Showing posts from 2011

Remembering Veterans of America's Forgotten Wars

Armistice Day was begun in 1919 to commemorate the veterans of the “War to End All Wars.” Sadly, World War I was not the last the world saw of war. Therefore, in 1953, Armistice Day was repurposed as “Veterans Day” to celebrate those who had served in all American Wars. 
The Heroes of the War of 1812 Courtesy of NYPL Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection

Since then, the veterans of both world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam Conflict, Desert Storm, Iraq War, and American intervention in Afghanistan have been honored on November 11. However, if we truly want to remember the sacrifices of American soldiers, we need to remember some of the forgotten wars in which the U.S. military has served.

Yes, we all remember the Battle of the Alamo (and therefore the Texas Revolution), but do you remember the Quasi-War between America and France? And what about the Barbary War (mostly remembered for the “Shores of Tripoli” line in the Marine Corps Hymn)? Here is a list of America’s military conflicts with l…

Some Jersey City Architecture and its Presidential Associations

Because of Jersey City’s proximity to New York City, the many historical and architectural treasures of this storied city are often overlooked. One such prize is the main branch of the Jersey City Public Library, which was designed by the architect who designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

Jersey City Public Library c.1900
The cornerstone of the Beaux-Arts structure was laid in 1899 after the New York architectural firm of Brite and Bacon won the design competition. Henry Bacon (1866-1924) had honed his style at the prestigious firm McKim, Mead and White, working on such projects as the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After striking out on his own, the Jersey City Public Library was one of his first commissions.

Another of his early commissions was the Lincoln Memorial. Bacon was selected by the committee dedicated to erecting a monument for Lincoln (which had been long delayed by insufficient funding, differences over design and location, etc.). The long…

The History of War Games and Great Military Strategists in a Nutshell

I was researching Charles De Gaulle’s prescient 1934 work on warfare, The Army of the Future, in which he correctly predicted many of the tactics that would be used in World War II, when I stumbled across this concise and intriguing timeline of the history of war games in Foreign Policy Magazine.
War Games at Fort Knox.  Members of the U.S. armored forces discuss tactical problems during war games at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where soldiers in training learned the most up-to-date methods of fighting a mechanized war, 1942. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, DC
It outlines the use of games in military preparedness from the birth of chess in India and its 19th-century variant, Kriegsspiel, to modern computer simulated war games, apparently quite realistically portrayed in the 1983 movie, War Games starring Matthew Broderick. I’m intrigued, comforted by and terrified that in 2009 the Pentagon staged an economic war game with the aid of financi…

Exhibition Review: Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art

At the Morgan Library & Museum June 3 through October 2, 2011
As a habitual list maker, list refiner and scrapbooker, I jumped at the chance to visit the exhibit
Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art
on view at the Morgan Library & Museum through October. In fact, I found it so intriguing that I visited twice. The exhibit, ingeniously brought together from different collections in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, was far more visually interesting than one might imagine. Some of the list makers include Grant Wood, H.L. Mencken, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Pablo Picasso, and N.C. Wyeth. Many, if not most, of the lists are illustrated and provide insight into the artists’ creative processes, motivations, organizational devices, social milieux and, in several cases, drinking habits.
Exhibition catalogue
Some of my favorite items include: The 1932 New Y…

Go West, Young Mailman: Cartographic Video Correlates U.S. Expansion with Post Office Establishment

A few days ago, I stumbled on this excellent video, Visualizing US expansion through post offices via, which correlates data charting the expansion of the U.S. post office with overall expansion in the United States. The author, Derek Watkins, uses data from the U.S. Geologic Survey’s Board on Geographic Names and the Postal Services Postmaster Finder.
Posted: Visualizing US expansion through post offices. from Derek Watkins on Vimeo.
Co.Design editor Suzanne Labarre makes the cheeky observation that “post offices are probably the best signboards of civilization this side of cemeteries and whorehouses.”

Watch it a few times (it’s a little hypnotic) and you’ll be able make observations about your favorite part of the U.S. I noticed how densely populated (using post offices as indicators) New YorkState was before most of the country was even on the map... a testament to its early settlement and its history as the original Western frontier.

Copyright 2011 Antiquarianati…

Baltimore's Poe House Faces Fiscal Difficulties with Loss of City Funds

Several days ago, the New York Times reported on Baltimore's fiscally troubled Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. For the second year in a row, the city of Baltimore has withheld funding from the small museum, which has long been a victim of geography as it is located in an economically depressed neighborhood far from the usual tourist destinations. Read the NYT article here.

To support the Poe House through a donation, purchase of a block print of The Raven (Forevermore) by the artist Gaia or to sign a petition asking the mayor of Baltimore to restore funding to the museum, follow this link:

Copyright 2011 Antiquarianation All Rights Reserved

Frida Kahlo's Copy of "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe" To Be Auctioned

Tomorrow a copy of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe owned by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is to be auctioned by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. The dark themes portrayed in Kahlo's highly symbolic and often surreal paintings make her interest in the macabre works of Poe an important source of inspiration. The volume to be auctioned includes marginalia in Kahlo's hand and according the Hindman's description, "The inscriptions and collages in Kahlo's personal copy of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe form an extraordinary record of the artist's creative process in addition to revealing an important literary influence of her work. The item demands further study of Frida Kahlo's motivations, her selection of specific works, and the pointed references to her relationship with [her husband, Mexican artist] Diego Rivera."  It is estimated to sell for $20,000-30,000. Read the full description here:  Kahlo's Poe

Copyright 2011 Antiquarianation All Rights Reserved

When America Was a Lady

Most appropriately for a nation founded on philosophical aspirations, an early name for the United States came out of a witty flaunting of British authority.
Columbia lends its name to everything from the U.S. Capitol – the District of Columbia – to the oldest college in New York and many counties and towns across the nation. Have you ever wondered why?
Columbia teaching John Bull [Great Britain] his new lesson c. War of 1812
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
In the early 18th century, the publication of parliamentary debates was illegal throughout the British Empire. But the demand for such reports – especially in the colonies – was such that inventive journalists determined to find a way to publish the accounts of such debates. In order to skirt the law, the pioneering London periodical, The Gentleman’s Magazine, published the “fictional” Reports of the Debates of the Senate of Lilliput, drawing place names from Jonathan Swift’s satire Gulli…

Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Historic 1936 Berlin Olympics

A few weeks ago, NPR’s sports commentator Frank Deford delivered a characteristically fascinating report on the 1936 Berlin Olympics during which the ascendant Nazi state charmed the world, flexed its muscle and elevated Olympic pageantry to new heights. Listen to the podcast:

Podcast: When Owens Beat Hitler

Deford has written a novel on the subject entitled Bliss, Remembered:
More info on Bliss, Remembered

Copyright 2011 Antiquarianation All Rights Reserved

Art, Manuscripts Destroyed in 9/11 Attacks According to New Report

The World Trade Center Documentation Project has released a report detailing the works of art, historic photographs, manuscripts, and other irreplaceable objects that were lost or destroyed in the 2001 attacks, including works of Rodin and Calder, letters of Helen Keller and negatives of John F. Kennedy. Read more about it here:

Mystery Surrounds Loss of Art on 9/11

Copyright 2011 Antiquarianation All Rights Reserved