Sunday, September 12, 2010

Accidental Mysteries is Relocating

(Above) Image © Accidental Mysteries. Click for larger view.

HELLO, READERS AND FOLLOWERS OF ACCIDENTAL MYSTERIES. Just a note to tell my readers that Accidental Mysteries has relocated to Design Observer. What this means is that I hope you will re-tune your computer bookmarks to follow AM on one of the largest and most relevant websites today featuring news and critical essays on design, urbanism, social innovation and popular culture. To be asked to join their team is an honor. Design Observer has always been one of my favorite places to visit.

As many of you know, I started this blog almost 2 years ago and it has grown significantly during that time. I thought it was fun when the site tripped the half-million mark for clicks about a month ago. For the first year, I posted 7 days a week. Feeling burnout approaching after 12 months of daily posts (I never missed a day, btw), I gave myself the weekends off, which saved me—at least for a while.

And recently, to again avoid the inevitable burnout that can happen when you focus too hard on a single project, I asked for a little more time off to focus on a few other things in my life. But secretly I wished I could post just once a week and still not disappoint my readers. (OK, I have a “caretaker” complex, I admit it!)

When the invitation came from Design Observer to bring my eye and particular visual viewpoint via Accidental Mysteries to their site, it was perfect. The esteemed Eric Baker, author and Design Director of The O Group in Manhattan had just retired his popular site there called “Today,” and I was just one of many thousands who was sad to see it go. Accidental Mysteries is not meant to replace Eric’s Today—it will simply occupy a similar but unique spot.

And whereas Accidental Mysteries took nearly 2 years to garner a half-million clicks—Design Observer enjoys hundreds of thousands of site visits a month, plus large followings on Twitter and Facebook! It’s a big lovable, open-arms monster I am joining.

So dear readers, Accidental Mysteries is not going away, it has just moved. My first post was Sunday, October 3 and will continue to post once a week every Sunday thereafter.

This site will remain where it is—an archive of A.M. posts about the odd, the unusual and the curiosities and things I find off the beaten path. New posts will continue on Design Observer with same the focus and same viewpoint—just weekly, and with an opportunity to reach a much wider audience. Don’t go away—just set your clock to ring every Sunday or Monday morning, and see what Accidental Mysteries has to offer. And I’ll bet when you are there—you will find the depth of thought and essays throughout the Design Observer site to be a wonderful added bonus.

And please make a note that I will still be maintaining my Accidental Mysteries Facebook page, located here.

See you there!

And yes, that’s me and my twin sister Nancy standing by our new television set in Winston-Salem, NC about 1956. We had 3 channels—and never hoped for more.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Random Images

(Above) A rare, carved 19th century Phrenologist’s head, used as a table top model illustrating the properties associated with various parts of the brain. Carved and painted with ink descriptions along the scalp. Sensitive rendering of the face with inlaid glass eyes. C. 1870; 10 inches high. Via One Good Eye.

(Above) Terra cotta sculpture found near Ossining, N.Y., thought perhaps to be an end-of-day piece. Via Candler Arts.

(Above) C. 1940-50: These simple silhouettes represent a virtual arsenal of ray weaponry. All were made by a single youngster to be at the disposal of his imagination. Via Joshua Lowenfels.

(Above) Brooklyn Harbor, 2007. Photogravure 28 x 20.5 inches by Lothar Osterburg.

(Above) 19th Century photograph of woman with parrots. Via eBay, private collection.

(Above) Image © Geoff Story.

HERE IS A BUCKET FULL OF IMAGES CULLED FROM the web, near and far. Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you next week.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dr. Samuel Mudd’s Medical Kit

Click image for larger view.

JOHN WILKES BOOTH AND THE LINCOLN ASSASSINATION: This medical kit, beyond its historical link to the assassination, also serves as an excellent example of what a mid-nineteenth century country doctor had with him when he made his house calls.

EMBOSSED LABEL READS: “F. Arnold & Sons, Manufacturers of Surgical Instruments, 15 S. Sharp St., Baltimore.”

DESCRIPTION OF THIS PHOTOGRAPH: Dr. Mudd’s kit is displayed open, unclasped, so the medical instruments are displayed inserted into the sewn leather loops, each designed to hold a specific instrument in the most efficient manner. Efficiency was important because in 1865 country doctors rode horseback to treat patients. These surgical instruments had to handle as many potential surgical situations as possible and still be carried on horseback in the doctor’s famous “little black bags”. In addition to a variety of scissors, scalpels, tweezers and probes, you can see at the top a rounded suture needle—pinned to a piece of paper with the number 5 on it. Next to the needle is a flat roll of suture thread with the words “Surgeon’s Pure Silk, Warranted No. 7”. On the far right flap, the name of the manufacturer is embossed and slightly to the right of it is a clasp that would have attached to the back of the opposing flap once the entire kit was folded.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: After shooting Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, Booth leapt from the President’s box to the stage, and the spur that he was wearing on his boot caught on a flag decorating the Presidential box. Booth fell to the stage and broke his leg. He then escaped on his horse, undoubtedly beginning to feel immense pain. Still, he was able to make his way to the Maryland residence of Dr Samuel Mudd, either a casual friend or co-conspirator in the assassination, depending on which side of the historical debate you are on. Dr. Mudd claimed Booth told him that he had broken his leg when his horse fell on him.

Dr. Mudd at first claimed that he did not recognize Booth and proceeded to treat him as he would any patient. The left leg had swollen badly and the Doctor cut the boot from the leg, set it and sent him on the way some 12-15 hours later. As military forces, pursuing Booth, searched the area they came upon Dr. Mudd’s house and, when questioned, he denied seeing or knowing Booth. A few days later, the military returned and arrested Mudd. Mudd was jailed and stood trial before a military tribunal. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he was released and pardoned after replacing a prison doctor who had died during a yellow fever outbreak. Many have come to doubt Dr. Mudd’s role in the conspiracy and many have tried to exonerate him.

This surgical kit was taken during the arrest of Dr. Samuel Mudd as a co-conspirator in Booth’s ill-fated scheme. Dr. Mudd received a life sentence—escaping the death penalty by just one vote.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Carol M. Highsmith.

More historical images from many categories are available to purchase here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Negative Space

HERE’S A GREAT SNAPSHOT that just sold for $55 on eBay. What I love about this image is the perfectly modernist view we are given, and the added value we get with the decorative border. This image was probably shot in the late 1930s or 1940s. Imagine the directional lines one is prone to seeing if you follow the perspectives of the buildings. It’s all quite stunningly abstract with it’s big bold white “X” in the center, the windows of the buildings echoing the fussy pattern we see in the border. Paul Strand (1890 - 1976), who some call the pioneer of the American Modernist movement in photography, would I am quite sure, have given this a photograph his seal of approval.

All done, perhaps by a tourist with a simple camera, by looking up and without seeing any of the visual clues I marvel at today— went “snap.” Thank you, oh gods of photography, for shining your light once more through the lens of an everyday Joe. And thank you, oh gods of luck, for allowing this picture not only to have survived— but to be found.

And if you have read this far, Accidental Mysteries will post here and there, and when I can— allowing me to devote some additional time to some other projects that would like to focus on. I haven’t missed a daily weekday post in nearly 2 years, so no—you are not imagining things if you do not see a fresh new post everyday. I’m just giving myself a little breather, if you will. I love my many readers and followers, so know that this author and finder of the odd and beautiful—gets up everyday, and simply tries to do his best.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Weekend Random Images

Click any image for MUCH larger view!

Click any image for MUCH larger view!

PLEASE ENJOY THESE RANDOM IMAGES found at the Bernard Becker Medical Library at the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Missouri. To access this amazing collection, simply click here.

All images © copyright Bernard Becker Medical Library, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid, Campus Box 8132, St. Louis, Missouri.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sweet Playing Cards

SOME VERY COOL PLAYING CARDS designed by Felix Blommestijn found here.

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