Wednesday, December 17, 2014


French cantinière during the Crimean War, by Roger Fenton (1855).

A cantinière was a civilian woman attached to the French Army on an official basis, who sold food and liquor to the soldiers above and beyond what they received as rations. She had to be married to a soldier of the regiment, and received no pay, living off her earnings instead. This cantinière was attached to a zouave regiment (zouaves were originally Algerian troops), and therefore wears baggy trousers (source: The National Army Museum).

'Le Zouave blessé' by Roger Fenton (Crimea, February 29, 1855). A cantiniere on the Crimea War battlefield administering fluid to a wounded soldier.

As well as providing the troops with extra food and alcoholic drinks, the cantinière also played an important social role in the regiment, providing female companionship to the men away from home. For a fee she might also undertake cooking, laundry, or sewing. During a battle, she might distribute brandy and cartridges to the troops, and assist the wounded. Cantinières, usually from lower class backgrounds, lived and travelled with a regiment and shared the same hardships as the soldiers (source: The National Army Museum).

next episode: reindeer

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Eva Waceter

Eva Waceter, Arntzen Studio Mt. Vernon, Washington, ca. 1916-1919 (from my own collection)

The cabinet card was a type of photograph mounted on a card.

next episode: cantiniere

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Buddha Statue with Mummy in Hospital

Chinese mummy inside of a Buddha statue
(private collection, photo by M. Elsevier Stokmans)

This Buddha statue was exhibited earlier this year in an exhibition in the Drents Museum (where it was shown for the first time outside China). The mummified body of the Buddhist master Liuquan, a monk who lived around the year 1100 and who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School, is hidden in this precious reliquary dating from the eleventh or twelfth century.

The statue was examined with a CT scan (photo by Jan van Esch) 

In Amersfoort's main hospital, Meander Medical Centre, the nearly thousand year old mummy has been recently examined with a CT scan and an endoscope. Several hospital employees helped with this unique project in their free time. A gastrointestinal and liver doctor took samples of yet unidentified material and examined the thoracic and abdominal cavities.

The hospital: "He made a spectacular discovery: at the place where once had been organs, he found, among all kinds of rotten material, paper scraps that were printed with ancient Chinese characters."

(photo by Jan van Esch) 

Also samples of bones were taken for DNA testing. The research will be published in a monograph that will appear about Master Liuquan. Meanwhile the mummy has been transported to Hungary where it will be on display in the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest until May 2015.

next episode: Eva

Rome City Walls

(photos by RfA, 2006)

next episode: mummy

Friday, December 5, 2014

Maude Fealy

next episode: Rome

Monday, December 1, 2014

F Street in Washington, D.C

F Street Northwest in Washington, D.C., ca. 1906 (Detroit Publishing Company).

Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: Maude

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Of Pilgrims and Turkeys

Mary Philbin (1919)

next episode: Washington

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Captain Cuninghame

(photo by Roger Fenton, Crimea, 1855)

next episode: turkey

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gene Tierney Day !

Gene Tierney was born November 19, 1920.

NYT obituary, November 8, 1991:

Gene Tierney, the elegant actress whose beauty bewitched a tough detective in the 1944 film “Laura” and whose portrayal two years later of a diabolically selfish woman in “Leave Her to Heaven” won her an Academy Award nomination, died Wednesday night at her home in Houston. She was 70 years old. Miss Tierney died of emphysema, a spokesman for the family said.

Miss Tierney had undergone years of treatment for stress and depression. She retired from films in 1965 after making “The Pleasure Seekers,” but made at least two television appearances after that. She told reporters that she preferred her life in Houston as the wife of W. Howard Lee, an oil man whom she married in 1960. He died in 1981.

A year before her marriage to Mr. Lee, when reporters found her working in a dress shop in Topeka, Kan. (a job she took as part of her psychotherapy at the Menninger Clinic there), she told them she attributed her illness to “my lack of understanding of what I could cope with and what I could not. . . . I tried to work harder and harder, thinking that work would cure everything. All it did was make things worse.”

next episode: William

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Silent Brass Band

Stille Fanfare (Silent Brass Band) promo (Dutch) 

The ‘Stille Fanfare’ (Silent Brass Band) is a small theatre group from Amersfoort. They look and act like a regular marching brass band, but they never actually use their instruments to play. They enjoy the confusion and disorientation they generate when they walk through the crowds and unexpectedly enter stores. They’ve played all over Europe and last week they even performed in the 95th Veteran’s Day Parade in New York City: link (Dutch/English).

next episode: Gene

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Miss Gertie Millar

Miss Gertie Millar

next episode: silent music


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