Let it Snow

Digital Media
January 18, 2013

As a blanket of snow falls across the UK, it seems like a good time to highlight some objects in the Museum’s collections with wintry stories to tell.

The Frost Fair Mug

The winter of 1683-4 was so cold that the River Thames froze over. The ice was so thick that Londoners were able to head onto the river and engage in such incongruous activities as fox-hunting, bear-baiting and football. They even roasted meat on the ice. Tradesmen erected stalls on the ice selling souvenirs, including this rare glass mug, inscribed on its metal mount with the words ‘Bought on ye Thames ice Janu: ye 17 1683/4’. Frost fairs have only happened six times in London’s history, with the last in 1814. Not only does the mug commemorate one of London’s most unusual events, it is also the only accurately dated glass of the 1680s.

Museum no. C.156-1997

You can read more about the Frost Fair Mug here


This tiny yet intricate 19th-century netsuke illustrates a wintry legend that is one of the 24 examples of Chinese filial piety. In the middle of winter when there was a thick covering of snow, Moso’s mother had a yearning for bamboo shoots. Moso dutifully set off to search for the unseasonal delicacy. Against all odds he found some, and on the netsuke is shown cutting the bamboo shoots while sheltering from the elements.

Museum no. A.787-1910

More information about netsukes can be found here and in Search the Collections.

The Snow Queen

If you have plans to make a snowman this weekend, this photograph may provide some inspiration. It shows a man sculpting the Museum’s namesake Queen Victoria out of snow on a winter’s day around 1890. Unfortunately the identity of the patriotic sculptor is unknown.

Museum no. E.516-2008

More snowy objects can be discovered through Search the Collections.

About the author

Digital Media
January 18, 2013

Former Content Editor in the Digital Media department. I love finding interesting stories and unusual objects hidden in the V&A Collections. I blog about all things digital media, with the...

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