• Deborah Yaffe

Regency striptease

When I was a kid, I – or perhaps my sister -- owned a novelty pen bearing an image of Botticelli’s Venus in a bathing suit. (Or was it a strategically positioned giant seashell? Can’t remember now. The mists of time are thick.) In any case, when you tipped the pen sideways, the suit/shell slid away, revealing the naked goddess in all her painted glory.


It is, no doubt, a sign of my perversity that this creepy toy came to mind recently when I happened across the “Jane Austen’s Regency Finery Heat-Transforming Mug,” available in the online shops of venues with pretensions to classiness, such as the BBC and the New York Public Library.


Around the mug, amid fashion-related quotes from Austen’s novels, pace four young ladies in Regency bonnets, pelisses, and day dresses. But add a hot drink and voilà! Off come the bonnets and pelisses. . .


. . . and on go the evening gowns and opera-length gloves.


OK, it’s not quite as unpleasant as the stripper-Venus pen of my youth. But it still wouldn’t be my choice for morning coffee.

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