Archive for antiques

The Harp-Playing Pig Automaton

Posted in absurd, anthropomorphic, antiques, automata, creatures with tags , , , , on March 13, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

Jackson’s International Auctions had a listing for this rare 19th Century French automaton of a pig playing a harp.

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This dapper swine music box moves his arms over the harp strings via a clockwork key windup.

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He stands just over thirteen inches tall and sold for $2,160.00.

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See the listing here.

James Ensor Masks

Posted in antiques, craft, masks with tags , , on February 21, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

Although James Ensor (1860-1949) is most well known for his paintings (Which have influenced both expressionism and surrealism), I’ve been seeing his handmade masks pop up on Pinterest.

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Not for the maskaphobics out there, these projects gave Ensor saw an opportunity beyond fine art. According To MOMA, he stated “The mask means to me: freshness of color, sumptuous decoration, wild unexpected gestures, very shrill expressions, exquisite turbulence.”

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I love the phrase “exquisite turbulence.” But I’m not a fan of actual exquisite turbulence.
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It’s been theorized that these masks were modeled after items in the curiosity shop Ensor’s family ran, right beneath his studio.
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Quite evocative, no?
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La Specola Anatomical Collection

Posted in anatomy, antiques, destinations, museums with tags , , , on January 17, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

La Specola Anatomical Collection is on my list of top destinations if I ever make it to Europe.

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La Specola is part of the Museum of Natural History in Florence and contains perhaps the largest (and best known) collection of antique anatomical models. It began as the personal collection of the Medici family, and opened in 1775 to the public.

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According to Atlas Obscura the museum “also houses some wonderful taxidermy, including now extinct specimens and a very questionable-looking hippopotamus.”

I obviously can’t hear the term “questionable-looking hippopotamus” without being deeply intrigued.

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Of particular note is the presence of anatomical Venuses…idealized female forms with their insides exposed. These medical models were a valued educational tool, but evoke all kinds of emotion with their brilliant, uncanny craftsmanship. Some look dead, some look as if they’ve been skinned alive. Others are semi-erotic.

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Have any of you visited La Specola?

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La Specola Anatomical Collection

Alexander Korzer-Robinson

Posted in anatomy, antiques, art, Books, craft, ephemera, nature with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2016 by shewalkssoftly

Alexander Korzer-Robinson transforms antiquarian encyclopedias into stunning shadow boxes, as if to three dimensionally vivify the rich content between the pages.

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His use of vintage materials and handpicked images is akin to the process of memory itself; simultaneously selective and reconstructive.

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From the artist statement:
By using pre-existing media as a starting point, certain boundaries are set by the material, which I aim to transform through my process. Thus, an encyclopedia can become a window into an alternate world, much like lived reality becomes its alternate in remembered experience.

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These books, having been stripped of their utilitarian value by the passage of time, regain new purpose. They are no longer tools to learn about the world, but rather a means to gain insight about oneself.

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Alexander Korzer-Robinson

Museum Oddities

Posted in antiques, craft, oddities, sculpture, skulls and skeletons with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2015 by shewalkssoftly

I first posted about “exploded” articulated human skulls years ago during Ryan Matthew theme week, but here is another fine example from Brian Kubasco (aka Museum Oddities).

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Kubasco is a sculptor specializing in masks, props, reproductions, prosthetics, character design, creatures, monsters and figurines. His website is a combination of personal creations and intriguing artifacts.

For example, here is a 1930’s dental phantom with five gold fillings and removable teeth.

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And here is a creative variation inspired by these models:
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There is some really great stuff on the site. Have a look at Museum Oddities.

Lucrezia Borgia’s Hair Reliquary

Posted in antiques, oddities with tags , on August 16, 2015 by shewalkssoftly

I can’t find any lengthy articles about this particular piece, but here we have a reliquary of Lucrezia Borgia’s hair, created in the 1920’s.

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It’s a pretty fantastic piece (which reminds me of today’s steampunk sculptures…but clearly precedes them by many decades). She’s got quite a lovely natural hair color. Most women need to get that out of a bottle.

It’s worth reading the bio, as Lucrezia Borgia is shrouded in all manner of scandalous allegations.

Oddities Store

Posted in antiques, creatures, medicine, oddities, taxidermy, vintage with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2015 by shewalkssoftly

If it has “oddities” in the title, there’s a good chance I’ll go down a massive rabbit hole exploring it. Thus, Oddities Store was an enjoyable find indeed.

I desperately need these:
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They have bisected animals…
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Bell jar skulls of all sorts…
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Fish sticks (literally):
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Diaphonized beauties:
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Skulls on plaques:
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Lovely shadow boxes:
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And…Lung Salve!
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Browse the rest of the collections at the Oddities Store.