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A Christmas Selection Box from the Archives

With Christmas fast approaching we thought we’d take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and also show off some festive finds from the V&A Archives! On a trip to Paris in the 1830s the confectioner Tom Smith conceived the idea of manufacturing bonbons with lucky mottoes. […]

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Edward Bawden – master of linocut

George Orwell might have Room 101 but the V&A has Box 101 – to be precise Circ Box 101. Circ is short for ‘Circulation’ – the department that sent travelling exhibitions around the UK between 1847 and 1977. To give an idea of scale, in 1956 Circulation loaned to 300 art schools who borrowed 1,200 framed […]

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What lies beneath: Foundation stones and time capsules

On 17 May 1899 Queen Victoria travelled in a semi-state open landau the short distance from Buckingham Palace to South Kensington to lay the foundation stone for the new Victoria and Albert Museum buildings designed by the architect Aston Webb (1849-1930). Part of the elaborate ceremony included the placement of an oblong casket, made of […]

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Trajan’s Column – the V&A’s ‘incongruous white elephant’?

The Cast Courts are still the most impressive spaces in the V&A and the plaster cast of Trajan’s Column is at once the most dominant and perhaps most surprising cast in the voluminous Western Cast Court, competing only with the Portico de la Gloria from Santiago de Compostella for attention. Aided by the vibrant original […]

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Queen Victoria’s Trowel

In a well-known quotation, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) advises the poet and cultural critic Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) that ‘when you come to Royalty, you should lay it [flattery] on with a trowel’ (1). Flattery was much in evidence on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s laying the foundation stone of the new buildings at the Victoria and […]

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Spot the Dog

I never though I would spend a morning running around the Museum looking for a dog, but it transpires that you can never quite predict the day’s task when it comes to exhibition design. In this particular battle of wits I had youth and speed on my side since the dog is almost 300 years […]

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Photographic Reflections: the Photographer in the Mirror

As part of my research project for a MA in History of Art with Photography at Birkbeck, University of London, I visited the V&A Archive to see the photographic guardbooks, 854 Imperial folio-size volumes that contain within their pages a unique visual record of objects that the V&A has both acquired and been lent between […]

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National Knitting Week: Knit for Victory

It is National Knitting Week 14-20 October and to mark the event I was inspired to try a new challenge – to knit from a vintage pattern. Fortunately I am in an ideal position for obtaining vintage knitting patterns, as the Archive of Art and Design has a large collection of knitting ephemera. I began by […]

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Congratulations Beatrix Potter!

One hundred years ago to the day (15 October 1913) Beatrix Potter was married at St. Mary Abbots in Kensington. It seems fitting that this church is agreeably situated near the corner of Hyde Park, roughly equidistant from the V&A Museum and the V&A Archives, which now house the world’s largest collection of Potter artworks, […]

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Photographic guardbooks: Images of India

While looking through our photographic guard books to answer an enquiry about something completely different, I discovered some fascinating nineteenth century photographs of Indian street scenes and architecture.  These evocative images have stayed with me so I thought that I would find out a little bit more about them. The photographs were sent to the […]

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