Posts Tagged ‘Retronaut’
August 29, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
Looking at this pretty slideshow of circa-1900 book covers, one is struck by a couple of things. First, the beauty and elegance of the design. And, second, the fact that the titles are all unfamiliar. Of course, beautiful, striking covers are produced every day: talented art departments work hard to accommodate an ever-changing market and far more cooks (so to speak) than designers of old ever had to please. One imagines in the old days, the author would take his Art-Nouveau swags and like it; agents rarely figured in the picture, and if you’d envisioned, say, a pine rather than a stylized laurel tree on your novel—well, forget it.
It’s also a change in tastes, or of standards; like so many old buildings, whose standard-issue marble work and penny tiling now seem like models of beauty and lost workmanship, these ornate covers were the rule, not the exception. If comedy equals tragedy plus time, well, that sort of works for beauty, too. Maybe not the tragedy part. As to the titles’ relative obscurity? That's also modern hindsight. And who knows what hopes the publishers had for The Story of Ab: A Tale of the Time of the Cave Man? One thing’s for sure: these were not disposable objects.
July 31, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
The other day, a friend sent me a link to a Reddit conversation: What common sounds from a hundred years ago are very rare or just plain don’t exist anymore?
This, in turn, led us to the Museum of Endangered Sounds, which I highly recommend to anyone with a pair of headphones and a few hours to kill. Of course, we can’t even document some of them—the early-morning scuttle of coal, for instance, was probably too humble ever to rate a recording. I mean, how many of us have bothered to record the hiss of a radiator—and presumably that won’t be around forever. For that matter, someone ought to memorialize the rattle of a dead, incandescent bulb.
I must have had this in mind when I ran across this image on Retronaut. Because the sound of a card catalog—the squeak of the drawer, the slight ruffle of the stiff paper, the sliding noise as a card is pulled from the file—is almost certainly on the endangered list. (To say nothing of everything else in the picture.)
November 13, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
On the wonderful blog Retronaut, this intriguing image is twinned with a caption vague to the point of inscrutability. To wit,
Man with books
The whole thing is rendered even more mysterious by the fact that the individual in question is obviously a woman. Or at the very least a man in tweedy drag. But more to the point, WHAT ARE ALL THESE ENORMOUS BOOKS? In the grand tradition of the Tootsie pop, the world may never know.