Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Accidental Mysteries.

All photos © John and Teenuh Foster, Accidental Mysteries Collection.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mathmatical Objects of Mystery

A pattern drawn using a Spirograph, a popular graphic toy used to draw any combination of curves.

Above is a mathematical toy calculator patented by William Robertson and made by the Educational Novelty Company of Dayton, Ohio, USA. This is an early example of a mathematical toy. When each of the monkey’s feet are moved to point at two numbers, the monkey’s hands move to indicate the product.

“Magic Brain” calculator made by Chadwick in tin and plastic, with stylus and instructions. c. 1955. Very similar to the Exaxctus and other stylus calculators of the period, the Magic Brain could add, subtract, and multiply and divide by repeated addition and subtraction.

This model, made from ping-pong balls, represents an example of ‘face-centered cubic packing,’ a structural form which occurs in crystals.

(Above) CIRCULAR SLIDE RULE, 1660 - 1680:
A circular slide rule, made by John Brown in 166o, with two brass radial arms and an astronomical quadrant engraved on the back. A spiral slide rule affords a long and therefore accurate logarithmic line in a small amount of space. The potential of spiral rules was not really utilized until the Victorian period, when several spiral and helical designs appeared on the market.

The ‘Arithmetical Jewel’ was invented and publicized by William Pratt in 1619. This instrument combines features of the abacus with pen reckoning. Numbers are put in by moving the flags to reveal dots. Sums are then worked out with a pen and paper.

This item is called a Chuckrum board with 108 small coins. This board was used to count 100 small ‘chuckrum’ coins rapidly by spreading them over the surface to fill the holes.

This odd contraption was made by the Robertson Rapid Calculator Company of Glasgow, and was one of several large-scale ready reckoners to be developed in the first decade of the 20th century. This form of ready reckoner placed the tables of numbers on four rollers, each one of which was likened to ‘a book with 200 or 300 pages open at the one time’. It gave the cost of various quantities of goods at various prices per pound, hundredweight or ton.

John Napier (1550-1617), discoverer of logarithms, also created this popular calculating tool known as Napier’s bones or rods. Napier’s bones reduced muliplication to a sequence of simple additions; division and square roots could also be achieved. This example consists of a wooden box containing ten rotating cylinders each of which bears the numbers ‘0 times’ to ‘9 times’. The inside of the lid is inscribed; “This box was the identical property of the author of ye Logs, Napier 1824”. This type of Napier‘s bones was first published by Gaspard Schott in 1668, so it is unlikely that they were actually the property of the inventor.

Alexander Crum Brown (1838-1922), mathematician and chemist, was professor of mathematics at Edinburgh University and a prolific maker of mathematical models. This surface represents the equation: z=3a(x squared - y squared) - (x cubed + y cubed). Every section made by a plane passing through the blue line and cutting the surface is an ellipse.

I THINK I HAVE SPOKEN BEFORE AT HOW TERRIBLE I WAS AT MATH WHEN I WAS GROWING UP. Numbers both terrified me and intrigued me. When I found these images and descriptions of early calculating devices, I thought how interesting it would be to peer into the world of mathematics, my old arch enemy. All of the things you see above, some going back to the 1600’s, we invented to help figure out complicated and complex methods of counting, figuring out the abstract nature of the universe, and those things beyond the grasp of our mind alone.

I also look at these objects as things of wonder. Other than the more recent items, most of us would have a difficult time trying to figure out what one of these machines was used for if we came across it at an estate sale or antique store. We would probably guess it was for calculating, but that might be as far as we get. The passage of time can erase the previous understanding if it is not handed down or passed on. Today, there are many “things” in museums whose use or purpose is not fully understood.

All of these wonderful objects were found in the Science Museum located in the U.K.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Phrenology: Feel My Head!

(Above) Phrenology head, American, c. 1900 from the Hill Gallery in Birmingham, MI. Carved and painted wood, 12” x 8” x 11”. Click on image for larger view.

(Above) Click for larger view.
A phrenological head developed by the American brothers Lorenzo and Orson Fowler, to assist in the reading of a subject's skull, 1860-1896, and a case of small heads made in 1831 by William Bally of Dublin, Ireland, to illustrate the theories of phrenology.

(Above) Definitely, click for larger view!
An amazing collection of heads found in the collection of The Science Museum, South Kensington, UK.

Click on image for larger views.
(Above) Phrenology originated with Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a German physician, assisted by his colleague, Johann Kaspar Spurzheim (1809-72). Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. Gall and Spurzheim eventually disagreed and went on to promote rival systems of phrenology. These heads are numbered according to Spurzheim’s classification. The heads may have been used to teach phrenology but were probably made as a general reference collection. A wide range of different heads are present. For instance, head number 54 is that of a scientific man; head number 8 is recorded as the head of an ‘idiot’. The heads were made by William Bally, who studied under Spurzheim from 1828 onwards.

(Above) Phrenology Head Diagram from a booklet, American, c. 1900. This was found at Heir Antiques. Click image for larger view.

(Above and below) Click on image for larger view.

(Above) Here’s a rare carved Phrenologist’s head, used as a table top model illustrating the properties associated with various parts of cognitive abilities and their location inside the brain. This head is carved and painted with inked descriptions along the scalp. Sensitive rendering of the face and inlaid glass eyes add to its presence. c. 1870. It stands at 10” h.
This was found at One Good Eye Antiques.

I DECIDED TODAY TO DIG UP WHAT I COULD FIND ON AUTHENTIC, VINTAGE PHRENOLOGY HEADS. You have all probably seen recent imitations, they are kind of cool and interesting. The early, hand made versions are quite rare. Phrenologists believed that the contours of the skull followed the brain’s shape, with each region responsible for an aspect of personality or behavior. Feeling the lumps was like reading the mind. Phrenology never achieved the status of an accredited science, but it had a huge following at one time. Most of these designated areas were pure guesswork, but many people enjoyed the study of it, right or wrong. Victorians liked to decorate their homes with not only art, but scientific objects like botanical specimens, microscopes, class-cased diorama’s, stuffed exotic animal specimens—so phrenology heads just added another level of “science” to their collections.

Phrenology was first explored by Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a Viennese physician.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Japanese Municipality Logos

IN JAPAN, CITY MUNICIPALITIES are identified by some of the coolest abstract logo’s I have seen in a long time. In contrast, American cities are overwhelmingly identified by interpretations of trees, the town square, fountain, or other more literal representations, like a city landmark . In Japan, it’s almost like each city has tried to outdo the other with the better abstract symbol—a colorful mark to identify their place.

These logo marks were found on Koi Koi Koi.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shane Devries: Childhood Fantasy

Click on image for larger view.

Click on image for larger view.

Click on image for larger view.

SHANE DEVRIES IS A 25-YEAR OLD PAINTER FROM ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA. His cartoon-like work is akin to a current California style of strange, goofy plush toys, only his style so painterly and lush. There is no question that Devries loves paint and understands how to use it— and his figures are soft and surreal. I can almost smell the oil paint. Within desert landscapes, Devries’ figures float aimlessly amongst dry scenarios, and button-eyed creatures stare blankly at us. But Devries world of monsters and elephants aren’t scary, just odd and quirky.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gil Evlgren: The Man Who Loved Women

(Above) Gil Evlgren (1914 - 1980): Self Portrait, charcoal on paper, 20” x 15”
Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Gil Evlgren: On the House, 1958, oil on canvas, 24” x 30”
Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Gil Evlgren: Darlene (Bedside Manner), 1958, oil on canvas, 24” x 30”
Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Gil Evlgren: It’s Nothing to Sneeze At, 1947, oil on canvas, 24” x 30”
Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Gil Evlgren: A Polished Performance, 1964, oil on canvas, 24” x 30”
Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Gil Evlgren: Something’s Bothering You (What’s Wrong?), 1957, oil on canvas, 24” x 30” Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Gil Evlgren: Check and Double Check (Now Don’t Get Me in a Corner), 1946, oil on canvas, 24” x 30”
Click any image for larger view.

(Above) Gil Evlgren: Sheer Delight (This Soots Me), 1948, oil on canvas, 30” x 24” Click any image for larger view.

I WISH I HAD KNOWN GIL EVLGREN, WHO PASSED AWAY IN 1980. THIS MAN WAS A GREAT PAINTER, AND AS AN ARTIST, he chose to be an illustrator. He is best remembered for his work as a painter of pin-up models. Most consider Mr. Evlgren the greatest pin up artist of all time.

I titled my post “The Man Who Loved Women” because in my mind, there is no way a person could paint women so beautifully without loving his subject. Always with class and style, and the highest standards of taste, Evlgren painted beautiful women like no other. When you click on the images, you can see his painterly technique. It’s rich and lush—like the women he painted. I would have liked Gil, I know it.

Heritage Auction Galleries upcoming online auction, has 8 vintage Evlgren oil paintings up for grabs this Tuesday, Oct 27. The auction is called the 2009 October Signature Illustration Auction #7016. It will be held in Dallas, TX. If you would like to bid, click here. I do need to let you know that most of his paintings will begin bidding at $30,000 - $40,000.

There is a Web site about Mr. Evlgren here.

Heritage Auction Galleries, located in Dallas, TX is the largest collectibles auctioneer and third largest auction house in the world.

You might also like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...