Niagara Falls Frozen

Seemingly, this photograph has being doing the rounds for a while (though today is the first time I’ve set eyes on it).

I’ve read that the date on the caption on the image is probably wrong, as Niagara Falls did not freeze in that year — and also that it is unlikely that the water would totally freeze over , no matter how low the temperature drops. But the photograph is meant to be authentic — just wrongly dated. Anyway, who cares — I just like the look of the photograph. I love to look at old images of places which are now well-known landmarks — all that as-it-was-then stuff. I particularly like it when the photograph is of a now well-known building which is in the early stages of construction and it is especially nice when there are some people in the picture (so I can check out what they were wearing).


I’m still using my Tumblr blog as a kind of for-my-own-use repository for images I like to look at. Pictures often say enough, without the need for words and in that, of course, Tumblr excells. Anything with rain in it I love. Beautiful rain, it changes everything; excitement charges through the air when rain is around.

Image from my Tumblr blog

original source

Already Thinking of Christmas

I don’t know why I am — but I am…  Thinking of Christmas that is. I know even mentioning it in June — when we haven’t even had a summer — is somewhat beyond the pale but it just came upon me and might wear off. There’s a kind of hate thing going on with stores, etc who bring in their Christmas-themed stuff too early. I understand the irritation but personally it can never come soon enough — say around August  (I’m kidding but not much). I know its all about cynical attempts to squeeze the last of our cash out of us but I don’t care, as you don’t need to spend anything to soak up the atmosphere.

I think it was this little vintage playing card that brought my Christmasitus:

The card’s in my store and  will probably still be there next year because the shop is very difficult to find (I don’t advertise the store, mostly because I kind of like its tucked-awayness). I love vintage skiing images, especially when they’re tied in with Christmas. It reminds me of those old Christmas movies where a group of friends take off to a remote (but mysteriously fully-stocked) ski lodge for an impromptu Christmas get together. Something like Wham tried to recreate but in the much cooler 30′s.

I like this too (partly because my Daddy also liked the ponies). Christmasy and funny. Utter perfection:

Strange Painting

An image of a strange painting from my Tumblr blog (sources there):

The title is The Stroll and it was painted by Gertrude Abercrombie, who was considered to be a bohemian artist and lived a pretty unconventional lifestyle. The black cat, the solitary ‘witch-like’ person and the barren landscape were a recurring theme in Abercrombie’s work. She died broke and with an alcohol problem in the 1970′s (another tortured soul).


Fakes and Forgeries: the Tiara of Saitaferne

I read somewhere that up to around 20% of exhibits in museums and galleries are fakes or forgeries. That’s a much higher percentage than I would have guessed but not that surprising if you really think about it. The motivation is there for the sellers of the forged items: money or perhaps some small prestige — or it may be that some of them believe the item to be genuine, because it was sold or given to them as such.

But how are the museum experts fooled — even if the item is so convincing that it persuades the expert of its authenticity — surely they must carry out some very stringent research on the provenance of all the item they choose to display? And there must be some pretty sophisticated and accurate tools available to the museum to carry out tests to determine the age of an object.

My take on it is this

  • most of the a fakes have been on display in the museum for years and their acquisition predates highly developed means to age-date items
  • the experts either know or suspect that some items on display are not genuine but choose not to disclose this for a number (obvious) of reasons
  • the creators of more recent fakes are well-studied in the technology used to date items and may use scientific methods to prevent detection

Which leads me to The Tiara of Saitaferne  (it was called a tiara but actually looks like a cap):

Sometime in the 1890′s the Louvre museum in Paris purchased the tiara for around 200,000 gold francs — believing that it dated from somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC and that it had belonged to Saitapharnes, a Scythian king. From the start the authenticity of the tiara was called into question by a number of outside experts, but the Louvre insisted that is was a legitimate ancient artifact.

Then …. a goldsmith called Israel Rouchomovsky enters the picture….

Rouchomovsky had heard about the controversy surrounding the tiara and his suspicions were aroused — for he been commissioned to make such a tiara some ten years before. The buyers — dealers known as the Hochman brothers — had told him the tiara was to be a gift to an archaeologist friend. They provided the goldsmith with inscriptions from a recent archaeological dig, to be used as detailing on the tiara.

Rouchomovsky traveled to Paris to find out if the tiara is in fact his creation — and discovered that this was indeed the case. Initially, officials at the  Louvre refused to believe him — but could deny it no more when he reproduced a section of the tiara.

The Louvre came in for a bit of ribbing in the press but got off with their (embarrassing and expensive) mistake fairly lightly, desperately playing the whole thing down. Rouchomovsky went on to be a famed goldsmith (no doubt helped by the publicity generated by the debacle over the tiara, and the Hockman bothers  — I’ve no idea what happened to them…

But…  if they did it once — and got away with it for years, then it is very unlikely that this was the only little con job they pulled off. Just think of that next time you are gazing in wonder at some treasure from ancient times — could the Hockman brothers have had their sticky hands in its creation?

Good Girl Gone Bad

I like this image from Tumblr — mainly because I love the creation the girl’s wearing in her hair (I’d wear that in a heartbeat):

I didn’t know where the image came from but after a little research I found it was from an old book of cautionary tales on the evils that lie in wait for innocent girls in dance halls and other places of ill-repute. Some more images:

So, some cad wines and dines a poor working girl (not in the ‘oldest profession’ meaning of the term), lowers her defences by means of plying her with drink and whispered sweet nothings, then leads her to a hotel and a fate worse than death. We may scoff at the moralising here but when you really think about it the message in the book makes a lot of sense, given the way society was at that time. If a girl found herself ‘in trouble’ following her encounter it’s unlikely that the bounder would be staying around to play Daddy.


Lenci Doll

I sometimes sell antique and vintage dolls in the store, though not Lenci dolls — but only because I’ve not come across one yet. Lenci dolls are still being produced and the prices are reasonable enough — but it’s the antiques ones I’d be interested in (even though this one looks like the personification of evil).

Scary-looking Lenci doll.

Talk about giving someone a bad look — she sure looks like she’s resenting something

Old Cabinet Card

We bought a pile of Victorian cabinet cards recently — mostly to sell in the shop but also because we like collecting them. Usually we buy ones where the sitters are wearing pretty elaborate costumes — all dressed up in their Victorian best for their day in front of the camera — but we bought this one because it stood out as different from the rest:

Victorian cabinet card.

At first we thought this was a sweet looking older lady but the more I look at it the more I find her slightly sinister — and possibly not as old as I first thought:

There’s something about the look in her eyes that I don’t like (apart from the fact they appear to be looking in two different directions). And I think she only looks older because of what might be an absence of teeth. Or perhaps not — I sometimes read sinister into practically everything.