An ironic motif

I was contemplating Lynnewood Hall’s progress into decay and noticed the hourglass in the sculptural design in the pediment:
I wish that architecturally significant buildings were not as much of an endangered species as they are in the US.

Lynnewood Hall was added to the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s 2003 list for most endangered historic properties and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is cited in Cheltenham Township’s Comprehensive Plan as one of the township’s cultural and historical resources, and in the township’s Open Space Plan as a priority for preservation, warranting a conservation easement.

A sister property, Whitemarsh Hall, the Edward T. Stotesbury mansion, in Wyndmoor, PA was demolished in 1980.  Another house, Ardrossan, has been made into a housing estate, while preserving the mansion.

While these are the size of wings of some European palaces, they are significant to US culture, but somehow that history has been made egalitarian. The homes of “robber barons” are not to be saved. This is unlike the European estates which are intended to last for the ages (whether they do is yet to be seen).

I have been told to read James T. Maher’s, The Twilight of Splendor for an explanation of why these estates have been ravaged by time.


See also: Horace Trumbauer.

Market Forces for Change

Or as Lenin is supposed to have said, “When we hang the capitalists, they will have sold us the rope.”

One of the things the right and Libertarians like to push is the free market system, which they don’t really like. They like it as long as they can control the rules making it into a game of Monopoly: where they win.

On the other hand, they run scared when their market share is threatened.

The real problem is that there isn’t really a “free market system” out there.  Governmental decisions can act as market forces even if they aren’t set forth as being economically based. For example, building highways rather than public transportation has effected US society in ways which have been detrimental to its interests (or “Detroit: the city that committed suicide by favouring one industry with a very limited lifespan”).

The reason I tossed gun control in here is if the trend for fewer people to want to own guns keeps up, we will have de facto gun control.  The NRA can loosen up laws all it wants, but that may end up backfiring for it as people begin to realise that there was a reason the NRA blocked the research showing gun ownership was detrimental.

The right can continue to try to use emotion to sway people to vote against their interests, but that cannot go on for very long once people realise they have been had. Once that happens not only will people’s economic decisions change, but so will their voting decisions.

Glamping is not a new phenomenon.

OK, I love camping and being in the outdoors, but I prefer to not really rough it.  I liked the catered Milford Track as opposed to the “non-catered crowd” who had cold showers and had to carry all their gear.  The catered option only needed to carry a change or two of clothes since everything else was provided.

I would rather kayak, canoe, bike, or something else where I can carry enough gear to be comfy on the trail. Or else have someone else provide it me.  I’d rather hike from Auberge to Auberge than do the full scale Appalachian Trail. This is my idea of camping.

And so did my ancestors (well, not Nathaniel Pryor and Charles Floyd), as the collectionstop10_02-3study of campaign furniture shows.  Campaign furniture is a type of furniture made for travel. Historically, much of it was made for military campaigns.  While the most famous examples are usually British, there are more than enough non-British examples.  US Generals (e.g., Washington) and other officers carried this type of gear while on campaign. Here is an example of North American campaign furniture from the French and Indian War.

This picture is of George Washington’s travel bed.  There are similar examples at Valley Forge and Morristown used by other officers.  A search on campaign furniture provides all sorts of interesting examples of early glamping where the officers’ carried enough of the comforts of home to make war a little less of a hell.

I just learned that the centrepiece of the Museum of the American Revolution which will be opening in Philadelphia on the 19th of this month will be a recreation of Washington’s Marquee tent!

Of course, like most of the more civilised things which passed, this required loads of servants to carry the gear into the back of beyond. Not to mention setting up camp really was setting up camp.

The Boer War in South Africa also was a big game changer since the enemy could move quickly. The mobile units were not quite as mobile as they had thought given the effort that this type of gear takes to transport and then set up. In 1903, the Secretary of State for War, H. O. Arnold-Forster, stated, “The British Army is a social institution prepared for every emergency except that of war.”

The campaign furniture went out for most warfare (Evelyn Waugh makes a comment about a “thunder chest” in one of his books about the Second World War), but it lingered on in the Safari and Imperial set.

I’m not sure campaign furniture has totally become obsolete even now.  Although, you need to go to a reenactor’s supply store if you want some made to the old fashioned standards.  Also, there are things which have modernised the concepts which these items are based upon. The Butterfly and Director’s chair are examples where campaign furniture still lives on.

 Campaign furniture is evocative of luxurious travel and a time gone by. There is more likely to be an owner’s or maker’s name on a piece of portable furniture than a domestic version and it is easier to put it into a social context. The appeal of its nature has been picked up on and modern furniture made in a campaign style is produced by a number of makers today. Often, the consideration of portability has not been a factor with the overriding concern being to achieve the look by adding brass corners and strapwork. Another group of manufactures have produced direct copies of period campaign furniture seeing that there is still a call for it today be it for safaris or the high-class camper.

Good design will always be popular and this, along with many of the original reasons for the popularity of campaign furniture hold true today. It is practical, often versatile and naturally, very easy to move about.

While the average camper may not go to the extremes seen in campaign furniture, the folding chair, table, or camp bed are still with us.

See also:

Nicholas A. Brawer, 2001. British Campaign Furniture: Elegance Under Canvas, 1740 – 1914. ISBN 0-8109-5711-6

Pole Dancing Video!

Posted 02/04/2017 by lacithedog in Dance, Dancing, Pole, poles, Polish, Uncategorized

The sport of hunting

This came up in my “research” on US hunting culture (along with the fact that not many people hunt/stalk, and the number of hunters/stalkers is declining due to loss of habitat and change in lifestyle).

“Fundamental to ethical hunting is the idea of fair chase. This concept addresses the balance between the hunter and the hunted. It is a balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being taken.”

“The Rules of Fair Chase”, Chatfield, Minnesota: Pope and Young Club. Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012:

One hunting club declares that a fair chase shall not involve the taking of animals under the following conditions:

  • Helpless in a trap, deep snow or water, or on ice.
  • From any power vehicle or power boat.
  • By “jacklighting” or shining at night.
  • By the use of any tranquilizers or poisons.
  • While inside escape-proof fenced enclosures.
  • By the use of any power vehicle or power boat for herding or driving animals, including use of aircraft to land alongside or to communicate with or direct a hunter on the ground.
  • By the use of electronic devices for attracting, locating or pursuing game or guiding the hunter to such game, or by the use of a bow or arrow to which any electronic device is attached.

One of the issues raised with the change in self-defence laws to allow for deadly force is that the number of sporting shooters is declining. The market is more than saturated for sporting firearms, which means there needs to be a new market found to sell weapons.

Posted 04/03/2017 by lacithedog in fair chase, hunting, Uncategorized

The problem of probate

Or is it really a problem? It was for Michael Bellesiles who lost his career because it was assumed that Arming America was solely based upon that information.purdey

The problem is that “common items” such as hoes don’t show up, but firearms do. Which is “proof positive” that firearms were somehow common.

This neglects the expense that firearms most likely were in pre-industrial revolution, colonial America.  On the off chance that there were gunsmiths cranking out firearms, let alone rifles, we have to address the issue of coming up with metal that would withstand being used as a firearm.  That means any steel would have to be hand forged given the Navigation Acts, in particular the Iron Act of 1750, ban on colonial industry (and Birmingham’s monopoly on firearm manufacture).

My previous post comes up with a budget bespoke firearm going for £2,500 (US$3,115.03 at today’s rate). I would post the top end of the firearm range, and some used Purdeys selling in the range of US$65,000. Now, wouldn’t it make sense for something which would cost roughly US$3,000 to 65,000+ to be listed in probate record over something which might have cost anywhere from a couple of dollars to maybe 100 in modern funds?

Also, which would be more valuable? Obviously, the more expensive firearm.

If we are going to say that gunsmith were common, we have to address the cost of tools on top of the cost of producing metal which could be used in firearm production. I seriously doubt that a rifling lathe could have been produced on the frontier.  That would mean that such a device would have had to have been imported from Europe: those pesky Navigation Acts might have been a factor.

It is common knowledge that rifles were being produced on the frontier, which might have had something to do with a prohibition on industry more than societal factors. While muskets may have been inaccurate, early muzzleloading rifles had more problems than they were worth.

I’m sure expense would have been one of them.

While rifles were the more complex firearm to build, they still were like building clockworks. And we are talking about hand making clockwork in a pre-industrial society.

Which leads to two issues:

  1. Were firearms really common, or luxury items that would have been contested after death?
  2. Were colonial gunsmiths actual full blown firearms manufacturers, or just somebody who fixed broken weapons?

I am under the impression that firearms are one of the great American founding myths since it doesn’t look too good when one realises that independence really came because of a grudge match based upon the Seven Years/French and Indian War (e.g., most firearms used were European manufactured): not colonial superiority of any kind. We have documentation of a lack of firearms and firearms manufacturing capability in colonial North America, which I have mentioned before and in this.

The need to make firearms a common item at the time of the founding is a fundamental key to any attempt to portray the Second Amendment as somehow not relating to the common defence.  The problem is that it is painfully obvious  that firearms were luxury items in preindustrial societies, as anyone familiar with hand made firearms will attest.

I would bet the farm that firearms would be as expensive as a Purdey, if not more so, back then.

That’s why probate records are not reliable.

Shooting…a rich man’s sport.

horton-bespokeI am trying to put together a piece on why hunting is not a right in relation to the Second Amendment. That is a proposition which is pretty apparent to anyone who is familiar with the history of hunting, which has long been a pursuit of nobility and the landed gentry. The people who had the time and access to the land to be able to hunt.
The firearm technology which was available at the time of the drafting of the US Constitution did not make hunting with firearms for subsistence a viable option.  Especially since firearms were hand made.

And also not very accurate, unless one owned a rifle.

Rifles didn’t begin to appear until the 18th Century.  The famed long rifle appeared in Pennsylvania around 1740.  While more accurate, they were far from common.  The Ferguson Rifle was a breech loading carbine used by the British forces in the War for Independence.  Had these been common, the war probably would have gone in favour of the British.  But:

Its superior firepower was unappreciated at the time because it was too expensive and took longer to produce – the four gunsmiths making Ferguson’s Ordnance Rifle could not make 100 in 6 months at four times the cost per arm of a musket.

Even muskets were expensive since they were handmade.  I would bet that someone doing an honest cost comparison would find they would be in line with bespoke English guns.

I would add that the Horton guns ad that led to this is relatively cheap for a handmade English, as anyone familiar with marks such as Holland and Holland and Purdey will attest.

Even if we get away from the cost of owning a firearm at this time. we have the fact that farmers on the frontier were fairly busy with the tasks related to farming:especially clearing the land on the frontier.

So, given that deadly force was a last option in self-defence at the time of the founding (and up until fairly recently in the US), the cost of owning a firearm was probably prohibitive for the average person, and hunting was a pursuit of the idle rich, superfluous language is not a characteristic of legal documents at the time of the founding, and the legal maxim “expressio unius est exclusio alterius”: it seems that it is probably more likely than not that the founders were talking about the common defence when they stated “a well regulated militia” was necessary for the “security of the free state”.

Misquotations can be safely disregarded in this debate.