23 Nov 2017
August 30, 2014 - Filed under: Features — Harriet

As with many exciting historical periods, the Victorian age has left behind a wealth of fascinating objects. While some of these left-over antiques, such as the Bristol-docked SS Great Britain, won’t fit on the shelf of a vintage-style feature wall, there are many other historical curios to choose from.

A gentleman’s aide

Renowned the world over for their love of tea, the British have produced many items to help sate their desire for the hot beverage. With tea being introduced to the UK during the Victorian times, travelling by the bundle from China and British-administered India, one of the most intriguing drinking aides is perhaps the moustache cup.

Born out of functionality, this utensil was designed to make sure that a gentleman’s moustache did not get wet while he was enjoying a brew. A ceramic guard within the cup itself covered its user’s upper lip, meaning that he could avoid any social embarrassment.

A writer’s friend

As more and more people were able to attend schools in Britain, especially after the Elementary Education Act of 1870, literacy rates across the nation improved dramatically. This led to writing no longer just being the preserve of the upper classes, but also to a practical need for more inkwells.

The containers could be made out of various substances, including glass, clay or silver, which meant that they could be crafted into a number of shapes, including, oddly, snails. Quills, dip pens and brushes were used to get at the ink that was kept safe inside, usually with a lid to stop spillage or evaporation.

Whether a decorative design is chosen or a simple school inkpot, it will make a great addition to any Victorian shelf. It could also complement other items in the room, such as walnut chaise longues.

The librarian’s choice

Books are often used to improve many a shelf or piece of antique bedroom furniture, and not just due to their content. The tomes, especially Victorian hardbacks, add a certain level of sophistication to a feature wall, even if they might not be rare first editions.

Fantastic vintage examples include the volumes of periodicals that were produced during this time of scientific and social cataloguing. For a manuscript of renown, try a selection of Tennyson or Browning poetry, which will usually bear a more flowery design.

The gardener’s inspiration

At a time of worldwide exploration, sometimes the Victorians did not want to travel too far to experience something a little different. As such, gardening took a hold of the national consciousness once more. Exotic species were introduced to British gardens, as well as rockeries as a bottom-of-the-garden alternative to the Himalayas and Andes.

On those rainy days, horticulture could still be admired through framed prints of plants and flowers. Detailed, often scientific drawings of flora adorned walls and nightstands, as the green-fingered Victorians dreamed of what they would plant next. Such items still make a great impact on any Victorian-themed shelf, especially when near to an antique sofa that features a floral print.

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