Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day

On Sunday Hatfield held its' annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony. The parade marches down Main Street. It's quite a small parade, but it's quite a small town-

The Smith Academy marching band won the National Marching Band Championship in Pennsylvania last week, quite an achievement considering Smith Academy has about 400 students and was competing against much larger schools-

There were several speeches and VFW presentations in Smith Park afterwards. Hatfield has several service members in Iraq, and the young Marine in the background is about to be deployed there. The chaplain of the Hatfield V.F.W., who read the names of members who died this year, is in the dark blue suit on the far right; he's also my barber.

A fly-over of A-10's from nearby Westover AFB was scheduled, but did not happen during the ceremony. After the ceremony we walked home, which is only a few hundred yards down the street from the park. About half an hour later we were sitting on the deck eating lunch, and a pair of A-10s slowly flew over at about 2,000 feet, then came back around a few minutes later, as if they were looking for something... then, about a minute later they came screaming directly over our deck at about 400 mph, only 100 feet off the ground, which was quite a way to end the day!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Really Unique Collectibles...

This op-ed piece from today's New York Times relates to one of the 20th century's more macabre collecting sagas. If I recall correctly, New York autograph & maunscript auctioneer Charles Hamilton once sold the relic, and wrote about it in one of his books, published in the 1970s. I had not heard much about it since then, but apparently it's back...

New York Times: May 17, 2007

THE owner of Napoleon’s penis died last Thursday in Englewood, N.J. John K. Lattimer, who’d been a Columbia University professor and a collector of military (and some macabre) relics, also possessed Lincoln’s blood-stained collar and Hermann Göring’s cyanide ampoule. But the penis, which supposedly had been severed by a priest who administered last rites to Napoleon and overstepped clerical boundaries, stood out (sorry) from the professor’s collection of medieval armor, Civil War rifles and Hitler drawings.

The chances that Napoleon’s penis would be excised so that it could become a souvenir were improved by his having lived and died at a moment when the physical remains of celebrities held a strong attraction. Shakespeare didn’t become Shakespeare until the dawn of the romantic period, when his biography was written, his plays annotated and his belongings sought out and preserved. Trees that stood outside the bard’s former homes were felled to provide Shakespearean lumber for tea chests and tobacco stoppers.

After Napoleon’s capture at Waterloo, his possessions toured England. His carriage, filled with enticing contents like a gold tongue scraper, a flesh brush, “Cashimeer small-clothes” and a chocolate pot, drew crowds and inspired the poet Byron to covet a replica. When Napoleon died, the trees that lined his grave site at St. Helena were slivered into souvenirs.

The belief that objects are imbued with a lasting essence of their owners, taken to its logical extreme, led to the mind-set that caused Mary Shelley to keep her husband’s heart, dried to a powder, in her desk drawer. Of course, relic collecting long predates the romantic period; medieval pilgrims sought out fragments of the True Cross. In the aftermath of the Reformation, religious relics that had been ejected from monasteries joined secular collections that freely intermingled belemnites with saints’ finger bones. When Keats died, his hair took on the numinous appeal of a religious artifact.

Napoleon’s penis was not the only Napoleonic body part that became grist for the relic mill. Two pieces of Napoleon’s intestine, acquired by the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1841, provoked a long-simmering debate beginning in 1883. That year, Sir James Paget called the specimens’ authenticity into question, contrasting their seemingly cancerous protrusions to the sound tissue Napoleon’s doctor had earlier described. In 1960, the dispute continued in The Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, long after the intestine pieces had been destroyed during a World War II air raid.

Dr. Lattimer, a urologist, could claim a professional interest in Napoleon’s genitalia. Not so its previous owner, the Philadelphia bookseller and collector A. S. W. Rosenbach, who took a “Rabelaisian delight” in the relic, according to his biographer, Edwin Wolf. When Rosenbach put the penis on display at the Museum of French Art in New York, visitors peered into a vitrine to see something that looked like a maltreated shoelace, or a shriveled eel.

Whether the object prized by Dr. Lattimer was actually once attached to Napoleon may never be resolved. Some historians doubt that the priest could have managed the organ heist when so many people were passing in and out of the emperor’s death chamber. Others suggest he may have removed only a partial sample. If enough people believe in a possibly spurious penis, does it become real?

The pathos of Napoleon’s penis — bandied about over the decades, barely recognizable as a human body part — conjures up the seamier side of the collecting impulse. If, as Freud suggested, the collector is a sexually maladjusted misanthrope, then the emperor’s phallus is a collector’s object nonpareil, the epitome of male potency and dominance. The ranks of Napoleon enthusiasts, it should be noted, include many alpha males: Bill Gates, Newt Gingrich, Stanley Kubrick, Winston Churchill, Augusto Pinochet. Nevertheless, the Freudian paradigm has never accounted for women collectors, nor does it explain the appeal of collections for artists like Lisa Milroy, whose paintings of cabinet handles or shoes, arrayed in series, animate these common objects.

It’s time to let Napoleon’s penis rest in peace. Museums are quietly de-accessioning the human remains of indigenous peoples so that body parts can be given proper burial rites. Napoleon’s penis, too, should be allowed to go home and rejoin the rest of his captivating body.

Judith Pascoe, a professor of English at the University of Iowa, is the author of “The Hummingbird Cabinet: A Rare and Curious History of Romantic Collectors.”

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Silly Sunday

The Latest Batch of T-Shirt Sayings-

Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.

What am I? Flypaper for freaks!?

I'm visualizing duct tape over your mouth.

The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.

I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.

Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.

I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.

How about never? Is never good for you?

You sound reasonable...Time to up my medication.

I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.

I don't work here. I'm a consultant.

My toys! My toys! I can't do this job without my toys!

It might look like I'm doing nothing, but at the cellular level I'm really quite busy.

At least I have a positive attitude about my destructive habits.

You validate my inherent mistrust of strangers.

Someday, we'll look back on this, laugh nervously and change the subject.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New Catalog-

The Book Elves have always loved gardening, although they tend to have too little patience to be really successful at it. Plants grow slowly in the spring, that’s all there is to it, but the Elves are never lacking in ingenious ways to speed things up. The 50,000-candlepower flood lamps to give the seedlings 24-hour light for a “jump start” got shut down by the Audubon folks when the local owls began going nutty from sleep deprivation.

Their next project for “getting those plants up and running at their full potential” (as they put it) involved a set of surplus Army “all-weather” loudspeakers, and endless tape loop, and a set of self-motivation tapes they bought on Ebay. It didn't end up doing much for the plants, but the local robins have been building the most amazing nests since they started playing those tapes...

But before they decided to use an old surplus hot-water heater to "bathe" the soil with hot-water and we ended up with boiled cabbages and carrots, they finished our latest catalog-

RECENT ACQUISITIONS for MAY, 2007 is now available as a printed catalog, or on our website. It features 115 books and catalogs on art and antiques, including furniture, silver, textiles, painting, metals, ceramics, and glass. Highlights include-

-A lovely copy of an important 1931 exhibition of American folk art.
-A very uncommon 1916 Pennsylvania Museum furniture exhibition catalog.
-Israel Sack's copy of an important American ceramics book.
-A scarce 1887 book on wig-making.
-The catalog to a very important 1879 Wedgwood exhibition.
-An elegant and unusual 1821 book about a set of silver buttons with engravings of 'La Chasse', inspired by Napoleon's coat.
-The 1851 memoirs of a famous American folk painter.
-A striking 1867 collection of colored designs for marquetry.
-The catalog to the first exhibition of the Pewter Collector's Club of America.
-A rare an early Tiffany & Company Centennial Exposition promotional booklet.
-The 1836 biography of the Father of the American Industrial Revolution.
-A scarce 1853 book on Pietre Dure with 2 beautiful colored plates.

and much, much more!

Request your printed copy, or browse the catalog on our website.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Silly Sunday...

Actual advertisements-

Illiterate? Write today for free help.

Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.

Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.

Stock up and save. Limit: one per customer.

Semi-annual After-Christmas sale.

3-year old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.

Dinner special - Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00.

Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home.

We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.

For sale: Three canaries of undermined sex.

Great dames for sale.

Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition.

Tired of cleaning yourself? Let me do it.

Vacation special: have your home exterminated.

Get rid of aunts. Zap does the job in 24 hours.

Toaster: A gift that every member of the family appreciates. Automatically burns toast.

For rent: 6-room hated apartment.

Used cars: Why go elsewhere to be cheated? Come here first.

Christmas tag sale. Handmade gifts for the hard to find person.

Wanted: Hair cutter. Excellent growth potential.

Wanted: Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.

And now, the Superstore -- unequaled in size, unmatched in variety, unrivaled inconvenience.

We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $1.00.

- - -

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A New Parian Book-

We've just gotten copies of a newly-published book on Parian, and it's a beauty!

"Parian. Copeland’s Statuary Porcelain" is by Robert Copeland. Hardcover. 8.5”x11”, 352 pages, profusely illustrated in color and b/w, dj. New. $89.50

"Parian – a high-quality, unglazed porcelain – was developed in the early 1840s by Copeland & Garrett, which was the first company to exhibit it in 1845. Its purpose was to provide small sculptures for the public at a time when full size marble statues were gracing the homes of wealthy people. Examples exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition stimulated the demand initiated by the Art Union of London in 1845 and promoted further in the next forty years by other Art Unions.

‘Parian – Copeland’s Statuary Porcelain’ tells this fascinating story in detail. The debate in the columns of the Staffordshire Advertiser as to which firm was the first to introduce Parian is also examined here in detail. The book goes on to describe the manufacturing processes of mold-making and the casting of the figures. Also included is a comprehensive catalogue of Copeland’s productions of statuettes, groups and portrait busts.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May!

It's May Day, and a beautiful Tuesday here at Foggygates. Time to throw off all the old winter clothes and dig out our Spring Hats-

Time also to dig out our Sporting Togs-

Happy May, everyone!