Dog Collars II

Dachsund from the Book of Hours of Joanna the Mad c 1500

Dachshund from the Book of Joanna the Mad

Joanna here. My last posting looked at truly ancient dog collars and leashes. Paleoleashes. Classical collars. I promised to return to this vital issue and speak of the Medieval and early Renaissance versions of what the well-dressed dog was wearing.

We know there were extravagant dog collars out there in theMedieval world, continuing a tradition of  lavish dog decoration that stretches back to the ancients.

Collar hunting Dog 1607–11

Fancy dog collar c 1607

The favorite greyhound of Louis XI of France (1423-1483), for instance — named “Cher Ami”— was decked out in a collar of scarlet velvet embellished with pearls and rubies.

Fancy colar 2 attching lead

Fancier collar


(Some of these pictures are small, but if you click on them they get full sized.)

But leaving aside the follies of the nobility . . . what was the average dog wearing? The working dog? The any-old-dog-on-a-farm dog? The sheep-keeping dog? 

Keeping watch

Sheep dog keeping watch.
See how small the sheep are?
They really were that small..
Tobias sets out on his jouney with his pet dog

Tobias sets out on his journey with his dog

Going by available images, it looks like about a quarter of house and farm dogs, all guide dogs, (yes, they did have them in Medieval times,) and a sensible majority of sheep dogs are wearing some sort of simple collar.

Guide dog

Guide dog






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Black Hawk

Black HawkJoanna here, talking about my new book, Black Hawk.

This is Adrian's story.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm relieved the boy finally has his happy ending. 

We've met Hawker as a secondary character in the other books.  He's Hawker, or Adrian Hawker, or sometimes Sir Adrian Hawkhurst, depending who he's pretending to be and who he wants to impress.  He is deadly and sarcastic and maybe a bit too fond of sticking knives into people.  Naturally he has the making of a Romance hero.   
Two of the most dangerous spies of the Napoleonic War — on opposite sides, natch — fall in love.  Think Montague and Capulet.  Think Yankees and Red Sox.  Think Hannibal and Scipio Africanus.  Think about the owl and the hawk, two birds that  might share the sky for a while, but can't live together. 

Hawker rose up snarling out of the slums of London.  His mother was a country servant, forced Getty108271594 cropped for use2into prostitution when she turned up pregnant.  She dies under the fist of a brutal customer, leaving Hawker to survive alone on the streets. By the time he's ten, he's becomes the most cunning thief and the most skilled, ruthless assassin in the service of the King of Thieves.  He's rescued from that life, by the British Service who have uses for his particular skill set.

3237624_sJustine DeCabrillac, daughter of the nobility, is a woman just as formidable as Hawker.  Her parents die in the chaos of the Revolution and she is betrayed into a decadent child brothel.  She's rescued by a woman of the French Secret Police.  In time, Justine, too, becomes a great spy for France.

It was inevitable Justine and Adrian would meet.  The shifting intrigues of war and peace between England and France bring them together again and again, sometimes working toward a common goal.  Sometimes wholly at odds.  But a friendship forms between these two young spies, the best of their generation, based on common knowledge and common respect.  Spies of different nations have more in common with each other than with the armies clashing across battlefield or the civilians at home in bed. 

They become lovers.  3justine and adrian frm stk phot 4
This is a great error.

For Montague and Capulet, owl and hawk, tragedy is inevitable.  The demands of
loyalty will drag them apart. 
But they can't seem to stop.

Then, in two decisive confrontations — one on the steps of the Louvre, one outside Paris as armies advance to take the city — they hurt each other.  They do the unforgivable. They speak words that can't be taken back. 

Their love story is over.

Ironically, years later, when England and France are at peace and Justine has given up her old spy games, she learns of a plot to discredit and destroy Adrian.  She's attacked on her way to warn him and staggers into British Service Headquarters, bleeding.

As Adrian carries her upstairs, unconscious, he knows it's a second chance at love.  If they can work together, they might just find out who wants to kill Justine and frame Adrian.  If not, they'll both fall.

And, an excerpt:Adrian with beige background


His chin was shadowed with a need to shave. She had known a boy three years ago. She did not really know this young man.

I do not know how to ask. Everything I can say is ugly. I do not want this to be ugly.

She gave her attention to pouring hot water onto the tea leaves. Rain drummed on the roof. Since they were not talking, since they were not looking at each other, it seemed very loud. He said, “As soon as you drink that, you should leave. It’s getting worse out there.”

I must do this now, before I lose my courage. “I am hoping to spend the night.”  She chose words carefully, to clarify matters beyond any possibility of misunderstanding. “It is my wish to spend the night with you, in your bed.”

Hawker was silent. He would be this self-possessed if tribesmen of the Afghan plains burst through the door and attacked him with scimitars. The refusal to be ruffled was one of his least endearing traits.

Time stretched, very empty of comment, while she swirled the teapot gently and he was inscrutable.  Finally, he took the oil lamp from the end of the mantel and busied himself adjusting the wick, lighting it with a paper spill from the fire. “The hell you say.”


In the books you love, what love stories were never told? 

For me, it's the story of Cat in Sharon and Tom Curtis' Windflower.  I would love to read his story.

I'll be giving away a copy of Black Hawk to one lucky commentator.



Keeping it Clean – Georgian and Regency Bathing Customs

Joanna here, talking about Georgian and Regency bathtubs and the joys of getting clean.  The_bath-stevens C19
There is a general view that historical people were rather dirty, there being a dearth of historical folks getting up at six and grabbing a bar of soap and popping in to warble un bel dì vedremo in the shower.  I'm afraid we all feel rather smug about our acres of colored tile with the running hot and cold.

How clean were they?  The townsfolks as they merrily hung aristos from the lamposts, Ninon de l'Enclos, Voltaire, (Did you know Ninon left money in her will for the 9-year-old Voltaire to buy books?) Napoleon, Jane Austen, the kitchenmaid grinding coffee in the morning? How clean were they?

Degas woman washing her left leg 1883 to 6 the met This is a case where the written historical record tends to desert us, somewhat, as folks do not record in their diary, "I got up and Mary-the-perky-maid brought me six liters of water and I washed my face, hands, underarms and, last off, various parts south of the waistband." any more than we text to our BFFs to say we've had a morning shower.

So we end up making some 'best guesses' about this whole business.

You had your everyday getting clean.  You had your gDegas-edgar-the-tub-bathing-woman-1886etting wet for recreational purposes. And you had your washing the body to treat diseases.

This last one gets written about a lot in a 'I went to the baths to see if I could get rid of this nasty skin condition' or 'the physician prescribed a course of cold baths with sulfur powder in them and I feel much better now that I have stopped' sorta way.  Marat, you will recall, was in exactly such a medicinal bath when Charlotte Corday brought it, and him, to an abrupt end with a knife.

Rowlandson comforts of bath the bath Medicinal Baths and Thermal Spas.  The mineral baths at Bath and other spa towns provided an immersion intended to improve the health, not so much wash the body, though it did that too.  Some places there were separate baths for men and women.  Some places, everybody bathed together.
They went into the water dressed. Wearing their periwigs and bonnets.  I should think the fumes did neither periwigs nor bonnets much good, frankly.

Up at four o’clock, being by appointment called up to the Cross Bath . . .  very fine ladies; and the manner pretty enough, only methinks it cannot be clean to go so many bodies together in the same water. Good conversation among them that are acquainted here, and stay together. Strange to see how hot the water is; and in some places, though this is the most temperate bath, the springs so hot as the feet not able to endure. . . . Carried away, wrapped in a sheet, and in a chair, home; and there one after another thus carried, I staying above two hours in the water, home to bed, sweating for an hour.
         Pepys' Diary

Let us leave the whole subject of medicinal baths very quickly, as it is generally unpleasant, even if you're not getting stabbed.

Though I should point out that folks still do this medicinal bath bit, in the way of putting baking soda in a bath for some poor sufferer from poison ivy, and modern herb baths hold anything from lavender to chamomile and thyme.  The 'it's good for you' bath is not going to disappear anytime soon.

Beaumont 3rd quat c19 Out in the Fresh Air.  The opposite of taking a bath because it was good for you was getting wet just for the fun of it.  Any warm day would probably see the local youths sporting in the local river.  There are a good many references to folks doing exactly this — including a Paris ordinance forbidding nude bathing in the Seine, but only near the bridges — to avoid the scandalizing the public.

Pepys, in his diary, notes the sad death of a young boy bathing in the Thames.
and at Somerset-stairs do understand that a boy is newly drowned, washing himself there, and they cannot find his body.

Or this Englishman travelling in America.
Early the next morning, my kind, attentive host entered into my bedroom and inquired if I should like to take a bath. I replied in the affirmative, and immediately rising, was conducted to one in an adjoining field which is filled by a small brook and is therefore always fresh.
          A summary view of America, Isaac Candler  1824

Period pictures are not an entirely reliable guide to actual practice.  Showing folks bathing in pools and rivers is a great excuse to paint nekkid people, after all.  But from an extensive personal survey,it looks like bathing — where folks actually got wet all over as opposed to wading in the water — tended to be young people and they were segregated into women and men.  

Bathing in the sea, for fun and medical benefit, became fashionable in the Eighteenth Century, with 'bathing machines' on offer from mid century. 

The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
Which it constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes-
A sentiment open to doubt.
          Lewis CarrollMermaids at brighton 1825

Bathing machines were high-wheeled wagons, with a canvas or wood structure on top, towed from the shore into the sea. 

Image to yourself a small, snug, wooden chamber, fixed upon a wheel-carriage, having a door at each  end, and on each side a little window above, a bench below – The bather, ascending into this apartment by wooden steps, shuts himself in, and begins to undress, while the attendant yokes a horse to the end next the sea, and draws the Benjamin west last quarter C18 the bathing place at Ramsgatecarriage forwards, till the surface of the water is on a level with the floor of the dressing-room, then he  moves and fixes the horse to the other end – The person within being stripped, opens the door to the sea-ward, where he finds the guide ready, and plunges headlong into the water – After having bathed, he re-ascends into the apartment, by the steps which had been shifted for that purpose, and puts on his clothes at his leisure, while the carriage is drawn back again upon the dry land; so that he has nothing further to do, but to open the door, and come down as he went up.
                                   Tobias Smollett  1771

Men plunged into the waves starkers.  Small children, of course, went into the water naked, as they do in European countries today.  Women wore a long flannel shift, sometimes with lead weights sewn into the hem to keep the skirts from floating up.

In all this bathing, women took to one end of the beach and men the other, so modesty was maintained, in any case.  Hefty and agile attendants supervised so folks didn't drown, a real possibility when wrapped in several yards of soaking flannel, I should imagine.  

But how did people wash? I hear you asking.  How did they keep clean?

Public Baths.  In France, the custom of public bath houses, cheap, respectable and widely available, Le bain economic des incroyables de la rue dela tannerie a quinze centimes never died out.  This was an amazement and joy to travelling Englishmen and women who have left us detailed records of the process since this was something they did not have at home. 

Paris baths had private rooms with hot and cold running water, big tubs, fireplaces, nicely heated robes and towels, waitresses offering coffee and drinks, and a selection of bath oils and bath herbs.  There were also bathin g pools for both men and women and, in one bath on the Seine, swimming lessons for both.
I'm surprised English folks every went home again.

Meanwhile . . . at home. In England, in this period, folks did their actual getting clean by sponging off with a pitcher of water and a little basin on their dresser, or by immersing themselves in a tub not too different from a modern bath tub, or by standing in a smallish tub on the floor and washing with a pitcher of water.

The habit of washing the body and the introduction of wash basins and portable bath tubs began to spread among wealthy households in the late 18th century.
     The Family, Sex & Marriage in England 1500-1800 
Laurence Stone

You had yer bath tubs.

I think and feel that, after a day's bard riding, there is no luxury comparable with a 'warm bath—it is so grateful and refreshing, and disputes the title of "tired nature's sweet restorer" with sleep
The Inspector, literary magazine and review, Volume 2

These were not necessarily in a 'bathroom'. 

The idea of having a room devoted to washing in a tub goes right back to the Seventeenth Century.  Pepys mentions such a bath in a private home.

Thence with Mr. Povy home to dinner; where extraordinary cheer. And after dinner up and down to see his house. . . .  his grotto and vault, with his bottles of wine, and a well therein to keep them cool; his furniture of all sorts; his bath at the top of his house, good pictures, and his manner of eating and drinking; do surpass all that ever I did see of one man in all my life.

But this would have been rare.  Rooms devoted to bathing were for palaces and the grandest mansions.

Jonghe late c19 apres_le_bain Moveable tub baths were more common.
What folks of middling means did when they wanted to take a bath was fire up the hearth in their bedroom, pull a screen round to close off the drafts, and send for a tub. 

And water.  They had 'running water' of a sort.  They sent a footman to run and get it.  It came up in biggish cans, generally one hot and one cold.  A housemaid might linger nearby and keep a kettle on the fire and add more hot water from time to time as the bath cooled.
This process was what you might call, labor intensive.  Water and bath hauling was done by footmen.

Warning:  Author anecdote time.  My father grew up in a house with exactly this kind of 'running water'.  His job was to go to the well and carry in all the water used for cooking, cleaning, bathing and washing for a household of ten people.  It will come as no surprise that he ran away to sea.

How common were these tub baths? Adam 1842 crop

Every house of every nobleman or gentleman, in every nation under the sun, excepting Britain, possesses one of these genial friends to cleanliness and comfort (bath tubs).
           The Mirror of Graces (1811) 

So the British may have been well behind their continental counterparts in the matter of home bath tubs, just as they were in matter of public baths.

And when there was a tub in the house, it's worth noting that its use involved a whole production.  Boiling water, carting it upstairs, and then carting it down again after use.  I wonder how many of the ordinary gentry folk would have seen this as a daily necessity when you could get just as clean with . . .

Basin and Pitcher.  This was the standard wash equipment all through the period.  

Basin and pit 1795 sevres metWashing with a pitcher of water would be part of the morning routine, or undertaken again after a long day of work or play.  This was what you'd expect to find waiting for you in a decent inn.  This was the normal way folks got clean. 

Pitchers held about the largest amount of water one person could easily manage to pour.  Call it one to two gallons.  (Four to eight liters.)  You wet a towel or flannel and washed yourself, using the basin to catch the used water. Or you might pour the water in and splash it on yourself.  Basin stand mid c18 VandA

The towels, by the way, weren't the fluffy terry cloth we think of today when we say towel.  That's mid-nineteenth century fabric.  Our Georgian and Regency folks used woven linen to dry off.  Cassat woman bathing

The soap would most likely have been spherical, about the size to fit in the palm of the hand, because that's how it would have been form — piece by piece between the palms of the hand.  Your character might have called this a 'wash Silver soap ball attrib British museum ball'.  

It would be kept in a soap ball holder on the washstand. After the 1790's the soap might have been 'Pear's Soap', which was transparent and flower scented. And . . . There might be sponges. 

Your basin and pitcher might sit on a sideboard or Toulouse lautrec 1896 washing a dresser, or you might have a fancy, purpose-built washstand in the corner.  It was typically a maid who brought the pitcher of hot water up to you. The amount of water was limited by the amount you could lift and pour yourself.  That meant a maid could easily carry it. 

How clean did you get, washing this way? 

I don't see any reason to believe you couldn't keep yourself just as clean as bathing in a tub.  Even today, this is 'how it's done' for most of the world's population. 

Whether our Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century folks felt the need to wash as often as we do today or righteously refrained from washing on the grounds that it 'opened the pores' and let sickness in . . . I don't think anybody will really know.

It's not a British reference, but:

Having completed it, [my work]  I went to the stream to wash myself thoroughly, and then to the sailor's chest to change my coat, that I might make a decent appearance at breakfast, and give my sons an example of that cleanliness which their mother was at all times eager to inculcate.
                   Swiss Family Robinson 1812

And Beau Brummel advocated frequent washing. 
On the other hand, he felt he had to advocate frequent washing.

Rub a dub dub.  A couple final questions remain in my mind.

Bad-mit-schokolade c17 Why the devil did women sometimes wear their shifts in the bathtub?  And what is with putting a sheet along the bottom of the tub?

I have cogitated upon this from time to time when I am not concerned with other great issues of the day like, 'Why does the car always break down when I have to be somewhere in twenty minutes?' and 'Why are taxes so complicated?' and 'Why would anyone name his kid Cedric? Isn't it obvious he's going to be a supporting character and come to a sticky end in a graveyard?'

I won't call this the final word on sheets in bathtubs . . . But this is what I think:
There is cloth on the bottom of the tub because these tubs were either (a) wood and full of splinters or (b) metal and cold.

  So why are women wearing a shift in the water?

I think bathing in a tub was seen not so much as washing to get clean, as it was an enjoyable interlude. 

Think of modern habit of spending an hour reading in the bathtub.  If it took a couple man-hours to prepare and clear out that tub, it seems to me you wouldn't put your household to that much trouble and then not take full advantage of it. 

Washing with a basin and pitcher was solitary, but tub bathing, by its Romanet2 1774 le bain nature, was a group effort.  It seems to have been something of a social occasion for some folks.

Marie Antoinette wrote:  I dictate from my bath, into which I have just thrown myself, to support, at least, my physical strength. I can say nothing of the state of my mind;"

If Marat had not been of the opinion that receiving visitors in the bathtub was an unexceptional practice he might have lived a while longer.

So maybe — a shift was worn for modesty when the bedroom was apt to be crisscrossed by servants running errands and you planned to be in the tub a while? 

washstand from the Victoria and Albert. Ewer and basin, soap ball, and the Degas statue of Woman Washing Her Leg are from the Metropolitan Museum. 


What do you think?  Were they clean and sweet in Regency times, or deplorably . . . uncleanly. 
(Not Mr. Darcy.  Say it ain't so.)

Secrets Under Paris

Joanna here, talking about the secrets under the belly of Paris.  Women drinking beer manet
It's 1800 or so. 
There you are, sitting in a café in Paris, relaxing, wearing somethin
g Parisian with great éclat and style. 

Unless you are feeling deeply philosophical it's unlikely you wonder about what secrets lie hidden beneath your feet.   

"All secrets are deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature of secrets." 
Cory Doctorow

It is not solid earth down there.

By 1800 there's fourteen miles of sewers cut through the rock under Paris.  I don't know why folks always point out how far something like this could stretch, but that amount of Wiki _Nelson,_Nelson's_Column Eighteenth Century sewer would run from the Nelson column in Trafalgar Square to Terminal Five at Heathrow, neither of which was in existence in 1800, of course.  

We aren't going to talk about Regency-era sewerage, fascinating though that subject is.  We're going to delve deeper.  We're headed to the mines that lie far below that sidewalk café.

Carririere des caputchins pridian net

Paris feeds on itself, like the Worm Ouroboros chews its own tail.  The fine building stone of Paris is pulled from beneath the city's feet. 

From Medieval times onward, folks took that excellent limestone out of the ground and threw up little trifles of work like Notre Dame and the Louvre. 


Miners burrowed down sixty feet, cut blocks, hauled them out, and left behind a labyrinth of mine shafts, tunnels, and galleries under the earth.  



  Carririere des caputchins pridian net 2  Esprit de sel  escallier cc attrib no derive Esprit de sel  rue cuvier cc attrib no derive Esprit de sel  neons3 cc attrib no derive
There's 180 miles of tunnels and quarries running under the Left Bank.  When our Regency heroine sits in a café on the Boulevard Saint-Michel, she's a stone's throw above one of those old mines. Carririere des caputchins pridian net 4

And for a while there, the world crumbled from beneath.

While the miners were digging away over the centuries, they left big pillars of stone  in place, unexcavated, and built walls to support the roof of the mines.  This worked handily to keep the place upright while the stone was being removed, which was what the  miners were concerned about. 


However — you knew there was a 'however' coming — folks eventually came along and built on the ground above, having absent-mindedly forgotten about those pesky, empty underground spaces. 

Wiki Val_de_Grace_dsc04637

 It turned out the miner's pillars and walls were not so much sufficient to support the weight of cathedrals and palaces that were being built up top.  There was a bit of an 'oops' factor when some of these grand structures began subsiding into the ground. 


The French formed a bureaucracy to deal with this.  In 1777 Louis XVI — you will recall he came to a bad end — ordered the formation of an Inspection Générale des Carrières (General Inspectorate of the Quarries) to explore and map the underground, to dig wells, to control new mining, and to build stonework to shore up the old mines.  Plaque in quarries

They marked the place, so they could find their way around.   Since the tunnels tended to run under the main streets, they carved the names of those streets in the walls, matching the routes through the mines to the streets of Paris above.  


Le petit montreur de singe savant fragonard jaconde late c18


Streets and  houses stopped giving way and sinking into the bowels of the earth, much to the general rejoicing of the Parisians.





A visitor to the quarries in 1784 describes them —

"The general height of the roof is about nine or ten feet ; but in some parts not less than 30 and even 40. In many places there is a liquor continually dropping from it, which congeals immediately, and forms a species of transparent stone, but not so fine and clear as rock crystal.

As we continued our peregrination, we thought ourselves in no small danger from the roof, which we found but indifferently propped in some places with wood much decayed. Under the houses, and many of the streets, however, it seemed to be tolerably secured by immense stones set in mortar; in other parts, where there are only fields or gardens above it, it was totally unsupported for a considerable space, the roof being perfectly level, or a plain piece of rock."


When I came across these descriptiions of the quarries I just knew there had to be a story there. 

Aaajapanese fb

In Forbidden Rose I send my characters walking through the tunnels and galleries of these old abandoned quarries.  While I've never visited myself, I consulted some of the intrepid modern 'cataphiles' who do explore there.  



This is Maggie and her cohort entering the quarries: Candle light attrib florriebassingbourne

     This was what hell had been like when it was first constructed and lay empty, before the demons moved in with their cauldrons of fire and their pitchforks.  Hell would have smelled like wet plaster before it filled with the fumes of sulfur and whatever devils smell like.

     They carried candles, bringing five small points of light into this world.  Of all the uncanny occurrences since Marguerite had descended to this place, the strangest rested here in her hand.  The candle flame stood upward, only stirring when her breath fell across it.  There were no currents of air, no connection to the winds under the heavens.

     The rock around her was damp, full of minerals, without the least trace of life.  This was the Realm of the Underworld.  The Kingdom of Darkness.  Their candles did not challenge it at all. 


Author Real Life Note here:  I lived in Paris for a number of years and not once did I feel any urge to go exploring around below ground.  I don't say I'm claustrophobic, exactly.  I would just rather not walk about in dark places deep under the ground with tons of rock hanging above me just waiting to fall down, thank you very much.

Which may be why I put my characters down there . . . 

Picture attrib coffee roboppy, Carrières one, two and six by samuel marshall at pridan net, Carrières three, four and five by espritdesel, candle by florriebassingbourne.

"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong.  No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always go there first, and is waiting for it."
Terry Pratchett


When you read, what's the scary environment you want to see the protagonists face? 
Or, what do you most definitely not want to read about?

Regency Bling

Edme-frantois-joseph_bochet-ingres 1811a

Hi.  Joanna here.

The Regency gentleman's code might be summed up as, "no perfumes, exquisitely fine linen and plenty of it, country washing . . ."
and bling. 

I went in search of Regency bling, hoping for a gold ring in the ear of at least some Regency fops. 
Alas, not so much. 

The robust and adventurous Tudors wore earrings.  The courtier Buckingham sported major rubies.  That man of action, Sir Walter Raleigh, a gold hoop.  A half century later, Charles I wore a great pearl in his ear when he mounted the block to face the axe. 
By the Eighteenth Century, however, earrings had become the province of buccaneers, exotic foreigners, and the most foppish of macaronis.   

Duc dorleans c 1790Still, we have this 1790 print of the Duc d'Orléans wearing an earring.  Not long afterward, of course, he, too, got his head chopped off. 

Perhaps Regency gentlemen recognized a trend.

And here's Joachim Murat, complete with a manly gold earring.  He was Marshall of France under Napoleon. Joacim murat

He was executed by firing squad.  His last words are reported to have been,
« Soldats ! Faites votre devoir ! Droit au cœur mais épargnez le visage. Feu ! »
("Soldiers! Do your duty! Straight to the heart but avoid the face. Fire!")
Really, the French have all the good lines.

I'd hoped to
Cravat pins c19 british museum bag some cravat pins on my bling hunt.  Maybe sparkly diamond ones. 
"Ohhhh," said I.  "Shiny."
But again . . . not so much.     

A cravat pin is a metal needle, about 8 cm long, (3 inches), with a decorative  
Diamond tie pin2 finial on top.  It pierces the fabric of the cravat and sits there at the base of the neck, being decorative. 
This works better in some neckcloths than in others.  A Frenchman of the Old Regime or an English gentleman dressing for the Court of St. James might nestle a diamond stickpin into the lace at his throat.  Sherlock's Dr. Watson probably tacked down his ascot tie with something regimental in the way of a stickpin.

I don't see many cravat pins in Regency portraits.  Common sense argues that a stickpin would not be happy jabbed through those intricate, stiffly starched Regency cravats. 

So . . . not so many cravat pins in the era. 

Sleeve links encland early c18 gold and cryatal v and a crop
At least we have jeweled studs.  They travel in pairs.  Like this. 

Now, they did not use studs up and down the front of the shirt or at the collar.  There were darned few buttons on the shirt at all. Reverend Eli Forbes early c19 crop Mostly they had a couple quiet, shy ones that peeked out at the sleeves. 

Like this.

The fancy buttons slipped into buttonholes at the cuff, which is now
lace-free –  doubtless a relief to anyone who actually did anything with
his hands. 

They possess a
fugitive charm, these linked, jeweled buttons.  They're not  going to
show much.  A glimpse of gold now and then.  A flash of sapphire.

And speaking of buttons . . .  May I rant briefly? 

Regency shirts did not open all the way down the front with a line of buttons. Paul-Lemoyne by
ingres for website Regency heroes, be they ever so stalwart or inflamed by passion, cannot tear their shirt off their manly chest like they're opening an oyster.  They have to pull it off over their heads.
That's the way it is.

Back to bling.

So, where did the Regency gentleman cut loose, sartorially speaking?
Rings, watches and fobs.  I turn my attention to them.

FABRE, François-Xavier Portrait of Vittorio Alfieri 1793 etail Regency men can't compete with the Tudors in terms of man-rings.  Elizabethan portraits click and clank with finger jewels.  Regency hands look undressed by comparison. 
GAINSBOROUGH, Thomas _ Johann Christian Bach 1776 detail

But there's still a flock of Regency rings.

It's generally just the one ring.  It can be on either hand, on any finger.  Some are plain gold, though there's no indication these were wedding rings.  A few rings hold small, discreet jewels. 

By far the most common sort of ring is the signet ring. 

A signet ring is a seal.  What a signet ring does — what any kind of seal does — is stamp an image on some soft material that then dries to preserve the imprint.  Seals have been around since iron was the new cutting-edge technology in Babylon. 

The seal is signature and authentication and anti-counterfeit security feature all in one.  A seal says, "I was here," or "This is mine," or "He speaks in my name," or simply, "Be impressed.  Be very impressed."

Naturally, your Regency gentlemen wore one. 

Seal ring c16 v and a detailThe design of this signet ring would be cast in gold or cut into a semiprecious stone.  It might be an old family crest — this was a good way for the gentleman to show the world he has an old family — or the design might be a tad bit more recent and inventive. 
The signet ring is swank.  It's bragging, in an understated way.

But it's useful.  That signet ring gets pressed into the blob of hot wax that closes up a letter and makes it private.  We use glue.  They used a wax seal.  Same principle, but I think messing with wax  would be more fun.  Lang seal georgian 1 no permis

The gentleman would likely have a seal in his desk drawer.  
This would be a substantial object. It might even be a thing of beauty   

  "A guinea under seal" — remember all those Regency schoolboys who got one from their favorite uncle? — would be a gold guinea, set on the closure of the letter with hot wax dripped over it, to hide it.  The seal would be that signet ring pressed on top. 

I wonder though . . .   A gold guinea under George III was 24 mm in diameter — almost exactly the size of a US quarter.  Jane Austen, in Mansfield Park, speaks of sending "a half guinea under the seal."  At 20 mm, about the size of a US penny.  That sounds more doable.
Fause montreuSeal-Impression-1
The signet ring held its design in reverse.  A negative image, if you will.  See how it's done?  You wouldn't necessarily appreciate the artwork or recognize the  design of that ring till you looked at the wax imprint. 

The phantom 

The Phantom's ring, on the other hand, is a positive image that would leave a negative, and permanent, dent in the villain he slugged.  With all this comic book goodness for the taking, PhantomRing_wikcropiwhy do we not see more signet rings leaving their imprint on the jaws of Regency villains?


Which brings us to the fob.

We talk about fobbing somebody off.  It is not immediately obvious how this is related to watch fobs.

The word fob comes to us from two, possibly unrelated sources.  Going back to 1600 the word means a cheat or trick.  To fob somebody off is to attempt to pass off deceit or hand over inferior product.  Not long afterwards, fob came to mean a small pocket sewed into the breeches for carrying a watch or money or valuables.  Maybe it was considered a deceitful pocket?  Maybe that's why they called it a fob.

In any case, this same pocket — this fob in the waistband — is there for our Regency gentleman to put his watch in.  On this right side, generally.  Gold watch 2

Watches were a big deal.  Not just beautiful.  
Not just expensive.  

Not just  useful for telling the time — it's never just about
Gold watch moma telling the time, is it?  

They were there for the joy  of displaying them.
And aren't they beautiful objects?

WPantaloon-pocket-1809hat happens next is an example of the eons-long struggle between clothing designers who are righteously bound and determined that they will not put useful pockets into any sort of clothing and the ordinary bloke who has to — you  guessed it — put stuff into those bitty little pockets.  Watch pockets were large enough to hold your fingers up to about the second joint, or a watch, but were not large enough to hold fingers and a     watch.  So you couldn't reach in and extract said watch. 

Watch chain fob and key late c18 london v and a crop

Dealing with this idiocy in a typically pragmatic fashion, folks attached a chain or a ribbon to the watch and used that to pull the watch out of the fob pocket.  
They tucked the watch in the pocket and let the chain or ribbon hang out in the breeze where it was useful to pickpockets.  Then they hung stuff on the chain, giving in to what seems to be an irresistible temptation to humankind.  

Words creep around.  Fob started out meaning the pocket, began to mean the ribbon or chain that hung out of the pocket, and eventually fob meant the ornaments hanging on the end of the fob ribbon. 

What ornaments?  Oh, there's a long list of them.  Jewels, keys for winding the watch, (so practical,) pretty silver and gold charms, tassels.  And seals.  That's what hangs on the end of the fob chain or ribbon very commonly.  A seal.  Like signet rings, the dangling fob seal says, "This is who I am.  This is my coat of arms.  I write important letters at the drop of a hat.  I have a seal and I'm not afraid to use it."  

Copley 1783
ODEVAERE, Joseph-Denis crop Wedgewood 1790 seal
4 cm tall v and aPortrait_of_nicholas-pierre_tiolier picot 1817crop Watche chain with keey 1800 geneva v and a crop

Some of these fob ribbons are six, seven, eight, nine inches long.  Nine inches.  The longer ones must have slapped and twirled and jingled when the fops walked.  (Fop, in case you were wondering, is not related to the word fob.  It's a century older in the English language and comes from a Latin word for fool.) 

Chatelaine 1730 v and a

When I look at pictures of these elaborate multi-fobs, I'm reminded of the  chatelaine –  that useful object the lady of the house wore at her waist.  Here's one.  You can see how it hooked over the waistband.  This plethora of fobs the menfolk started toting around is a bit like that, but without the utility value.

One more interesting fob fact.  A couple decades before the
Cruquet historie2 de la mode francaise costumes de paris 1790 crop Regency,  fashionable gentlemen decided that if one watch was good, two would be twice as good.
They started wearing two watches and two sets of fobs.  (Maybe so they'd stop listing to one side?)  1787-Journal-des-Luxus cropped

Women took this up, doubtless as tit for tat, since men had swiped the chatelaine. 

For a few years all the ton, men and  women alike, were carrying double.

It's not amazing the American and French Revolutions broke out almost immediately.  The habit of carrying two watches — how often would they agree? — left everybody with a profound distrust of authority.

(stick pins and both gold watches are from The Met here; Chatelaine, Wedgewood fob, gold signet ring with bird, sleeve links, watch with chain and fobs, and watch chain with fobs are from the Victoria and Albert Museum here ; Phantom comic and ring are from wikipedia under cc attrib; casting of a watch fob is from the Museum of London here ; Georgian citrine seal is from Lang's Antiques here.)   

So . . . what's your favorite masculine bling, either 'in real life' or for your fictional hero?  And why?

One poster will be chosen at random from the comment trail to win a copy of Forbidden Rose, or a copy of the Trade Paperback of Spymaster's Lady.  Your choice.