The Victorian era was when colonialism and the Industrial Revolution collided, and the fashion was to collect interesting objects, or any objects at all, to stuff one’s home with. Disposable income led to rampant consumerism, and an obsession with “things.” The Sambournes were an example, if not the epitome of this consumerism.
One of Punch’s best-known cartoonists and illustrators, Edward Linley Sambourne, and his wife, Marion, occupied a house at 18 Stafford Terrace in London’s Kensington and Chelsea Borough. They moved in as newlyweds in the 1870s and lived there until their deaths four decades later. Preserved as a museum, 18 Stafford Terrace stands as a temple of well-appointed late-Victorian comfort, most of its original objects still in situ. Marion’s diaries chronicle the life of the house and keep a running list of its contents, including more than 550 pieces of furniture. Her art- and furniture-loving husband spent a lifetime adding to the domestic load. The museum website suggests his acquisitive tendencies caused his spouse agitation: The master of the house attended auctions and sales until he died, a habit that added “ever more objects to the interiors, often to Marion’s despair.”
One detail, plucked from Marion Sambourne’s diaries by Shirley Nicholson for her book A Victorian Household, staggers me: The family owned 66 upright chairs. Many were used in the dining room and drawing room, as one would expect, but ten found their way to the master bedroom and another ten more occupied the day-nursery.
This apparently wasn’t considered over the top for the time.
While Britain was the prime example of consumerism at the time, and the reason we call it the Victorian Era at all, examples of runaway acquisition could be found all over the world. Read about the rise of “things” at Literary Hub.-via Strange Company
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