I was looking through a Punch Magazine compendium for January to June 1855 when I came upon this amazing calendar which is well worth more than a casual glance. I’ve taken some close-up images to give a clearer picture. (The pages are yellowed and faded so they’ve not photographed that well but hopefully you get the picture – no pun intended.)
Much of human life is here, fanciful maybe, but charming – mischievous elves, pixies playing trumpets, a bulldog with a ruffle around its neck, A tin man with a watering can head, old father Punch himself, some walking fish, the 12 signs of the zodiac scattered throughout and perhaps my favourite right at the top of the left hand side – two jolly round faced farmers taking their bull to market. One looking very much like John Bull – the personification of England and Englishness in the mid 19th century.
As well as the familiar saints’ and religious observance days it’s interesting to see what else is celebrated. Take June for example – the 16th commemorates the death of Wat Tyler, (1381) leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, the 18th the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and for the 20th, Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne (1837).
October notes the death of the artist William Hogarth on the 26th (1764) and on the following day the birth of Captain Cook (1728).
November the 5th has the gunpowder plot (1605) and on the 9th the birth of the Prince of Wales (1841) who would succeed as Edward VII. For the music lovers amongst us the 22nd is noted as Saint Ceilia’s Day – the patron saint of music and musicians.
December goes for the death of Mozart on the 5th (1791) and on the 18th the death of Joseph Grimaldi (1837), a popular Regency entertainer. BTW I didn’t know Boxing Day was St Stephen’s day.
I hope you’ve found something of interest in this fascinating glimpse at what the mid-Victorians were noting and celebrating in 1855. Stumbling across this sort of source material is always a bonus when I’m researching for my books.
ref: Punch – Vol XXVIII