Blog Post – When baby hand and footprint mementoes became trendy

Britain’s royal family have long been leaders in fashion, art and design, and in launching exciting new innovations. This was due to having access to fresh thinking, being closely connected to the many other foreign aristocracies around Europe’s numerous royal households and to being able to afford the best craftsmen and artists who could create wonderful baby mementos and the treasures they desired. This lead to the first baby hand and footprints commissioned by Queen Victoria in England.

As the recent TV drama portrayed, a young Queen Victoria was one of our foremost royal trendsetters. While reigning as our longest serving queen, she had a strong and affectionate marriage to Albert, with whom she had nine children. It had been customary since the time of Henry VIII, three centuries earlier, for England’s kings and queens to commission portraits of themselves, their spouses and children (and often their pets too!)

But Victoria introduced a completely new idea. She commissioned the sculptor Mary Thornycroft to sculpt alabaster replicas of the hands and feet of her children. She also had a cast made of Albert’s hand. When Albert died, the distraught Victoria kept the memento beside her bed so that when she woke she could reach out and touch her beloved husbands hand.

The sculptures of Victoria’s children’s hands can still be seen today at Osborne House, her holiday home in the isle of wight, and at Windsor. As well as being poignant and cherished heirlooms for today’s royal family, they are beautiful and tender recollections of precious moments in time of a real family’s infants from over a century ago.

Ceramic paint prints and clay impressions of little hands and feet are no longer the sole preserve of royalty but have today again soared in popularity, as so many parents realise that no photograph of an infant can convey in the same way the unique and actual size of a tiny new baby’s delicate hand or foot.

Needless to say these days we create beautiful, bespoke and contemporary pieces that add something special to any family home.

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