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England

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Which British Animal is More Royal than the Rest?

February 7, 2018

Before you snatch a swan from London’s River Thames to keep as your pet, consider something first. Besides getting the graceful feathered animal through customs, you’d also be stealing from her royal highness, Queen Elizabeth II. By prerogative power, the “Seignor of Swans” (aka the Queen) owns every swan in open waters within England and Wales. It’s a peculiar statute that dates back to medieval times, when the birds were considered a delicacy and served on dinner tables of the super wealthy. They don’t eat them anymore, but being the animal lover she is, the Queen just can’t let them go. She even participates in a royal “Swan Upping.” Every third week in July, Elizabeth—or rather her team of “upping” experts—gathers all unmarked swans, tags them, and sets them free. Is your dream crushed? Don’t let this stop you! Should you become close friends with the sovereign, she might grant you ownership of your own royal swan. It may be worth sticking your neck out.

Swan Slippers | $34

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration:
Meet Richard Glass

December 20, 2017

We sell loads of glass here at UncommonGoods, and I often joke with my friends that it’s not quite my thing—that I appreciate the artistry of it, but it just doesn’t speak to me the way, say, a piece of jewelry does. (As a former art history student who doesn’t much dig Impressionism, I’m pretty practiced at delivering that type of spiel.) To be totally honest, though, I’ve come to see glass in a new light since speaking with so many of our wonderful makers. They give their work a personality and meaning that I, a relative philistine, at least as far as glass goes, hadn’t really considered before. And Richard Glass is no exception… though he is, we concede, exceptionally well-named.

We were first introduced to Richard’s handiwork—his Saturn Glass Sculptural Bowl in particular—in a meeting room in our office in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and we soon reached out to him in search of answers to questions like: “Why glass?” and “What inspires you?” What we received were some seriously delightful insights into his past and passions, complete with anecdotes that made us chuckle and wise words that made us go hmm at our desks. Read on for our Q&A with Richard, complete with a sneak peek into his dazzling workspace in Devon, England.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Is the Unicorn Ready to Rumble?

November 7, 2016

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With Scotland getting prickly as a thistle about staying in the UK post-Brexit, you might think such strife is a recent phenomenon. Nae, laddy—the roots of unrest between England and Scotland run deep and are reflected in the British royal coat-of-arms itself. The lion and the unicorn therein might look like they’re happily cooperating to support the heraldic shield in the center, but folklore has it that the two beasts aren’t exactly besties. The unicorn hails from the 14th century Scottish coat-of-arms, while the lion traditionally stands for England. And when James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, the two iconic animals were forced into coat-of-arms cooperation. But the beef between the two goes back over 5,000 years to ancient Babylonian mythology, where the unicorn represented spring and the lion stood for summer. Each year, the two fought for supremacy—and each year the lion eventually won. A popular English nursery rhyme reflects this ongoing animosity, as well as historic wars between England and Scotland:

The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown;
The lion beat the unicorn
All round about the town.

For the time being at least, these age-old rivals continue to coexist, though the Scottish unicorn may be asking himself “should I stay or should I go?”

LED Unicorn Lamp | $78

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