Humble Pie

Carol Smith's yummy miniature three dimensional Raised Pie

Stephen was too tired last night to cut out Belle and I had forgotten that I had to go out anyway ( sorry to disappoint so many of you who are waiting- ) so I hope you will forgive me if I leave Belle for tomorrow’s post ( promise) and today, in place of her, talk about that most amazing of surviving dummy boards, The Raised Pie!

I have seen some very strange items in my time as the “The DUMMY BOARD Queen”…yes – ’tis what my friends have dubbed me. I don’t mind. I’m not a Royalist but that doesn’t matter. If I must have a nickname, this one, perhaps, is the kindest! It might otherwise have been ” That silly ol’ nutcase who bangs on about cut out flat things, that don’t exist!” Mmmm…?

Now can I hear you sniggering, “Why ever would anyone want to depict a Pork Pie as a dummy board? Don’t be daft!”

We have to cast ourselves back to about 1740….no – not a twenty to six last evening….seventeenforty; five years before the Jacobite Rebellion, two years after the invention of the first flush toilet, five years after the building of the dollshouse at Nostell Priory ( see an up and coming post on this blog ) and the year when Handel wrote his opera Imeneo. ( I gotta get George Frederick in. ‘cos I just LOVE him). His connection to pork pies…? Well he was a large gentleman who was rather a gourmand. I bet he sank a few pies in his lifetime….:)

Anyway, we are trudging our way to market, in 1740. Miles. No buses, no taxis and we are rather poor so we don’t have a horse. We do have a heavy pack on our back though and we are rather parched and thirsty. The sun is beating down. We have hiked through a few villages…no pubs ( d**n! ) and we are beginning to have hallucinations about a nice jack of ale and a slice of pie!

Or are we?

No – we don’t think so.

We really can see a raised pork pie in the open window of a wayside inn that we happen to be passing. So big and juicy; someone has already had a slice so it must be alright…..and we can smell it from here. Well…No..actually – that’s something we can’t do, because it’s made of cardboard

The mid 18th c. Pork Pie. Oils on pasteboard

First produced in the middle of the 17th century as rich man’s party accessories, this type of figure then began to be used in the Inn or Eating House, as adverts. This Pork Pie dummy board and other food like it would have been displayed on a window ledge or a shelf. Guaranteed to set the mouth of the passer by watering, these realistic renditions of foodstuffs would have been made by jobbing sign painters, probably the same ones who had previously run up the Public House sign.

So realistic were they that they drew crowds of admirers prompting the comment that one particular sign “far exceeded all the other signs in the street; the painter having shewn a masterly judgement… it looked rather like a capital picture in a gallery than a sign in the street.”
Sadly these sorts of dummy board adverts have not fared well over the centuries. Often made on pasteboard, a kind of layered cardboard, once they became dog-eared and scruffy, they were discarded and even the figures painted on wood were not considered worth keeping when they became a little tired. This mid 18th century dummy board ,hand painted on pasteboard in oils and varnished, is in private collection in England and has recently been restored.

Not terribly exciting to look at I know …certainly…but the most amazing survivor, from the days when we had no television, no photographs, no computers, few illustrated books, very little public imagery and life, for most, was dull and colourless; from a time two hundred and fifty years ago when, the ingenuous, ill – educated, simple soul, could easily be fooled by a bit of cardboard and paint.

How many things that we know of now, made of cardboard , will be around in 2260?

Just rubbishy non biodegradable packaging in landfills I suppose.

See Carol’s work on Artisans in Miniature

and on her Etsy site

and the raised pie miniature at

The PastMastery Raised pie, one inch, oil on basswood

One Response to “Humble Pie”

  1. Taking Shape « Pastmastery's Blog Says:

    […] would use to attract visitors to his establishment. Rather like the Raised pie we talked about in Humble Pie, it could have been an advert for the sort of fine fare you might be served up if you dined […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: