10 December 2011

George VI: 1937 coronation chairback & 1953 Yeoman of the Guard tunic

I can understand that this Yeoman of the Guard tunic from the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II was a 'professional' item, so to speak: worn by a participant on the day -

Nice embroidery on it, too (it was on eBay: can't imagine parking this in a corner of my parlour!).

But here's a chairback embroidery from George VI's 1937 coronation:

...which is like a window on a world now gone.  I can't imagine this was done for use on the day at the ceremony: my guess is that it was done to adorn an armchair in someone's parlour.  The embroidered side visible on the back of the chair, the plain side to prevent Brylcreem or hair oil or pomade or whatever were the hair unguents of the time from soiling the fabric on the chair.

Instead of a bouquet of flowers, it is a patriotic statement: the king and queen's initials, the floral emblems of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with the crown over all and the coronation date.  Where many British patriotic samplers have fussy detail, this one is a simpler and strong graphic statement.

I've never seen an Edward VIII version of this (ER would be the intials, I presume, for Edward Rex).  I find the font particuarly evocative of its time, slightly olde-worlde-calligraphic in style.  It's not a small design, either - the design occupies an area of around 12 inches square.

I have seen a couple of versions of this, with slight colour variations which would imply that this was a transfer design which individual embroiderers interpreted in their own colour selections - either because they liked their choice better, or they used what thread colours they had easily to hand.

Here is another version that was found as an embroidery, not as the long rectangle of a chairback.  You can see the lighter fabric and changes in thread colour.

I wonder what else was in that patriotic parlour? And if this chairback (and any others, if the embroiderer made a pair) were used for display/special occasions, or at all?

If you know any more about this design - where it was published, who designed it, whether it was a transfer - please do leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. I would give that guard tunic house room if I could get my hands on it. Even if I had to hang it from the ceiling or force a family member to wear it. What an amazing item to be listed on ebay.
    The GeorgeVI embroidery is pretty, I haven't seen that design before.


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