Monstrous Craws, at a New Coalition Feast…

Originally posted on The Printshop Window:


James Gillray, Monstrous Craws, at a New Coalition Feast, Published by S.W. Fores 29th May 1787

If the exit polls in today’s general election are anything to go by then the title of this print by James Gillray is likely to be a prophetic summary of the state of British politics in the week ahead. Of course the image itself was never intended as a satire on parliamentary coalitions; these were thoroughly commonplace affairs in the eighteenth-century, with all governments being coalitions of different factions held together by a combination of patronage (read: bribery), ideology, tradition, family connections and good old self-interest. The term coalition is used here to refer refer to the brief reconciliation between the King and Queen and the Prince of Wales which took place in the spring of 1787, after the Prince agreed to denounce his secret marriage to Maria Fitzherbert in exchange for a…

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Gilbert Pidcock’s travelling menagerie

Originally posted on All Things Georgian:

Roll Up! Roll Up! Today we invite our readers to visit Pidcock’s Royal Menagerie at Exeter ‘Change and also touring the country, so all can join in.  All manner of incredible and rare animals, some never seen before. And all for just one shilling.

Come on in, and prepare to be amazed . . .

Courtesy of the British Museum, 1799 Courtesy of the British Museum, 1799


Whatever deserves the Epithet of RARE, must certainly be worthy the Attention of the Curious.

JUST Arriv’d from the ISLAND of JAVA, in the East-Indies, and ALIVE, one of the greatest Rarities ever brought to Europe in the Age or Memory of Man,


It is described by the late Dr. Goldsmith as follows, viz. The Head inspires some Degree of Terror like a Warrior; it has the Eye of a Lion, the Defence of a Porcupine, and the Swiftness of a Courser; but…

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The ‘Petticoat Duellists’ of 1792

Originally posted on All Things Georgian:

The Petticoat Duellists

In 1792 the Carlton House Magazine ran an article, with an accompanying illustration (shown above), of two female petticoat duellists. The two participants were identified, in the magazine, as Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone.

The two ladies were taking tea when Mrs. Elphinstone, after an exchange of ‘bloated compliments’ between them, said to Lady Almeria, “You have been a very beautiful woman.”

Lady Almeria: “Have been? What do you mean by ‘have been’?”

Mrs. Elphinstone: “You have a very good autumn face, even now . . . The lilies and roses are somewhat faded. Forty years ago I am told a young fellow could hardly gaze on you with impunity.”

Lady Almeria: “Forty years ago! Is the woman mad? I had not existed thirty years ago!”

Mrs. Elphinstone: “Then Arthur Collins, the author of the British Peerage has published a false, scandalous and seditious libel against your ladyship. He…

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Making histories: Captain Cook and Indigenous Australia

Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Maria Nugent, Research Fellow, Australian National University

Objects on display in the Indigenous Australia exhibition. Objects on display in the Indigenous Australia exhibition at the British Museum, London

There is a corner (literally) in the BP exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation that features the famous British navigator Captain James Cook. It occurs at a pivotal point, where the exhibition’s narrative moves from the hard-to-fathom timescales of the Dreaming (the complex system of beliefs and stories that explain the meaningful creation of the world, and how humans reproduce that system through ceremony, art, storytelling and other meaningful action, which one anthropologist described as an ‘everywhen’) and the 40,000 plus years of human occupation of the continent, to the much shorter and more immediate timespan of the last 245 years since British encounters with Indigenous people there began. While Dutch and Spanish voyagers had visited the continent since the early 1600s, Cook was the first British navigator to explore the…

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The impaled cranium that allegedly belonged to a 14th century pirate

Originally posted on :

The summary execution of Störtebeker, 1401 on a tinted woodcut by Nicolaus Sauer, Hamburg, 1701.  Image credit: Wikipedia The summary execution of Störtebeker, 1401 on a tinted woodcut by Nicolaus Sauer, Hamburg, 1701. Image credit: Wikipedia

Pirates were larger than life characters known for their clothing, the way they talk, their treasure, and their flags. Their adventures have been immortalized in folktales that recount debauchery and criminal acts, which are likely far removed from reality. These marauders experienced malnutrition, violence, and disease. If captured by government forces they were executed and their bodies displayed as a warning to other outlaws.

Sometimes the details of pirate’s death become legendary and overshadow their lives. The most well-known and colorful pirate execution legends are about Captain Kidd and Captain Edward “Blackbeard” Teach.

Captain William Kidd was hanged on May 23, 1701 at the infamous Execution Dock in London. The executioner needed two takes to hang Captain Kidd because the rope broke on the 1st attempt. Kidd’s remains were displayed in a…

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The library career and qualifications path



Originally posted on Alyson's Welsh libraries blog:

Certificate Image free from Pixabay

Library staff in Wales have opportunities to improve their skills and qualifications through the bursaries and training available under the Libraries Inspire strategic programme for 2015-16.

Full information can be found in the document ‘Library workforce development grant information’ on the Welsh Government website CyMAL grant pages.

In summary, there are bursaries available for people wishing to study library and information qualifications from Level 2 (i.e. from the Certificate in LAIS) upwards to MSc level and including the Foundation Degree and its conversion to a BSc and the PDA in ICTL (Professional Development Award in ICT in Libraries). If you have any queries get in touch – contact details are in the document. All these qualifications can be studied in Wales (or at other accredited institutions if you prefer).

Whilst I’m writing on this topic, now is a good moment to look at the career…

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Gold consolidation – assessment of an Armenian MS

Originally posted on John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog:

Gill Birch observing Armenian MS 3. Note our new microscope, acquired thanks to the Innovation Fund!

IMG_1018 Steve Mooney using the old microscope for the consolidation of the Beatus (Latin MS 8)

Collection care is starting a program of gold consolidation, thanks to the acquisition of a state of the art microscope, which wouldn’t have happened without the donations received through the Innovation Fund

Gill Birch, Senior Conservator in the Conservation department, is analyzing and assessing a marvellous Armenian manuscript in parchment, with many pages that look like a glistering ornate carpet.

Steve Mooney, who worked on the pigment consolidation of several treasures of the John Rylands Library, is now in the process of organizing tuition sessions on the gold consolidation for the collection care team.

The first stage of the process includes the assessment of each individual page, in order to check the condition of the gold foil.

Copy of the MS for the assessment, beside the original Copy…

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