Archive for the ‘Modern(ish)’ Category

350+ artifacts recovered from HMS Erebus

Friday, February 21st, 2020

In just three weeks, underwater archaeologists from Parks Canada have recovered more than 350 artifacts from the wreck of the HMS Erebus, one of the two vessels of the 1845 Sir John Franklin expedition that came to a tragic end. Between August 20th and September 12th, 2019, Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team made 93 dives to the wreck, spending a total of 110 hours in the cold Arctic waters of Nunavut.

New gear made it possible for this season’s excavation to dive for longer periods. The diving support barge Qiniqtiryuaq (meaning “searching for some thing or person which was lost”) was moored with two three-ton anchors right over the wreck. Hoses from the barge supplied divers with air so they didn’t have to carry heavy tanks. Other hoses ran warm water into the divers’ suits. With these two key advantages, divers were able to double the average time spent exploring the wreck in each plunge. The barge also served as an on-site field lab where team members could immediately record every object brought to the surface.

This year’s excavation efforts focused on two areas along the port side of the lower deck – – an officer’s cabin for the third Lieutenant, and the captain’s steward’s pantry. Within these two adjacent areas, enclosed drawers in fitted cabinets and the remains of cupboards were found, in which a trove of stored artifacts were revealed. All newly discovered artifacts from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are jointly-owned by the Government of Canada and Inuit.

Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team uses water induction dredges, trowels, and sometimes light hand-fanning to carefully remove sediments from around buried artifacts, exposing them for mapping, photography, and recovery.

Artefacts from the captain’s steward’s pantry included an abundance of ceramic tableware and beverage containers among other, more personal items such as clothing, a toothbrush with intact bristles and remnants of an accordion.

The captain’s steward was Edmund Hoar, a young man of 23 when Erebus began its ill-fated voyage. His job was to tend to the captain’s table so the pantry was where he stored what he needed to serve the captain’s meals. Archaeologists also found his lead stamp bearing Hoar’s name in the pantry.

One particularly stunning find preserved in the cold waters is a pair of epaulettes found in a cabin on the lower deck. It has to be confirmed, but archaeologists believe they have belonged to Third Lieutenant James Walter Fairholme. Other than that, the cabin was pretty much empty, as were the ship’s storage areas. Other spaces were still complete with furniture and filled cabinets.

The artifacts were removed from the barge and first transported to were to Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay so the Inuit elders whose oral histories were the key clues that made the original discovery of Erebus in 2014 possible could see the objects. Then they were transported to Parks Canada’s conversation laboratories in Ottawa for stabilization and further study.


Continental Currency coin worth $100,000 found at French flea market

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

A 50 cent flea market find has been certified as a rare 1776 pewter Continental Currency dollar valued at $97,500. The buyer spotted it in a junk box full of assorted coins at a market in Northern France in June 2018. He was curious about this unusual American piece and agreed to shell out half a euro (56 American cents). He Googled it, took it to a local coin dealer who didn’t know what it was and recommend he ship it to the US for expert assessment. The Paris office of the Professional Coin Grading Service was easier to get to and well-versed in the ways of this very rare, never-circulated issue.

This coin was proposed by the Continental Congress for nationwide issuance. Pattern pieces — trial strikes of a new design for a coin — were struck in pewter, brass and silver. Mysteriously, even though most of the extant coins are pewter, there is no known documentation surviving of the pewter issues being authorized by Continental Congress. This particular die variety, known as Newman 2-C,  has only ever been found in pewter. If silver or brass versions were struck, they have yet to be revealed.

1776 Continental Dollars feature an obverse of three rings. The center ring design is a sundial, with the rays of the sun and text below the dial, “MIND YOUR BUSINESS.” The next ring features “FUGIO” and the sun. The last ring contains the text, “CONTINENTAL CURRENCY.” The reverse features a design of interlocking chain links around the border of the face, featuring the names of the 13 colonial states. The reverse design contains two rings, the center of two rings reads “WE ARE ONE” and the ring around the center ring reads “AMERICAN CONGRESS.” The coins have several varieties in the spelling, ornamental designs, or in metal compositions. While produced in a variety of metals, the coin was most often struck in pewter.

The intent of the Continental Dollar was originally believed to be pattern or circulation issue coinage for the continental United States to circulate alongside the banknotes that Congress had authorized and issued. However, in recent years others have argued that the coins were actually medals, made as satire by England – struck in pewter to mock the worthless value of the currency of the United States. While the origin of these pieces is still under debate, the 1776 Continental Dollars are important early coinage celebrating the birth of the brand-new nation of the United States. This iconic coin has been heavily counterfeited and many restrikes have been produced privately. Even these private restrikes have gained popularity due to the scarcity of original examples and are now being actively collected.

Both obverse and reverse were designed by Benjamin Franklin. The inscriptions and iconography on the obverse were meant to be read as a rebus. Fugio, meaning “I flee” in Latin, connects to the sun which casts shadow on the sundial.  “Mind your business” didn’t mean what it means now. It’s literal, as in “see to your business interests.” All together, the obverse advises that time is fleeting, so mind your business. The reverse is an appeal for unity among states rendered as a linked chain.

Unable to secure anything like the amount of silver necessary for coinage issue, the Continental Currency coin never was circulated. They went with paper money instead, and it was an unmitigated disaster of devaluation and counterfeiting. Time, while fleeting, heals all wounds, however, and one of four known silver issues of the pattern piece sold at auction for $1,410,000 six years ago.

The first official circulation coin of the newly independent United States would be this coin’s fraternal twin. The Fugio or Franklin cent was struck in copper and minted in 1787. The “Fugio,” sun, sundial and “Mind your business” were on the obverse, the loops representing the 13 states (not labeled) interlinked around “We are one” on the reverse. It was only issued that one year. After the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, the triple motto was replaced with the one on the Great Seal of the United States, E pluribus unum.


Walls of human bones found under Saint Bavo

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Walls made of human bones have been discovered in an excavation around Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent. Nine walls were found, all belonging to the same structure, consisting primarily of thigh and shin bones from adults. The gaps between the walls were filled with skulls, most of them in fragments.

Constructions made from human bones are well-known at such sites as the Paris catacombs, the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic and the Capuchin Crypt under Santa Maria della Concezione in Rome. This is the first organized bone structure ever discovered in Flanders. Exhumed bones have been found from medieval cemeteries, kept in small ossuaries often built against church walls, but they were simply stored there, not carefully selected bones stacked and arranged as sound building material.

Bones were regularly cleared from city cemeteries because space was at a premium. Due to beliefs of the resurrection of the flesh, the bones could not be discarded. At least not all of them. The long bones of the limbs and skulls were preserved while the small bones — adult vertebrae, ribs, phalanges, children’s remains etc — were frequently left behind by the clearing crew.

The Saint Bavo walls were built after one such clearing of the cathedral’s associated cemetery, either as a result of a renovation of the church or because the cemetery was full and space needed to be made. Written records of cemetery clearance are practically non-existent. Only two partial clearances are known, one in the first half of the 16th century, the other after 1784. Radiocarbon testing revealed that the bones date to the second half of the 15th century, and pottery found with the walls date to the 17th century or the first half of the 18th. Research is ongoing to attempt to confirm a cemetery clearing from that period.

Why the bones were made into walls remains a mystery, as is the overall purpose of the structure. Another oddity is there are no arm bones, only leg bones and the skull fill.

Saint Bavo will not become Flanders’ first osteoarchitectural tourist destination. The bones will be removed to make way for the construction of a new visitor’s center dedicated to the cathedral’s great masterpiece and international attraction, the Ghent Altarpiece, aka the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan Van Eyck.


Monumental Tiffany window to join Chagall’s at Chicago Art Institute

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

The Art Institute of Chicago’s most popular draw, Marc Chagall’s America Windows, will soon have a worthy companion in a monumental stained glass window by Tiffany Studios. It was purchased from the Community Church in Providence, Rhode Island, in June 2018, when its 48 layered-glass panels were painstakingly removed and transported to Chicago where it has been undergoing restoration.

The window is 23 feet high and 16 feet wide, one of the largest windows ever made by Tiffany. It is attributed to Agnes F. Northrop, Tiffany’s premier master of landscape and floral designs. It depicts a landscape of waterfall, pool and forest with Mt. Chocorua, one of the White Mountains’ most frequently painted vistas, in the background. An inscription across the lower lancets reads: My help / cometh from / the Lord who / made heaven / and earth. On the bottom right is the signature: Tiffany Studios / New York 1917.

It was commissioned by Mary L. Hartwell as a memorial to her late husband  fire extinguishing sprinkler magnate Frederick W. Hartwell who had died in 1911. Frederick Hartwell was born in New Hampshire and had lived there until he was 11 when he moved in with his uncle in Providence. The window nods to Mr. Hartwell’s birth state in its depiction of the White Mountains scene.

Mr. Hartwell had been a devout congregant and a very generous financial supporter of the Central Baptist Church of Providence. Originally founded in 1807 as the Second Baptist Church of Providence, it had moved and changed names repeatedly over the years. In 1917 it moved again to a brand new building and Mary Hartwell commissioned what would become known as the “Hartwell Memorial Window (Light in Heaven and Earth),” in memory of Frederick.

If you’re wondering why any person or institution would tear such a precious and beautiful piece of their history from its very walls, the church’s current name says it all. The Community Church of Providence is a small multi-denominational congregation that is entirely dedicated to serving its community.

Museum officials did not reveal the purchase price but said that price alone was not what determined who would buy the work. Leaders of the Community Church, in deciding to sell it, wanted it to go to a museum and they wanted to know the museum’s plan for care and display of the window, said Oehler.

“I really credit the church with this foresight and thinking about their role as stewards for the window,” she said. “They have a very community focused mission, and they’re not a museum, and they’re not in the business of protecting works of art.”

In the news release announcing the acquisition, Pastor Evan Howard of the church said, “We are extremely pleased that this exceptional work of art has entered such a renowned collection.”

In picking AIC as “the ideal institution to care for and display the window,” Howard said the church hopes that it will be “experienced by a broad public audience that includes scholars, artists and visitors from around the world.”

They sure know their monumental stained glass, too, what with the five-year restoration of the Chagall windows.

Conservation is expected to be complete in the fall of this year. So far the window has been cleaned, one third of the panels removed for glass repair with more minor repairs performed on the panels in situ. The restored window will be installed at the top of the Grand Staircase by the Michigan Avenue entrance. It will be framed and backlit to stun and amaze all who enter there.


Curator rediscovers lost pre-Negro Leagues team in Louisville

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory acquired two photographs in June of 2018, thinking they were pictures of the Louisville White Sox, a short-lived team in the Negro Leagues that played a single season in 1931 before being replaced the next year by the Louisville Black Caps who would play even less than a full season before relocating and then folding altogether. The pictures, posed shots recreating gameplay, featured a player sliding into base being called safe by the umpire, and a baseman reaching out with his gloved hand with a player behind him. The scant documentation accompanying them marked them as pics of the 1931 White Sox.

Museum curator Bailey Mazik was researching the new acquisition when she spotted a contradiction: two of the players’ jerseys had the letters L and U on the front, not the W and S of the White Sox. She then noticed a factory looming in the background of the field. Its large sign identified it as the Sunny Brook Distillery Co., maker of Kentucky’s most famous native product, bourbon. Last but not least, her eagle eye spotted the faintest of inscriptions written on the back of one of the photos. It includes the date “February 1909.” By scanning the inscription and increasing black and white contrast, Mazik could make out one phrase of the inscription in addition to the date: “Charles is a sleep.” She hopes more of it can be made legible with greater scanning and imaging tools.

With team initials, the factory location and the date, Mazik was able to dig through old newspapers and identify the team. They were the Louisville Unions, a semi-professional team that played against other Louisville teams and ones from out of state for yet another single season. Unlike their Negro Leagues descendants in the 1930s, the Unions shone for their one season. In a July 12th article in the Louisville Courier-Journal, they were acknowledged as “the best colored team in the South,” with a record of 24 wins out of 27 games played.

They played on hallowed ground, as baseball history goes.

This successful team had its own playing field located at 28th Street and Broadway. In 1908 newspaper articles, this field is referred to as either “Unions’ Park” or “old League Park”; it is also known as Eclipse Park II. About 15 years earlier in 1893, this field was formed into a sort of complex for the Louisville Colonels team, where Honus Wagner hit his first professional home run in 1897. The 13-acre plot consisted of a full-size field for the Colonels to play on, a smaller field for amateur teams, bike paths, and picnic areas, and was enclosed by a wooden fence. This was in the residential neighborhood of Parkland and was intended to serve the community in a variety of ways. The Colonels played here for 6 years until an electrical storm caused a fire and rendered the field and stands unusable for the professional National League team after the 1899 season. This didn’t matter much anyway because in 1900 the Colonels ceased to exist when the National League downsized from twelve teams to eight, and cut Louisville from the league. Colonels’ owner Barney Dreyfuss took over the Pittsburgh club and relocated a number of Louisville’s best players to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1908, after repairs were made, the Unions team was based at this historically important lot.

That was a heady year for African-American baseball in Louisville. The city was replete with teams popular with blac In April 1908 Local leaders met with counterparts in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Nashville to discuss the creation of a formal league for black players. Even with financial backing secured the project was deemed “impracticable” and the proposed National Colored Baseball League never did come to fruition. Twelve years would pass before the Negro National League played its first game.

The photographs are now on display at the  Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory at The Louisville Unions Rediscovered exhibit which runs through September 7th of this year.


Janet Stephens is back!

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

It’s been more than a year and a half since Janet Stephens posted one of her epic historic hairstyling tutorials using period-accurate tools and it’s been three years since the last Roman hairstyle. Now she’s back with an intricate 9-strand braid worn by the Empress Herennia Etruscilla in the mid-3rd century A.D.

The 3rd century was a chaotic time for the Roman Empire. After the assassination of the last Severan emperor, Severus Alexander, in 235, the combination of internal political turmoil, civil wars, Germanic invasions, increasing expansion of the Persian Sassanid Empire, economic depression and plagues, nearly drove the empire to collapse. By 268, like the Gaul of Julius Caesar’s time, the empire itself was divided into three parts — the Gallic Roman Empire (Gaul, Britannia and Hispania), the  Palmyrene Empire (Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Asia Minor) and the Roman Empire (Italy). It would be reunited under in 270 by Aurelian, builder of the walls around Rome. The Crisis would come to its full end with the ascension of Diocletian in 284, 26 dead emperors after it began.

So when Herennia Etruscilla was getting her hair did by extremely nimble-fingered ornatrices, she was enjoying what would be a very brief window of time at the top. Her husband Decius was acclaimed as emperor in September 249 after he killed his predecessor Philip the Arab. His reign lasted less than two years, ending with his death in battle at the hands of the Goths in June 251. His and Herennia Etruscilla’s oldest son and co-emperor died with him. Their youngest son, 13-year-old Hostilian, succeeded to the throne, but only as co-emperor to the troops’ choice Trebonianus Gallus, and only for a few months before his death either from plague or at the hand of said Trebonianus Gallus.

During those few months of Hostilian’s rise to the purple, Herennia Etruscilla acted as regent. Almost nothing is known about her life, but thanks to the devaluation of currency and the constant cranking out of coinage, we have a surprisingly rich record of her portraiture. There are 13 different coins from aurei to sestertii that feature her profile with views of her elaborate hairstyling.

From one of those coin portraits, Janet selected a nine-strand braid arranged in a column style, meaning in a single thick plait up the back of the head. It requires a dexterity beyond my comprehension and hair of such length and thickness that it’s no wonder it took Janet a decade to get to this look. It is truly a masterful feat of patience and skill. My one regret is that she wasn’t able to include the stephane — a Hellenic style of diadem that comes to a point in the front — that Herennia Etruscilla Augusta wears in all of her coins.


Date update: Methuselah gets six siblings

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

It feels like just yesterday when I wrote about Methuselah, the date palm germinated from a 2,000-year-old seed recovered from Masada, but it was 12 years ago. This must be the longest stretch between an original story and an update yet. It is occasioned by a new study of six ancient date palm seeds that have been successfully germinated. Now Adam, Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith and Hannah have joined their ancient brother in growing from seed to seedling.

The six well-preserved seeds were discovered in archaeological excavations of Masada (Adam), Qumran (Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith) and Wadi Makukh (Hannah) from the 1960s through the 1990s. The ages of the seeds were determined by radiocarbon dating of the shell fragments collected from the roots when the plants were repotted. Methuselah, his Masada brother Adam and Hannah are the oldest, dating to between the 4th and 1st century B.C. Judith and Boaz are the middle kids, dating to the mid-2nd century B.C. to the mid-1st century A.D. Uriel and Jonah are the babies of the family dating to the 1st-2nd century A.D.

The team was able to use DNA analysis to discover the sex of the germinated seedlings and to map out the geographic origin of their genotypes.  (Methuselah is indeed a male plant, by the way. We didn’t know if there was a chance of getting an ancient date when it was first germinated, but now we do. He’s a pollen producer, not a fruiter.) Interestingly, the age of the seeds correlates with their genetic admixture. The oldest three have the most eastern genotypes. Judith and Boaz have equal western and eastern genotypes. Jonah and Uriel have the most western. The large size of the seeds is evidence that they were domesticated (wild seeds are much smaller) and the genetic analysis indicates extensive cross-breeding of females with foreign males to keep the stock vigorous and varied.

Date palms have been cultivated in the Jordan River Valley since the Neolithic and the wild date is widespread on the banks of the river and in the hills around the Dead Sea. Palm trees, leaves and dates appear often in the Hebrew scripture — waved in the Sukkot holiday, to celebrate military victories, used in temple rituals, decorating palaces and sacred buildings, even in place names — and their significance was transmitted to Christian tradition, viz Palm Sunday. Ancient writers from Herodotus to Hippocrates praised the Judean date for culinary and medicinal qualities. It was semi-dry and therefore easily stored long-term, unlike Egyptian or Cypriot varieties that rotted quickly. Theophrastus (c. 371- 287 B.C.) wrote in his botanical treatise Enquiry into Plants:

It likes a soil which contains salt; wherefore, where such soil is not available, the growers sprinkle salt about it; and this must not be done about the actual roots: one must keep the salt some way off and sprinkle about a gallon. To shew that it seeks such a soil they offer the following proof; wherever date-palms grow abundantly, the soil is salt, both in Babylon, they say, where the tree is indigenous, in Libya in Egypt and in Phoenicia; while in Coele-Syria [modern-day Israel], where are most palms, only in three districts, they say, where the soil is salt, are dates produced which can be stored; those that grow in other districts do not keep, but rot, though when fresh they are sweet and men use them at that stage.

The Judean date’s long storage properties made them ideal emergency rations. Josephus mentions them “heaps” of dates at the fortress of Masada. The date palm was so strongly associated with Judea that it was frequently depicted on ancient shekels and, after Titus’ sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., on Roman IUDAEA CAPTA coinage for more than twenty years. The date palm still features prominently on coins and medallions issued by the modern state of Israel.

The research team is hoping to pick up where ancient farmers left off and do some pollinating of their own once Judith and Hannah reach sexual maturity. If, fingers crossed, they’re able to produce Judean dates once again, of course we’ll have no way of knowing if they have the same taste and texture.


Lumière’s train in 4K

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, filmed by Auguste and Louis Lumière in 1895 and first shown to an amazed public in January 1896, has gone upscale, 4K upscale, to be precise. Urban legend has it that when audiences first viewed the train barreling towards them on the screen, they screamed and ran for the back of the room. There is no evidence that any such reaction actually happened, no contemporary accounts of it in the press or police reports, but the Lumière Brothers’ thoughtful camera placement certainly created a dynamic 50 seconds of film that caused a sensation.

Surviving prints of the original 35 mm film, while still perfectly viewable, show their age; they’re grainy, faded, scratched. Upscaling film using photochemical restoration methods costs tens of thousands of dollars. Videographer Denis Shiryaev used Gigapixel AI software, an application that deploys artificial intelligence algorithms to fill in the gaps in the images and upscale the 125-year-old film to 4K. He also used the freeware app Dain to interpolate missing frames. That’s a lot of bang for very few bucks.

Shiryaev’s digital restoration benefitted majorly from a source video that had already been restored, eliminating the striations, bubbles, stains, etc. and giving him a pristine slate.

Comparison time! Here’s a version of the original with an assortment of defects typical of old film:

Here’s the digitally restored version Shiryaev used as a source:

And here’s Shiryaev’s 4K, 60 frames per second upscale version:

I’m fascinated by the richness and depth of the images, but it’s giving me a bit of an uncanny valley vibe too. He also made a colorized version which is even uncannier.


Charlotte Brontë mini-manuscript returns to Haworth

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

A tiny manuscript written by Charlotte Brontë when she was 14 years old has returned to the house in Haworth where she wrote it. After a fundraising campaign promoted by famous people like Judi Dench, the Brontë Society was able to acquire it at auction in Paris in November 2019 for €600,000 ($660,000)  hammer price. Now it has gone on display at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, the family’s former home that today has the largest collection of Brontë-related objects in the world.

The book is a miniature, at 2.4 inches high and 1.4 inches wide about the size of a matchbox. The 20-page folio is bound in a brown paper cover and inserted in a red folder. The folder was kept in a brown morocco case. The title page alone is a gem:






Edited by Charlotte Brontë






Booksellers in the chief Glass Town Paris Ross GT Parrys GT Wellingtons Glass Town &c &c &c August Finished August 19, 1830 Charlotte

The table of contents on the next page lists the short stories in the short volume:  A Letter from Lord Charles Wellesley, The Midnight Song by Marquis Donato and Frenchman’s Journal by Tree. The author names are as fictional as the stories. Charlotte wrote everything, of course. The stories are followed by the Advertisements section, because even at 14 Charlotte evinced a keen understanding of the intersection between literature and commerce. She managed to fit more than 4,000 words on these tiny pages, just 17 of them if you deduct the title and half-title/contents.

Charlotte’s mini-magazine was one of six she wrote as a teenager, inspired by Blackwood’s Magazine, the family’s favorite periodical. It was set in the fictional “glass World,” the first of many imaginary worlds created by the brilliant but isolated Brontë siblings when they were home-schooled after the deaths of their two older sisters caused by the deprivations they suffered at the brutal Clergy Daughters’ School in Lancashire, later immortalized by Charlotte as Lowood School in Jane Eyre.

The Brontë Parsonage Museum has five of the six “little books” now that they’ve acquired number two. Number five is lost, its whereabouts unknown since the 1930s.


Hampton Court Palace buys Victoria’s boots, bloomers & bodice

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Historic Royal Palaces has acquired two pairs of leather ankle boots by J Sparks-Hall of London, a black taffeta skirt and two black bodices belonging to Queen Victoria at a January 21st auction. The group sold for £14,000. Other pieces from the wardrobe of Victoria that were on sale at the auction, including a pair of capacious silk bloomers embroidered with a crown, a pair of wool and cream silk stockings, a cream silk parasol, sold for an additional £3,000.

The boots, both made by J Sparkes, Hall & Son of Regent Street, London, are made of brown kid leather. The more expensive pair is lined in a red silk border and has a gold stitched butterfly on the toe and a 1″ stacked heel. They doubled the high pre-sale estimate and went for £4,000. A slightly less dramatic pair with a blue silk border and a floral leaf designed stitched on the top of the toes sold for £2,000. The black taffeta skirt embellished with lace and jet sold for double the high estimate as well, £4,000. The two black silk taffeta bodices with lace embellishments from Victoria’s long mourning also sold for £4,000.

Claudia Williams, collections curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “As well as being included in future displays, these items reveal that, contrary to popular belief, Queen Victoria did not abandon all interest in her appearance after the death of her beloved Prince Albert, and highlight how – in an era of black and white photography – she exploited clothing’s capacity to communicate, using it as a potent visual symbol of her undying love for her husband.”

The articles of clothing were put up for auction by electrical engineer Roderick Hanson, great-great-grandson of royal photographer Alexander Lamont Henderson who was granted  the Royal Warrant to capture everyday royal life and worked for the queen until her death in 1901. Henderson was known for his experiments in color photography and Victoria commissioned portraits of Prince Albert and Scottish attendant John Brown from him. Family lore says he received the pieces from the queen’s servants (she often gave away her garments and accessories after she was done with them), perhaps as memorials after her death.

After his own death in 1907, Henderson’s collection of the queen’s clothing was passed down to his descendants. Roderick Hanson says they’ve been kept in a wardrobe and he’s selling the lot now to make some space. He needs it apparently, because he’s definitely not selling his ancestor’s art works.

“I’m not parting with Alexander’s glass plate negatives and enamel pictures, which are of a very high quality. He was an extremely talented photographer.”

I’d pick the enamel pictures over the split-crotch bloomers any day.





September 2022


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