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Posts Tagged ‘public domain’

Corpulent Coriolanus

August 13, 2014 | by

Yesterday, the Folger Shakespeare Library released some eighty thousand images into the Creative Commons, a deluge of bardic miscellany from which the Internet may well never recover. There are astrology charts, game boards, hornbooks, advertisements, illustrations, engravings, and more, all of it related, however tangentially, to Shakespeare. We’ve had TPR interns taking a fine-tooth comb to the collection for twenty-four hours now, with closely monitored breaks for water and gruel, and we present to you now the results of their exhaustive research. There’s a plump Coriolanus with a salty cheek, a lurid and seemingly shrunken Lady Macbeth, a King Lear who seems to have wandered off the Grateful Dead tour bus, and a plus-sized “Harlequin Quixote,” dressed in a modish, dance-floor-ready romper, attacking some puppets.

There is, perhaps best of all, this illustrated version of Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” monologue, from Jaques in As You Like It. Click to enlarge:

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Oh, to be a lean and slippered pantaloon...

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A Practical Handbook on the Distillation of Alcohol from Farm Products

August 1, 2014 | by

It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific prose available in the public domain. Tonight’s prescription: “Alcoholometry,” a chapter from A Practical Handbook on the Distillation of Alcohol from Farm Products, published in 1907.

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David Rijckaert III, Man Sleeping, ca. 1649

Alcoholmetry is the name given to a variety of methods of determining the quantity of absolute alcohol contained in spirituous liquors. It will readily be seen that a quick and accurate method of making such determinations is of the very utmost importance to those who are engaged in the liquor traffic, since the value of spirit depends entirely upon the percentage of alcohol which it contains. When alcoholic liquors consist of simple mixtures of alcohol and water, the test is a simple one, the exact percentage being readily deducible from the specific gravity of the liquor, because to a definite specific gravity belongs a definite content of alcohol; this is obtained either by means of the specific gravity bottle, or of hydrometers of various kinds, specially constructed.

All hydrometers comprise essentially a graduated stem of uniform diameter, a bulb forming a float and a counterpoise or ballast. The hydrometers may either be provided with a scale indicated on the neck or else with weights added to sink the hydrometer to a certain mark. The first instruments are called hydrometers of “constant immersion,” the others, of “variable immersion.”

At the latter end of the last century, a series of arduous experiments were conducted by Sir C. Blagden, at the instance of the British government, with a view to establishing a fixed proportion between the specific gravity of spirituous liquors and the quantity of absolute alcohol contained in them. The result of these experiments, after being carefully verified, led to the construction of a series of tables, reference to which gives at once the percentage of alcohol for any given number of degrees registered by the hydrometer; these tables are invariably sold with the instrument. They are also constructed to show the number of degrees over-or under-proof, corresponding to the hydrometric degrees. Other tables are obtainable which give the specific gravity corresponding to these numbers.

The measurement of the percentage of absolute alcohol in spirituous liquors is almost invariably expressed in volume rather than weight, owing to the fact that such liquors are always sold by volume. Nevertheless, the tables referred to above show the percentage of spirit both by volume and weight. Read More »

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A Glorious Figure of Young Manhood

July 8, 2014 | by

Baseball Joe on the School Nine
HE WAS A GLORIOUS FIGURE OF YOUNG MANHOOD

“HE WAS A GLORIOUS FIGURE OF YOUNG MANHOOD”

Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars

“IT DARTED TOWARD THE PLATE, BREAKING INTO A WIDE OUTCURVE”

Baseball Joe on the Giants
IT WAS THE LONGEST HIT THAT EVER HAD BEEN MADE ON THE POLO GROUNDS

“IT WAS THE LONGEST HIT THAT EVER HAD BEEN MADE ON THE POLO GROUNDS”

Baseball Joe Home Run King
JOE CAUGHT IT SQUARE ON THE END OF THE BAT

“JOE CAUGHT IT SQUARE ON THE END OF THE BAT”

JOE WAS DOING GOOD WORK

“JOE WAS DOING GOOD WORK”

THE NEXT MOMENT THE HORSEHIDE WENT SPEEDING TOWARD THE PLATE

“THE NEXT MOMENT THE HORSEHIDE WENT SPEEDING TOWARD THE PLATE”

If baseball remains, however tenuously, our national pastime, then Joe Matson, the eponymous hero of Lester Chadwick’s Baseball Joe series, remains our all-American man: an “everyday country-boy” with a can-do attitude, an unimpeachable sense of right and wrong, and a fucking cannon-arm. Chadwick’s sequence of boys’ novels, published from 1912 to 1928, follows Joe on a Horatio Alger–esque journey from small-town schoolyard star to World Series slugger. Spoiler alert: Joe wins. Joe always wins.

With their cheery illustrations and gee-whiz spirit, the Baseball Joe novels emblematize a brand of wish fulfillment that stands at a far remove from the young-adult fiction of today: there’s no dystopia here, nor even a whiff of the supernatural, unless you count Joe’s otherworldly batting average. What we have instead is the distillate of dozens of summers spent dreaming in baseball diamonds, redolent not of beer and nuts but of Wonder Bread and whole milk and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

Or so it seems. Turns out the Baseball Joe books had some dark subplots, though you’d never know it to look at their publisher’s catalog, which supplies breathless titles with curiously terse synopses: Read More »

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Learn to Figure Skate the Old-Fashioned Way

February 20, 2014 | by

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Frontispiece from A System of Figure-Skating

If you’re like me, the Olympics have borne in you one mighty, overriding desire: to become a strapping world-class professional figure-skater. Well, we’re in luck, every one of us. Thanks to the glut of teaching materials available in the public domain, dazzling one’s peers in the rink and taking home the gold has never been easier.

To start, consult an invaluable volume from 1897: T. Maxwell Witham’s A System of Figure-Skating: Being the Theory and Practice of the Art as Developed in England, with a Glance at its Origin and History. In sporting matters, Witham was no slouch—the title page notes that he was a “Member of The Skating Club.” Which skating club, you ask? Well, let me answer your question with a question: How many skating clubs do you belong to?

With verve and good humor, A System of Figure-Skating will teach you such cherished and essential maneuvers as “the Jagendorf dance,” “the Mercury scud,” “the spread-eagle grape vine,” “the sideways attitude of edges,” and—of course—the “United Shamrock.” Confused? You needn’t be. The System offers detailed instructions every step of the way. Here’s an edifying bit about how to conduct the “outside edge forwards”: “We have also to bring into the more important action the hitherto unemployed leg, which must be gently and evenly swung round the employed one in such a manner that it arrives exactly at the proper time and angle to be put down, and so become the traveling one.”

See? You’ll be getting the hang of things in no time!

If all else fails, the System is meticulously illustrated—its dozens of diagrams and charts make even complicated performances seem rudimentary. Even a trained dog could follow these instructions: Read More »

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Welcome to Wellcome

January 21, 2014 | by

V0042992 Cupid inspiring plants with Love, in a tropical landscape. C

Thomas Burke after Philipp Reinagle, Cupid inspiring plants with Love, in a tropical landscape, 1805, via Wellcome Images.

Enjoy viscera? Of course you do! And you’re in luck: as of yesterday, London’s Wellcome Library, whose specialty is medical history, has opened up more than 100,000 images in its capacious digital archive for free download. Whether your tastes run to the macabre or the beautiful—not to say, of course, that such things are mutually exclusive—the Wellcome galleries have something for you. Conjoined twins wearing swimsuits? They’re here. A man being hit on the head by a falling flowerpot in Rome, circa 1890? Coming right up. Or perhaps—the keystone of any collection—a surgeon letting blood from Thomas Thurlow, Bishop of Durham, but leaving his patient in order to attend to a sick horse. And it’s not all grisly; above, for instance, you’ll see Cupid, slinging arrows so that the flora of the tropics will be inclined to reproduce. (You know, sexually.)

Click in good health.

 

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Comedies Are Too Depressing, and Other News

January 10, 2014 | by

Sad clown

Chuchin the Clown, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Are today’s most prestigious “comedies” too depressing?
  • The Los Angeles Public Library is soon to offer high school diplomas. (You can’t just check them out for a few weeks; you have to work for them.)
  • More on the curious connection between prose and booze: “Writers in this office used to drink,” said an unnamed New Yorker fixture.
  • For the discriminating digital reader on a budget, a treasure trove of public domain e-books.
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