Sunday, 13 July 2014

Edwardian tourist tat

London is awash with tacky souvenirs: improbable snow globe scenes, inaccurate plastic postboxes on keyrings, child-sized fake policemen's hats. While cheap plastic may have helped in their proliferation, they are by no means a new thing. One of the cups in my lithophane collection is a perfect Edwardian example. 

What could say 'London' more clearly than a Delft-inspired rural scene? In fact, there is nothing obvious about this cup to suggest that it has anything to do with the metropolis.

However, a quick look inside the cup confirms that this is about generic cheapness rather than understatement or subtlety. The base of the cup takes us straight to one of London's best-known landmarks. Except...

Isn't the clock tower supposed to be attached to the Houses of Parliament? Which are bigger than they appear here? And isn't that rural road with the apparent lawn to one side meant to be Westminster Bridge and the Thames? In fact, hasn't this image been produced by somebody with only a vague idea of what the Houses of Parliament looks like?

So, next time a questionable souvenir catches your eye, just remember not to be nostalgic for the good old days!

1 comment:

Hels said...

I wonder if that is true for all souvenirs i.e that they start of mass produced and with inaccurate images, then 100 years later they are more valued for their nostalgia value. Certainly Mauchline Ware had fine wood and intricate decoration, but some of the images were very touristy.

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