Benjamin Breen on the remarkable story of George Psalmanazar, the mysterious Frenchman who successfully posed as a native of Formosa (now modern Taiwan) and gave birth to a meticulously fabricated culture with bizarre customs, exotic fashions, and its own invented language.
These wonderful photographs, which make such innovative use of multiple exposure, are from a 1913 book by Theodor Bergquist, Director of the Swedish Gymnastic Institute in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Wörishofen.
When birds of paradise first arrived to Europe, as dried specimens with legs and wings removed, they were seen in almost mythical terms — as angelic beings forever airborne, nourished by dew and the "nectar" of sunlight. Natalie Lawrence looks at how European naturalists of the 16th and 17th centuries attempted to make sense of these entirely novel and exotic creatures from the East.
Fashionable in the 16th and 17th century, the art of embroidering unique covers for books saw a comeback in late 19th-century England, from the middle-class drawing room to the Arts and Crafts movement. Jessica Roberson explores the bibliomania, patriotism, and issues around gender so central to the revival.
Wonderful trompe l'oeil tumbling block design quilt incorporating signatures from such luminaries as Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rembrandt Peale, and Abraham Lincoln (one of eight American presidents represented).
This wonderful sketch of “teeth painlessly extracted by steam power” appears on an envelope addressed to a certain Dr J. Chapman of Totton, Southampton. As to whether he is the creator of the drawing also (or indeed someone in his household), the jury is out — though the idea that the envelope made its way […]
For more than 150 years the city of New Orleans has been known for the theatricality and extravagance of its Mardi Gras celebrations. Allison C. Meier looks at the wonderfully ornate float and costume designs from Carnival's "Golden Age" and the group of New Orleans artists who created them.