Organ Grinding and Copyright

This piece shows how street organs operated as the radio of their day, both as entertainment for the masses but also as an aid to selling music – at that time, this meant to either sheet music, or music rolls for mechanical pianos and organs. This is again from Arthur W JG Ord-Hume’s book on … Continue reading

Organ Grinders and Icecream

This is from Arthur W J G Ord-Hume’s book Mechanical music, referring to a visit to one of the many Italian organ makers in London, who often supplied their own countrymen, but he doesn’t give a source for it: “Some of the men were discharging liabilities with the cashier, a ceremony in which both gold … Continue reading

Drunk in Charge of an Organ

This is one of the funniest newspaper accounts I’ve come across, and the casual racism of the police gives it an air of realism that is often lacking in modern press.  This is from the Leicester Daily Mercury, 1 May 1905 ‘Before Sir Joseph Renais, at the Mansion House Police Court, on Saturday, Giuseppe Federico, … Continue reading

A Merman Captured

This is again from the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1749 as proof that mermen exist, but is quite an old source. I love the old spelling. Like trying to run though mud. This sounds like it’s been retold a great many times over a tankard or three.  “At the start of the 6th year of King … Continue reading

Cruel Girls

Here’s another mer story claiming to prove their existence back in 1749. This one feels very much like it’s been told a few too many times. Still it’s interesting for its gratuitous cruelty “Instances of the Existence of Mermaids  An account of a like animal that was shewn at the fair of St Germaine, which… … Continue reading

A Mermaid Caught

I’ve just found a couple of articles on merpeople in the Gentlemans Magazine of 1742. I was at first surprised to find such credibility, but this was still early in Europe’s explorations, and science really hadn’t taken off so I find these really fascinating, and sad.  “At Nykoping in Jutland, was lately caught a mermaid, … Continue reading

Lessons from a Landslide

This is an event published on 11 November 1773 in the Bath Chronicle announcing the publication of an account which I cannot make sense of. Is this a minor tsunami? “A dreadful phenomenon described and approved being a particular account of the sudden stoppage of the River Severn and of the terrible desolation that happened … Continue reading

A Forgotten Genius

This is a portrait by Gainsborough of John Joseph Merlin, born in Belgium, a brilliant inventor & mechanician who built one of the most beautiful pieces of automata, the silver swan now in the Bowes museum. He worked with Charles Burney on improving keyboard  & other musical instruments, is often claimed he invented rollers skates, … Continue reading

Welsh Rocks

Wales is full of bits of archaeology often in the most ordinary sites. This is – I assume- a piece of garden ornament in the former mayor’ s house. Here’s a real iron age grave, looted of its contents long ago

Eureka Machine

Here’s an oddity from about 1840, a machine on show in London that produced Latin poetry, as hexameters while it played the national anthem, then Fly not yet when finished & returning to the start. It was made by a man in Bridgewater in Somerset, not know for much even then. But it survives in … Continue reading