War Wedding

I came across this old piece of (silent) film of a wedding of a soldier and a nurse which took place at a camp church attached to a military hospital in the Northern Territory, Australia in 1943.

I love how they made the best of things, the happy look on all their faces and the messages they wrote on the trucks. Just a sweet piece of history.

Science is rather interesting…

Oh yes indeed. I can’t understand why little kids are not jumping up and down all over the place, getting excited about all things scientific — but here are some reasons (the comments here are very revealing).

Anyway, what brought all this on is that I’ve just had a look at The Repository — one of the blogs on the Royal Society website — and a jolly good read it is too. Here’s some images from a couple of the blog posts:

Francis Willughby Historia Piscium

From: Sir Joseph Banks and the Emperor of Morocco: a tale

On a related note — looks like someone was not too impressed by a Royal Society report on population and consumption.

Another Scary Victorian Doll

A photograph of a little girl, with her doll in the background. This might be from the Victorian era or it may be Edwardian. Once again, the doll looks as if it should be haunting a room somewhere or making inexplicable reappearances after the family got rid of it in a deep dark hole (just like my monkey-thing).

Most old dolls, especially Victorian ones, look pretty sinister in photographs. I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that the doll were designed to look like adults, as opposed to babies or children. But even the baby doll ones can look menacing after they’re been kicking around for a while and have lost an eye or two. The exception are Norah Wellings dolls, which always look cute.

Historical Hottie: Bad Boy Thief

A 1902 mugshot of a good looking bad boy who was arrested at North Shields Police Station in England. I was in two minds whether to put him in the Historical Hottie or the Mugshot category (a grave decision indeed) but — look at that cheeky face — the epitome of Dead Cute, so he deserves to join the other beauties of yesteryear. I need to leave moral judgements out of the equation when choosing Historical Hotties — and perhaps the little darling only stole to feed his family or was motivated by some other noble desire. And he’s called James — my very favourite male name — I’ve never met a James I did not like. So, having navigated through this stringent qualifying procedure — almost scientific in its rigor — this charmer is in:

Source: Tyne and Wear collection

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

The Sea and the Sky

On my way back from somewhere a while ago I decided to walk down to the sea front. The thing about moving to a place near the sea is that when you first get there it’s all “Whoo — the SEA! But by the time you’ve been living there a while you’ve seen it so much that the novelty wears off and you go into ‘whatever’ mode. Sometimes it’s because you’re just too busy to stop and take a look and at others times it’s because you can’t actually see the sea for the hordes of day-trippers and tourists that take over the place. Not that I mind them — I’ve spend most of my life living in tourist destinations and honestly believe that the pluses outweigh the minuses. Anyway,this day the place was strangely deserted and I took this picture:

No big deal but I’m trying to use my camera as much as possible to improve my (non-existent) photographic skills. I was attempting to photograph only the sky but accidentally got the lamp post and other stuff (including an entire pier) in by mistake. It looks excessively blue for some reason and also a bit gloomy — but it was around nine at night by then and I was getting a little creeped out hanging around there on my own (tourists by day but some ‘unusual’ characters when night falls…).

Waking Life

The animated film Waking Life was made in 2001 but somehow I managed not to hear about it until now. It deals with issues related to dreams, reality and consciousness. Sounds intriguing and I’m interested enough to buy the DVD at some point. I’ll have to be in the right mood to watch it, though — as I usually watch movies for the pure entertainment factor and mostly avoid anything which demands too much in the way of thinking. I’m interested in the whole area of dreams/reality but if they throw too much philosophical gobbledegook into the mix I might lose interest.