Detail of 'Alice in Wonderland', furnishing fabric, Charles Francis Annesley Voysey, England, about 1920. Museum no. CIRC.856-1967
Detail of 'Alice in Wonderland'
Charles Francis Annesley Voysey
Museum no. CIRC.856-1967
One of the most well known characters from Lewis Carroll's story 'Alice in Wonderland' is the White Rabbit. In the story Alice is bored of real life and has a dream. She follows the White Rabbit into the nonsensical world of Wonderland. The White Rabbit wears a waistcoat and pocket watch and is a rather timid and nervous character. Rabbits have long since been thought of as a sign of good luck. Many people still consider it good luck if you say "White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits" as soon as you wake up on the first day of the month.
Majolica tureen, Minton & Co., England, 1866. Museum no. C.80 to B-1971
Minton & Co.
Museum no. C.80 to B-1971
This dish was specifically designed to serve a game stew: the hare and duck on the lid would leave no doubt as to its contents as the dish was brought to the table.
Mechanical rabbit, China, 1975-1979. Museum no. B.117-1996
Museum no. B.117-1996
The body of the rabbit is made of lithographed tin plate and has an internal clockwork mechanism. The ears are white plastic and the legs are painted metal. The rabbit's dark pink eyes are loosely attached inside the head so that when the toy is wound and the rabbit hops, the eyes wobble. It was made in China probably for the local market rather than for export.
Earthenware tile, William de Morgan, England, about 1872-1876. Museum no. CIRC.118-1915
William de Morgan
Museum no. CIRC.118-1915
This tile shows two hares, possibly boxing. In the wild male hares can be seen boxing when they are fighting for the affections of a female. Hares can mate at any time of year but this scene is particularly associated with the month of March when we are most likely to notice this ritual due to the short crops in the fields. Hares are generally seen leaping and chasing each other during March which has lead to the use of the phrase 'mad as a March hare'. They are not mad, just full of the joys of spring!
Board for Peter Rabbit's Race Game, C Frederick Warne & Co., Ltd, 1919. Museum no. MISC.41-1977. Reproduced by permission of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.
Board for Peter Rabbit's Race Game,
C Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd,
Museum no. MISC.41-1977.
Reproduced by permission of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.
This game is based on characters created by Beatrix Potter. The game is for two to four players. Each player chooses to be either Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Jeremy Fisher or Jemima Puddleduck. With the use of a dice the players take turns to 'race' round the path on the board. They may land on parts of the path that give either penalties or bonuses, all of which come with stories relating to different Beatrix Potter characters.
Netsuke, Japan, 19th century. Museum no. A.62-1915
Museum no. A.62-1915
The netsuke is a toggle. Japanese men used netsuke to suspend various pouches and containers from their sashes by a silk cord. Netsuke had to be small and not too heavy, yet bulky enough to do the job. They needed to be compact with no sharp protruding edges, yet also strong and hardwearing. Above all they had to have the means of attaching the cord. Although netsuke were made in a variety of forms, the most widely appreciated is the katabori (shape carving). This is a three-dimensional carving in the shape of a rabbit. A netsuke portraying one of the twelve animals from the East Asian zodiac was particularly associated with New Year festivities of the appropriate year, but could also be used any time during that particular year. It could also be used again in 12 years time in accordance with the cycle.