Archive for the 'Victoriana' Category

If you’re still looking…

…for a belated holiday present for your favorite steampunk/airship pirate wannabe/pulp aficionado/Edwardian engineering fan/over-the-top Burner who’s gonna out-do that damn motorized dragon, might I suggest that you could do worse than get them a copy of D’Orcy’s Airship Manual: An international register of airships with a compendium of the airship’s elementary mechanics?

How could you go wrong? It has the word ‘compendium’ in the subtitle!

Hey… does this belong under DIY, too?

[via The Stranger, from an article that’s also worth your while about a Seattle-area bookstore that has installed a print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine.]

The Thanatos Archive

Happy New Year! Today we have a ghoulish visual treat for those of you who feel like you’re dead (or simply wish that you were) this fine New Year’s Day: an online archive of Victorian mourning photos and medical imagery to be found at Definitely one to add to the “Curious Exhibits” section of the blogroll…

Yes, it’s a paid site, but the proprietor maintains a Twitter account (which is how I found him – or, rather, he found me through my Twitter account – go figure) and a Flickr site along with a free preview collection of images.

New Yorker: Why does Dracula still thrill?

The New Yorker examines vampires and Dracula. Well worth a read.

A woeful horror blog would we be…

…if we failed to observe the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth.

1848 daguerreotype of Poe

Happy Birthday, Edgar.

(a red-faced thanks to Evil Mommy for reminding us…)

Miskatonic University Library, Arkham, Mass.

Miskatonic University Library

Note: Miskatonic University Library, Arkham, Mass. 1929.

Cylinder music

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I have a few wax cylinders I found in a wooden box years ago along with newspapers and other items from the 1890s. For a long time I have held the theory that vampires would be like most people when it comes to music. That is, the music they would listen to most is the music they grew up with in their formative years. As the decades come and go, they might find new musical interests to join their old ones but would still hold on to their favorite songs and performers from the past.

For the Victorian-era vampires out there – or those interested in them – here is a great collection of cylinder recordings from the 1890s through the early part of the 20th century.

Hat tip to jabonko.

Le Retour de la Fée Verte

la Fée Verte

I’ve been sitting on a draft of this post for a while – not quite sure why… At any rate, the Green Fairy is about to return to America’s shores as a legal beverage:

Absinthe, the spirit of imagination to many, and the devil incarnate to the U.S. government, is being approved on a case by case scenario by the Feds. Banned since 1910 due to unproved health dangers from the substance thujone, found in wormwood, an ingredient in absinthe, it has been the subject of controversy for centuries. Many folk tales and rites and rituals have grown around it and its supposedly hallucinogenic properties.

Several companies have been striving to recreate authentic versions similar to those made in the 1800s, many with low enough thujone levels to pass U.S. inspection. The first of these to do so is Lucid, imported from France by New York-based Viridian Spirits. Others will be following soon. I’ll let you know when I get my hands on some to review.

Interesting… There’s a titch more here, but I’d be surprised if there’s anything new to our typical audience…


ZOMG! Want!

'the triumph of science and modern medicine over witchcraft' - no, really, that's what they supposedly represent

*sigh* Anyone got a spare US$1600 lying around? These’d look great in my hallway…


A race to solve an underground mystery

From The New York Times:

It started with an ever-expanding sinkhole at the entrance of the Mystic Pointe condominiums here and led to an excavation this spring that revealed an underground complex of brick chambers with vaulted ceilings.

Now the subterranean structure, believed to date to the mid-19th century, is a mystery just begging to be solved. Is it as pedestrian as a root cellar? Or as storied as a stop on the Underground Railroad? Does it stretch beyond the cluster of at least nine known rooms to connect to tunnels elsewhere?

An ad-hoc group of residents, local historians and archaeologists in this Westchester County suburb is racing to figure it out before road repairs that could lead to the destruction of the rooms, which sit under a wooded area that had been part of a Victorian estate and once was owned by a Catholic church.


Ms. Leone, for example, has spent many an evening since the discovery this spring poring over maps and doing research about former owners. But while she can tell you all about Orlando B. Potter, who bought the property as a summer residence about 1870, and a fair amount about bricks found there, she has yet to find anything that even makes note of the structures.

Lucille Lewis Johnson, an archaeologist and professor of anthropology at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, said that when she recently viewed the site, she found a network of about 12 rooms, some running north-south, others east-west. The common thinking is that the rooms were some kind of storage facility, but the size of the structure and the craftsmanship of the brickwork indicate that it might have been more than that.

The rooms are larger and higher — with ceilings estimated to be as high as 15 feet — than would be common in a typical root cellar. Several of the doorways have metal fixtures on the outside, an indication that there were once doors there, and it appears that there was more than one entrance to the network.

Exciting story full of unexplored imaginings.

The last Tommy of the Great War

From The Telegraph of London:

Henry John Patch would be notable simply by virtue of his 109 years on earth. When he was born, on June 17, 1898, the Marquess of Salisbury was Prime Minister and Queen Victoria had two and a half years still to reign. Kitchener was 11 weeks away from fighting the Battle of Omdurman and the outbreak of the Boer War lay 16 months into the future. H G Wells’s latest work, The War of the Worlds, had just been published in book form following its successful serialisation in Pearson’s Magazine.

But Harry Patch is more than a gerontological phenomenon. The man arranging his medals and sitting up straight for a photograph in the conservatory of a nursing home in Wells is the last British man alive to have served in the trenches during the First World War. The last survivor of Passchendaele, that three-month orgy of blood-letting in the mud of Flanders which began 90 years ago this month and commemorated by the Queen at Tyne Cot cemetery in Belgium today. The last Tommy of the Great War.

When he is gone, the British experience of daily life on the Western Front will be no man’s land. No living man’s land.

There are two other men alive who served between 1914 and 1918, but neither experienced the living nightmare of the front line. Henry Allingham, born two years earlier than Mr Patch, served in France with the Royal Naval Air Service and occasionally visited the front to recover downed aircraft, while Bill Stone was called up for the Royal Navy only two months before the Armistice and did not see action.

Mr Patch takes no pride in being the last of the millions who fought and died amid unmitigated horror.

His membership of that steadily diminishing band of British veterans of the war to end all wars has earned him audiences with the Queen and the French Légion d’honneur. A few years ago he was taken to meet a German veteran who had fought opposite him in Flanders. “Nice old chap. A pacifist. Same as me. Why did they suffer, those millions of men?”

The afternoon is wearing on and Mr Patch is tired. He pauses to listen to the children playing. What does it feel like to be the last of those millions, that army of ghosts?

“I don’t like it,” he says and then adds: “I sit there and think. And some nights I dream – of that first battle. I can’t forget it.

“I fell in a trench. There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: ‘Mother’. I didn’t see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God’s presence.

“I’ve never got over it. You never forget it. Never.”

Tip of the hat to Fark.

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