Forgotten Regency

It seems puzzling to me that the English Regency period is so neglected in popular culture. Certainly it has been celebrated in the movies based on Jane Austen’s books, and there are also the modern Regency romances to consider. But I can rarely find the English Regency represented in other forms, while the Victorian era is everywhere.

A few years ago I became interested in collecting figurines. I wanted to find porcelain ladies dressed in Regency fashion. I have found a few, but for the most part current collectable “lady figurines” are of the Victorian era. The same goes for collectable dolls. The odd thing is that if a Regency figurine or doll appears on the market there is a high interest in it—if my experiences on eBay are of any significance. Believe me, you need your Big Girl panties on (or Big Boy boxers) if you are going to join the bidding!

Another area that demonstrates the popularity of the English Regency and the French Empire period is old fashion prints. Again, the most sought after seem to be those of the English Regency/French Empire era. There are many listings of Victorian fashion plates, but as far as I have been able to see, it is the Regency era prints that generate the most interest.

But still, the Victorian era rules in promotion. Romantic decorating? Magazines seem to equate romantic with Victorian. If a photo of a room with Empire influences is shown, I usually miss seeing a mention of the era. Often the antiques used in a room otherwise decorated in Victorian style are pieces that were also used in the Regency period—Queen Anne, Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and even Regency style.

I admit that this is all my unstudied opinion, and I know the English Regency was short—but it seems to me that there is more interest in it than marketers realize. It is more than our traditional Regency romance novels that seem to be overlooked by those in the business of deciding what we want to buy and bringing it to market.

Opinions?

Laurie
LORD RYBURN’S APPRENTICE
Signet, January 2006

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