Archive for December 2004


extract from Blue Book for 1855

I hope the good Captain’s name wasn’t indicative of his nature, after all that desiccated cabbage. Seriously, for anyone interested in polar exploration, it’s hard to see how it could any better than this. First-hand reports from the men who were there, and the committees who directed them. Arctic Blue Books online, via a recent mefi post.

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Written by Dave Lovely

December 31, 2004 at 4:37 pm

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image from Hooke's Micrographia

"…let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…!"

And, as I write this, it is (just a little..).

Photograph of snowflakes

Silver gelatin print from Harvard’s Mineralogical and Geological Museum.

Compliments of the season to you all.

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Written by Dave Lovely

December 25, 2004 at 11:40 am

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O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

The history of the USA’s National Christmas Tree, from 1923 onwards.

From the President’s Park section of the US National Parks Service.

Don’t know about you, but it gives me a warm glow inside to know that Grace Coolidge was presented with "a basket of Christmas greens" in 1927. Wouldn’t have cut much ice with George Bush Sr., that, though I’m sure Mrs. Coolidge was charm personified: "Why, dear, broccoli. How thoughtful…" And just imagine it transposed to a British context: "Here y’are, mum. Bag o’ sprouts, mum. Beggin’ y’pardon, mum…."

A veritable festive microcosm of American history since the early 1920s.

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Written by Dave Lovely

December 24, 2004 at 7:54 pm

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In the summer of 1975, Bruce Jackson found a group of about two hundred 3×4 inch prison identification photographs, dating from between 1914 and 1937, in a drawer in the Arkansas penitentiary. As large-format (13×19 inch) images, their fading colours digitally stabilised, the human dignity of their subjects begins to re-emerge.

prison photograph

The images are mirrors, resonating with aspects of ourselves we perhaps have never before encountered…many of them are life size. You can’t trivialize them when they’re life size. Their eyes meet your eyes.

Many of these images can be seen in an online slideshow.

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Written by Dave Lovely

December 19, 2004 at 4:51 pm

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Pictorial Press

newspaper photograph

English Automobile Association scouts in training, from the New York Times, December 20th, 1914.

"During the World War I era, … leading newspapers took advantage of a new printing process that dramatically altered their ability to reproduce images. Rotogravure printing, which produced richly detailed, high quality illustrations—even on inexpensive newsprint paper—was used to create vivid new pictorial sections. Publishers that could afford to invest in the new technology saw sharp increases both in readership and advertising revenue."

Newspaper Pictorials – American Memory from the Library of Congress.

And, with a pigeon-posting tradition to keep up, how could Ramage pass on this?

newspaper pictorial page

Innocent and Efficient Participants in the War – pigeons at war, from the War of Nations pictorial supplement, New York Times, December 31st, 1919. The captions read: "London motor bus pressed into service on the Western front as a traveling loft for carrier pigeons." (top left); "Carrier pigeons being released at a remote point of the line in order to carry a message to French  Headquarters." (top right); and "British  motor cyclists taking carrier pigeons  to first line trenches, whence they will be sent back with messages when other means of communication are too slow or dangerous or lacking." (bottom)

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Written by Dave Lovely

December 17, 2004 at 6:54 pm

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Animalcules and atomies


Littleness: monad, mite, insect, emmet, fly, midge, gnat, shrimp, minnow, worm,
maggot, entozoon; bacteria; infusoria; microzoa; phytozoaria; microbe;
grub; tit, tomtit, runt, mouse, small fry; millet seed, mustard seed;
barleycorn; pebble, grain of sand; molehill, button, bubble.

cyanotype of lay-figures with microscopes

From Early Photographic Images (via life in the present).

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Written by Dave Lovely

December 13, 2004 at 10:22 pm

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Ambulant advertising

lithograph by Sir William Nicholson

"The Sandwich-Man". Lithograph by Sir William Nicholson, from "London Types", published by William Heinemann, London 1898.

An ill March noon; the flagstones gray
with dust;
An all-round east wind volleying straws and grit;
St Martin’s steps, where every venomous gust
Lingers to buffet, or sneap, the passing cit;
And in the gutter, squelching a rotten boot,
Draped in a wrap that, modish ten year syne,
Partners, obscene with sweat and grease and soot,
A horrible hat, that once was just as
The drunkard’s mouth a-wash for something drinkable,
The drunkard’s eye alert for casual
The drunkard’s neck stooped to a lot
scarce thinkable,
living, crawling blazoning of Hot Coppers,
He trails his mildews-with a Kingdom-Come
Compact of ‘sausage-and-mash’ and ‘two-o’rum!’

Sonnet by W.E. Henley, from "London Types"

Here are some more walking billboards, including, fourth from left, a turtle sandwich:

engraving by George Scharf

From left to right, the billboards read, ‘Anatomical Model of the Human Figure’, ‘Giraffes at the Surrey Zoological Gardens at Regent Street’, ‘Linen, Haberdasher, Silks, Cambric…’,  ‘Port Wine’, ‘Gril and Son, Wood Letters Manufacturers, Newport Market and ‘Catlin’s Indian Exhibition Hall – 500 portraits, drapes, scalps, wigwams. Admission One Shilling’.

London placard-carriers and ‘sandwich men’, 1820-1840, an article at the urban75 e-zine.

The engraving is by George Scharf, an interesting artist about whom you can read more at the educational website Spartacus.

Some rather more sophisticated, though less ambulant, advertising images can be found at the wonderful Picture Gallery of the History of Advertising Trust, an organisation which "rescues and conserves the UK’s advertising and brand communications heritage for study."

Here, for example, are some illustrators at Dorland’s Advertising creating new material in 1920.

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Written by Dave Lovely

December 12, 2004 at 6:10 pm

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