Over the course of my internship at Abbey House, I've worked with a wide range of objects, from antique chocolate box labels and Punch and Judy puppets to 1980s newspapers and World War One propaganda. Among the most intriguing and unique items I've found have been the souvenir roses produced by Joseph, Myers and Co. around the middle of the nineteenth century. These were delicate paper items, cut into the shape of a rose when folded and then opened out several times to form a roughly circular shape, decorated on both sides with intricate engravings depicting a number of scenes from a particular location.
Our collection contains twelve of these roses, from London, Paris, Edinburgh, Crystal Palace, Leicester, Manchester (two examples), Brighton, Southampton & Portsmouth (on a single rose), Hastings and St. Leonard's (on a single rose, two examples), and Switzerland, which is depicted on a posy rather than a rose.
We also have a set of leaflets advertising these roses and giving details of the whole range, which included 42 roses in total at the time of publication, with another six designs on their way. These included a great number of German scenes, as well as the "Winter's Tale Rose", which was advertised as containing "all the scenes in Shakespeare's play of the 'Winter's Tale". It was accompanied by a short description of the play itself, and the envelope it came in had a picture of the Princess' Theatre, where the play had recently been performed.
Most date from the 1850s and 1860s.
Posted by Kitty Ross on behalf of Sam Ross, who worked diligently as an intern working on the social history ephemera collections during the summer of 2011.