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The Washington Monument

Thursday, February 27, 2014


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From Bohn’s Hand-Book of Washington, 1856. —After the monument stood half-finished for many years, it was at last completed as the simple obelisk it is now, for reasons having more to do with money than with taste.

Gladstone, Our Chief of Men

Saturday, February 22, 2014


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From the Printer’s International Specimen Exchange, 1888.


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From Hailing’s Circular, Autum, 1882.

Automaton Chess Player

Thursday, February 20, 2014


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From Curiosities for the Ingenious, published in Philadelphia in 1822. —This wonderful automaton is, of course, the famous Turk, one of the most celebrated frauds in history. It baffled the world for more than fifty years. In reality, it was operated by a chess player hidden in the chest. This description shows every mark of having been written by one who had actually seen the Turk in action; it seems to be a more complete description than was accessible to many modern writers who have spoken of the Turk. It is amusing to note how utterly honest the Turk’s creator was: “it was a mere bagatelle, not without some merit as a piece of mechanism, but the effects of which depend chiefly on the happy means employed to produce illusion.” It may be said that Kemper did not so much fool people as rely on people to fool themselves.

Summer Fashions, 1897

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


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From Godey’s Magazine, August, 1897.