Decorated in water-colours with Cartoons, Rebuses, Charades, and Riddles in English and French. This pair of hand-held fire screens is exactly 200 years old this month.

38 x 25 cm (15 x 10 inches) Ebony handles, Card backing with gold edges.


The central poem is this New Years greeting: -

Still may the morn with fairest lustre rise
And find thee still more happy and more wise
The smiling year with some new pleasure crown
And add some virtue to the past unknown.

January 1st 1809




What are these screens?

Imagine you are a lady living 200 years ago. It is a cold January and you are living in a huge house which impresses the neighbours. However electricity will not be available for nearly 100 years, there is no gas, and the only warmth comes from a blazing log fire. It is only 4 years since Count Rumford described how to build an efficient fireplace and your fireplace has not yet been Rumfordised, and most of the heat from your fire is vanishing up the large chimney. As the draught rushes up the chimney it pulls more cold air in through the draughty doors and windows. The only heat you can get is from the radiant heat direct from the fire.

Alas, 200 years ago, most of your makeup was wax based. If you warmed up your face, your make-up will run and you will look like a mix between a zebra and a strawberry-slice. So these face screens were invented for when your neighbour came round for a girly chat. Using them you could protect your face from the direct heat while the rest of you kept warm; and at the same time you could solve the puzzles.



This interesting sketch is about the news from Corunna.

The screen is dated the January 1st, and only 15 days later, on the 16th, the battle of Corunna took place.