Captain Kidd’s gibbet hangs again on Thames shore

Just in time for the 310th anniversary of William Kidd’s hanging at Execution Dock in Wapping, along the Thames, the Museum of London Docklands has opened a new exhibit dedicated to the infamous pirate. Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story displays over 170 objects related to Captain Kidd and piracy in general, including an original Jolly …

1,247 Roman coins found buried in Colchester

Archaeologists excavating the site of the former Hyderabad and Meeanee barracks (turn of the century barracks that housed the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment until new quarters were built in 2008, now slated for redevelopment) have uncovered a hoard of 1,247 Roman coins from the 3rd century A.D. The coins were packed in a large …

Library gets portrait of French surgeon, huge tumor

London’s Wellcome Library, one of the world’s foremost collections of medical history, has acquired a portrait of French surgeon Ange-Bernard Imbert Delonnes and the famous 28-pound tumor he removed from the testicles of Charles-François Delacroix, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a risky operation on September 13th, 1797. The black chalk and white gouache drawing …

Robespierre auction results update

The state preempted the sale. Director of the French national archives Hervé Lemoine announced it to the room after the hammer fell, to the applause of the crowd. “Bravo, sir!” cried the auctioneer in response, because hey, Sotheby’s is getting paid no matter what, and no small amount either. The papers sold for far above …

French rain terror on Robespierre manuscripts sale

Sotheby’s Paris is offering a previously unknown collection of Maximilien Robespierre’s personal papers for sale tomorrow, and French historical societies and political parties (particularly leftist ones) are not happy about it. The 116 pages, all handwritten by Robespierre between January 1792 and his death in July 1794, include drafts and notes for five articles and …

New world record price for Roman gold coin

An 8 aurei gold medallion minted in 308 A.D. during the reign of the Emperor Maxentius sold at auction for $1,407,550 (1.3 million Swiss francs). That’s a new world record public auction price for a Roman gold coin. (We can’t say for sure that it’s the highest price ever paid because of private sales, which …

Gaudí’s only complete building reopens after 7 years

The Güell Palace in Barcelona is one of Gaudí’s earliest buildings (built between 1886 and 1890), and it’s the only one he ever fully completed. It has been closed to visitors since 2004 when a thorough renovation program was undertaken to repair cracked stonework that was causing structural problems. After seven years and 9 million …

Newton’s apple tree gets fenced

The famous apple tree whose momentous 1666 fruit-dropping inspired Isaac Newton to develop his theory of gravity is a popular stop for visitors to Woolsthorpe Manor, the house Newton was born in in 1642. It’s getting increasingly popular, in fact, with visitors doubling this year to 33,000 from last year’s 15,000. The tree blew down …

Early NASA space suits not as tough as you’d think

Just because they kept the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flights safe from the intense radiation, heat and pressure of space travel doesn’t mean the early NASA space suits can survive the rigors of life on Earth. There are 270 of these iconic suits remaining, and curators at the Smithsonian’s National Air & …

Builders find fresco from ca. 1300 in Capri church

Builders working on the medieval church of Sant’Anna in Capri found a happy surprise behind a wall: a beautifully colored fresco dating to around 1300. The scene depicts the crucifixion of Christ with Mary and St. John on either side of the cross and a throng of heavenly host above. The image of Jesus himself …