looks to be double breasted. His black handkerchief is tied quite loosely around his neck, with his white shirt visible and unbuttoned at the collar. His red waistcoat has four rows of tiny buttons! It's worn almost completely unbuttoned, showing his white shirt beneath.

The sailor's hat is a "squashy" one - though less exaggerated than ones in caricatures - with a small brim and a blue ribbon and rosette. His brown hair is short and straight.

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