July 2010

Britain’s Earl Spencer has sold £21.1 million worth of furnishings to fund repairs to his stately home.

The earl – who is the brother of Britain’s late Princess Diana – reportedly has a £10 million bill to pay for a new roof on Althorp, the family home in Northampton, so was forced to get rid of many artefacts, including a £9 million painting, to raise the funds. – Earl Spencer’s Auction

1820 part dessert service, Althorp Attic Sale, Christie's

Lot Description
Painted in the Sèvres-style with bouquets and insects within flower and scroll cartouches and gilt and blue feuilles-de-choux borders, comprising:
A footed comport
A circular sauce tureen, cover and stand
Three shaped-square dishes
Two large circular dishes
A medium sized circular dish
Six small dishes
Four oval dishes
Ten plates

The items truly represented an attic sale, for many, such as the riding boots, butler’s trays, kitchen copper jelly moulds and old uniforms, did not seem to come from the first rank of the Earl’s possessions, except for the Rubens masterpiece, (second highest price for a Rubens at auction) and the King David painting by Guercino (highest price for this artist at auction.) Significantly, a number of Spencer carriages were up for auction as well. They more than doubled pre-sale expectations


Searchlights on Health: A Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood, Advice to Maiden, Wife and Mother, Love, Courtship, and Marriage, 1920 provides a look at male and female relationships as viewed from the pseudo science of eugenics. Chapter titles include “The Beginning of Life” to “Dangerous Vices” to “Nocturnal Emissions”. Apparently eugenics was popular in the early 20th century, for the fronticepiece of this book boasts that 1,000,000 copies were sold. Sadly, the Nazis took this belief to its extreme, which led to massive human rights violations and human extermination.

This section of the book advises a couple on how to conceive beautiful children:

4. The Proper Time.—To obtain the best results, conception should take place only when both parties are in the best physical condition. If either parent is in any way indisposed at the time of conception the results will be seen in the health of the child. Many children brought in the world with diseases or other infirmities stamped upon their feeble frames show the indiscretion and ignorance of parents.

5. During Pregnancy.—During pregnancy the mother should take time for self improvement and cultivate an interest for admiring beautiful pictures or engravings which represent cheerful and beautiful figures. Secure a few good books illustrating art, with some fine representations of statues and other attractive pictures. The purchase of several illustrated an journals might answer the purpose.

6. What to Avoid.—Pregnant mothers should avoid thinking of ugly people, or those marked by any deformity or disease; avoid injury, fright and disease of any kind. Also avoid ungraceful position and awkward attitude, but cultivate grace and beauty in herself. Avoid difficulty with neighbors or other trouble.

Note these two rules for marriage:

6. Wasp Waists.—Marrying small waists is attended with consequences scarcely less disastrous than marrying rich and fashionable girls. An amply developed chest is a sure indication of a naturally vigorous constitution and a strong hold on life; while small waists indicate small and feeble vital organs, a delicate constitution, sickly offspring, and a short life. Beware of them, therefore, unless you wish your heart broken by the early death of your wife and children.

9. Do Not Marry a Man With a Low, Flat Head; for, however fascinating, genteel, polite, tender, plausible or winning he may be, you will repent the day of your espousal.

Images: Wikimedia Commons