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A True Tale of Grave-Robbing Horror, Part I

History Blog - Sun, 2016-10-30 23:00

John Scott Harrison, born October 4th, 1804, bears the unique distinction of having been both the child and father of US Presidents. His father William Henry Harrison was the ninth President and holds the record for the shortest tenure, having died of pneumonia on the 32nd day of his presidency. John Scott’s son Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President, serving one full term from 1889 to 1893. The Honorable John Scott Harrison was a Congressman from Ohio, a gentleman farmer, a family man and a highly respected member of his community, but if he is remembered at all today, it is for what happened to him after his death, a true tale of horror that caused a nation-wide sensation.

After a peaceful death in his bed at Point Farm the night of May 25th, 1878, John Scott Harrison was buried in the family plot overlooking the Ohio River Valley in Congress Green Cemetery, North Bend, Ohio. The funeral took place on May 29th. As family and friends walked to the grave for the burial service, they were dismayed to see that the still-fresh grave of their kinsman Augustus Devin had been disturbed. John Scott’s daughter Sarah was married to Augustus’ uncle Thomas Jefferson Devin, and the families were very close. In fact, John Scott had visited Augustus two weeks before the 23-year-old died of tuberculosis, only to unexpectedly follow him to the grave just a week later. At first the funeral party thought wild hogs might be responsible for the churned-up soil at Augustus Devin’s grave, but upon closer inspection they found the young man’s body was gone, stolen by body-snatchers, the reviled resurrection men who made their living by trafficking the dead.

Horrified by this discovery and concerned that their father might suffer a similar indignity, Benjamin and his brothers John and Carter took additional measures to secure his final resting place. The grave was already brick vaulted with a thick stone bottom. They placed three large, heavy stone slabs eight inches thick on top of the metal casket — the largest at the head and the two smaller ones at the foot — and poured cement over them to create a solid block weighing nearly a ton. The grave was kept open for several hours until the cement dried. It was then filled and the family paid a watchman a dollar a night to guard the grave for 30 nights. Having seen his father safely to his eternal repose, Benjamin Harrison, a distinguished attorney and already a prominent figure in the Republican party, returned to his home in Indianapolis to prepare for a speech he was giving at the Republican State Convention on June 5th.

Benjamin’s youngest brother John Harrison went to Cincinnati with his nephew George Eaton to find and reclaim young Augustus’ body before the grieving mother had to be told it was gone. There was little question in their mind where the body had wound up. It was almost certainly sold to a local medical school, the primary receivers of stolen human flesh. While the Anatomy Act of 1832 had ended the illicit cadaver trade in the UK by supplying anatomy schools with bodies of unclaimed indigents, the federal system in the United States left that kind of legislation to individual states, and the notion of handing over the bodies of the poor for dissection offended American religious and moral sensibilities so much that few states made such provisions. This combined with the explosion of new medical schools in the mid-19th century (in 1800 there were 4 medical schools in the whole country; by 1876 there were 73; by the end of the century there were dozens more) to create a massive demand for anatomical “materiel” that the resurrection men were only too glad to fill.

An item in the Cincinnati Enquirer on the morning of May 30th gave Harrison and Eaton a valuable clue to the possible whereabouts of the missing body:

A Mystery.

About three o’clock this morning, a sensation was created on Vine street by a buggy being driven into the alley north of the Grand Opera house. It proceeded about half way through to Race street, when something white was taken out and disappeared. Several men started in to see what was going on, when the buggy drove out to Race street and left rapidly. The general impression was that a “stiff” was being smuggled into the Ohio Medical College.

This small blurb and the outrage to a well-connected family with legal clout was sufficient for John Harrison and George Eaton to secure a search warrant that very day for the Medical College of Ohio. Armed with the warrant, Harrison and Eaton, accompanied by former Cincinnati Chief of Police Colonel Thomas E. Snelbaker, Constable Lacey and Deputy Constable Tallen of the Cincinnati police, went to the college and insisted on searching the premises. They were accompanied by the very apprehensive janitor, A.Q. Marshall, who protested that the officers of the college should be present before they turned the place upside down.

The party proceeded to search every room on all five floors of the building, from cellar to garret. In the cellar they found a chute that opened onto the alley between Vine and Race Streets where the buggy had been seen dumping a suspicious white bundle at 3:00 o’clock that morning. This was how the resurrectionists surreptitiously delivered cadavers to the medical school. No need for daylight transactions that might raise awkward questions; no need for the faculty to interact with the grave-robbers in the presence of the evidence of their crimes. Another chute, this one running vertically from the cellar to the top of the building, was connected to it. The search party looked into both chutes, illuminating the darkness with their lamps, but saw nothing.

Most of the rooms upstairs were empty too, though they searched every lumber pile, box and closet. Then they came upon a dissection room. A student was using it for its intended purposes, cutting into a partial body — the head and chest of a black woman — merrily slicing away at the already putrefying flesh. Walking briskly past this macabre scene, they found a box of assorted limbs cut from cadavers and kept for later use. Mixed in with the arms and legs was the intact body of a six-month-old baby.

Disgusted and disturbed, they moved on to the top floor of the building. By this time, the police had allowed the janitor to leave, ostensibly to notify the school officers of the search, but Colonel Snelbaker was smart enough to have him followed. Instead of running off to alert the faculty, Mr. Marshall went upstairs to a room at the southeast corner of the building. He realized he was being shadowed so he turned around before entering, but it was too late. The cops now knew there was something worth hiding in that room.

John Harrison, George Eaton and the three police officers entered the suspicious room, finding boxes, a few bones, papers and assorted junk. In a corner of the room near a window was a windlass. A rope ran from it into a square hole in the floor, presumably reaching the bottom of the long chute in the cellar. This is how the bodies were moved from the cellar to the dissection rooms: they were tied to a rope and lifted by the windlass at the top of chute. Snelbaker saw that the rope was taut as if something heavy was tied to it. He turned the windlass and slowly the body of a man emerged from the hole, the rope tied around his neck and under one arm. He was naked except for a tattered shirt and a cloth covering his head.

John realized before the face was revealed that it could not be his cousin Augustus. The body was that of an old man in comparatively good health, not of a youth emaciated by the ravages of consumption. He was about to walk away when Snelbaker urged him to check, just in case. They pulled the body into the room and laid it on the floor. Blood trickled from a loosely stitched neck incision, forced out by the pressure of the rope. Slowly and somberly, Snelbaker loosened the rope around his neck so the cloth covering his face could be lifted.

Harrison had been right; it wasn’t the body of Augustus Devin. Under the cloth was the face of an elderly man, discolored and bruised from the rope and careless treatment at the hands of the resurrection men. He had short white hair and a snow-white beard cropped an inch below his chin. John Harrison staggered, suddenly weak at the knees. “It’s father,” he rasped, and collapsed to the floor. The body of the Honorable John Scott Harrison, buried in a cement-reinforced bricked vault less than 24 hours earlier, had been stolen from the grave, stripped of his clothing, shorn of his distinctive waist-length beard, and dangled from a rope in the cadaver chute of a medical school.

~~ TO BE CONTINUED ~~

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Coming attractions

History Blog - Sun, 2016-10-30 11:55

I won’t be posting a full article today because I’m working on a special Halloween treat for all you boys and girls. For the first time in The History Blog history, I am writing a multi-part story. It is a macabre tale full of chills, thrills and shocking twists that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hammer Horror movie, only it’s all true.

The first part will go live (or is it? ) at the stroke of midnight tonight.

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Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Backyard Dyeing Fun!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-10-29 22:33

By Elska á Fjárfella (Susan Verberg).

Left to right: undyed, goldenrod, nettle, onion, onion (longer), iron – all unmordanted wool.

Having laid my hands on half a dozen skeins of plain white wool yarn, and having the resources of a homestead, I decided to combine the two under the guidance of my friend Angelika and try my hand at all-natural plant dyeing.

But where to start? And what to buy?

Isn’t dyeing quite an intricate and expensive challenge better left to the experienced and initiated?

In part that is true; it is quite handy learning to dye from someone who has done it before.

But it does not have to be difficult or expensive at all (it can be as intricate only as you decide to make it). If you’re looking for a specific shade and want to be able to duplicate, my way is not the way for you. But if you’re happy to get color — and even happier if it is mostly the color you intended — you can get a surprising amount of dyeing fun out of an ordinary backyard.

We both prefer natural fibers so we used a selection of linen, cotton, and wool fabrics and fibers. I quickly learned that plant-based fibers and animal-based fibers do not take color the same way. Plant-based fibers are made from cellulose, which is fairly resistant to taking dye. Animal fibers are made from protein and are relatively easy to dye. Both need a little help to create a good connection between fibers and dye; this process is called “mordanting.”

From looking over Angelika’s shoulders and listening to her explanations the past few years (she loves dyeing with natural materials), I picked up that some dyes need mordanting, some fibers need it, too, but not always or in the same amounts… but why? As it turns out, most fibers and dyes are not all that compatible because there isn’t a lot for the dye to adhere to. So to give the dye a place to stick, something is added that bridges or sticks both to the fabric and to the dye.

In the case of cellulose fibers, a tannin mordant is needed, followed by a metal mordant; in the case of protein fibers, a metal mordant is enough. It is possible to dye wool without mordants but the result won’t be as vibrant; onion and tea are high in tannin and will dye, but mordanting influences the intensity of color. Black walnut is a bit of an odd one since it does not need mordanting because it is high in natural mordants; however, the chemical structure of the pigment allows it to directly adhere to the protein fiber!

Processing sumac leaves to make a tannin mordant.

Two good sources for tannin mordants are sumac and rhubarb leaves. Since rhubarb is easily available in spring and sumac easy to find in summer and fall, these two make a good three-season source of natural tannin mordant. With both sumac and rhubarb the leaves are used, not the wood; for each pound of dry yarn use four pounds of greens.

  • Put leaves in a big pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and boil for an hour.
  • After an hour remove the greens, add the cellulose yarn and let sit for another hour, or two.

Another source for tannins would be black tea, but as that is highly concentrated it would also act as a dye and darken the yarn significantly. Sumac does too, but not as significant and therefore does not interfere with the dyeing process as much, making it a better tannin mordant for brighter colors (and it’s free).

A good metal mordant is alum, or aluminum sulfate, which is fairly inexpensive and sold over the internet at stores specializing in dyes. Use 10% for wool or up to 20% for fine yarn like silk, cotton, or linen, of the dry weight of the yarn.

  • Add enough water to submerge the yarn, bring to a boil, turn off, add the damp yarn and let steep for an hour, or so.
  • Do not boil fibers, especially wool roving and tips, as the roiling bubble action of boiling can naturally felt it!

Mordanting the fibers in sumac ‘tea’ overnight

Mordant the evening before and let the yarn sit in the mordant overnight; that way, the yarn is cooled down enough it can easily be squeezed or wrung dry for the next step, the dye bath. Keep in mind that each mordant results in slightly different color dyes, so choose accordingly. For instance, chromium really brightens colors (but is poisonous), alum gives clear colors, tin brightens colors and can also be used as an afterbath (adding it to the dye late to darken), copper gives the best greens and iron darkens, and is often used as an afterbath. Both copper and iron can be made at home: copper can be added by dyeing in a copper pot, and an iron solution can easily be made by adding vinegar to iron scraps (like nails and pieces of cheap fencing) in a glass jar… but be careful not to screw down the lid as the exothermic reaction might respond unexpectantly!

Harvesting stinging nettles is quite a prickly business!

Using plant materials it is not all that difficult to dye yellows; pale yellow, lime yellow, greenish yellow, brownish yellow – most plants give some sort of yellow dye. Like ragweed dyes a greenish yellow, birch & poplar dyes yellow, any of the rosacea leaves dye yellow, peach & apple leaves dye yellow and bindweed dyes a light green yellow. It’s the other colors that are harder to find:

  • Onion skins can dye a bright orange.
  • Reportedly,bindweed roots dye a slight pink, as do rhubarb roots (but I’m not digging up my patch!).
  • Willow leaves and bark dye a cinnamon brown, black walnut a deep brown at first draw and a cinnamon brown at the second.
  • We also tried some odd ones like daffodil heads (yellow) and tageta flowers (also yellow) and honestly, if there is any indication of dye (it stains your fingers while weeding) get a bunch, boil it down, and see what happens!

Harvesting goldenrod flowers to make a bright yellow dye.

Except for a few dyestuffs, like goldenrod, most dye baths benefit from prolonged exposure. A good rule of thumb is to make your bath in the afternoon, add the yarn, put the colander with greens on top of it (keeps the yarn submerged and keeps steeping more dye) and let it sit overnight. You’ll benefit from the cooler evening temperatures to cool down your kitchen again and as an added bonus the yarn is nicely cooled down by the next day to easily be rinsed in cold water without starting a felting reaction. Let it dry, or set, completely – out of the sun – before washing with soap.

Goldenrod dye with unmordanted wool yarn (top left) and alum mordanted wool (top right).

In the case of goldenrod, the flowers give the bright yellow color and are a potent dye. The longer it sits, though, the deeper the color gets and at some point the green stems and small leaves, which dye brown, will add, making it even darker. So for a bright yellow 15 minutes tends to be the optimum time. Similar with onion peels; sitting overnight can darken the orange towards brown. Black walnut is also a powerful dye and needs no mordanting at all for wool fibers, making it a good beginner’s dye. It also has antifungal properties and was used for wool underclothing throughout history to help prevent skin conditions!

Onion skin dye with alum mordanted wool fiber and unmordanted wool yarn.

For my first project we used well known dye plants like black walnut leaves, goldenrod flowers, stinging nettle and onion peels. We could have weighed the greens, but as our limitation was space in the pots, not the amount of greens, we picked as much as we could fit into each stockpot. As I could fit three stockpots on my stovetop we made three dye baths at the same time, in a similar fashion as the mordant solution: cover the greens with water, bring to a boil and boil for an hour, or so. Remove the greens, turn off the heat, add the yarn – and see the color change…

We dyed plant fibers and protein fibers and got wildly different results – both between the two types of fibers and from what we expected and what actually happened. Unless every variable, including temperature, pH & weights, are carefully controlled, natural dyeing is quite the spontaneous undertaking! For instance; a linen dress I was hoping to dye a deep brown with black walnut turned into a beautiful yellow copper instead – linen really does not take dye very well. A cotton dress I was hoping to dye yellow with logwood turned blue instead! The wool was mordanted in an acidic environment (an alkaline can damage wool fibers) but not rinsed really well, acidifying the dye to a pretty yellow brown. But when we made a new batch and added the cotton dress it was naturally alkaline and dyed a deep blue!

We sure saw chemistry in action: what a difference the nature of fibers makes, how some dyes react to changes in the pH but others not at all, the color difference a bit of metal mordant makes, how some strike enthusiastically quick but others need soaking overnight… to get a taste of all the intricate variables possible while still being such a surprisingly easy and rather satisfying project… I totally see how natural dyeing quickly can become quite the passion!

See Elska’s blog here for the rest of her dyeing adventures. 


Categories: SCA news sites

Ancient cemetery unearthed in Batroun, Lebanon

History Blog - Sat, 2016-10-29 16:52

An archaeological survey in advance of new construction in the city of Batroun, about 20 miles north of Byblos on the Mediterranean coast of northern Lebanon, has unearthed an ancient burial ground. Archaeologists from Lebanon’s Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) found 17 graves with skeletal remains at the site of a planned addition to the San Stephano Resort. Initial osteological examination found the remains of men, women and children.

Preliminary estimates date the graveyard to the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., a period when the city prospered under Roman rule. These estimates are based mainly on the type of interrals: coffin burials. The wood has not survived, but the coffin nails have. There are few grave goods — a coin, an iron ring and two modest pieces of Greek pottery from the Hellenistic period — but nothing clearly datable to the Roman period. A Roman-era necropolis was found nearby during construction of the main road, so this may be a continuation of the same burial ground.

Batroun is one of the most ancient cities in the world, although the date of its founding is ambiguous. Ancient sources appear to differ on the matter, and it’s hard to pin down because the name of the town changes. The city of “Batruna” is mentioned by Rib-Hadda, the king of Gubla (Byblos to the Greeks), in EA 79 of the Amarna letters, a collection of diplomatic correspondence to Pharaoh Akhenaten incised on clay tablets in the 14th century B.C.; some scholars believe this Batruna is Batroun. However, 2nd century B.C. Greek historian Menander of Ephesus is quoted in Flavius Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews (Book VIII, 13, 2) saying “the city Botrys in Phoenicia” was founded by Ithobaal I of Tyre, the 9th century B.C. Phoenician king whose daughter Jezebel became infamous thanks to the Biblical account of her marriage to Ahab. The Greek name for Batroun is Botrys, Bothrys or Bostrys.

As the Rib-Hadda was appealing to Akhenaten for military aid against the nomadic Apiru or Habiru people who were in league with his enemy Abdi-Ashirta, the Amorite king of Amurru, it’s possible that Amarna-period city of Batruna was sacked and then refounded by Ithobaal in the 9th century. It was subsequently conquered by the Assyrians, Alexander the Great, the Arab Iturean tribes and the Romans. It was part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch when on July 9th, 551 A.D., it was all but destroyed by a massive earthquake that levelled many Levantine cities. It reappears in the historical record in the 12th century when Crusaders took it from the Emirate of Banu Ammar.

Whatever the exact date of its founding and gaps in occupation, Batroun is one of the most ancient cities in the world. It has notable archaeological remains from the Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman and Crusader periods, including a protective sea wall the Phoenicians built by adding masonry to a natural formation of petrified sand dunes. The wall is 740 feet long, the longest Phoenician structure still in existence, and is up to 16 feet high in parts.

Roman remains include a rock-cut theater which is on private property but is open to the public and irrigation channels, some of which have been integrated into the modern canal system. The earthquake claimed a great deal of the Roman city, so the discovery of the burial ground is highly significant. The remains will be removed to the Directorate General of Antiquities in Beirut for further analysis and study. Radiocarbon dating should confirm the date of this necropolis.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Rare Pictish cross slab found on Orkney

History Blog - Fri, 2016-10-28 21:02

The Orkney Islands at the northern tip of Scotland have a uniquely rich archaeological patrimony going back 8,500 years to the Mesolithic era. Because the coastal areas of the archipelago are highly susceptible to erosion, particularly in the winter when storms and tides batter them mercilessly, archaeologists keep a sharp eye out for any artifacts or remains that may have been exposed by erosion.

That’s what Dr. Hugo Anderson-Whymark was doing on the East Mainland coast when he discovered a stone slab jutting out of the cliff face. He saw that it wasn’t a natural stone, but had been shaped and carved with designs. Much of the carved surface was obscured by its position in the cliff. Dr. Anderson-Whymark was able to see part of the carving, a beast or dragon in an S-shape that is characteristic of Pictish design from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. Because more storms were expected within days, the stone had to be recovered as quickly as possible or risk literally falling off a cliff.

The Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), with the aid of Historic Environment Scotland which provided funding for the excavation and conservation of the artifact, sent a team to excavate the slab. Once it was removed, experts identified it as a Pictish cross slab from the 8th century. The stone, 2.8 feet long by 1.8 feet wide and 3.6 inches thick, is incomplete and weathered, but an intricately carved cross stood out on the front face with the dragon/beast at its side. The rear face, even more weathered than the front, featured another beast with what looks like a beak holding a staff.

Nick Card, senior projects manager at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute’s Orca, said: “Carved Pictish cross slabs are rare across Scotland with only two having been discovered in Orkney.

“This is therefore a significant find and allows us to examine a piece of art from a period when Orkney society was beginning to embrace Christianity. Now that the piece is recorded and removed from site, we can concentrate on conserving the delicate stone carving and perhaps re-evaluate the site itself.”

Once the stone is cleaned and conserved, ORCA hopes to put it on public display.

Dr. Hugo Anderson-Whymark scanned both sides of the cross slab as soon as it was free and clear, before it was cleaned. Here’s the 3D model created from the scan.

Pictish Cross Slab, front, by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark

Pictish Cross Slab, back, by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

EASTERN RESULTS FROM THE AUGUST 2016 LoAR

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-10-28 11:00

The Society College of Heralds runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.

An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item.

The following results are from the August 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings.

EAST acceptances

Akiyama Kintsune. Name.

The question was raised whether the use of the element Kin- in the given name is presumptuous. This element has the meaning of “public official/officer/noble/duke” in classical Chinese (see Solveig Throndardottir’s Name Construction in Medieval Japan, revised edition, p. 192). As part of an attested given name, the use of an element that may indicate rank is not an unmistakable claim of rank. Therefore, the use of this element is not presumptuous, as it is clear it is not a form of address.

The submitter requested authenticity for a Japanese name. This name is not authentic because Akiyama is most likely a buke (military class) surname. Buke names follow the pattern of a family name/surname followed by a yobina (general use name) and a nanori (official/formal given name). This name only contains a surname and a nanori.

Bardolph Karlson. Name.

The submitter originally requested authenticity for a 12th century Anglo-Saxon name, but withdrew this request. The submitter may wish to know that this name is authentic for early 17th century England.

Bess Brechin. Name and device. Gules, on a saltire argent between four maple leaves Or five gouttes palewise gules.

Nice 16th century Scottish name!

Cristina Volpina. Badge. Gules, on a bezant a sun-cross gules.

Commenters wondered whether this design was too close to the X-Men logo. It is not. The rotation clears the potential presumption by changing the orientation.

It also does not presume upon the important non-SCA arms of the Arch-Steward of the Holy Roman Empire: Gules, an orb Or. There is a DC for the addition of a tertiary charge group and, by precedent, there is at least a DC between an orb and a roundel [Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme, A-Caid, May 2010 LoAR].

Dietrich of Timis. Device. Sable, a tower conjoined to park pales extending to sinister and on a chief argent an eagle vert.

Dragonship Haven, Barony of. Guild name Worshipful Company of Artificers of Dragonship Haven.

Submitted as Worshipful Company of Artificers, precedent implies that [designator] of Artificers is too generic to be registered:

[registering Company of Artificers of Marinus] Submitted as Company of Artificers, we have with the consent of the submissions herald, added the phrase “of Marinus” to make it less generic. [Marinus, Barony of, September 1996, p. 3]

The December 2002 Cover Letter states that the addition of a branch name does not make such a non-personal name less generic:

A submission this month raised the issue of generic identifiers again. Given the confusion that exists regarding what is and is not a generic identifier, as well as how generic identifiers are used, we are providing a clarification of this issue.

Generic identifiers are descriptions that may be associated with registered items (mainly badges) to identify the use of that item. Unlike registered names (award names, order names, guild names, household names, et cetera), generic identifiers are not registered as an independent item and are not protected from conflict. This does not mean that the group may not use this identifier, but simply that we will not limit the usage of that identifier to a single group.

Names that fall into the generic identifier category are names that would reasonably be used by more than one branch for common functions of the branch. All kingdoms can have a university. All baronies can have a baronial guard. All groups can have an equestrian guild.

Adding the name of the branch to the description does not affect generic identifiers (because branch identifiers are transparent for conflict). As an example, Outlands Equestrian Guild falls into the generic category because the only thing that would differentiate it from Equestrian Guild of Calontir are the branch identifiers Outlands and of Calontir.

However, later precedent shows that Worshipful Company of X is not generic when a branch name is included:

Submitted as a badge for The Most Worshipful Company of Æthelmearc Cooks and Bakers, as that name is neither registered nor a generic identifier we are unable to make this association. Recent precedent states:

Which gets us to the main question — is Worshipful Company of X, where X is a generic descriptive element a generic identifier? The January 1993 coverletter [sic] had this to say on the subject “A better term might be “job-description”: a simple declaration of the intended use of the badge…So long as the badge is associated with a purely functional name, it’s [the name] neither checked for conflict during submission or protected from conflict afterwards.” The addition of the adjective Worshipful lifts this out of the realm of purely functional, even through the adjective is part of the designator and not part of the descriptive element. [Lochac, Kingdom of, A-Lochac, 08/2004]

[Æthelmearc, Kingdom of, October 2006, A-Æthelmearc]

Therefore, we uphold the precedents that Worshipful Company of X is not generic as long as a branch name is also included and have added of Dragonship Haven in order to register this guild name. This ruling does not mean that generic identifiers in general can be made registerable in this manner.

Fearghus mac Cailín. Device. Per fess sable and argent, a sun Or and a wolfhound courant sable and in chief two mullets of seven points argent.

Fearghus mac Griogair. Device. Argent, a squirrel’s head cabossed sable jessant-de-lys vert.

The use of jessant-de-lys with anything other than a lion’s or leopard’s head is a step from period practice.

Halldís Úlfsdóttir. Name.

Submitted as Halldís Úlfsdottir, the accent in the given name was inadvertently dropped by kingdom: Halldis Úlfsdottir. We have restored the given name to the submitted form. In addition, we have modified the byname in order to use accents consistently throughout the name: Úlfsdóttir.

Hrafn Isauga. Name.

Submitted as Hrafn Is-augu, the constructed byname Is-augu was intended to mean “ice-eyes”. In commentary, ffride wlffsdotter found examples such as hrakauga (“crack-eye”), járnauga (“iron-eye”), and krókauga “hook-eye” in Tilnavne i den islandske oldlitteratur by Finnur Jónsson (http://heimskringla.no/wiki/Tilnavne) and in Lind Personbinamn. However, all of these examples use the singular form “eye”. Therefore, we have changed the byname to the singular form Isauga (“ice-eye”) to register this name.

Kellenin de Lanwinnauch. Name change from Rys Waytheman.

Nice Welsh name for around 1200!

The submitter’s previous name, Rys Waytheman, is retained as an alternate name.

Morwenna O Hurlihie. Name and device. Vert, in fess three drop spindles argent.

Morwenna is an English saint’s name.

Regnulf of Crakehale. Name and device. Vert, a corncrake and on a chief embattled Or three acorns vert.

This is the defining instance of the corncrake in Society armory. This bird is described in “De Arte Venandi Cum Avibus of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen” and the spelling “Corne Crake” dated to 1455 in the OED.

For purpose of conflict checking, the bird is considered poultry-shaped.

Settmour Swamp, Barony of. Order name Company of Mud.

This order name follows the pattern of naming an order after a founder. In this case, Mud is a late period English surname used as a given name.

Settmour Swamp, Barony of. Order name Order of the Copper Tower.

The pattern Order of the [Metal] Tower is grandfathered to the submitter.

Syele von Heidelberg. Badge. (Fieldless) On a garb Or a scythe vert.

Þorsteinn Hroðbjartsson. Device. Per pale azure and argent, a fox rampant contourny and a seal haurient embowed counterchanged, on a chief Or five hop cones inverted vert.

Vivien de Valois. Device. Argent, a lion passant double queued and in base two crescents gules, a bordure sable.

Yamada Kiku. Name.

The submitter requested authenticity for a Japanese name, but with no specific time period.

The given name Kiku was popular in the Muromachi period (1333-1573). However, Keystone noted in commentary that it is very unusual for a monothematic feminine given name like Kiku to be used without a prefix or suffix. In this case, Kiku is attested during the Muromachi period (1333-1573). At that time, according to Solveig Throndardottir’s Name Construction in Medieval Japan (NCMJ, revised edition), “the o- prefix to women’s names became universal for the buke class. Further, their names were frequently followed by the common name of a father, a husband, or another male relative.” Therefore, the given name plus the honorific would be O-kiku, with or without the male relative’s common name.

In addition, Keystone considered the surname Yamada to be unlikely, as it is a kuge (imperial court nobility) name. NCMJ states that women retained their uji (clan names) throughout life and these ujiwere combined with their personal names by the Kamakura period.

Therefore, this name is not authentic, but it is registerable.


Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry, Official Notices

Farewell Missive from Brigantia Herald

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-10-28 10:29

One last time the people will hear from me.
I will stand for the last time as Brigantia at BBM/Bergental Yule. At that time Master Malcolm Bowman will be invested as the 18th Brigantia Principal Herald of the Kingdom of the East. I wish him as interesting of a term as the four years in which I have served.

The job of Brigantia is one where you cannot talk less, but it is one for which I can’t imagine to have smiled more. And it isn’t one which is done alone. There are armies of people who have worked with me, supported me, and gotten the work done. I cannot possibly thank you all as I would need a special edition of the Pikestaff just to thank everyone individually.

That being said I have to give special thanks to Treannah and Alys for being my Right Hand Ladies for the first three years and to Malcolm for being my Right Hand Man this past year. Knowing I had you all to fall back on gave me confidence that I would be able to handle the challenges of this office. You helped me rise up to the occasion of my station.

I must give special thanks to Yehuda for first revolutionizing the Heraldic Education Office and then taking up the mantle of Submission Herald. Neither of those positions are easy and you have handled both with aplomb and skill. Your education videos are viewed as THE definitive primer for SCA heraldry across the known world. The results of your work continually blow us all away.

In the last four years of my administration every single facet of the award structures of the East has been revolutionized. From the renaming of several awards in order to register them with the SCA College of arms in my first and second years, through the elevation of the Orders of High Merit and establishment of the AoA Orders, every award has changed. I could not have handled these changes without Her Majesty Anna and Master Rowen as my Precedence Clerks. Thank you both for your friendship, patience, support, and non-stop work. I could not have done this job without you both.

Thanks too to everyone in the Submissions Herald’s department. Every month the East submits and processes more names and armory than any other Kingdom and the entire department, from consultations all the way through Notifications, makes it look easy. Nobody can know just how much work you put in unless they’re in the room where it happens but it is all appreciated.

To the Regional Heralds and Local Heralds, your reports are due December 1st… I’m not going to remind you again about these. Seriously, thank you all for your support on every level.

Thanks must go to Alys, Treannah, Rowen, Malcolm, Ernst and Maria, and Donovan. Thank you all for leading your reigns’ courts and freeing me to handle the non-court workload without driving myself crazy. If I had to handle every court over the last 4 years, on top of what seems like Non Stop writing I would have burnt out long, long ago.

To Edward and Thyra for selecting me for this job: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve this Kingdom as Brigantia. I hope I have lived up to your confidence. To Gregor and Kiena, Kenric and Avelina, Brennan and Caoilfhionn, Omega and Etheldreda, and Brion and Anna, thank you for allowing me to be on your Heraldic Staffs and putting up with my stubbornness and, sometimes hair brained, initiatives. It’s always been nice to have you all on my side.

As I say goodbye I look forward to moments alone in the shade, at home in this Kingdom we have made. And as I cannot say this any better than by paraphrasing the original source:

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error. I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. I shall also carry with me the hope that my Kingdom will view them with indulgence; and that after four years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion. – G. Washington (Oh COME ON, like you didn’t notice all the Hamilton References in this letter. It’s a good line though, right?)

In all seriousness, these last four years have opened my eyes to the Society as a whole and have deepened my love and pride in my kingdom and its inhabitants. The East leads the Known World for a reason. That reason is its people. It is a humbling experience to have been responsible for a Kingdom’s ceremony and legacy. It has been a privilege being its ambassador to the Known World. I will carry the pride in this Kingdom for the rest of my days. Thank you all.

To the East and the Society I remain their obedient servant,
Master Ryan Mac Whyte,
17th Brigantia Emeritus of the Kingdom of the East


Filed under: Official Notices, Tidings

Last Scribal Tour Workshop Is November 12

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-10-28 08:06

Zero to Hero!

The final Scribal Tour workshop (Italian White Vine) will be held at Æcademy in Nithgaard on November 12, 2016.

Master Creador will provide a lecture on the evolution and “rules” of Italian White Vine, next up – gilding a capital with Mistress Antoinette, painting with the soon-to-be Master Kieran, and our very own Master Kameshima will provide the calligraphy instruction – four solid hours of scribes doing what they do best, creating art!

Attendees are expected to attend all four parts, and sorry, but no auditors can be accepted.

Participants must register with Antoinette via the ScribalTour20162017@yahoo.com before November 8, 2016. No registrations on the day of Æcademy will be accepted. Our instructors need to know precisely how many attendees to expect.

Fee is $10.00 for materials, everyone will leave with a finished piece that day.

All attendees will be entered in the raffle of a $100.00 gift card to Paper and Ink. Each time a scribe participates in a 2016 Scribal Tour Workshop, they are entered or re-entered in the grand drawing December 1, 2016.

Questions? Email me at ScribalTour20162017@yahoo.com.

Adieu,

Antoinette


Categories: SCA news sites

Oldest library in the world renovated, digitized

History Blog - Thu, 2016-10-27 20:58

Founded in the 859 A.D. by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant who was herself highly educated and who dedicated her considerable inheritance to the creation of a mosque and school in her community, the University of Qarawiyyin in Fes, Morocco, is the oldest degree-granting institution in the world. The Al-Qarawiyyin library has been in continuous operation since the 10th century and is believed to be the oldest library in the world. After years of neglect, the library is undergoing extensive renovation as part of a renewal program that will restore the Medina, Fes’ walled pedestrian historic district built in the late 8th, early 9th century. In a fitting tribute to its founder, the person in charge of the restoration is a woman, Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni.

Inside the library are ornately carved wooden window frames and archways, colorful ceramic tile designs on the floors and elegant Arabic calligraphy engraved in the walls. The high ceilings in the reading room are adorned with gold chandeliers.

“There is a big restoration because there was a need for the building and the manuscripts to be preserved,” said Abdullah al-Henda, part of the restoration team that’s been working on the restoration since 2012. “There were problems of infiltration, of sewage, degradation of walls, some cracks in different places in the library.”

The library is replete with extremely rare, some unique, volumes. There are more than 4,000 manuscripts in its collection, including a 9th century Quran written in beautiful Kufic script on camel skin, the earliest known Islamic hadiths, and an original manuscript of the Mukkadimah, a universal history written in 1377 by philosopher Ibn Khaldun which many scholars hold to be the first exploration of fields we know as sociology, historiography, demography and other social sciences. It’s particularly meaningful to have a book written in his hand, because after university he began his career as a calligrapher for the Chancellery in Tunis. When he moved to Fez shortly thereafter, he got a job writing royal proclamations for the Sultan.

“When you read a book, you travel in history. When you see a manuscript that is nearly ten or more centuries old, you travel in time. As I said, the library gives you a spiritual bond for these and other reasons. Since I arrived at Al Qarawiyyin Library, it never crossed my mind that I would leave it,” said deputy curator Abou Bakr Jaouane.

These priceless texts need conservation as well. Some have been damaged by the moisture and decay plaguing the building itself. Now that the restoration of the structure is almost complete with new gutters, solar panels and air conditioning, the manuscripts finally have a room suited to their preservation. It is climate controlled with a custom temperature and humidity settings as well as a state-of-the-art security system. The restored library also has a new laboratory for the treatment and conservation of its historic manuscripts.

Right now, only curator Abdelfattah Bougchouf has access to the rare manuscripts kept in the secure room. With the help of experts from the Institute of Computational Linguistics in Italy, that will soon change. All 4,000+ manuscripts are being digitized in the new laboratory. This will make them widely available to students and researchers all over the world. About 20% of them have been digitized so far. The scanning process will also highlight any small holes and areas in need of conservation that are not necessarily evident to the naked eye.

The library will reopen to the public in May 2017.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Help bring Ruby Slippers, Scarecrow back together

History Blog - Wed, 2016-10-26 22:50

Last Monday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $300,000 for the conservation and display of the Ruby Slippers famously worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. The Smithsonian’s budget is sufficient to keep the Ruby Slippers relatively stable in their current condition, but they turned to Kickstarter for the money to conserve the shoes and create a custom state-of-the-art display case with light, temperature and humidity controls that will ensure the long-term preservation of one of the museum’s most iconic film artifacts.

Costume designer Adrian made several pairs of Ruby Slippers for the movie. This pair was worn when Dorothy danced down the Yellow Brick Road, and their condition attests to their hard use. In 1939 (and for decades afterwards), costumes were made to last for the duration of shooting. Materials were chosen to look good at low cost. Adrian took commercial shoes, spray-painted them red and attached a red net with red sequins and beads. The red color of the sequins is a coating of cellulose nitrate lacquer. In the 77 years since the shoes were made, the color has faded given the slippers a muted, dingy look. The nitrocellulose coating is cracked and flaking. Threads stitching the sequins to the net are breaking. The red paint on the soles is cracking and the sole is coming apart from the top of the shoe. (See this interview with the conservator of the Ruby Slippers for more details about their complex conservation needs.)

The money raised would go to repairing what could be repaired (without ruining the original evidence of use because that is an important part of their history), but also towards researching how best to approach the conservation of materials like the sequin coating about which we know very little. That is essential to ensuring that the new display case is properly set to keep the Ruby Slippers in ideal conservation conditions.

The response was to the campaign was huge and immediate. The goal was met and exceeded within a week, thanks to donations from more than 5,000 people from 41 countries on every inhabited continent. With another 21 days to go, the Smithsonian has added a stretch goal of $85,000 for the conservation and display of the patchwork Scarecrow costume worn by Ray Bolger in the movie.

The Scarecrow will need a full conservation assessment to determine which materials were used to construct the costume. This will include working with scientists to identify the materials and conducting historical research. We will take a close look at the textiles and dyes that are extremely sensitive to light and wear. We need to understand what condition they are in to determine what treatment will best conserve and preserve them. Once those issues are addressed, we can decide how best to display the costume. The Scarecrow costume will need an internal structure to support the textiles and reduce stress so that he will remain in good condition far into the future.

As the Scarecrow is less glamorous than the Ruby Slippers, so far only $17,000 of the $85,000 has been raised, but we all know that if he didn’t get restuffed and spruced up so he could join the Ruby Slippers in a new exhibition gallery in 2018, Dorothy would miss him most of all.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Happy Tidings: Welcome Æthelmearc’s Newest Subject!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-10-26 19:37

We are very happy to announce the birth of Viktoria Lola, born 10/24/2016, to Lady Maggie Rue and Lord Methius Weasel. The family is doing well. Welcome to Æthelmearc, Viktoria, and congratulations to the happy family!

 


Categories: SCA news sites

Æthelmearc Crown in Sugarpaste

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-10-26 11:15

By Sir Ian Kennoven.

Photo by Rose Ashbaugh

For the Coronation dinner of Marcus III and Margerite of Æthelmearc, held at Harvest Raid in the Shire of Heronter on September 24, I created an edible crown. There are several crown styles available to the monarchs of Æthelmearc, but the Byzantine style looked to be the simplest to reproduce, so that is where I started.  My intent is to do the others at some future date… 

Master Janos (majordomo for the reign) provided me a with few pictures of the crown in his care.

I then made a cardstock mock-up and shaping form.

Next, I mixed up a batch of sugarpaste:

  • 1/2 tsp. gum tragacanth
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. orange blossom water
  • 1 Tb.  egg white
  • 12 to 16 oz. sugar, ground fine

Wet the gum with the lemon juice then add the orange blossom water and egg white.

Rest for several minutes and slowly incorporate the sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

The paste was rolled out and with the mock-up used as a template, the front piece was cut out. I worked the piece flat (smoothed the center areas and textured the borders), but when it was lifted to place onto the form the surface crinkled and much of the detail was lost. The form was too flimsy to work on, so if I make this crown again, I will create a more rigid form to work upon. The sugar was cured for a day in the dehydrator before being removed from the form. The sides were then cut. They slid off the form through the night, but luckily broke along the lines delineating the individual plaques. I now had an eight-piece sculpture instead of four.

They were placed back on the form and cured for another day before being removed so that the back piece could be manufactured.

A template was made and the escarbuncles were quickly cut out of sugarpaste using an X-Acto knife.

Once all the pieces had cured for a few days it was time to gold & silver leaf them. Each section was painted with egg white and allowed to dry. Twenty-four sheets of edible gold leaf and six sheets of edible silver leaf later, they were shiny.

I made a very quick plaster mold from wax cabochons. They shifted on me while pouring the plaster, but enough were workable to make the carnelians. After melting out the wax and allowing the form to cool, it was soaked overnight in water.  I dissolved 1 cup of granular sugar in 1/2 cup of water, tossed in a small red beet from the garden and a tablespoonful of red sandalwood powder. (Editor’s note: red sandalwood, or sanders, is edible, while brown sandalwood used for incense is inedible.) This was brought to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit then the solids were strained out. The syrup was quickly placed back on the heat,  brought to 300 F,  removed from the heat and the bottom of the pan was placed briefly in cool water. The mold was patted dry and a spoon was used to drip syrup into the mold. As they cooled the carnelians were popped out and more were cast.

Once cooled the sugar carnelians were glued in place with a thinned-out version of the sugarpaste.

This was allowed to rest for a day, then the whole was assembled using the same sugar glue. The crown was placed in the dehydrator overnight.

The seams were then covered in gold leaf and the crown was returned to the dehydrator for another night.

Sir Ian presents the sugarpaste crown. Photo by Karen Mensch DeMichiei

Their Majesties Margerite and Marcus. Photo by Phil Martino

I presented the subtlety to Their Majesties about halfway through the feast.  By the end of the meal, Her Majesty had broken the crown into pieces and distributed them to be eaten by the populace.

Reprinted from Sir Ian’s blog. All photos courtesy of Sir Ian, except where noted.


Categories: SCA news sites

St. Eligius A&S Event: Details and New Challenges

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2016-10-26 09:59

Submitted by R.Wurm, Barony of Dragonship Haven

Greetings Everyone

St. Eligius is right around the corner and Dragonship Haven is so excited! Queen Anna is honoring us with Her Presence, plus we have some new challenges and special competitions.

New this year are the Baron Adhemar Challenges: Misadventures and Collaboration. Sound intriguing? Go to the Baronial Website or our East Kingdom event listing to find out more and for all other competition information.

Other specialized contests include; Master Alexander the Younger’s Challenge, SCA Kluge, Medieval Moment and Artisan’s Progress, and we will have our Populace and Baron & Baroness’s Choice awards, as always.

St. Eligius is designed to have something for everyone; great food, great prizes, great company and great fun! We pride ourselves on our unique and diverse judging formats and our friendly and supportive atmosphere where all entrants, displayers, and onlookers will feel comfortable, encouraged, and go home feeling enthused and delighted!  Also, St Eligius is a good place to hone and get feedback on your entry for the upcoming King and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Competition.

Don’t feel like entering a competition? Please bring the project that you have been working on, finished or not. We want to see it and have plenty of tables for display only.

We are pleased to announce that there will be fencing, lots of it, with at least 2 tourneys. Since fencing is an art, we can’t leave it out of our A&S day.  Lord Christoffel will be running “The Art of Fence Challenge”; pick your favorite period fencing master and fence in that style.  More on this can be found on our event announcement.

We have space for any Guilds or groups that would like to meet. Please contact the stewards to reserve some space.

Please plan on joining us on November 12th for a day *well spent*. We look forward to seeing you and spending some quality time together!

Thank you in advance.
Hope to see you there!
R. Wurm


Filed under: Announcements, Events, Local Groups

Unofficial Court Report for King’s & Queen’s Rapier Champions

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2016-10-26 08:57

Their Royal Majesties, Brion III and Anna III, ventured forth to Their Barony of Iron Bog on the 22nd of October, Anno Societatis fifty-one, there to watch the competition to determine the new King’s and Queen’s Rapier Champions.

After spending the day watching over 90 combatants compete for the honour of serving as Champion, Their Majesties opened Their Court. His Majesty invited before him the retiring King’s Rapier Champion, Master Donovan Shinnock, thanked him for a well-run tourney, and said that he would be sad to see him go. His Majesty took back the regalia of the office and Master Donovan stepped down.

His Majesty then called for Don Lupold Hass and asked if he would stand as King’s Rapier Champion. Don Lupold accepted and was fitted with the regalia of the office and presented a scroll naming him Champion, penned by Mistress Heather Rose de Gordoun. Don Lupold then took his place in Their Majesties’ Court.

Her Majesty asked for the attendance of the retiring Queen’s Rapier Champion, Don Llewellyn Walsh. She said that he had served with distinction and would always be a champion. Then she took from him the regalia of the office and Don Llewellyn stepped down.

Queen Anna then asked that Don Lottieri Malocchio come forward, which he did to much applause. Her Majesty stated that she’d be honoured to have him as Her Champion because “OMG, what fun!” Don Malocchio was given the regalia of the Queen’s Rapier Champion and given a scroll commemorating this, made by Mistress Heather Rose de Gordoun.

The Ladies of the Rose were called forward. As is their tradition, they offered tokens to individuals who stood out to them. Duchess Etheldreda Ivelchyld offered her token to Lady Genevra d’Angouleme and Lady Pixie of Iron Bog. Countess Marguerite ingen Lachlainn gave her token to Don Melchior Kriebel. Duchess Avelina Keyes presented her token to Master Connor Levingstoune from Atlantia. And Duchess Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolain’s token went to Lord Xavier the Sinister.

Queen Anna asked for Don Thomas of Effingham, who carried the Cloak of Perseverance for the last year. She accepted it from him, then called for Don Mark le Gabler and presented the Cloak to him, asking him to bear for the next year.

Their Majesties then called for Lord Eldrich Gaiman. They spoke of his swift reactions on the fencing list and his depth of knowledge of his opponents, and had Their herald read a scroll naming him a member of the Order of the Golden Rapier and Granting him Arms. The scroll was made by Mistress Heather Rose de Gordoun.

King Brion and Queen Anna then asked that the children of the East attend them. As has been Their habit for this reign, they offered the children toys, but first required that they learn something of the Society. Master Donovan Shinnock was called forward to explain the art of defense and distribute the largess.

Next, those new to the Society were called before the thrones. Their Majesties offered tokens that the newcomers might remember their first days among us.

The event steward, Lady Aibhilin inghean ui Phaidin, was summoned and thanked, along with the Barony of Iron Bog, for the wonderful event they had put together for Their Majesties.

Friar Jacob the Wanderer was called forward and Their Majesties spoke of his storytelling skills and his “Children’s Bedtime Story Hour” at Pennsic. For his skill in the performing arts, Friar Jacob was made a Companion of the Order of the Troubadours and given a small cup by the Crown, the regalia of the Order.

Captain Berrick Grayveson was called next to attend the Crown. Their Majesties spoke of his time serving as a rapier marshal and twice as Rapier Champion of the Barony of Bhakail, and his teaching of silk banner making, and made Berrick a Companion of the Order of the Silver Wheel. A scroll commemorating this was penned by Mistress Heather Rose de Gordoun.

Lord Connor MacSeamus O’Neal was summoned before the thrones. Their Majesties spoke of his artistry, his metalwork, and his skill making guards for rapier blades, and felt that these talents should be rewarded. They named him a Companion of the Order of the Maunche. A scroll will be forthcoming.

Their Majesties summoned Lord Ian Douglas. They spoke of his many years as a rapier combatant and marshal and his participation in the cut-and-thrust community, and felt this deserved recognition. They named him a member of the Order of the Silver Rapier and presented him a scroll with illumination by Lady Triona MacCaskey, calligraphy by Master Jonathan Blaecstan, and words by Mistress Dorigen of the Grey Gate.

Next, the Crown called for Lord Morwil MacShane. They recalled his time as Ladies’ Rapier Champion for Bhakail, his service as a rapier marshal, and his place as a alternate on the Pennsic Champions team, and felt all these things deserving. They named Lord Morwill a member of the Order of the Silver Rapier and gifted him a scroll saying such, created by Mistress Heather Rose de Gordoun.

Finally, King Brion and Queen Anna summoned Their Order of Defense. Their Majesties found when that Order gathered, however, that it was incomplete. Queen Anna turned to Her Rapier Champion, Don Lottieri Malocchio and though her herald delivered to him a Writ, to be answered at a later date, that he might respond to Their Majesties’ Summons whether he would take his place as a member of that Order. The words were written by Lady Liadan inghean Chineada.

Their Majesties then thanked all involved with putting on the event, and all attending the event and, there being no further business, processed from the hall.

These are the events of the day as I recall them. My thanks to all the retainers, guards, heralds, Champions, event staff, and attendees who made the day as joyful as it was.

Pray know I remain,
For Crown and College,

Master Rowen Cloteworthy


Filed under: Court

Extremely rare British coin found in boy’s toy box

History Blog - Tue, 2016-10-25 22:53

A gold coin in a toy box that figured in the pirate games of two generations of young boys turns out to be one of the rarest British coins, a bona fide treasure. The owner, who chooses to remain anonymous because he basically hit the lottery, was given the coin by his grandfather.

“My Grandad had travelled all over the world during his working life and had collected many coins from the various countries he had been”, said the stunned and delighted vendor. “He gave me bags of coins to play with (I was into pirate treasure) throughout my early years… As time passed these coins went back into bags and boxes and were forgotten about until I rediscovered them after my Grandad passed away. I looked back through the coins — remembering the stories I made up about them when I was small — and then gave them to my own son to play with and put into his own treasure box. My little boy has been playing with this coin as I did all those years ago.”

Before letting his son go fully to town on the coins, he brought them to Essex auction house Boningtons to see if any of them were worth something. Coin expert Gregory Tong recognized it as one of Britain’s rarest coins: a 1703 Queen Anne ‘Vigo’ five-guinea gold coin, made from gold taken from Spanish treasure galleons at the Battle of Vigo Bay in October 1702.

It was the early days of the War of Spanish Succession, when the last decrepit, inbred Hapsburg king of Spain died putting the Bourbon Philip V, son of Louis XIV of France, on the throne and threatening the Balance of Power in Europe. The allied fleets of Britain and the Dutch Republic had attempted to capture the port of Cádiz at the end of August 1702, hoping to gain a base in the Mediterranean for their ships and to cripple Spain’s access to the wealth of its New World colonies. The attempt was a disastrous failure. Craft and ships were lost in the landing, troops pillaged port towns and never even got to Cádiz itself. As September came and no progress was made, bad weather became an issue. On September 30th, the Allied fleet left with its proverbial tail between its legs.

The Cádiz debacle did have one useful consequence for the Allies: the Spanish silver fleet which usually landed at Cádiz was forced to dock at Vigo Bay in Galicia. Lacking the complex customs and trade infrastructure required to process the tons of silver and gold, the Spanish treasure ships and the French fleet protecting were locked into the bay for a month. The English command got wind of this as its ships were heading back to England, and figured they might at least make lemonade out of the Cádiz lemons by attacking the treasure ships.

On October 22nd, the Anglo-Dutch fleet entered Vigo Bay. The next day, they engaged the Spanish and French fleet. It was a total rout. Every single Spanish and French ship was either captured or burned. More than 2,000 men died on the Spanish-French side. Only 200 were lost on the Allied side. While most of the silver had already been unloaded from the treasure ships, the Allies did manage to score thousands of pounds of silver and a much smaller amount of gold.

Really it wasn’t that much of a monetary gain, but the outcome of Vigo Bay did persuade Portuguese King Peter II to join the Grand Alliance, and it gave the British some PR relief after the Cádiz disaster. To fluff up the minor victory and obscure the major loss, silver and gold booty from the Spanish fleet was delivered to the Master of the Mint, a certain Sir Isaac Newton, to use in the production of commemorative coins, portable propaganda to convince people that the war was going well. He received 4,504 lb 2 oz of silver and just 7 lb 8 oz of gold, for a combined estimated value of a rather measly £14,000. (Philip V of Spain made something like seven million pesos from the Vigo Bay caper because he was able to confiscate all the silver the ships were carrying meant for English and Dutch merchants, so money-wise, this victory was decidedly on the Pyrrhic side.)

The gold was used to make half-guinea, guinea and five-guinea coins. They bore the dignified profile of Queen Anne on the obverse with the word VIGO stamped under her shoulder to publicize the source of the gold. On the reverse was the pre-union coat of arms. Only 20 of the five-guinea pieces are believed to have been struck. The Vigo coins were meant to be circulated — the silver was made into crown, half-crown, shilling and six-penny pieces — but the gold five guinea coins were so expensive that only the very wealthiest people could afford them, and they weren’t likely to spend them like cash.

Of the 20 struck, only 15 of them are known, all of them in private collections. They very seldom come up for auction. Only six of them have gone on the market in the last 50 years. The estimated value of the toy box coin is £200,000-250,000 ($243,620-$304,525), but it could easily sell for more given its rarity. The last Vigo coin to sell at auction went for just under £296,160 ($360,200) and that was in 2012.

When the owner discovered that the coin he’d played pirate treasure with was an actual treasure, he closed himself in the car and exulted so vigorously that the auction house staff could see the car bouncing as it was parked. He even came back the next day to be sure he wasn’t getting punked.

The coin goes on the auction block at Boningtons’ Epping saleroom on Wednesday November 16th.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Sheep & Wool Festival Through the Eyes of A First Timer

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-10-25 14:51

By Lady Pertolongan Kucingyn.

Welcome to the Festival! All photos by Pertolongan Kucingyn.

I am new to the fiber arts, having just learned how to knit recently.  My teacher, Mistress Irene von Schmetterling, had the wonderful idea of going to this amazing event, the New York Sheep and Wool Family Festival, on the weekend of October 15, in Rhinebeck, NY.  I had no idea what to expect but was game for a weekend away from our home, the Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands.

We arrived a half an hour early for the festival, yet there were already at least a hundred people waiting to get in.  Many sported their recent creations and were quick to ogle each other’s work.  The atmosphere was open, friendly, and very welcoming.  

After walking through the first building of vendors I knew this was no ordinary event.  My biggest first impression was of the breadth of color on display!  There was wool in every form, and the dyed fiber contained every imaginable color you could wish for.  One of the vendors specialized in using all-natural dyes and labeled her fiber with the plant used to dye it.  The fiber came in every texture from the rougher wool to the silkiest Cria wool that was impossible not to pet.

Needle felted Triceratops.

There was every tool imaginable for working wool.  If you went there with nothing you could be fully kitted out to work raw wool into a fine garment… if you were wealthy enough to buy everything!  The tools ranged from functional and sturdy to exquisitely beautiful.  There were drop spindles I would have been delighted to use as a decoration in my house for the beautiful designs inlayed in the tops.  Spinning wheels galore were available in every shape and size.  Beautifully wrought looms from portable designs to big floor looms were available.  Perhaps the most clever thing on sale was the 3D-printed Turkish-style drop spindle with a lifetime guarantee.  If a part ever breaks, all you need to do is send the broken piece in and the company sends you a replacement!

 For those people interested in where the wool comes from you could spend time in the animal barns.  Throughout the day, there were demonstrations on shearing and educational talks about the different types of animals and their husbandry.  There were many breeds of sheep on display showing all the different colors and coats to choose from.  The llamas looked on placidly as you stopped to admire them. (My favorite was a white llama with the brown spots all over.)  There were alpaca and goats on display, too.  Some of the goats were quite interested in the people and things around them.  A vendor had to rescue her camp chair from the questing teeth of one goat!  The angora rabbits on display hardly looked real with their long, flowing locks.  I know some of the rabbits were available for purchase and I had to restrain myself from being tempted by a new cuddly companion.

There was no fear of going hungry at this event – it was loaded with food vendors!  There were stands of typical fair food: fried dough, French fries, burgers, and kettle corn.  But there were also vendors that sold lamb dishes.  We stopped at a food truck selling Moroccan lamb stew with a spiced chickpea side dish.  The lamb in the stew was cooked to perfection and delightfully spiced. 

There was a building devoted to food and wine.  Many small New York wineries from all over the state were there offering tastings of their wines.  You could buy frozen lamb cuts that were sent home in an insulated bag.  Specialty cheese vendors were very busy and had long lines of people waiting to get a taste.  You could get homemade pickles and specialty chocolates.  A maple sugar vendor was even selling maple sugar cotton candy.  I bought a peck of my favorite type of apple from the one fresh fruit vendor there. 

There were plenty of finished items for sale too.  I came home with a beautiful alpaca sweater and a wool jacket.  There were socks, hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves to purchase too.  The needle-felted crafts ranged from adorable to incredible.  One booth had the entire cast of characters from the Hobbit including a four-foot-long needle-felted Smaug that must have taken months to create.  My favorite needle-felted item was a picture of a cheetah face.  It was so incredibly detailed that I thought it was a painting until I was up close!  I can’t believe that could be done in needle felting!  We found some lovely soaps and lotions containing lanolin that will be much appreciated in the winter months to come. 

On Sunday, there was a “Fleece to Shawl” contest of several teams of three spinners and one weaver.  There was a team of East Kingdom gentles (in garb) feverishly working away on a beautiful blue and white piece.  The contest required competing teams make a shawl step by step: starting with washed fleece, through hand carding, to spinning, to weaving, and finally to finishing ends.  We stopped to cheer them on.  I keep checking the website for the results of the competition but it hasn’t been posted yet.

Overall, I was delightfully surprised at all there was to do and see at the festival.  We were there all day on Saturday and for a couple of hours on Sunday, and yet we still didn’t see and do everything there was to do.  Anyone who is involved in the fiber arts should definitely try to attend this event.  You won’t be sorry you went!

(Editor’s Note: The Festival’s Facebook page can be found under “New York State Sheep and Wool Festival.”)


Categories: SCA news sites

In Memorium: Mistress Elsa de Lyon

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-10-25 14:44

Mistress Elsa de Lyon passed from this world on October 20, 2016, leaving behind two sons and their families, her mother and the remainder of her family – both chosen and blood relatives – and many, many friends.

Elsa began her journey in the SCA in 1991, in the Shire of Montevale. Her wish to spread her creative talents and help others made her a community leader in her Shire as a Minister of Arts and Science from 2001 to 2004, with a small break from officer work for a few years to again step up and become Seneschal for the Shire of Montevale for five years (2009-2014). Recently, she had become A&S Minister again, because she wanted to continue to serve her local group, and enjoyed this role.

Although she would also serve as a head cook at a few events in the western portion of the Southern Region over the years, many remember her best as a scribe in the East Kingdom College of Scribes. While she physically could not travel the Kingdom, her work would travel to the far corners of the Kingdom and across Kingdom borders to inspire others over these many years.

Elsa was a regular teacher at Pennsic, whether taking groups out for a weed walk, teaching basic calligraphy courses at the Aethelmearc Scribal Track and also helping with setup and breakdown at scribal gatherings at Pennsic. At home, she was a gentle lady, always willing to help others develop their artistic skills in informal one-on-one lessons, at demos, and in occasional local A&S workshops. Her skill was noticed by the Society Chronicler in A.S. 36 and she was nominated for a William Blackfox award for her work on the December 2001 cover of the Montevale Knightly Knews.

Iris by Mistress Elsa

After being recognized with an Award of Arms, a Maunche, the Queen’s Honor of Distinction (Jana IV), and the Order of the Silver Crescent, Elsa was issued a Writ of Summons by Their Graces Brennan and Caoilfhionn in May of 2014, commanding her to appear in court at Southern Region War Camp to consider her elevation to the Order of the Laurel. On June 28, AS 49 (2014), Elsa was released as an apprentice by Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte, and her elevation was witnessed by all present including her household Clan Black Dragons, her son Ryan, and scribes from the Mac Whyte House.. Speakers for her elevation included Master Denys the Decadent of Aethelmearc, Sir Wulfbrand, Duchess Roxane, Mistress Farasha, and Elsa’s first Laurel, Mistress Brighid the Limner, whom had previously retired from the SCA and returned for this special occasion.

In recent years, Elsa made a point of traveling to Pennsic each year to see friends from afar, and could always be found working on something creative that would cause joy to both herself and others.

Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte shares the following memories of her student and friend:

“I had met Elsa at one of the first Known World Scribal Gatherings at Pennsic (about 16 years ago), held in Midrealm Royal camp at the time. I was in my first year as a scribe in service to the East Kingdom College of Scribes, maybe in my 3rd year in the SCA as a whole, and I recall being overjoyed to bump into someone from “back home”, despite the physical distance between us. We remained in touch through the castle.org mailing list for scribes and via email for many years after, and into the years when social media became available. In 2012 while I served as Tyger Clerk of the Signet, I was able to see her work a bit more often, and marveled again at her talent. Although she had the strong support of her local community, and although I viewed her as more of an equal if not my better in many ways, we spoke privately and we had agreed that an advocate for her behind the scenes was needed, and entered into a student-peer relationship, which became an apprenticeship at Pennsic the following year. We would continue to stay in touch, becoming closer within the last five years, albeit perhaps not as close as her SCA household and mundane family.

Detail from a Queen’s Cypher scroll

Our last meeting was at Pennsic 45, at which Elsa and I would meet every day, making the most of the time we had together since we rarely had opportunity during the rest of the year to travel to see each other; her schedule was just as busy as mine, but I would always hear of the success of her prize-winning daffodil bulbs (goodness, she could tell you a million different things about daffodils and other members of the Amaryllidaceae family) as a master gardener and competitor in local gardening shows, or occasions where she had time to teach others at demos or events. We also shared our concerns over the welfare of and recognition of gentles in the southwestern borders of the East Kingdom, and she took to heart her duties as a new peer in looking after others in her community, encouraging them to grow further in the SCA. When we parted ways at the close of this past Pennsic, we probably took several attempts at saying goodbye, knowing it would be a while before we would see each other again.

We made the most of the time we had, and the East was blessed to have this gentle woman among us, with a smile, laughter and gentle demeanor that influenced others across Kingdom borders. She was the kind of person I wanted to be when I grew up, long before I was a peer, and I and others have been honored to have known her simply as a friend, grateful for having her in our lives, and her example to live by.”

A memorial service for friends will be held at Gensel Funeral Home at 333 Falling Spring Road, Chambersburg, PA 17201 on Saturday, October 29 2016. Please note that her family has requested that friends of Elsa wishing to attend please arrive at 1:00pm, one hour prior to the family service at 2pm.

A GoFundMe page (originally set up for her medical expenses for recovery) has since been left up online to cover funeral costs as well.  A memorial page has been set up by her family.


Filed under: Tidings Tagged: in memoriam

40+ ancient shipwrecks found in Black Sea

History Blog - Mon, 2016-10-24 20:23

The Black Sea Maritime Archeology Project wasn’t looking for shipwrecks. Its brief is to survey the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea for data about the rise water levels after the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago. To accomplish this aim, marine archaeologists have been scanning the seabed using cutting edge Remotely Operated Vehicles that can detect land surfaces underneath what is now the Black Sea but in prehistory were on dry land. They’ve also taken core samples, laser scanned and filmed the sea bed both in video and with high resolution 3D photogrammetry. One of the two Black Sea MAP ROVs has broken records for depth (1,800 meters or 5,905 feet) and speed (over six knots) and was able to survey 1,250 km (777 miles), recording everything with its path using a full panoply of geophysical instrumentation, high definition cameras and a laser scanner.

A felicitous but entirely unplanned side-effect of this exceptionally thorough geophysical survey is the discovery of more than 40 historic shipwrecks, including ancient Byzantine, medieval and Ottoman ships. Some of them may even be the first of their kind ever found, previously known only from documentary sources. Such a large, varied group of shipwrecks from different periods will give archaeologists a whole new understanding of trade and maritime links between towns on the coast of the Black Sea.

[University of Southampton professor and Principle Investigator on the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project Jon] Adams comments: “The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys. They are astonishingly preserved due to the anoxic conditions (absence of oxygen) of the Black Sea below 150 metres.

“Using the latest 3D recording technique for underwater structures, we’ve been able to capture some astonishing images without disturbing the sea bed. We are now among the very best exponents of this practice methodology and certainly no-one has achieved models of this completeness on shipwrecks at these depths.”

With the data from the ROVs, researchers have created 3D digital models using the photogrammetry process. Software calculates the position of millions of points captured in thousands of photographs and builds a model which is then overlaid with the visual elements from the pictures to make it look real. The resulting 3D models of the shipwrecks are, to put it mildly, spectacular. Minute details are clearly visible. There is no pixelation and the kind of visibility difficulties that might impede clear video are no match for 3D photogrammetry. The results speak for themselves:






Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Make Your Own Period Drawing Charcoal!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-10-24 20:12

Make your own period art supply!
By Elska á Fjárfella (Susan Verberg)
Dominion of Myrkfaelinn in Aethelmearc – Ithaca, NY

Affordable, but oh-so-easy to make yourself, charcoal drawing sticks might very well have been one of the first art supplies available to man. As all that is needed to make some is a low oxygen burn, and as we have seen time and again with our son, it only takes a kid playing near a cooking fire and another graffiti artist is born!

The science behind making charcoal, or charring, is interesting yet surprisingly simple,  and revolves around oxygen. Charcoal is formed by the incomplete burn, or combustion, of wood. Composed of mostly cellulose (CH2O), wood does not burn immediately; first it releases steam (H2O) and turns from white to black. It chars, thus becoming charcoal (C, or the element carbon, with trace minerals). When charcoal burns in contact with air, carbon combines with oxygen to form the gas carbon dioxide (C + O2 => CO2) and lots of heat. The white ash leftover from burning charcoal is what remains of the small amount of non-flammable minerals which were present in the wood from the start (and can be used to make lye).

When wood is burned without oxygen (this is called anaerobic), it turns black as the water is evaporated out and charcoal is left behind. If access to air is limited and heat is removed, the charcoal will become stable and available for future use. Charcoal takes up less space and is able reach a higher temperatures with the addition of extra air (bellows) than a pile of wood, which makes it ideal for use in a smithy’s furnace. To make proper charcoal an anaerobic burn is necessary, and in history people have found different ways of doing so, mostly by either digging in wood in hill sides or covering wood with a burn resistant material (like a metal kettle) while building a large fire right over it.

Previously used and new paint cans ready for heating.

All kinds of woody twigs can be made into charcoal and by varying the types of trees the twigs come from you can make sticks of varying densities and hardness. To make the type of charcoal sold in art stores, traditionally grape vine or willow twigs are used. Add a small charcoal kiln, and a nice big bonfire, and voila! charcoal sticks!

Any kind of metal can with a tight fitting lid can be used as a charcoal kiln. I prefer to use a new paint can from a home improvement store as it has lots of room, a handle, and minimal chemical residue. It does have a liner and same as with yard sale tins it is a good idea to dry burn it first, not only to remove any leftover residue but also to see if the tin is strong enough to survive the temperatures of a good fire without melting or warping! Lastly, your kiln needs an air hole – a vent – in the lid; a finishing nail hammered through the center works perfectly.

Bonfire ready to go, kiln steadily venting steam.

Next up is the hunt for some good sticks and twigs. Keep in mind that charcoal shrinks significantly so don’t get real skinny ones. Wild grapes are easily found along roadsides and forest edges; willow likes to grow in ditches and near water. The bark can be removed beforehand, or left on to be removed later as needed. Fill the kiln as full as you can, making them as long as you can while still being able to close the lid. Hammer the lid on well, its purpose is to keep oxygen from entering the kiln chamber. It’s fine to mix types of wood and various diameters, and that way you’ll get a nice mix of drawing sticks to play with too!

Combustible gasses are being burnt off.

And now it’s time to play with fire. Make a good wood fire with lots of coal and with a long stick place your cans in or near the fire. Depending on the amount of water in the wood. after a bit steam will come out of the vent enthusiastically. If the steam comes out forcefully, looking like a pillar, pressure is building up inside which can blow off the lid. Either scoot the can over away from the heat a little, or wire the lid down, and try again. If you feel like it should be steaming but suddenly is not, the hole might be plugged with liquid tree sugars – fish the kiln out of the fire, use the nail to poke open (and slightly enlarge) the hole, and try again.

Closing off the air hole during cool down.

Heat the kiln well for at least an hour if it is directly in the fire, or a couple of hours if at the sideline. As long as steam is coming out no air can come in, and the charcoal is doing fine. If the lid blows off, replace is as soon as you can, and take another drink… At the end of the burn, when all water is evaporated, the combustible gasses are ready to go. The steam will dwindle away and suddenly a candle flame will spout out of the lid hole! When the flame also dwindles away, carefully take the kiln out of the fire, immediately plug the air hole and let it cool down completely.


Admiring the charcoal – it’s like a magic trick!

When the kiln has cooled down, pry open the lid and behold – your own freshly made drawing sticks! The neat thing of charcoal sticks as an art medium is that it smudges easily, which can be used to create impressive shadows and highlights – but can also easily muck up your drawing. It is a good idea to use a fixative (like hairspray or an art fixative) to protect your finished drawing, and to store your fragile drawing sticks in a sturdy container like a mason jar so they don’t get crushed or bent. And, last but not least: go forth & create!

It works!

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Dunn, Kevin M. Caveman Chemistry, 2003. ISBN 1-58112-566-6
Neddo, Nick. The Organic Artist, 2015. ISBN 978-1-59253-926-0
Verberg, Susan. Of Charcoal and Ashes, 2015. Class Handout by Elska á Fjárfella.
https://www.academia.edu/27757474/Of_Charcoal_and_Ashes

People in photographs:
Bedwyr Danwyn (Theodore R. Lazcano)
Sîmon á Fjárfelli (Simon Verberg, my son)
Photography by me, Susan Verberg

Bedwyr did this demo at my birthday party in 2015 and taught me the process of making charcoal in a paint can as part of my interest in making quality ashes for soap making.


Categories: SCA news sites

King’s and Queen’s Rapier Champions 2016

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-10-24 19:27
On Saturday October 22nd, in the Barony of Iron Bog, more than 90 rapier fighters contended for the positions of King’s and Queen’s Rapier Champion.  The tournament, run by Master Donovan Shinnock, the outgoing King’s Rapier Champion, followed the traditional two-round format, with the first round being multiple round-robin pools and the second round being a 16-person double elimination.   At the end of many friendly but hard-fought combats, the final four contenders were Master Caine Ramsey, Don Lupold Haas, Don Lottieri Malocchio and Don Remy Delemontagne de Gascogne.  Lupold defeated Remy to advance to the finals.  Malocchio defeated Caine to advance to the finals.  

Don Malocchio and Don Remy

 

 Lupold and Malocchio then fought a best three out of five finals.  The fights were intense, passionate and joyful to behold.  At the end, Lupold emerged as the victor and the new King’s Rapier Champion.   In court later that evening, Queen Anna selected Malocchio as her new Queen’s Rapier Champion.   Also in court, their Majesties issued a Writ commanding Malocchio to appear at a date and time to be determined to answer whether he would accept the accolade of the Order of Defense.   The fencers of the East gratefully thank the people of Iron Bog, the marshals and the list officials who made this wonderful day such a success. 
Filed under: Rapier Tagged: King and Queen's Champions