Posts Tagged ‘history’

Archive Check Shirt

Published April 30, 2010 by Molly

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Dang, would you look at that pattern? It’s hard to define the beauty of those checks: they’re part video-game, part pastoral, part traditional. You’d never guess that the fabric for this shirt was sourced from the 1980s archives of a Portuguese textile mill and then re-colored to form an “archive check” pattern in loose, unbrushed cotton flannel. Also rad? This shirt would look equally swell on a lady or a dude, and we always dig the unisex vibe.

A Song for the Horse Nation

Published March 23, 2010 by Molly




WOW! Have you ever seen an exhibit more clearly designed for enthusiastic amateur historians? And anyone else with a passing interest in Apache scouts, colonial history, Pueblo revolts and tribal herds? Which should be just about everyone?

The Smithsonian’s “A Song for the Horse Nation” is a splendid overview of the role of horses in America. Tales of conquistadors, warfare, embattled Native Americans and trade routes are all connected by the noble animal into a crucial narrative of American history.

Just how key is the horse? Consider this: the animal originated in the Americas more than 40 million years ago, eventually became extinct in its homeland, and was reintroduced in 1493 when Columbus brought 25 horses with him on voyage #2. Horses changed Native methods of hunting, travel, and standards of wealth. When it comes down to it, its sort of impossible to overestimate the impact of the animal.

The show stays up until July 2011, which gives you plenty of time to plan your voyage. Bring a notebook!


Published March 22, 2010 by Molly


God bless the internet. Nothing puts us in a better mood, really, than locating incredible labor-of-love websites that provide endless hours of fascination. The Shorpy Historic Photo Archive is one such website.

With the motto “ALWAYS SOMETHING INTERESTING”, Shorpy is a vintage photography blog collecting high-quality images from the 1850s through the 1950s. The only unifying thread is that the images be interesting. That’s it! By this logic it’s possible to come upon a Howard University home-ec classroom circa 1925, a burning sugar cane field in Puerto Rico, civil war smokestacks, and a whole category devoted to pretty girls throughout the ages.

The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago in Jefferson County, Alabama. The origin story is here. We think the internet can claim victory, now.

Journal of Commercial Art

Published March 18, 2010 by Molly

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Founded in 1959 by Richard Coyne and Robert Blanchard, the Journal of Commercial Art was the first U.S. magazine printed by offset lithography. Devoted to graphic design, illustration and advertising, the journal was published by Stanford University Press (it still exists, but is called Communication Arts, and, well, the covers aren’t as good-looking.)

In celebration of the amazing early covers, Words and Eggs and Silver Lining have posted a selection of covers from the early 1960s. Have you ever seen covers so beautiful? Why don’t magazines still look like this? (Hint hint.)

Curious Pages

Published March 5, 2010 by Molly




Curious Pages is a blog devoted to exhuming old children’s books and and sharing their aesthetic peculiarities with the world. Succinct explanations accompany shiveringly detailed scans for a result that will prompt wistful sighs of nostalgia and explosions of good cheer in about equal doses.

You’ll want to collect some supplies around you before you start scrolling through the site, because you’ll be scrolling for a while. Hot cocoa, a glass of water, and a nourishing snack of some kind should do it. We’re posting a few samples above, but the full effect of the collection is best experienced by diving right in.

Bonus: Sendak mention here.

Books You Might Not Have Read Yet: Incidences

Published January 20, 2010 by Molly


File this under “books that make your palms sweaty”. Daniil Kharms is a semi-forgotten writer born in St. Petersburg in 1905 who published vignettes, mini-plays, poems, stories, philosophy and fragments notable for their absurdist streak and black-as-coal humor. Kharms was arrested a bunch of times and generally suffered under Soviet censorship, but his sister and a friend named Yakov Druskin managed to drag the writer’s works from a bombed-out apartment in a suitcase during the blockade of Leningrad, thereby preserving them for future readers.

Their foresight is our gain, as writers like George Saunders have pointed out: “Kharms belongs on your bookshelf with Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Babel…In that company his stories will be the briefest, the funniest, and in some ways, the truest….they are near-formless, violent, sad, hilarious and frightening all at once.”

It’s hard to describe the appeal of the stories, but let’s just say that Kharms consistently manages to turn the boring details of everyday life into exploding pockets of visionary wisdom. That enough to turn your wheels? His classic collection, Incidences, is available used for about three bucks if you know where to hunt online, and we say its well worth the price of an ice cream cone.

Adventures in Human Anatomy

Published January 8, 2010 by Molly

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Like the concept of infinity or the size of an XL fountain drink purchased at a movie theater, the human body is one of those entities that provokes thoughts of awe and astonishment whenever one stops to dwell upon it. It’s fortunate, then, that a book exists to satisfy our curiosity about the mechanics and mysteries of human anatomy (with lotsa pictures, naturally).

Human Anatomy: From the Renaissance to the Digital Age covers the history of anatomical illustration over five centuries from Leonardo da Vinci to Vesalius to Bernard Siegfried Albinus to Charles Estienne. It even includes illustrations considered too crazeballs for their own time, including Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic (you can google that one; FYI it is gross.)

If the images are occasionally nauseating (many of them owe their fine detail to cadavers dissected for the purpose of drawing), they’re also never less than immaculately prepared. Nice to know that there were 16th century doctors sawing corpses in half so that we could all know exactly what was inside us, no? Thanks, guys.

A Tribute to Sendak From the Archives

Published November 17, 2009 by Molly

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Images via finsbry

An interesting feature in the Guardian UK last year had Jonathan Jones placing Maurice Sendak in the context of classic illustration, pop art and the history of picture books. An excerpt:

The picture book as we know it today – a simple illustrated book for the young – originates in the 18th century and expresses the empirical philosophy of John Locke and other Enlightenment thinkers, who held that what we can see and demonstrate is more real than what we are told. Language is a set of signs that denote the things we see – and in the first alphabet primers and Mother Goose nursery rhyme books, with their woodcut illustrations, you find this common sense world view being translated into books that span the gap between pictures and words, babyhood and literacy.

Maurice Sendak’s art is a rich fabric of references; it is very consciously rooted in these early children’s books, and the tradition of Hogarth and Blake.

Leon Gimpel’s Awesome Autochorome Aerpolanes, Etc.

Published August 3, 2009 by Graham


Early 20th Century photographer Leon Gimpel’s images present a past that seems almost unbelievable in its richness, closer to a Disneyland recreation of history than the flat black and white representation we’re familiar with from high school textbooks and History Channel specials. Constantly innovating, Gimpel adopted autochrome color photography earlier than most, snapped the first shots from aboard an airplane, and led the field in exciting new directions with his experiments with nighttime photography. His work covers a diverse array of subjects from adorably melancholy images of children playing amidst war to grandiose portraits of dirigibles and hot air balloons. Through his contributions to the magazine L’Illustration, Gimpel helped popularize science by vividly illustrating technological advancements of the day from the spread of neon to the birth of air travel.


Sadly, Gimpel’s work is sorely underrepresented on the Internet (he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page– quelle horror!), but check out this post with some gorgeous Gempel photos form a random Russian LiveJournal.