Exotic Ads of the Past: Perfume ad, NZ Evening Post 1929

Back in the day when a few drops of Phul-Nana would make the ladies and gentlemen say.."It's Bizness Time" Source: Grossmith London

The ancient and elusive fairisle of Hy Brasil

Hy Brasil is a mysterious phantom island that was thought to exist off the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean for hundreds of years. The area being nautically challenging for seafarers, it was an elusive and mysterious place, hailed in pre-Christian times as being the Celtic Elysium or land of promise. During Christian…

Ancient word of the day: hedgehog

Ancient word of the day: Hedgehog

The ancient word for today is hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus. In the Middle Ages, writers didn't make reference to hedgehogs, but to urchins. A term still favoured in some English dialects. It's also associated with the sea urchin, which is literally a sea hedgehog. The word urchin came over to England with the Norman invasion and…

Netsuke & Gashapon toys Ancient Japanese treasures and modern collectibles

Netsuke are uniquely Japanese and sublime in their beauty. They are tiny objects carved of ivory, ceramic, wood, tortoise-shell, gold or many other materials. They tell the story of the culture of Japan during the old Edo period and before. Netsuke featured fishermen and farmers, who rubbed shoulders with scholars, samurai warriors, royalty and even…

Abandoned Desert Buildings On Creepy Lunar Landscapes

Abandoned Desert Buildings On Creepy Lunar Landscapes

These photos by Ed Freeman all elicit a deep sense of alienation and a weird sort of fascination. They underline questions that we want answered. What happened here? Who lived here? How did these places fall into disrepair? Through the atrophy of the material world we can get this uncomfortable sense that we're all destined for…

Welcome to the most remote island in the world...Bouvetøya

Welcome to the most remote island in the world…Bouvetøya

Bouvetøya, also known as Bouvet Island is definitely a contender for the most remote place in the world. I discovered Bouvetøya via an excellent Tumblr with the understated title of Map Design. This is a treasure trove of cartography. Another is the seminal book The Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky.  This is a…

Try out these scintillating, interactive Gustav Klimt paintings

Push the slider from left to right to see the Klimt paintings come alive... View slider Inge Prader is the photographer responsible for this highly stylised and sensual ensemble of beautiful models languidly posing in such scintillating and baroque surroundings. Inge has perfectly paid tribute to Klimt's legendary works. View slider View slider The occasion for…

The Most Exquisite Tiny Books in the World

For all of the bookworms, here are some of the most exquisitely rendered miniature books in the world. As a warm up, here's a picture of the bombed-out Holland House library in London during WW2. The message was loud and clear. Readers won't be perturbed from doing what they love, no matter what else is…

Five rare and awe-inspiring mountain and river maps

Five rare and awe-inspiring mountain and river maps

When it comes to design - the Victorians did it better. Nothing quite matches these 19th Century comparative river and mountain maps for exquisite hand-drawn detail, meticulous scale and luminous beauty. It makes me wonder, how can anyone not love old maps? A New Cartographic Convention One of the forerunners for this kind of map…

B4-XVI: Why Renaissance Art and Rappers Are Cut From The Same Cloth

Renaissance Art/Rapper Mashup

In the past I've showcased Scorpion Dagger's Renaissance era GIFs. This takes the classical art mash-up one step further with hilarious results. B4 XVI (Before Sixteen) explores the often overlooked visual and cultural similarities between hip hop poseurs and medieval aristocrats. Hey it's all got to be referenced from somewhere, right? One from the deep…

Churches, Weeds, Wildflowers and Wonder

Churches, Weeds, Wildflowers and Wonder

In Bignor, a hamlet close to the ancient Sussex towns of Arundel, Petworth and Pulborough is this grade one listed  stone-built medieval Holy Cross church. This church was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The simple chanxcel and arch remain from the 11th century, although the rest of the church was rebuilt in the 13th century. Lovingly…

An Exquisite Model Book of Calligraphy, 1560

An Exquisite Model Book of Calligraphy, 1560

Have a look at the exquisite pages in Mira calligraphiae monumenta or the Model Book of Calligraphy, which was crafted by Croatian-born mastercraftsman Georg Bocskay, and Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel. This is a real work of art and shows beautiful attention to detail with the gold leaf writing and sublime illustrations of flowers, insects and…

The challenge of ruling a diverse nation never changes

The challenge of ruling a diverse nation never changes

This very weighty and important subject is as relevant right now as it was in the 16th Century. That was when a Dutch engraving by artist Pieter van der Borcht the Elder managed to capture the complexity and challenging nature of geopolitics and ruling in a country with many different ideologies and in the midst…

Dni Głogowa

Every Picture Tells a Story: Dni Głogowa

One day while walking along the lovely Odra river in Głogow on a hot and sunny day, I came upon the Museum of Archaeology and History in Głogow. Teenagers were reenacting some kind of WWII scene. This was done in conjunction with a yearly festival they have in the town called Dni Głogowa or Days…

Enchanting floating ships by Italian Architect Luigi Prina

Enchanting floating ships by Italian Architect Luigi Prina

Italian architect Luigi Prina has been interested in aircraft modelling since a very young age. However, it was only after he met Venetian painter and boat builder Eugenio Tomiolo that he started to create flying ship models from ultra-thin paper and balsa wood inspired after Roman, Greek and Viking designs. His collection (or fleet) of…

The terrace houses of Sevilla, Spain

Travel: The Beautiful Terrace Windows of Triana, Sevilla

Back in 2010 during a particularly sweltering summer, I visited Andalucia and soaked in the beautiful architecture in Sevilla. The best way to see all of the charming neighbourhoods and historic monuments was going the tourist routes with an open-top bus. This also afforded me excellent views onto all of the terrace houses with their…

Retro TV Channels from the 70's, 80's and 90's are on the internet for all posterity

Retro TV Channels from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are on the internet for all posterity

Want something a little bit different for your next party? Here's  a novel idea for entertaining guests. A modern browser version of vintage TV channels featuring soaps, ads, comedy, drama, music and even news from particular decades! Find it here The only requirement is that you use a PC for this app rather than a touchscreen…

All About Amazing Op Art

All About Amazing Op Art

Op Art descended out of geometric art of the 50's and the Bauhaus movement in Germany, which I have previously written about in the Origins of Flat Design. The 60's was a period of discovery in science, psychology and new technology. This type of art reflects the experimental mood of that era. The pieces normally…

Forgotten Pop Art Pioneer Dorothy Grebenak's Rugs Are Awesome

Forgotten Pop Art Pioneer Dorothy Grebenak’s Rugs Are Awesome

Dorothy Grebenak was born in Nebraska in 1913 and was a self-taught rug maker who originally made rugs stocked in a Brooklyn museum. Although these weren't rugs in the folk style, they are designed to be displayed on walls as art. These rugs were depictions of humble and everyday objects, which brought them into the…

The Viking Imagination: Medieval Cartography of Scandinavia http://wp.me/p41CQf-Iuf

The Viking Imagination: Medieval Cartography of Scandinavia

Just because I love cartography, here's a couple of remarkable Scandanavian medieval maps. Note the dominance of several kraken and sea monsters off the Norwegian coast and how each country is barely hanging on by a thread because of these menacing beasts. Here be magic, Vikings and mysterious beasts. Velleius Islandia by Abraham Ortellius (1603)…

The Most Beautiful Maps on Earth

Map Porn Part 2: The Most Beautiful Geological Maps on Earth

Where Art Meets Science Scientific visualisations often can look just like objects of visual art. A few weeks ago in Part 1, we looked at how topographical surveys are visualised on both our moon and Jupiter's moon. This time, we are focusing on our own Pale Blue Dot. Both as art and scientific visualisation these…

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal From Berlin

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal Of Berlin Zoo

Roland was a goliath 4,000 pound sea elephant (A.K.A an Elephant Seal Mirunga patagonica. He lived in Berlin Zoo from the late 1920's until his death during the second world war. Here he is getting a snow bath from his handler at the Berlin Zoo (date unknown) In this film you can see his large…

Welcome to Biba: A Legendary Department Store in London's Swinging 60's

Welcome to Big Biba: A Legendary Department Store in London’s Swinging 60’s

Big Biba was an outrageous cornucopia of weird fashion on the London high street in the 60's. Before H&M, Topshop or Harvey Nichols there was Biba. Invented by IT girl of the time, Polish-born Barbara Hulanicki, Biba started out as a mail order store that sold one dress available in one size. Very rapidly it…

Roadtrip on the Isle of Skye. Gloaming sky

Travel: The ruins of Duntulm Castle on Trotternish

I visited Duntulm on the northerly most point of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye back in 2010. Many many moons ago, perhaps several thousand years ago, the now mostly ravaged and ruined castle was originally a Pictish fortress, forming one of a chain of duns or forts stretching along the north coast…

Every Picture Tells A Story: William Stanley Moore (1925)

William Stanley Moore according to his official police record was an "opium dealer/ Operates with large quantities of faked opium and cocaine./ A wharf labourer; associates with water front thieves and drug traders.''   Mugshot by New South Wales Police Department (1925) Source: Historic Houses Trust 

Travel: Meandering around the Mynydd Carningli neolithic hillfort

Travel: Poking around the Mynydd Carningli neolithic hillfort

In 2010 I stayed for a while by the Welsh seaside in Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wales. I loved the wild waves and sea air, dramatic black cliffs and bright green hillside dotted with sleepy sheep. But most of all I loved the hill walks there, particularly Myndd Carningli, a splendid 347 meter tall mountain that holds…