Friday, April 29, 2016

2NHG Signing Books in Burlington, MA

Friday, April 29, 2016
Loretta & Isabella report:

There we were, at last year's book signing.

We'll be there again.

Loretta & Isabella
aka Two Nerdy History Girls
will, once again, be signing their books
in Burlington MA.
Open to the public.

Details below—with thanks to Penny Watson of NEC/RWA for posting a lovely image for me to steal.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What's Old is New: Double Rings

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Isabella reporting,

Among the hottest trends in jewelry right now are double rings - rings whose designs span two fingers. It's considered a look that's new, hot, fresh, and very 2016.

So even though I know that there's nothing new under the sun, I was surprised when I saw this ring, upper left, last week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The shadow reveals the two rings beneath the three stones, and the black-and-white photo, right, from the museum's web site shows the joined rings more clearly.

Featuring an emerald flanked by two rose-cut diamonds set in gold, the double ring was made in New York in 1895 by the well-regarded jewelry firm of Marcus & Company. The company's founder, Herman Marcus (1828-1899), was known for taking inspiration from the past for his designs, and this ring is in the Renaissance revival style popular at the time. So very 1895, by way of the 16th century.

But it turns out that the design is even older than that. A little more investigation, and I learned that the double ring design dates back at least to the 1st century BC, when the ring, lower right, was made in Hellenistic Greece. With an amethyst flanked by two garnets set in twisted bezels, this gold ring would be right in style today. Proving that, once again, what's old (even very old!) is new again.

Above: Double ring, Marcus and Company, 1895, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Top left photography ©2016 Susan Holloway Scott.
Below: Hellenistic Greek gold double ring, 2nd-1st century. Private collection; image via TimeLine Auctions.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shakespeare's Buildings, Lost, Found, Recreated

Monday, April 25, 2016
William Shakespeare-Chandos Portrait
Loretta reports:

Shakespeare’s birthday is 26 April, but since this is my day to post, we celebrate a day early.

I hastily put down a date, which turned out to be wrong, so let's just celebrate Shakespeare's being born in April around this time, we think.

I had a chance to experience a Shakespeare play in something close to what it might have been like when he was alive. A few years ago, we were in England, and had, for once, made reservations sufficiently far in advance to see one of the Bard’s works at the recreated Globe Theatre.

Though it represents an educated guess at what the original Globe was like, it seemed an authentic enough experience to me. At one point in the performance of Much Ado About Nothing, it started raining. Those standing under the open roof pulled up their rain hoods or umbrellas or simply got rained on.

It was an altogether different experience from watching a performance in a closed theater, or even at an outdoor theater. For one thing, the playhouse is small, and the audience is practically mingling with the players. All in all, it was a fabulous experience, and I hope to return next year.
The Globe
That was one reason I became so intrigued when an email message invited me to look at this beautiful series of Shakespeare-related photographs—including some fine shots of the recreated Globe Theatre—and I learned about the discovery, by members of the Museum of London Archaeology,  of the Curtain Theatre, where it’s believed some of Shakespeare’s plays made their debuts.

The Curtain is going to be a centerpiece, interestingly enough, of a luxury development. You can find out more here and here.

There’s more about the Curtain Theatre at the MOLA site, and you can learn more about MOLA on their blog.

Images: Shakespeare, Chandos portrait, National Portrait Gallery via Wikipedia.
The Globe Theatre courtesy Shakespeare's Buildings

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Breakfast Links: Week of April 18, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016
Breakfast Links are served - our weekly round-up of fav links to other web sites, articles, blogs, and images via Twitter.
• What is dazzle, and how did it influence 20thc fashion?
• "Deserved and received respect": how after twenty-four years as a female, Deborah Lewis transformed into the male Francis Lewis in 18thc Massachusetts.
Image: Tiles with instructions for gymnastic exercises for young girls, 1840.
D-Day hero set to marry his first love - 72 years after he first proposed to her.
• Poignant 19thc petitions from mothers hoping to find sanctuary for their illegitimate children.
• A 17thc silk gown with possible royal Stuart connections discovered off the Dutch coast.
• Extreme longevity in the 1700s.
• After centuries of innovation, is the library card dying?
• The sound of the past: Wheatley's Cries of London.
Image: Warning sign at Yosemite National Park, 1915 - not that it stopped the people on that rock!
• On the trail of the Last Supper.
• Why the hit musical Hamilton is a potent reminder that historians are not the only custodians of history.
• Previously unknown Shakespeare First Folio discovered just lying around a grand Scottish home.
• A shot in the dark? A mysterious find in a bundle of archived papers.
Image: Tax avoidance, 17thc style: a house built over a river between two jurisdictions.
• The tragic love story of children's illustrator and author Beatrix Potter.
Lady Hamilton as a bacchante, restored and rediscovered.
• The life of a movie costume after filming is done.
• "Beware of the lascivious tango", warned the Ladies' Home Journal, and these are the boots to prove why.
Image: Nineteenth century Coca cola contained cocaine, and doctors prescribed it as a "nerve stimulant."
• Where's a witch to rest? Chimney stacks and witches' seats.
• Historical socks and stockings from the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm.
• George Washington's troublesome teeth.
• Image: Fantastic 18thc Polish pulpit.
William Kidd, the pirate who was framed.
• Book quiz: do you know these last lines of famous novels?
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Video: Truly Vintage Denim: A Pair of 1840s Trousers

Friday, April 22, 2016

Isabella reporting,

The clothing that most Americans wear today has a short and dismal life - clothes that are cheaply made overseas, designed for today's fashion instead of longevity, and often discarded after a season or two. Some garments don't even last that long, doomed by shoddy construction and inferior fabric. It's the modern curse of Fast Fashion.

These trousers are something else entirely. They've not only had a long, long life; they've acquired a soul, too, and they just might be the great-grandfather of our modern jeans. Curators guess that they were made about 1840, before sewing machines, and all the seams are stitched entirely by hand. But that's only the beginning of the evolution of these trousers, as this short video explains.

The trousers are featured in the Denim: Fashion's Frontier exhibition currently on display at the Museum of FIT, New York. It's a fascinating, thoughtful show (you can see more highlights here) and if you're in New York, you should see it. But hurry: it closes on May 7, 2016.

Many thanks to Nicole Bloomfield, conservator at the Museum of FIT for suggesting this video.
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