Tag Archives: retronaut

1880: The Arm of the Statue of Liberty on Separate Display

C. 1880: THE ARM OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY IN MADISON SQUARE GARDENS, NEW YORK


In order to fund the Statue, elements of it were shipped from Paris to New York and exhibited to the public – such as the the arm and torch, on display here in Madison Square Park, New York.

The arm and torch could be seen in there for six years, from 1876 and 1882 – and for 50 cents, it was possible to climb up to the torch’s balcony.

 

retronaut-content-torch.jpg

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Countess di Castiglione The selfie queen of Paris society

c. 1865-1894

Countess di Castiglione

The selfie queen of Paris society

by Alex Q. Arbuckle

c. 1867

IMAGE: ©RUE DES ARCHIVES/PVDE/GETTY IMAGES

When she first visited the photography studio of Mayer & Pierson in 1856, Virginia Oldoini had already become notorious in Paris society. Married at 17 to Italian Count Francesco Verasis di Castiglione, she had been dispatched to Paris to convince Napoleon III to support Italian unification — instead, she promptly became his mistress.

Their dalliance was brief but helped establish her reputation as a beautiful and enigmatic seductress.

She was enthralled with the study of her own beauty, and collaborated with photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson on over 400 self-portraits.

While Pierson operated the camera, the pose, dress, setting and angle were all conceived by the countess. She was also involved in post-production, directing the printing of the pictures and often painting on top of them herself.

The countess posed in the elaborate and luxurious gowns that she wore at court, reenacting her moments of greatest triumph. She soon expanded her oeuvre to include scenes and costumes inspired by theatre, literature and myth, and even rather voyeuristic shots of her bare feet.

As she grew older, she retreated from high society and became an eccentric recluse, living in an apartment with the curtains drawn, only venturing outside at night. She died in 1899 at the age of 62, but her extensive and distinctive record of herself endures.

c. 1865

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF / ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

The Countess with a child, possibly her son Georges.

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

The Countess with a child, possibly her son Georges.

IMAGE: CHRISTIAN KEMPF/ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1867

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

1894

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1895

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

c. 1865

IMAGE: ADOC-PHOTOS/CORBIS

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The Girl Who Told Abraham Lincoln to Grow Whiskers – 1860

c. 1860

The little girl who told
Abe Lincoln to grow a beard

“All the ladies like whiskers.”

by Chris Wild

c. 1846

Springfield, Illinois — Early portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

IMAGE: CORBIS

He would look better if he wore whiskers,
and I mean to write and tell him so.
11-YEAR-OLD GRACE BEDELL TO HER MOTHER, 1860

IMAGE: CORBIS

Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States in October 1860 at the age of 51. But a few weeks earlier he had been judged unequal to the task by 11-year-old Grace Bedell. Young Grace wrote to Lincoln pointing out what was, in her eyes, a serious defect: his lack of facial hair.

c. 1860

Half figure seated portrait of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States.

IMAGE: CORBIS

Oct. 15, 1860

Grace Bedell’s letter to Abraham Lincoln.

IMAGE: DETROIT PUBLIC LIBRARY, BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION

You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.
FROM GRACE BEDELL’S LETTER TO ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OCT. 15, 1860

IMAGE: CORBIS

Lincoln wrote back to Grace in the letter below.

(Some experts believe the letter’s spots are from snowflakes landing on the paper, as Grace hurriedly read the letter on her way home from the local post office.)

Oct. 19, 1860

Abraham Lincoln to Grace Bedell.

IMAGE: BENJAMIN SHAPELL FAMILY MANUSCRIPT FOUNDATION

Having never worn any whiskers, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin?
FROM LINCOLN’S REPLY TO GRACE BEDELL, OCT. 19, 1860

IMAGE: CORBIS

1858

Beardstown, Illinois — Believed to be one of the last photos made before Lincoln grew a beard.

IMAGE: BETTMANN/CORBIS

Less than a month after receiving Grace’s letter, Lincoln had a beard.

Nov. 25, 1860

The first photograph to show Lincoln’s beard.

IMAGE: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

On his inaugural train journey from Illinois to Washington D.C., Lincoln stopped in Westfield, New York (Grace’s hometown) and asked to meet her.

There was a momentary commotion, in the midst of which an old man, struggling through the crowd, approached, leading his daughter. Mr. Lincoln stooped down and kissed the child, and talked with her for some minutes. Her advice had not been thrown away upon the rugged chieftain. The young girl’s peachy cheek must have been tickled with a stiff whisker.
EDITION OF THE NEW YORK WORLD, FEB. 19, 1861

Nov. 8, 1863

IMAGE: CORBIS

“Gracie,” he said, “look at my whiskers. I have been growing them for you.” Then he kissed me.
I never saw him again.
GRACE BEDELL

In 2009, almost 150 years later, a Liz Bedell, then a 23-year-old staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives, was exploring the Library of Congress’ Lincoln bicentennial exhibition. She saw the original letter from Grace, and Lincoln’s reply, in a display case.

In the exhibition’s visitor log, she wrote: “I cried my eyes out when I saw the letter from Grace Bedell to Abe Lincoln — she’s my great-great aunt, and I grew up with the story not really believing it.”

“In fifth grade, I wanted to be president of the United States. My Grandpa used to tell me, ‘You can do anything you want. You can be president. Why, just look at your great-great aunt Grace Bedell. She couldn’t vote, but she put pen to paper.’”
LIZ BEDELL, 2009

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1930s Monowheel Vehicles – I Totally Want One!

1930s

Rise of the Monowheel

Because a single wheel is all you need for speed.

by Chris Wild

September 1932

J. A. Purves drives a Dynasphere spherical car, an automobile shaped like a giant radial tire. Mr. Purves was the vehicle’s inventor.

IMAGE: HULTON-DEUTSCH COLLECTION/CORBIS

The bicycle had its origins in 1817 in the Velocipede, a powerless wheeled frame which the rider sat astride. The first reliable report of self-propulsion by means of pedal power dates to the early 1860s.

Almost immediately inventors were attempting to do away with the second wheel, and in 1869 four different machines appeared, one of them the subject of the first monowheel patent.

Why build a monowheel? Working with a single wheel could result in a more efficient mode of transport, as would the associated reduction in size, weight, and resistance. For some inventors, here was a new and simpler form of mechanised locomotion. For others, the monowheel was a toy, a novelty – albeit one with a very high thrill factor.

But there were more than a few problems inherent in the design that inventors sought to overcome – impeded view, lack of stability, the difficulty of steering and the phenomenon of “gerbiling.” Because a monowheel rider relies on gravity to remain upright, if the machine accelerates or brakes too quickly, the rider spins inside the machine like a pet gerbil in its wheel.

In a conventional bicycle one wheel provides the propulsive force, the other, steering, but a monowheel wheel has to provide both. Leaning, using skids providing drag or extra small wheels or a gyroscopic steering mechanism have all been explored. Keeping upright in a monowheel requires skill and some machines employed an extra wide wheelbase to aid this.

Monowheels are still being produced and ridden today. There are monowheel enthusiasts in the UK and a British Monowheel Association, and a Monovelomachine featured in the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A monowheel was also the transport of choice of coughing cyborg bad-guy General Grievous in Star Wars Episode III.

December 1924

IMAGE: POPULAR SCIENCE

It possesses so many advantages that we may eventually see gigantic wheels similar to that shown on our cover running along our highways in as large numbers as motor cars do to-day.
MECCANO MAGAZINE, FEB. 1935

May 1932

Cover of Popular Science Monthly

IMAGE: EUROPEANA

Feb. 8, 1932

Electronically driven wheels which revolve while the drivers remain stationary are tested at Bream Sands, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England.

IMAGE: FOX PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

A 10-foot hoop of iron lattice work chug-chugs along an English highway. Passing motorists slow down, and pause to peer at the apparition. The man inside it is driving as unconcernedly as if he were out for a Sunday airing.
POPULAR SCIENCE, MAY 1932

February 1932

Dynasphere wheels being driven on Beans Sands near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England.The petrol driven model is on the right and the smaller, electric model is on the left. The inventor Dr J. A. Purves of Taunton hoped to revolutionize modern transport with them.

IMAGE: J. GAIGER/TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

September 1932

A Dynasphere being demonstrated at Brooklands race track, Surrey, England.

IMAGE: H. F. DAVIS/TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

1932

The Dynasphere was capable of speeds of 30mph.

IMAGE: FOX PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

September 1932

Weybridge, Surrey, England, UK -The Dynasphere is demonstrated.

IMAGE: AUSTRIAN ARCHIVES/CORBIS

Sept. 1, 1931

Swiss engineer M Gerder at Arles, France, on his way to Spain in his “Motorwheel,” a motorcycle with a wheel which runs on a rail placed inside a solid rubber tire.

IMAGE: FOX PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

1935

A man on a penny-farthing bicycle alongside Walter Nilsson aboard the Nilsson monowheel.

IMAGE: FPG/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

As a lad I lived in Weston-super-Mare. One day in the 1930s I went to the beach and saw a man trying to drive a huge wheel across the sands. It wasn’t very successful and wobbled about… I have always wondered what it was or whether I imagined it.
WESTON RESIDENT VIA BBC

February 1932

IMAGE: FOX PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

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1878: Henri Giffard’s Captive Balloon, Paris

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1851: The Great Exhibition

SOURCE: Smithsonian Institution

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c. 1899: High school exercises Washington

 

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