The Public Domain Review

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President Woodrow Wilson’s daughter singing Star Spangled Banner (1915)

Tuesday 6 November 2012 at 16:50

Margaret Woodrow Wilson, the daughter of President at the time Thomas Woodrow Wilson, singing the U.S. national anthem “Star Spangled Banner” in 1915. After her mother’s death in 1914 Margaret served as the First Lady of the United States until her father’s second marriage in 1915. She would go on to make several recordings around 1918. In 1938 she travelled to the ashram of Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry, India where she chose to stay for the rest of her life. She was later known in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram as ‘Nistha’ (Sanskrit for “sincerity”). In 1942, she and the scholar Joseph Campbell edited the English translation of the classical work on the Hindu mystic, Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Nikhilananda, which was published in 1942. She was to die two years later, 6 years after entering the ashram, of a kidney infection aged 57. (Wikipedia) The lyrics of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” come from “Defence of Fort McHenry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay 200 years ago this year in [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/11/06/president-woodrow-wilsons-daughter-singing-star-spangled-banner-1915/


Manuscript handbook of firework design (1785)

Monday 5 November 2012 at 19:09

Artificial Fireworks, by John Maskall; 1785; (no publisher information). Beautiful hand-written and illustrated treatise on firework design and manufacture, including ‘blue-prints’ for the devices and explosive recipes. The book is housed at the Internet Archive, donated by the Getty Research Institute . 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/2012/11/05/manuscript-handbook-of-firework-design-1785/


The Calaveras of José Guadalupe Posada

Friday 2 November 2012 at 17:11

José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) was a Mexican illustrator known for his satirical and politically acute calaveras. Deriving from the Spanish word for ‘skulls’, these calaveras were illustrations featuring skeletons which would, after Posada’s death, become closely associated with the mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Most of these calaveras were published by the press of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo which produced inexpensive literature for the lower classes, including thousands of satirical broadsides which Posada illustrated. Through this focus on mortality Vanegas Arroyo and Posada satirised many poignant issues of the day, in particular the details of bourgeois life and the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. On January 20th 1913, 3 years after the start of the Mexican Revolution, José Guadalupe Posada died at his home in obscurity. He was penniless and buried in an unmarked grave. It was only years later in the 1920s that his work became recognised on a national and international level after it was championed by the French ex-patriot artist Jean Charlot who described Posada as “printmaker to the Mexican people”. (All images taken from the Library of Congress). Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/11/02/the-calaveras-of-jose-guadalupe-posada/


Athanasius, Underground

Thursday 1 November 2012 at 19:10

With his enormous range of scholarly pursuits the 17th century polymath Athanasius Kircher has been hailed as the last Renaissance man and “the master of hundred arts”. John Glassie looks at one of Kircher’s great masterworks Mundus Subterraneus and how it was inspired by a subterranean adventure Kircher himself made into the bowl of Vesuvius. Just before Robert Hooke’s rightly famous microscopic observations of everything from the “Edges of Rasors” to “Vine mites” appeared in Micrographia in 1665, the insatiably curious and incredibly prolific Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher published what is in many ways a more spectacular work. Mundus Subterraneus (Underground World), a two-volume tome of atlas-like dimensions, was intended to lay out “before the eyes of the curious reader all that is rare, exotic, and portentous contained in the fecund womb of Nature.” There is an “idea of the earthly sphere that exists in the divine mind,” Kircher proclaimed, and in this book, one of more than thirty on almost as many subjects that he published during his lifetime, he tried to prove that he had grasped it. As a French writer put it some years later, “it would take a whole journal to indicate everything remarkable in this [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/11/01/athanasius-underground/


Dennison’s Bogie Book for Halloween (1920)

Tuesday 30 October 2012 at 11:07

Dennison’s bogie book, by Dennison manufacturing co.; 1920; Dennison manufacturing co., Framingham, Massachusetts.] Decoration, costume and party suggestions from 1920 for the night of Halloween, that one time (according to the book) “of all the year when an opportunity is supposed to be given for looking into the future and having one’s fate settled for the coming twelve months”. Full of lots of handicraft tips on making that perfect spooky zone, as well as various party games (mostly involving blindfolds and choosing future loves) and a couple of ghost stories to read when midnight strikes. So.. “Why not invite your friends to a Hallowe’en party and join in the fun of trying some of the time-honored ways of finding out what the future holds in store?” The book is housed at the Internet Archive, donated 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/2012/10/30/dennisons-bogie-book-for-halloween-1920/


A Wake in Hell’s Kitchen (1903)

Saturday 27 October 2012 at 15:13

Strange little short from the American Mutoscope & Biograph Co, housed at the Library of Congress. From Biograph picture catalogue, Nov. 1902 [MI], p. 39: This scene is laid in the parlor of a New York tenement. Two watchers at the wake are smoking and drinking, while the widow is weeping over the coffin. The attention of the three is attracted for an instant, and the supposed corpse rises up, drinks all the beer in the pitcher which is standing on a table nearby, and lies down in the coffin again. The mourners return, and seeing that the beer is gone, engage in a controversy over it. During the scrap the corpse jumps out of the coffin and takes part in the melee. Download from Library of Congress 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 [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/10/27/a-wake-in-hells-kitchen-1903/


Illuminated version of Lord Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur (1912)

Thursday 25 October 2012 at 11:34

Morte d’Arthur, a poem by Alfred Tennyson, written out and illuminated by Alberto Sangorski; 1912; Reproduced by the Graphic Engraving Co. for Chatto & Windus, London. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur, written as early as the spring of 1835, was a retelling of the third, fourth and fifth chapters of the twenty-first book of Malory’s Romance about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table. Tennyson later would incorporate a much extended and altered version of the poem into his The Idylls of the King, as the last section titled ‘The Passing of Arthur’. The illuminator Alberto Sangorski (1862-1932) was late to the world of calligraphy, at the age of 43 beginning to work for his younger brother Francis in the famous Sangorski and Sutcliffe bookbinding firm. One of his greatest achievements was a unique jewel bound version of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, now referred to as ‘the Great Omar,’ which never reached the American collector who commissioned it as it was sent across on the ill fated Titanic in 1912. The book is housed at the Internet Archive, donated by the University of Toronto. Hat-tip to Pinterest user Nancy Cooper. Sign up to get our [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/10/25/illuminated-version-of-lord-tennysons-morte-darthur-1912/


Posed Portraits of 19th Century Baseball Stars

Wednesday 24 October 2012 at 16:30

Selection of studio posed photographs from the New York Public Library’s Spalding Collection, a series of over 500 photographs, prints, drawings, caricatures, and printed illustrations donated in 1921 by early baseball player and sporting-goods tycoon A. G. Spalding (whose name to this day is printed across every ball used in the National League). The photographs below feature players of different teams from New York and Philadelphia and seem to be mostly taken in the 1870s and 1880s. (All images taken from NYPL’s Flickr collection NYC-Philly Vintage Baseball – see this source for info on players and teams, and higher resolution versions). 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/2012/10/24/posed-portraits-of-19th-century-baseball-stars/


Coloured plates from Essai d’Anatomie (1745)

Monday 22 October 2012 at 16:31

Plates from “Essai d’Anatomie” produced by Gautier D’Agoty in 1745 in Paris, France – a remarkably detailed atlas of the head, neck, and shoulder areas of the human body with explanatory text in French. From the Internet Archive description: The anatomical images were based on human cadavers dissected by Joseph Duverney and produced using the mezzotint method of engraving and printing. Mezzotint color engraving printing was invented by Jaques Christophe Le Blon in 1719. Mezzotint (from the Italian phrase “mezza tina” or “half tone”) prints are produced by engraving a metal plate with numerous small holes that hold ink. When used to make a print, the engraved plate produces large areas of subtle shaded color tones. Since the mezzotint technique is quite labor-intensive, it fell out of favor by the 20th century, although it is still utilized by some artists. Most often used to reproduce paintings by famous artists, mezzotint printing was rarely used for original works of art, making the “Essai d’Anatomie” a work of great scientific and artistic significance. The original copy of the “Essai d’Anatomie” held by the Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences at Tulane University was restored, bound, and digitized by William Kitchens. The [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/10/22/coloured-plates-from-essai-danatomie-1745/


Recital of The 23rd Psalm and “He Leadeth Me” (1919)

Friday 19 October 2012 at 18:57

The 23rd Psalm recited by Rev. William H. Morgan D.D. and followed by a rendition by the Calvary Choir of the hymn “He Leadeth Me”, originally written by Joseph Gilmore who had this to say about its creation: As a young man who re­cent­ly had been grad­u­at­ed from Brown Un­i­ver­si­ty and New­ton The­o­lo­gic­al In­sti­tu­tion, I was sup­ply­ing for a cou­ple of Sun­days the pul­pit of the First Bap­tist Church in Phil­a­del­phia. At the mid-week ser­vice, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the peo­ple an ex­po­si­tion of the Twen­ty-third Psalm, which I had giv­en be­fore on three or four oc­ca­sions, but this time I did not get fur­ther than the words “He Lead­eth Me.” Those words took hold of me as they had ne­ver done be­fore, and I saw them in a sig­ni­fi­cance and won­drous beau­ty of which I had ne­ver dreamed. This recording from 1919 is made by Thomas Edison and housed at the Library of Congress. The 23rd psalm is perhaps the best known of them all, importnat in both the Christian and Jewish traditions. It is particularly popular in the world of cinema where it is used in an interesting variety of scenes [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/10/19/recital-of-the-23rd-psalm-and-he-leadeth-me-1919/