Sunday, December 28, 2014

Main Street, Dayton, Ohio

Main Street, Dayton, Ohio, 1904 (Detroit Publishing Company)

Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: new y...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry & Happy Christmas

Heiligenbergerbeek, Amersfoort (photo RfA)

Merry & Happy Christmas

next episode: Ohio

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Operation Reindeer (Unternehmen Rentier)

Operation Rentier (Reindeer) was a German operation during World War II intended to secure the nickel-mines around Petsamo, in Finland, against a Soviet attack in the event of a renewed war between Finland and the Soviet Union.

The planning for the operation started on 13 August 1940, after the German occupation of Norway was complete, and was finalized in October that year. The plan called for the two divisions of the Alpine Corps Norwegen to occupy Petsamo and prevent Soviet capture of strategically important mines.

Petsamo (Wikipedia)

The operation was eventually carried out as part of Operation Barbarossa, the German attack on the Soviet Union. The operation commenced on 22 June 1941, and proceeded without any incidents. The German 2nd Mountain Division occupied the area around Liinakhamari and the German 3rd Mountain Division occupied Luostari.

The operation was followed up by Operation Platinum Fox, which was an attack by the two divisions against Murmansk as a part of the larger Operation Silver Fox.

next episode: xmas!

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.

Update February 23, 2015: more info about self-mummification can be found at The History Blog.

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

Photo of an Asylum Patient

Hugh Welch Diamond (1809 – 1886) was an early British psychiatrist and photographer who made a major contribution to the craft of psychiatric photography. He studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1824. A doctor by profession, he opened a private practice in Soho, London, and then decided to specialise in psychiatry, being appointed to Brookwood Hospital, the second Surrey County Asylum.

Diamond was fascinated by the possible use of photography in the treatment of mental disorders; some of his many calotypes depicting the expressions of people suffering from mental disorders are particularly moving. These were used not only for record purposes, but also, he claimed in the treatment of patients, although there was little evidence of success (source: Wikipedia).

next episode: gertie

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ice Sheets


next episode: asylum

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Charles Pomeroy Stone

Charles Stone and his daughter Hettie, photographed in the spring of 1863. 
Stone's USMA class ring can be seen on the little finger of his right hand. Unknown photographer, restored by Michel Vuijlsteke.

In 1861 Charles Pomeroy Stone (1824-1887) was named brigadier general of volunteers and given command of the right flank division of the Army of the Potomac. On October 21 came the disastrous Battle of Ball’s Bluff which resulted in his arrest (more because of political rivalries in Congress than because of the defeat at Ball’s Bluff). He spent six months in prison, but no charges were filed against him despite his frequent attempts to be granted a court-martial, and he was released the following August with no explanation from the War Department. He then served as General Nathaniel Banks’ Chief of Staff until April 1864 when Banks relieved him after a falling out. In August General Grant gave him a brigade in the V Corps, but typhoid and an impending nervous breakdown resulted in his decision to resign from the army.

Work progress on Bedloe's Island (illustration from The Daily Graphic)

After the war he accepted a job as Chief of Staff in Egypt and spent over 12 years building up an Egyptian army and overseeing a dozen major explorations and surveys of the Nile River area. With the British takeover of Egypt in 1882, Stone resigned his position and returned to the United States where he was hired as chief engineer for the pedestal construction of the Statue of Liberty. He served as Grand Marshal of the statue’s dedication parade on October 28, 1886. Three months later, he contracted pneumonia and died in New York City on January 24, 1887. Charles P. Stone was buried with full military honors at West Point.

next episode: ice

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Zinaida Yussupova

Princess/Duchess Zinaida Yussupova (Christina Robertson, 1840)

next episode: Charles Pomeroy Stone

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Skeleton of a Human and a Gorilla

Skeleton of a human and a gorilla, displayed side by side (Roger Fenton, ca. 1860, Wellcome Library, London)

"When this photograph was taken, Roger Fenton was the official photographer at the British Museum  (the British Museum then held the collections that now comprise the Natural History Museum).

The human skeleton depicted is of no special significance, apart from the fact that it is probably of a European. The gorilla, however, shows evidence of severe trauma to its left arm - a bite from a lion to the lower part of its left humerus. Gorillas do not spend much time ‘standing’ upright because it takes muscle energy for them to do so. Thus, the supposedly ‘neutral’ presentation of a gorilla skeleton is in fact the presentation of an idea: ‘a gorilla standing is not too different from a human standing’" (source).

next episode: Zinaida

Friday, October 17, 2014

Barbara Stanwyck

next episode: skeletons

Monday, October 13, 2014



Marrakesh, Morocco (photos by RfA, 2011)

next episode: Barbara

Thursday, October 9, 2014

CDV (19th Century)

Carte De Visite (from my own collection). Reston, Stretford Photographic Studio, 6 Dorset Street, Stretford, Manchester

The carte de visite (CDV) was a type of small photograph the size of a visiting card.

next episode: Marrakesh

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rebuilding The Jewish Temple Of Jerusalem

An artist impression of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple

There are serious efforts (even a crowdfunding campaign) to rebuild the Jewish temple at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It seems possible to rebuild the temple, destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans, without having to demolish the islamic Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

It would be the third temple, after Solomon's first temple (10th century BC - 587 BC) and the second one (516 BC - 70 AD) (3D-tour). I wonder what would be the implications on Jewish faith if this temple was indeed rebuild. After the muslims conquered Jerusalem in 634, they constructed the Dome of the Rock as a victory monument, so I also wonder how they will react if the Jewish temple will be built adjacent to the Dome.

next episode: CDV

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Little Savoyards

Queen Victoria’s children, Princess Alice, Prince Alfred, Princess Victoria (the Princess Royal) and Princess Helena in ‘Les deux petits Savoyards. Taken by Roger Fenton at Windsor in 1854.

next episode: 3rd temple

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wood Street, Pittsburgh

 Wood Street, Pittsburgh, Pa., ca 1905 (Detroit Publishing Company).

Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: savoyards

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thistle From The Sands

Thistle From The Sands, by Alphonse Mucha (1902, Mucha Museum, Prague)

Mucha regularly holidayed in the coastal province of Brittany in northwestern France, and referred to this panel as La Bretonne. The plant carried by the Breton woman is in fact not a thistle but a sea holly which flourished in coastal areas (

next episode: Pittsburgh

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo (Stockholm, 18 september 1905 – New York, 15 april 1990)

next episode: thistle

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Roman City Wall

(photos by RfA, Rome 2006)

next episode: Greta

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Old Cows' Home


Besides retirement homes for old horses there is also a retirement home for cows: Stichting De Leemhuis in Friesland. For several reasons the cows have escaped the trip to the slaughterhouse, sometimes because they are from a petting zoo, or the owner wanted his animal to live out his or her live.

(in Dutch)

next episode: Rome

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Omar Pasha Latas

Omar Pasha by Roger Fenton, 1855.

Omar Pasha Latas (1806-1871) was the skillful leader of the Ottoman (Turkish) forces during the Crimean War. He was born in present day Croatia. In 1854 he defeated 40,000 Russians at Eupatoria in the Crimea.

Colonel Simmons & Omar Pacha 

Colonel Simmons was the Queen's Commissioner at the headquarters of the Ottoman Army.

next episode: cows

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Crown Prince Willem & King Willem

Sharpshooter competition in De Bilt, 1869 (W. van Dijk). 
The crown prince is standing behind his father (the bearded man in the middle). 

Prince Willem (born September 4th, 1840), heir to the throne, had big fights with his father King Willem III. He wanted to marry the Dutch countess Mathilde, but his father refused to approve the marriage because she was not foreign, or too low of nobility (or maybe he had an affair with her mother, making Mathile the stepsister of Willem).

This is the only known photo showing both father and son.

Prince Willem then went into exile in Paris, where he threw himself into a life of sex, drinking and gambling. He died at age 38 in his apartment at 19 Rue Auber, Paris (near the Opera), from a combination of typhus, liver complaints and total exhaustion.

next episode: Pasha

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Auguste Toulmouche - Le Billet

Auguste Toulmouche - Le Billet (1883)

next episode: crown prince

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gene Tierney on the Set

Gene Tierney on the set of 'Leave Her To Heaven' (1945)

next episode: card

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gertie Millar

On October 26, 1903, in the presence of  His Majesty King Edward VI and Queen Alexandra, the new Gaiety Theatre opened with the premiere of the musical comedy  The Orchid in which Gertie Millar starred as Lady Violet Anstruther, the principal pupil at a horticultural college. The show ran for 559 performances.

next episode: Waterloo

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Babylonian Marriage Market

'The Babylonian Marriage Market' by Edwin Long (1875, Picture Gallery of the Royal Holloway University, London)

According to the world's first historian, the Greek Herodotus (5th century BC):

In every village once a year all the girls of marriageable age used to be collected together in one place, while the men stood round them in a circle; an auctioneer then called each one in turn to stand up and offered her for sale, beginning with the best-looking and going on to the second best as soon as the first had been sold for a good price.


next episode: gertie

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall, born Betty Joan Perske (September 16, 1924 – August 12, 2014).

Lauren Bacall (photo by Ralph Crane, 1945)

next episode: ? 


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