The Public Domain Review

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The Six Voyages of John Baptista Tavernier (1678)

Friday 18 January 2013 at 17:35

The six voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, translated by John Phillips; R.L. and M.P., London. To give it its full title – The six voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, a noble man of France now living, through Turky into Persia and the East-Indies, finished in the year 1670 giving an account of the state of those countries : illustrated with divers sculptures ; together with a new relation of the present Grand Seignor’s seraglio, by the same author / made English by J.P. – is a remarkable account of travel through 17th century Asia. Tavernier (1605-1689) was a French diamond merchant, traveller and pioneer of diamond trade with India, who covered by his own account, 180,000 miles (290,000 km) over the course of forty years and six voyages. Though he is best known for the discovery and sale of the 118-carat (24 g) blue diamond that he subsequently sold to Louis XIV of France in 1668, (it was stolen in 1792 and re-emerged in London as The Hope Diamond), his writings show that he was a keen observer of his time as well as a remarkable cultural anthropologist. (Wikipedia) The exquisite illustrations from Tavernier’s book can be seen [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/18/the-six-voyages-of-john-baptista-tavernier-1678/


Othello Sketches by Stanislavski (1930)

Thursday 17 January 2013 at 16:59

17th January 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Konstantin Stanislavski, a Russian theatre director whose theories on acting revolutionised the art. His techniques revolved around getting actors to draw believable emotions to their performances. The method that was originally created and used by Stanislavski from 1911 to 1916 was based on the concept of emotional memory for which an actor focuses internally to portray a character’s emotions onstage. Later, between 1934–1938, this technique evolved to a method of physical actions in which emotions are produced through the use of actions. In his earlier acting days, increasingly interested in “living the part,” Stanislavski experimented with the ability to maintain a characterization in real life, disguising himself as a tramp or drunk and visiting the railway station, or disguising himself as a fortune-telling gypsy. He extended the experiment to the rest of the cast of a short comedy in which he performed in 1883, and as late as 1900 he amused holiday-makers in Yalta by taking a walk each morning “in character”. His theories are explicated in a series of writings including An Actor Prepares, An Actor’s Work on a Role, and his autobiography, My Life in Art. (Wikipedia) [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/17/sketches-by-konstantin-stanislavski-for-his-production-of-othello-1930/


The Vessels of Hermes – an Alchemical Album (ca.1700)

Tuesday 15 January 2013 at 17:21

The contents of Box 14 from the Manly Palmer Hall Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts, a huge collection of esoteric works amassed by Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author and mystic, perhaps most famous for his The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928). Most of the material in the collection was acquired from Sotheby’s auctioneers on a trip he made in the 1930s to England and France – bought very cheaply due to the economic conditions of the time. The material in Hall’s collection dates from 1500 to 1825, and includes works from the likes of Jakob Böhme, Sigismond Bacstrom, Alessandro Cagliostro, George Ripley and Michael Maier. The creator of these particular watercolours featured below is unknown. A typewritten note in the back, in French, translates as follows: ALCHEMICAL ALBUM – The Vessels of Hermes – quarto atlas containing five beautiful colour plates very artistically executed and with explanatory caption. Vol. half vellum. The plates of this collection are the synthetic description of the great work. The first one represents the egg of Hermogenes and the three characters who hold it are salt, sulphur and mercury. The second is the king’s bath made with the blood of the innocents. The third [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/15/the-vessels-of-hermes-an-alchemical-album-ca-1700/


Music Hall Performer Billy Williams

Monday 14 January 2013 at 17:18

Richard Isaac Banks (1878–1915), who changed his name to Billy Williams after leaving his birthplace of Australia, was one of the most recorded popular entertainers of his time. Born in Melbourne, Williams tried a number of jobs before embarking on an entertainment career which led him to come to England in 1899. He became a popular entertainer in the music halls singing what were known as chorus-songs, and also appeared in pantomime. The year 1912 seemed to be the zenith of Williams’ career – he appeared in the first Royal Command Performance of that year and achieved glowing reviews in the national press. Sadly this fame was not to last as Williams became ill in late 1914 and died in Hove near Brighton in March 1915, the proximate cause being complications after an operation, but rumoured to be connected with “previous social excesses.” (Wikipedia) MP3 Download Internet Archive Link Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/14/music-hall-performer-billy-williams/


Making a Living (1914)

Friday 11 January 2013 at 17:31

Making a Living (1914) marked Charlie Chaplin’s first ever film appearance. In the film he plays a lady-charming swindler, Edgar English, who runs afoul of the Keystone Kops. Chaplin strongly disliked the picture, but one review picked him out as “a comedian of the first water.” Although his character wears a large moustache, top hat, and carries a cane, it was not until his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice, that Chaplin would appear as his famous Tramp character with which he would thereon be identified. The music we hear over the film (added afterwards) is by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. Download from Internet Archive Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using. Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/11/making-a-living-1914/


The Nine Lives of a Cat (1860)

Thursday 10 January 2013 at 17:41

The Nine Lives of a Cat – a Tale of Wonder, by Charles Bennett; 1860; Griffith and Farran, London. Beautifully illustrated (though perhaps not so well rhymed!) tale of the cat with nine lives. From the preface: This tale of wonder is told for children; with which view, it has been carefully designed and very nicely printed. For some time past, it has arrived at the dignity of a popular Nursery Tale in the Author’s family ; and it is hoped it will merit the same good fortune elsewhere. It will be worth while explaining, that the circle in each page is made to represent some object in connection with the story ; and, that as some of them have proved rather puzzling, to Juvenile admirers has been left the task of ” finding them out.” The book is housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library. Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/10/the-nine-lives-of-a-cat-1860/


Simple Songs: Virginia Woolf and Music

Wednesday 9 January 2013 at 13:17

Last year saw the works of Virginia Woolf enter the public domain in many countries around the world. To celebrate Emma Sutton looks at Woolf’s short story ‘A Simple Melody’ and the influence which music had upon the writer who once wrote that music was ‘nearest to truth’. As Virginia Woolf’s letters and diaries amply record, music was a central part of her social life as it was for many of her contemporaries and she was at her best as a humorist writing about these occasions. She records with glee the various mishaps that befall musicians and audiences – a prima donna throwing down her music in a rage; a button popping off the plump Clive Bell’s waistcoat during the slow movement of a piano sonata; an elderly man crashing loudly but astonishingly unhurt down the stairs at Covent Garden. The social conventions, artifice and pretensions governing these performances intrigue her and allow her to sharpen her wit, but music wasn’t only an occasion for slapstick humour or social satire. It played a central part in the political vision of Woolf’s writing, shaping her understanding and representations of feminism and sexuality, pacifism and cosmopolitanism, social class and anti-Semitism. And it [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/09/simple-songs-virginia-woolf-and-music/


Decayed Daguerreotypes

Tuesday 8 January 2013 at 12:09

A selection of images from the Library of Congress found via the always excellent Ptak Science Books blog. The daguerreotype, invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1837, was the first commercially successful photographic process and was popular throughout the mid-19th century. Daguerreotype portraits were made by the model posing (often with head fixed in place with a clamp to keep it still the few minutes required) before an exposed light-sensitive silvered copper plate, which was then developed by mercury fumes and fixed with salts. This fixing however was far from permanent – like the people they captured the images too were subject to change and decay. They were extremely sensitive to scratches, dust, hair, etc, and particularly the rubbing of the glass cover if the glue holding it in place deteriorated. As well as rubbing, the glass itself can also deteriorate and bubbles of solvent explode upon the image. The daguerreotypes below are from the studio of Matthew Brady, one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War which earned him the title of “father of photojournalism”. The Library of Congress received the majority of the [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/08/decayed-daguerreotypes/


The First New Year (1885)

Monday 31 December 2012 at 14:39

The First New Year, by George Warwick; 1885; C. T. Bainbridge’s sons, New York. A short little poem meditating on the inevitable end of all things and the power of new beginnings. Little is known about the author George Warwick although he appears to also be the author of this poem on the theme of Christmas in a similar pamphlet series kept by the Library of Congress. The book is housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the Library of Congress. Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/12/31/the-first-new-year-1885/


Frank C. Stanley singing Auld Lang Syne (1910)

Friday 28 December 2012 at 19:00

Frank C. Stanley performing Auld Lang Syne, the poem written by the Scotsman Robert Burns which is traditionally sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times”. Consequently “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”. The lyrics of the poem were themselves heavily based on pre-existing verses. Robert Burns sent a copy of his song to the Scots Musical Museum with the remark, “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.” Some of the lyrics were indeed “collected” rather than composed by the poet; the ballad “Old Long Syne” printed in 1711 by James Watson shows considerable similarity in the first verse and the chorus to Burns’ later poem, and is almost certainly derived from the same “old song”. It is a fair supposition to attribute the rest of [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/12/28/frank-c-stanley-singing-auld-lang-syne-1910/