Pearlware pottery commemorative mug printed with George IV and his mistress on a trip to Carlton House, circa 1820

This mug is celebrating the invention of the foot-powered Velocipede also known as Dandy Horse or Hobby Horse, hides a secret of particular relevance to Brighton and the Prince Regent. As recorded by Stella Beddoe, the Laufmaschine invented by Baron Karl von Dais of Mannheim in 1817 was patented by Denis Johnson of London the following and soon became all the rage for promenading Dandies. By 1819 four machines had been sent down to “the Kremlin at Brighton” – that is, the derogatory nickname of the Royal Pavilion and its 44-horse stables which now house the Museum & Art Gallery – which offered obvious possibilities for the wicked pen of the caricaturist George Cruickshank. At least three of his engravings were published in 1819, depicting a portly and pampered Prince Regent on a velocipede wrestling with a voluptuous matronly woman clearly identified by the various print titles as his long-term mistress and confidante Lady Hertford: “A Prince Driving his Hobby in HERDFORD ”, “Exercising a Hobby from Wales to Hertford” and ROYAL HOBBY’S or the Hertfordshire Cock-horse”. The same theme with its bawdy imagery drastically toned down was later used on children’s plates like Willett No.1177  with the harmless title “A VISIT TO CARLTON HOUSE” – that being the Prince Regent’s London home for 40 years. After Lady Hertford was abandoned in 1819 in favour of a new mistress, Lady Richmond, the same nursery plate print was quickly adapted with a new title, “A Visit from RICHMOND to CARLTON HOUSE”, continuing the joke which could be enjoyed by adults and children on very different levels: pure pantomime double entendre humour that has never lost its appeal. Article by Robin Hildyard

Height: 3 ⅜”

Diameter: 3 ⅝”

In good condition