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Title: A little ridicule

Collection: The Regency Wardrobe

Garment: Woman’s ridicule

Size: Life-size


When Emma encounters Mrs Elton visiting Jane Fairfax she sees Mrs Elton anxiously fold up a letter and return it to her ridicule.

“…Emma saw symptoms of it immediately in the expression of her face; and while paying her own compliments to Mrs. Bates, and appearing to attend to the good old lady's replies, she saw her with a sort of anxious parade of mystery fold up a letter which she had apparently been reading aloud to Miss Fairfax, and return it into the purple and gold ridicule by her side, saying, with significant nods…Let us be discreet -- quite on our good behaviour. Hush! You remember those lines -- I forget the poem at this moment…”- Emma, Jane Austen


In ladies’ magazines of the time this little purse was often called a ridicule rather than a reticule. It seems the terms were used interchangeably. Both words come from the French word for a small handbag, réticule, which in turn came from the Latin rēticulum for a small meshwork bag. It is possible that ridicule was a pun on the French word.


Inspired by the colours of Mrs Elton’s ridicule this was the last piece made for The Regency Wardrobe collection. Inside is apparently a secret letter (as if half hidden from Emma). It has a purple wax seal in which is embedded a fingerprint that identifies the maker of A little ridicule. The beads are made of strips of paper and have wording upon them (perhaps cut from the letter).


A little Ridicule is presented in a unique, handcrafted, free standing, wooden frame in black and gold. Inside it is lain upon black velvet board at the centre of which a hole has been cut to allow light from behind to pass through the reticule in order that it glows lilac in colour and the outine of the letter can be seen.

A little Ridicule

  • This unique 'one off' piece is available to purchase.

    Please click here to discuss purchase options direct with Stephanie at the House of Embroidered Paper.

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