Somewhere last week I found a message on the internetty from someone talking about roses. I have absolutely no idea who or in what context or on what website now, but from that I found that in 1978 Jack Harkness wrote a book entitled "Roses" and he apparently gave a certain amount of history behind individual roses. Again, I'm not sure how I found out, but it was apparent that Caroline Testout was mentioned. So, impatient soul that I am, I searched on Abebooks immediately, found said book, ordered it and much to my pleasure it arrived today as I was ploughing through a mountain of ironing ... all stock I hasten to add, nothing as interminable as clothes ironing. (I have to tell you here that I absolutely h a t e ironing, unless it's crochet edged tablecloths or linen pillowcases!!)
Anyway, I digress ...
I'm sure the late Jack Harkness won't mind if I quote a paragraph from the section on Caroline Testout.
"... The original Caroline Testout was engaged in selling Parisian fashions through a London showroom. She bought the name of the rose as an advertisment, being not only wise in her generation, but considerably in advance of it. It is usually hinted or assumed that Pernet-Ducher was quite taken in by the sharp lady, and sold her a rose he had little expectation from; but I do not know the evidence of this. In fact it is difficult to evaluate a rose until it has been on the market three or four years, and most breeders are content to share the risks with those who buy varieties or names from them. ... "
So, there we have it: it doesn't actually say she was a designer, but she sold Parisian fashions in London; she was wise and ahead of her time, sharp and on the ball. She was no daft cookie, was she. I imagine on the strength of this that she probably commissioned the tablecloth, too. I wonder if mine was the only one, or whether the cloths, too, were part of her advertising campaign.
I would have loved to have met her. Another time, another place ...
Now I have to decide whether I should keep the cloth a while longer in the hope of having enough time to research her even further (I don't have enough time as it is) or whether to use the provenance, take a leaf out of her book, and sell this amazing cloth to a rose grower and recoup some of the money Caroline paid out to have the rose named after her!!! Whatever I decide, she certainly chose the right rose. Whatever the grower thought at the time, it turned out to be a rose of particular excellence and can still be found today, 117 years after its introduction. The girl done good!
BUT ... wait a minute ... how spooky is this? I was just waiting for the photo to upload and saw I had an email ... from ANNA who has just left a message on my original post. She has even more information ... so watch this space. Thank you, Anna! Yes please, I would love to receive the additional information. Please email so I can reply to you direct! It's quite exciting, isn't it, and does rather answer the question I posed in the previous paragraph. She's not going anywhere for the time being!