Five Fun Things: The Queen of Hearts Edition (February 2023)

1. Did you know that there was a vogue for heart-shaped books in the fifteenth century? I learned this fact last weekend, when I heard a wonderful talk by Niki Dinensis. Here’s a fun short piece on the heart-shaped book in fifteenth-century Europe (mostly northern Europe), and if you would like to make your own heart-shaped book, here are some resources to explore.

2. A cafe owner in Birmingham found a gold heart that Henry VIII gave to Katherine of Aragon. If that doesn’t make you want to run out and buy a metal detector, I don’t know what would. It was unearthed in 2019, but only recently authenticated by scholars as an authentic Tudor piece.

The front of the heart, with “TOUS IORS” in enamelwork. Photo: BBC
A close-up of the heart, along with its chain. Note the charming detail of the king’s hand. The chain and heart are both made of 24k gold. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

3. I’ve spent quite a bit of Jan and Feb studying a single fourteenth-century manuscript. My manuscript involves something like 130+ leaves of parchment, bound in 16 quires. In the course of that research, I got to wondering, how do I bind a multi-quire book? I plan to follow this tutorial and find out.

4. Looking for new cocktail recipes? You might find something here: Alcohol’s Empire: Distilled Spirits in the 1700s Atlantic World

5. Last year, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we wrote about Bad Romances in Renaissance Art.

One Fun Thing

Vivienne Westwood’s Boucher Corset, 1990. Because Rococo = Romance.

Corset of synthetic blend with a depiction of François Boucher‘s painting of Daphnis and Chloe printed on front panel. Shoulder straps feature classical motifs printed in gold and mauve and corset sides are of gold lycra fabric. Collection of the V&A Museum.

P.S. With Love from the East Village, St. Valentine!

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