Archive for antiques

Halloween Countdown: Mysterious Planchette

Posted in antiques, death, vintage with tags , , , on October 6, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

Many a scary movie or story has featured the infamous talking board. What would Halloween be without a little seance here and there?


Mysterious Planchette is a lovely online “museum” of planchettes (the small wooden pieces that rest under fingers and glide across the board) through the ages, from the rise of the talking board in the 19th Century, to some that are fairly recent.


You’ll find a a nice history page with plenty of information (I’m purposely making this post as an “appetizer” for a much more extensive online collection).


Side note: did you know “Ouija” is just a Hasbro trademark and not the name of the item itself? Still, the term has become synonymous with any kind of board used to spell out messages from the departed.



Did you have one of the iconic Hasbro boards growing up? Or perhaps a fancier artifact? Did you use it?

Mysterious Planchette

Desktop Goodies 8/24

Posted in absurd, anthropomorphic, Books, cats, comics, humor, illustration, nature, puppets, robots, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

I’ve been looking at a lot of historical nautical maps lately. What maps lacked in accuracy 500 years ago, they sure made up for with extravagant design. I’d be pretty thrilled if this guy showed up on my GPS.

Sadly, it’s pretty clear that “solitudes” has a double meaning here.

I don’t think this is what she meant by “Calgon, take me away!”

Actually, he said you guys were more like acquaintances. Just sayin’.


DY-NO-MITE! Actual mites, I mean.

You mean cats can saw wood and build things while mine have been eating and sleeping all day? Freaking freeloaders.
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Speaking of cats…

That new fertilizer did wonders for the harvest.
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Ugh. One of those evenings.

This requires careful planning.

I stared at this for like five minutes in a futile attempt to decide which one is creepier.

The Medieval Scapini Tarot

Posted in antiques, art, illustration, tarot with tags , , , , on August 6, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

I’ve just started looking through the decks at Tarot Tator and the Medieval Scapini Tarot caught my eye. Some of these cards are truly awesome.


That may be my favorite card. Death is so elegantly poised (seemingly in the midst of dance) on a sea of the drowning and/or dead.

The Hermit:

I love that the Hermit is also walking on water…and is an actual giant. I relate very much to the Hermit, so it makes me happy to see him so empowered (as opposed to the sullen version in the Rider Waite deck). The symbolism in this card is among the richest I’ve seen in various depictions of the Hermit.

Ace of Wands:

There is a lot going on here. Fiery, chaotic, generative magic! Rock on.

Ten of Swords (come on…swords, containing figures holding swords. How meta. The blood is a nice touch, too).

See the whole deck: Medieval Scapini Tarot

The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic

Posted in anatomy, antiques, Books, wish list with tags , , , on May 26, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

The inimitable Joana Ebenstein of The Morbid Anatomy Museum has just published a remarkable book on the subject of the Anatomical Venus.


Of all the artifacts from the history of medicine, the Anatomical Venus―with its heady mixture of beauty, eroticism and death―is the most seductive. These life-sized dissectible wax women reclining on moth-eaten velvet cushions―with glass eyes, strings of pearls, and golden tiaras crowning their real human hair―were created in eighteenth-century Florence as the centerpiece of the first truly public science museum.


Conceived as a means to teach human anatomy, the Venus also tacitly communicated the relationship between the human body and a divinely created cosmos; between art and science, nature and mankind. Today, she both intrigues and confounds, troubling our neat categorical divides between life and death, body and soul, effigy and pedagogy, entertainment and education, kitsch and art.


The book is extensively researched and features over 250 images. It looks absolutely amazing. I’m sure many readers of this blog will want to pick up a copy. Let me know what you think!


The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic

Antique Melodramatic Shakespearean Actor Portraits

Posted in antiques, humor, photography, theater with tags , , , on April 28, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

Atlas Obscura Just posted a feature on “gloriously melodramatic” Shakespearean actor portraits dating back over a Century ago.


Studio portraits were self-promotional tools which often depicted actors in a dramatic pose, against a backdrop of scenery. This may be my favorite I’ve seen (tied with the one above):


While some of them are humorous, they do serve the purpose of demonstrating an actor is capable of the exaggerated expressions necessary to convey emotion from a stage (or grainy film).

The male character portraits seem more entertainingly dramatic, but you can see some ladies over at Atlas Obscura too.

Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka: Sea Creature Glass Models

Posted in antiques, glass, photography, sea with tags , , , , on April 27, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka were a German father and son glass sculpting team who created stunning, detailed biological models in the 1800’s.


As a child, Leopold was a apprenticed to a goldsmith and gem cutter. He then gained experience in the family business making glass ornaments and glass eyes, during which time he developed a technique which he termed “glass-spinning” (allowing highly precise works in glass).


His son Rudolph assisted him in making 131 marine invertebrate models in a single year (circa 1880), and after a great deal of effort and prodding by proprietor George Lincoln Goodale, their work ended up in the Harvard Botanical museum.

I wonder how many of these beauties are surviving today. These photos are taken from Guido Mofacio’s photography exhibit, on display at Hamilton’s Gallery until May 24th, 2016.

Antique Driving Garb

Posted in absurd, antiques, ephemera, vintage with tags , , , on March 30, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

I wasn’t searching for antique driving garb…but antique driving garb, I found. And I’m very glad I did.


According to the Source these are Images from a 1906 issue of the French women’s magazine Femina…These strange array of pictures are from a competition in which the readers were asked to identify the famous female ‘artistes’ of the day obscured behind a bizarre variety of women’s driving headwear.



I don’t know about you, but I can’t place a single celebrity.