The Air at the Top of the Bottle

The Ullage Group header image 1

Children’s Card Games (204)

June 8th, 2014 · 1 Comment


“How Silas Popped the Question,” published in 1915 by Parker Brothers, was another precursor of “Mad Libs,” like the other early games “Dr. Quack” and “Peter Coddle.”  One player reads the story of Silas’s attempts to overcome his shyness and propose to Sally, and the others read cards giving his many unromantic attempts at conversation.  “The one who laughs most wins!”

It came in a handsome box.


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 1 CommentTags: Card Games

Ralph Holland’s Exd Motor

May 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

In the late 1940s, fans and followers of Richard Shaver tried to research his claims.  Some of them tried to find their way into the caves he had described; others tried to build the machines that he claimed the cavern races used underground.  Of the latter, most concentrated on the telaug, or telepathy augmenter, or on the ben ray, a healing device.  Ralph Holland, however, came up with this “exd motor,” which was published in the The Shaver Mystery Magazine, Volume 3, Number 1, in 1949.

“Exd,” in Shaver’s physics, was star ash, the residue of dead stars, which fell to earth and caused gravity.  The idea wasn’t original; it had been championed in the 18th century by Georges-Louis Le Sage, among others.  Holland offered a motor which was powered by exd.

Holland also claims that he studied it by dismantling one of the vehicles used by the cavern races.  This seems unlikely; perhaps the answer lies with his collaborator, Ira Amenophis (that last name being the Greek form of Amenhotep).  Holland, along with other Shaverites, claimed to be in psychic or telaug contact with some of those subterraneans.  Ira was one of those, so perhaps he supplied the information.

I don’t think anyone tried to build this.  According to the account, it was made of a particularly dense, unknown metal, and required an unknown power storage unit.  You’re welcome to experiment.



(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 1 CommentTags: Literature

Children’s Card Games (203)

May 16th, 2014 · 9 Comments


This “Crazy Eights” deck comes with no indication of date or publisher.  It has perforated edges, so maybe it was sold as a sheet.  It bears images of animals carrying numerals: raccoon, bear, rabbit, pig, squirrel, lamb, duck, and kitten.  For some reason, the first four are set against a yellow background, and the last four against blue.  I like the silhouettes on the back.


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 9 CommentsTags: Card Games

Richard Shaver on Time and Space

May 12th, 2014 · No Comments

Every now and then, we like to post something about Richard Shaver.  Here we have some of his ruminations on time and space, and, at the end, a bit about tuna.  (Please click to enlarge.)


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Ancient History · Literature

Children’s Card Games (202)

April 18th, 2014 · 2 Comments


“Animal Families” was published by the venerable Austrian firm Piatnik; no date is given.  The artwork is, however, credited: “After the original paintings by Hubert Lechner (Vienna Academy).”

There are ten “families”: Deer, Domestic Animals, Fresh-Water Fish, Salt-Water Fish, African Animals, Birds of Prey, Parrots, Humming-Birds, Finches, and Indian Animals.  A curious system of classification, but as good as any other, I suppose.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Card Games

Bulletin (27)

April 15th, 2014 · No Comments

There is a nice of review of my illustrated translation of Captain Cap, by Alphonse Allais, over at Tam Tam Books.  You can purchase a copy from Amazon, you know.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for my comic strip “Shorten the Classics: Moby Dick,” in Black Scat Review #2.  Melville and I are honored.

My upcoming publications from Black Scat Books include The Unknown Adjective, and Other Stories, containing 100 pages of my comics and picture stories (June), and an edition of Alphonse Allais’s plays and monologues, in my translation (July).

Both Anthony Matt and I will appear in the “Congress of Curious Peoples,” at Coney Island, on May 1.  I’ll be talking about the “Hermes Project,” the attempt by Richard Shaver’s fans to build the machines from his stories; Anthony will discuss a variety of healing machines.  Also on the bill will be Shannon Taggart, on Kirlian photography, and James Riley, on William Burroughs’s use of tape recorders.  There is info here.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Alphonse Allais · Bulletins

Children’s Card Games (201)

April 4th, 2014 · 3 Comments


I’m going to return to posting children’s card games.  Maybe I’ll post another 200.  For those who came in late, my interest is in the anonymous graphics and cultural footnotes found in this most disposable of genres.

The gentleman above is from a deck of “Snap,” undated, and identified only as “British Manufacture.”  Cursory research tells me that “hokey pokey” was late 19th century slang for ice cream, particularly that sold by Italian street vendors; it also sometimes meant toffee, or ice cream with toffee, but apparently mostly in New Zealand.

All of the cards represent street vendors and their cries, giving a charming glimpse of life in the UK at that time; although I hope the real vendors didn’t have such large heads.  The others are: “Scissors to Grind!”, “Chairs to Mend!”, “Coals!”, “Winners!” (racetrack results, I imagine), “Cat’s Meat!”, “1d a Bunch!” (flowers), “Sweep!” (chimney sweep), “1d All the Way!” (streetcar conductor), “Muffins O!”, “Old Clo’!”, and “”All a Growing!” (plants).

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 3 CommentsTags: Card Games

The Salt Packets of Buenos Aires

March 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments

When I travel, my favorite souvenirs are the small, overlooked items, particularly those sporting liminal, anonymous graphics.  Here, for example, are some of the salt packets I collected on a trip to Buenos Aires last year.  I particularly like the first.  It’s Attic salt!


(Posted by Doug Skinner)


→ 2 CommentsTags: Liminal Graphics · Places


March 20th, 2014 · No Comments

Spring is here.  It’s been a particularly harsh winter here in NYC.  I hope that this magic lantern panorama slide heralds better times.


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Liminal Graphics

Little Jimmy

March 6th, 2014 · 2 Comments

There has been increased interest in comics reprints in recent years, with many classic strips getting overdue recognition.  One of my favorites, though, has been overlooked: “Little Jimmy,” by James Swinnerton.  Swinnerton drew the strip from 1904 to 1958, off and on; it was also known, with customary insouciance, as “Little Jimmie,” or just “Jimmy.”  In the early years, the gags used a simple formula: Jimmy was sent on an errand, became distracted, and some level of chaos ensued.  In later years, the strip became more about Swinnerton’s love of the Southwest, and his admiration for Navajo culture.  Throughout, both his writing and artwork were fresh, open, and unforced, a treat to the eye.  He also had one endearing eccentricity: the dialogue in the balloons was always enclosed in quotation marks.

Many years ago, I found some “Little Jimmy” scrapbooks in a used bookstore in Amsterdam.  Some fan had cut up Sunday pages, and pasted the panels into little oblong books.  Here’s one of them, from May 20, 1917.









(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Cartoons