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The Holkham Bible Picture Book (ca. 1330)

- January 20, 2022 in Uncategorized

This "Bible" selectively illustrates the Old and New Testaments, taking us from Genesis to Revelation in a series of 231 beautifully executed miniatures.

Resurrection on Repeat: *Rules and Orders of the Humane Society* (1787)

- January 19, 2022 in Uncategorized

The pamphlet documents thirteen years of success since the 1774 establishment of Britain’s Humane Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Dead by Drowning.

Beastly Clues: T. S. Eliot, Torquemada, and the Modernist Crossword

- January 12, 2022 in Uncategorized

Just a few years after The Waste Land appeared — a poem whose difficulty critics compared to some “pompous cross-word puzzle” — Edward Powys Mathers (alias: Torquemada) pioneered the cryptic: a puzzle form that, like modernist poetry, unwove language and rewove it anew. Roddy Howland Jackson reveals the pleasures and imaginative creatures lurking in Torquemada's lively grids.

Reciting Pictures: Buddhist Texts for the Illiterate

- January 12, 2022 in Uncategorized

Some Japanese texts use a rebus-style script for teaching the illiterate to recite the Heart Sūtra, and other sacred texts, in Chinese.

Between Frogs and Gods: Illustrations of Physiognomy

- January 6, 2022 in Uncategorized

Images of a frog metamorphing into Apollo illustrating Johann Kaspar Lavater's theories of physiognomy.

Gustave Zander and the 19th-Century Gym

- January 4, 2022 in Uncategorized

Contemporary fitness culture finds its origins in 19th-century Stockholm, where Dr. Zander invented precursors to our contemporary gym equipment.

Happy Public Domain Day 2022!

- January 1, 2022 in Uncategorized

Each January 1st is Public Domain Day, where a new crop of works have their copyrights expire and become free to enjoy, share, and reuse for any purpose.

Top 10 Most Read Pieces from 2021

- December 27, 2021 in Uncategorized

From Alice's Wonderland to Japanese fireworks, a rundown of the ten most read pieces we published this year.

Little Switzerlands: Alpine Kitsch in England

- December 8, 2021 in Uncategorized

Far from the treacherous peaks and ravines of Switzerland, Alpine cottages arose, unexpectedly, amid the hillocks and modest streams of 19th-century England. Seán Williams recovers the peculiar fad for “Little Switzerlands”, where the Romantic sublime meets countryside kitsch.

Snowball Fights in Art (1400–1946)

- December 8, 2021 in Uncategorized

What’s wondrous about browsing the images of snowball fights gathered here is how little changes across centuries and continents.