The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Entries from June 2009

Children’s Card Games (65)

June 29th, 2009 · 3 Comments

“Avilude, or Game of Birds,” was published by West & Lee in 1873.  As you might expect, you collect sets of birds, thus learning some natural history as you compete. The classification of birds is eccentric, and worth reprinting: wading, pigeon tribe, honey eaters, web-footed, birds of prey, running birds, singing birds, talking. (Posted by […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

A Spirit Drawing From Victor Hugo

June 29th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Spiritualism was all the rage in France in the 1850s; like many others, Victor Hugo and his household experimented with seances, table-rapping, and channeled communications.  This intriguing drawing dates from sometime around 1854. Hugo’s large body of graphic work may be unfamiliar to some of you: he left behind more than 3500 drawings.  He had a particular […]

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Tags: Animals · Belief Systems · Diversions · Literature

Children’s Card Games (64)

June 18th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Another artist works away in another edition of “Old Maid.”  This deck is contemporary; it has no indication of date or publisher; it’s cheaply printed.  And here’s that Old Maid:  (Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

Rubber Stamp Stereoscopy

June 17th, 2009 · 3 Comments

There are many ways to produce a stereo image, some more high tech than others: stereo cameras, two cameras, digital manipulation of a photo or drawing.  One of the simplest is just to place two identical objects a few inches apart, and photograph them.  You then get two perspectives of the same image, and you […]

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Tags: Diversions · Stereoscopy

The Children Sleep in the Cabinet of Curiosities

June 15th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Forteana and family life don’t always mix.  The sketch above is taken from Thackerayana, an 1875 compilation of the graphic work of William Makepeace Thackeray: cartoons, illustrations, travel sketches, marginal sketches.  He made this one in the margin of “The Mirror,” a Scottish magazine from 1779.  And here’s the passage that inspired it: A wife is writing […]

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Tags: Forteana · Literature

Children’s Card Games (63)

June 12th, 2009 · 3 Comments

This week’s entry is an enigma, I’m afraid: an orphaned card, retrieved from a box of miscellaneous ephemera.  The rather oddly shaped swimmer obviously comes from some old game, but what? She did not arrive unescorted; this troublesome bird is clearly from the same deck. (Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

The Star Lodge

June 9th, 2009 · 3 Comments

The Star Lodge, or Summer Palace, outside Prague, is another of those curious buildings that dot the Czech Republic.  The Letohradek Hvezda was designed and built in 1555 by Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol; it was supposedly a hunting lodge, but the fact that it’s shaped like a six-pointed star, with four stories, each keyed to a […]

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Tags: Eccentrics · Mysteries · Places

Children’s Card Games (62)

June 5th, 2009 · 6 Comments

An “Old Maid, Wildlife Edition,” was published by the National Wildlife Federation at some point.  It is, they tell us, “An Educational and Approved Children’s Game.”  I assume they did the approving themselves; that’s how it often works.  It features sober paintings of animals and plants; “Educational Notes” on said paintings; and a picture of the NWF […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera