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Attention to detail

September 13, 2009

We had a lot of fun setting up this Pimpernel Clothing photoshoot. (You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to arrange playing cards to look random, and how much hard work it was finishing off the wine afterwards…)

What isn’t apparent perhaps in the finished shot is that the mounds of gold coins are not in fact money but are actually gaming counters (such is Pimpernel’s pernickety attention to detail).

To be exact, they’re Victorian counters modelled on Georgian coins, known as ‘spade’ guineas as the shield on them was spade shaped. The phrase “in memory of the good old days” has been added around the shield. This peculiarity (and a few other little strategic alterations) helped avoid the legal problem of gaming counters looking too similar to actual coinage. (Later Victorian counters start to carry advertising- one of ours advertises a fledgling shopping emporium founded by a Mr. Sainsbury. It’ll never catch on…)

It is reputedly thanks to Marie Antoinette that gambling counters (or jetons) became so popular. In 1778 the Queen introduced a mania for gambling while lying in before the birth of her first child, Marie Therese. Her passion was the game Pharoah (or Faro):

Play rose so high, that they were obliged to invent a new mode of managing their accounts. It was impossible for a person to bring four or five thousand louis in gold; boxes were contrived which were filled with pieces of mother of pearl, engraved with their name, and on the other side the fums for which they were meant to pass. The following day these bills of exchange were immediately paid. M. de la Vaupalliere, having desired his lady to arrange some pieces for this purpose, she ingenously had her portrait with those of her two children, engraved on them, with these words, Remember us. When this gentleman opened his box at the table, it occasioned a momentary surprise; he applauded the invention; laughed, played, and was ruined.

from Domestic anecdotes of the French nation, during the last thirty years, indicative of the French revolution by Isaac Disraeli.


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2009 7:53 pm

    Brilliant! You can bet that i’ll be posting something about the Pimpernel blog/store on my blog soon!
    Enchanté,
    Blair

  2. September 16, 2009 8:51 am

    Wonderful picture! I hope it is ok for me to use a picture or two of your waistcoats on my blog to show my readers your glourious site?!

  3. pimpernel permalink*
    September 16, 2009 10:17 am

    Thanks so much to both of you! Yes, using our pictures and mentioning us would be fine 🙂

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