Friday, July 19, 2013

Victorian Hand Analysis


This card, dating to 1893, was designed by Barbour's in-house art department.  I'm guessing that the artist who designed it consulted Owen Jones' The Grammar of Ornament. And the back of the card is as interesting as the front. So let's proceed to the hand analysis.


(As the newspaper's horoscope always disclaims, this is just for entertainment — I know you're not really an indolent tyrant.)


Oh, oh! I'm not doing well!


 Well, I'm in trouble, but I hope you did better!
 •  •  •
Going back to the beginning of this posting, many 19th-century graphic designers consulted newly published handbooks of historic ornament. The designer of the Barbours card may have used L'Ornement Polychrome, by Auguste Racinet. Here are several samples from that book:

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12 comments:

  1. It seems quite accurate in my case especially the feebleness of will power.

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    1. The uncanny accuracy is amazing, isn't it?

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  2. Hello Mark, I had better save a copy of this post and keep it next to my Fowler Phrenology books--maybe if I spot a pointy hand in advance, I can stave off that cruelty and deceit.

    Barbour's items, with their Hand trade mark, always are interesting, but this trade card has got to be the coolest of all. Now that you have pointed it out, I can see the design relationship to the Grammar of Ornament.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hi, Jim,

      Your comment made me realize that I've missed a bet by not finding what may have been the artist's reference. I'll look, and if I find an appropriate design, I'll edit the post. Thanks for the comment!

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  3. I am worried now - I don't even have a line of Saturn!!!
    The ornamentation also reminds me of Florentine paper designs.

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    1. I do have a line of Saturn, but it is very faint, so I guess I still have my work cut out for me.

      You are absolutely right about the design influence. All four samples that I added at the bottom are from the Italian Renaissance.

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  4. Thank goodness I have pointed hands without qualities of cruelty and deceit!

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    1. I have known all along that you have a taste for detail!

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  5. Hello Mark,
    Love those beautiful scrolls and colour selection. As for my hand lines, well, I'd rather not say, but I know I need a manicure. Fun post.
    Anyes
    xx

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    1. Hello, Anyes - These images remind me of the 19th-century ceramic phrenology heads, which I've always found attractively decorative, and just as strange.

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  6. Hello hello Mark!
    I know I'm late, but I couldn't resist letting you know how much I enjoyed this post-- what fun! I can't seem to pinpoint my own hand... Somewhere between pointed & square... But alas, my Line of the Head is all wrong-- I'm doomed to a feebleness of willpower!

    This is really such a beautifully designed card, and I think you're right-- it's got Owen Jones written all over it! It is truly one of my favorite books-- I think I'll allow my feeble willpower to postpone work for a bit of reading now...
    Warm regards,
    Erika

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    1. Hello, Erika,

      I'm sorry that you got bad feedback on your Line of the Head, but as I read it, there isn't any good feedback for that line!

      I am a great collector of 19th century design handbooks. I have a beautifully bound edition of Owen Jones' "The Grammar of Ornament," printed at its original size, and any number of paperback ornament encyclopedias reprinted by Dover. Thank goodness for that wonderful company!

      Best wishes,

      Mark

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