The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Entries from January 2009

Children’s Card Games (44)

January 30th, 2009 · 2 Comments

The Ariston company, in Detmold (Germany), was responsible for “Märchenquartett” (“Fairy Tale Quartet”), one of many games that requires its players to assemble four scenes from a folktale.  I’ve chosen a lively vignette from that perennial favorite, “The Frog King.”  His Majesty is obviously the life of the party. (Posted by Doug Skinner) 

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

The Digital Backlash (3)

January 30th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Somewhere in my stash of percussion instruments and noisemakers is an old novelty item: a battery-operated phone bell.  The idea was to hide it in your jacket, so people would think you had a phone in your pocket.  The surprise and merriment that followed would make you less unpopular. Today, of course, everyone has a cell phone […]

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Tags: Technology

The Mystery Picture

January 24th, 2009 · 6 Comments

One of our members, Dr. Mamie Caton, found this photo tucked into a book in a hotel room in Peru.  Does anyone know where it comes from?  Is it a mural?  A sidewalk painting?  Why have these particular elements been brought together in this way?  Any information would be appreciated. (Posted by Doug Skinner) 

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Tags: Mysteries

Children’s Card Games (43)

January 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

Parker Brothers published “Make-a-Million” in 1934.  The rules take up 8 pages of small type; once you’ve mastered them, though, you’ll enjoy “simplicity, novelty, and excitement!” The Tiger is a wild card in the game.  It may be a holdover from the once popular game of faro, which, for some reason, was always associated with tigers: […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

The Digital Backlash (2)

January 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

Digital know-how has spawned crackerjack gizmos, oh boy; but we must note growing disenchantment.  The scaffolding we’ve erected is getting rickety. The center, for example, often no longer holds, and mere chaos is loosed upon the post office.  When I stopped by the other day, all the credit and debit card gizmos were down, so all transactions […]

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Tags: Technology

Children’s Card Games (42)

January 16th, 2009 · 3 Comments

“Piggy” is even more of a foundling than most: it’s crudely printed on cheap cardboard, and carries no date, copyright, or publisher.  It’s another variant on “Old Maid”; players collect pairs of such cheerful creations as Danny here, and try not to end up with Piggy.  Nobody wants to end up with Piggy. (Posted by Doug […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

Casanova and the Spooklight

January 16th, 2009 · No Comments

It was, perhaps, near the end of August, 1743, that Casanova encountered, of all things, a spooklight.  I say “perhaps” because scholars on the Casanova beat have found some hiccups in his chronology.  At any rate, he left this intriguing description in his memoirs (Volume 1, Chapter 8).  These odd lights — earth lights, will […]

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Tags: Belief Systems · Forteana · Literature

Children’s Card Games (41)

January 9th, 2009 · 1 Comment

“Lecardo” was published in London; no date, and no publisher listed except “Lecardo.”  The idea, as you can see, was to combine standard playing cards, dominoes, and a word building game all in one deck.  According to the rules pamphlet, however, the object was not simply to offer a versatile deck; but to invent a […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

The Names of the Toes

January 9th, 2009 · 12 Comments

English has no names for the toes.  Each finger has a name; the fifth has at least three: little, pinky, and auricular.  But the toes are anonymous. English isn’t alone in this; most languages see no reason to name toes.  The only exception I know of is Swedish, which, thanks to a nursery rhyme, lists […]

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Tags: Education · Suggestions

Children’s Card Games (40)

January 2nd, 2009 · 8 Comments

Here we have a few images from a 1905 Milton Bradley edition of “Dr. Busby.”  As you may recall, he popped up earlier, making a guest appearance in an “Old Maid” deck (#33 in our survey, posted 11/13/08).  Like “Old Maid,” there were many editions; this Dr. Busby is certainly a more dour practitioner than the […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera