Boer War Page 92k

Rare Boer War Discoveries
Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections
in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries - Aug 2005

Queens of Canada Parians 1837-1936 - Parian 3

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. ceramic bust - Size - 14.5"
Found - Niagara Falls, ON
Signed "R&L, Jubilee 1887, Sculptor RJ Morris"
Probably the finest antique bust of Queen Victoria we have ever seen, is this large magnificent work executed by RJ Morris in 1887, to mark her 50th year on the throne. A special feature is the metal clip-on crown. Victoria's busts always featured a cameo of her departed husband on her left breast.

Below what makes a bust valuable: the R&L (Robinson & Leadbeater) imprint of the manufacturer, the occasion and the date (Jubilee 1887), and the identity of the craftsman (RJ Morris Sculptor).

A Century of Queens: Most Canadians don't know that the Queens of Great Britain, have also been - and continue to be - the Queens of Canada.

The most famous of them all, of course, was Queen Victoria, the longest reigning monarch in British History. She ruled for 64 years from 1837-1901, a record that will never be broken. The monarchy will come to an end before the times, or the quality of the material available, will ever permit such a conjunction of the planets again.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, Prince Albert, c.1856
Orig. parian marble - Size - 14"
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed WH Kerr & Co., Worcester, RJ Jones Sculptor, Provenance - John Russell Estate
A fabulous parian marble bust of Prince Albert, by the sculptor RJ Jones, that was executed only a short time before Albert died.
Victoria was only 18 when she came to the throne in 1837. Three years later she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha of Germany. He was her first cousin; they were born three months apart, and were never really apart after that. It was virtually an "arranged marriage" as, almost from birth, Victoria's mother, and her brother, Prince Albert of Belgium, thought the advantages for such a union made it a foregone conclusion. Prince Albert, himself, thought the union was pre-ordained, and never wavered from that destiny.

His marriage gave him access to the most powerful throne in the world. He performed the marital duties of a husband with diligence, if not with passion. It was the kind of trade-off Barbara Amiel would have understood.

The union of Victoria and Albert produced 4 sons and five daughters, who would be married into every Royal house in Europe.

Queen Victoria would become known as the "Grandmother of Europe."

Queen Victoria came under Prince Albert's spell, and grew to love him passionately. He was her ideal of a man, good-looking, extremely smart, and better educated and schooled than anyone else in the British Royal Family, and oh so knowledgeable!

He had affection for her; it was her office he loved, and her power that he craved. In his day - like in ours - the British Royal Family was mostly known for sexual misbehaviour and dissolute living. Prince Albert wanted to reform this. Bertie, his first son, rebelled.

As a prince, Albert insisted on reforming society according to his German high standards of behaviour, for himself first of course, but for others even more passionately. He, a Teutonic German, was the spiritual fountain for the stiff morality that became identified with "Victorian," and the English ruling classes were not comfortable with it or with him. To them he didn't look or act like an Englishman; at least their misbehaviour, which he deplored, was British! He thought their only interests seemed to be fox-hunting and Sunday observances. Albert was only interested in pursuing the great affairs of state, and wielded powerful influence over Victoria, until 1861, when he prematurely died.

It was a great relief to everyone, in British high society, but not to Queen Victoria, who went into a deep mental slump from which many feared she would never recover.

In fact she blamed Prince Edward for killing his father; she refused to talk with him for years... Albert had suffered his fatal illness right after another shouting match with Bertie over his umpteenth illicit relationship with a married woman and the upset it caused him trying to prevent the ripple effect from tarnishing the reputation of the Royal Family, in fact the Queen and England.

A gloom seemed to descend on the Kingdom.

But the marriage of Bertie and Alix, in 1863, helped bring everyone around again.

Busted!

The crown on this - like almost every crown found on these busts of Queens - has suffered some damage in over 100 years. Left a small point has broken off at some time, but is so slight on a large bust that one doesn't even notice it unless one looks closely.

Below left, a more serious injury; this crown was so badly chipped someone removed it entirely - the ring remnants attest to this . So it is passed off as a Queen Victoria in mourning dress, below left, versions of which were actually made. Watch out for the ruse...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. parian marble - Size - 8"
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed R&L, Lawton
This high quality R&L parian once looked exactly like the one to the right, complete with crown. But even this one has been damaged.

So someone decided to remove the crown completely; but one can still see the vestigial ring (right) where the missing crown once sat. The seller hopes the buyer will be too dumb to notice... Will it be you?

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. parian marble - Size - 12.5"
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed Turner & Wood, Stoke, Sculptor RJM
Another truly magnificent, signed bust by Turner & Wood, created for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 1887, by RJ Morris. It is one of the few busts of Victoria created without a crown.

Crowns were a nuisance anyway; they kept breaking off because they were fragile. It is wise to be suspicious of busts with mint crowns, especially ones with high and delicate points - there are many on the market - because most are modern repros, being sold as antiques.

Below, see two new repros sold on ebay as "antique" and "old, very old." They are definitely not. Crowns like that would never last 100 years...

Queen Victoria's Holidays: Queen Victoria's most enduring legacy to Canada is Victoria Day, a public holiday.

British colonists in Canada originally celebrated Queen Victorias birthday, on May 24th, when Canada was still a colony of Great Britain. Then in 1847 the Legislature of the Province of Canada, declared it a holiday.

But there were other celebrations during her reign. In 1887, the Golden Jubilee celebrated 50 years on the throne. Many memorabilia items were acquired by Canadians including the busts featured here.

There was even wilder jubilation, in 1897, when her Diamond Jubilee celebrated 60 years as monarch.

After she died, in 1901, an Act of the Canadian Parliament established a permanent legal holiday to be celebrated annually as Victoria Day on her birthday May 24th.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Jam Jar, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. milk glass - Size - 8"
Found - Kingston, ON
These milk glass jars have been repro'd of late; look for signs of age - like mold imperfections, old dirt, and a worn base, which this one has - if you want a real antique.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. bisque bust - Size - 8.5"
Found - Ottawa, ON
Orig. bisque bust - Size - 8.5"
Found - Napanee, ON
A more affordable bust for the masses was this 1887 Golden Jubilee bisque bust. It was always issued in white, but often those with an artistic bent would paint them. Right is the handiwork of a Victorian Canadian painter. We believe the crown is complete as shown; we have seen many of these, none with more crown than these two.

Views of a Queen's Bottom

Left is the bust immediately above. It shows the thin walls of the bust that remains attached to the mold into which the slip (liquefied white clay) is poured, left to adhere for a bit, then poured out again. The slip that sticks hardens and forms the bust, after which the mold is removed, revealing the carefully carved outside and the sloppy interior.

One-piece parian busts, with the square plinth attached, look like the one left.

The large busts are invariably two piece creations. The generic rounded plinth or socle is held on to the figure top with a bolt and washer that is tightened to hold bust and support together.

This is where damage occurs, when the metal bolt is overtightened on fragile parian; or conversely, when through time the nut comes loose and the two pieces clang against each other, breaking off chips.


Queen Alexandra (1844-1925): Victoria's first-born son, Albert Edward, was Prince of Wales. Her daughters, and her husband Prince Albert, had scoured the German houses of royalty looking for a princess for him. Germans were popular at that time because France was considered a more likely hostile power.

A photo of the beautiful Alix convinced Victoria and Albert; but not Bertie. Propping himself on an elbow from a bed where he was doing research of his own, Bertie said that it would take considerably longer than he had time on earth. Albert pushed, and Bertie finally agreed to marry Alix, but, Albert died before it happened.

Whatever beauty there is, in the British Royal family's gene pool, comes from Princess - later Queen - Alexandra, because her parents were Danish and German. Her father was King Christian IX of Denmark. No doubt she was a strikingly beautiful woman as her fabulous busts makes clear.

Alix married Prince Edward, in 1863. He had visited Canada before he was married, in 1860, but like her mother-in-law, Alexandra never did.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, Princess Alexandra, c 1880
Orig. earthenware - Size - 5.5"
Found - Toronto, ON
Alix was a good role model for the Royal Family and a favourite of Queen Victoria. Neither was well educated at all, far below the level one was expecting on the continent, for princesses destined to sit on a throne. But, like today, standards for the British throne weren't expected to be high. Like Victoria, Alix wasn't interested in intellectual pursuits.

She was unpretentious to a fault and focused her life entirely on Queenly pursuits like, family, dogs, and children.

Bertie had other pursuits, mostly other women, lots of other women, until late in life, old age feebled him, somewhat, no doubt from his many patriotic exertions.

Alix knew what Bertie was up to, or up for, or whatever, whenever an actress, or any of those show business women came on the scene, but looked the other way. She had class even if they didn't. Alix was extremely popular with the British public who sympathized with her, and her married plight, and thought the Prince was a reprobate, a bounder, or worse.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, Princess Alexandra, 1863
Orig. parian marble - Size - 12"
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed WT Copeland, Stoke, Staffordshire, Pub'd Feb. 1 1863, Crystal Palace Union , Provenance - John Russell Estate
One of the finest parians in existence, is this Copeland, produced to celebrate her wedding in 1863, when she was 19. Below is another one from the same period.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, Queen Alexandra, c1902
Orig. parian marble - Size - 8"
Found - Toronto, ON
Provenance - John Russell Estate
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Bust, King Edward VII, 1910
Orig. ceramic bust - Size - 10.25"
Found - London, UK
Signed Doulton Lambeth, L Harradine Sc
A truly magnificent bust of King Edward VII, signed by Royal Doulton's most noted sculptor, Leslie Harradine, who executed some of its most famous creations from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The Boer War brought Alexandra more troubles. She narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when bullets were fired at her and Bertie in Belgium, by a gunman angry at the British treatment of the Boers in South Africa. Then her oldest boy, Albert Victor, who was in the Army there, died of enteric fever. There was a big sigh of relief among those who knew the personal qualities of the prince, but Alix was devastated.

Edward spent so many years waiting for his mother - Victoria - to die - so he could be King - that he feared he would run out of booze, or babes - but not actresses. No fear of that. Finally, God Bless her, Victoria died.

Alix had been Princess of Wales for 39 years when she finally became Queen Alexandra, and Bertie became Edward VII, in 1902. They would only have 8 more years together.

Alexandra was an extremely popular Queen. And oddly enough so was Bertie... A popular King, I mean... You must not confuse him with one of the current princes, just because the tabloids talk...

Indeed Bertie became a very popular King in the short time he had left.

He was able to restore respect for the Crown of England which the Boer War had tarnished in most of the capitals of Europe.


c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000