“The Horrible Trimmings” — The hoard of Edward Gorey

A one-of-a-kind artist who hoarded many one-of-a-kind things.

 

The menacing tassels.

 

by Cara Giaimo for Atlas Obscura,

 

Edward Gorey, Pack Rat

The famous illustrator was a devoted collector of… well, almost everything.

 

“In 1976, Edward Gorey put out one of his trademark works of everyday dread. Called Les Passementeries Horribles, or “The Horrible Trimmings,” the book consists solely of illustrations of enormous, menacing tassels of all shapes. A velvety, tentacled clump looms over a child with a pail. A beaded braid chases a man in a wheelchair.

 

Twenty-four years later—just after the artist’s death—Rick Jones, the director of the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, was poking around in the building’s garage when he found a small shoebox. He opened it up. “Bingo, it was a shoebox full of tassels,” says Gregory Hischak, the house’s curator. Now dusty and crumbling, each one corresponded with a page in the book. Gorey had held onto his inspiration, years and years after he used it.

 

This wasn’t unusual. When he wasn’t writing, drawing, illustrating, and designing—and even when he was—Edward Gorey was collecting. Over the course of his life, the artist gathered, and kept, everything from tarot cards to trilobites to particularly interesting cheese graters. “We ask the docents not to use the word ‘hoarder,’” says Hischak, grinning as he surveys the House’s newest exhibit, which focuses on Gorey’s pack rat tendencies. “But he really did hoard interesting things.”…

 

For the rest (and more pictures), click here.

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How the British Museum became a cat haven

A lovely little story about some cats and their museum…

 

 

by Nick Harris for the British Museum Blog,

 

The purrrplexing story of the British Museum cats

 

 

This is the story of how the British Museum became a cat haven, and how they eventually came to be on the Museum payroll, thanks in large part to a British Museum cleaner affectionately referred to as the ‘Cat Man’.

 

The British Museum has been open to the public since 1759 – that’s 258 years! That makes it older than Napoleon (we have one of his death masks, which you should definitely check out), older than the steam locomotive, it even predates the entire industrial revolution. But my favourite thing that the Museum is older than? Sandwiches. Definitely sandwiches.

 

Why am I talking about the origin date of sandwiches in a blog about cats? Well they’re related, if not immediately obviously. When you’re a Museum employee, you get access to many of the areas the public aren’t allowed to go into, and this is one of my favourite things about working here. Because those areas are littered with outdated signs and staff notices from the Museum’s history. They frequently make little to no sense at first glance, because what they relate to has long since passed, but if you dig a little deeper, they tend to have fantastic stories attached to them. And there’s one in particular that had me so purrrplexed (sorry), that I had to find out more about it. It reads:

 

 

In my three years of working at the Museum I’ve never even seen a tin of cat food, let alone an actual cat that could be fed in an official or unofficial cat feeding area. In order to sate my cat-like curiosity I started asking some of the longer serving members of staff if they knew anything about the Museum cats.

 

They did. It turns out that between the 1970s and 1990s the Museum had between 4 and 7 cats – depending on what year we’re talking about – kept to deter mice and rats…”

 

For the rest, plus a podcast on this and more photos, click here.

 

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Medical Archeology! — a resurrected ancient brew kills MRSA

As we have always known, an ancient brew is a powerful thing…

 

 

From Smithsonian.com,
This Nasty Medieval Remedy Kills MRSA
An ancient brew could lead to modern-day drugs to fight the superbug

By Erin Blakemore

 

“Why would scientists revive a thousand-year-old medical recipe for a foul-smelling concoction? They suspected it could have a very real benefit, and it turns out they were right. An Anglo-Saxon brew kills methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, scientists from the U.K. have announced.

 

When microbiologist Freya Harrison chatted with Christina Lee, an Anglo-Saxon scholar, she was intrigued by a nasty-sounding recipe in Bald’s Leechbook, a thousand-year-old compendium of medical advice and potions. Here’s the recipe, which was recommended to fight infected eyelash follicles (styes):

 

Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…

 

Intrigued by the possibility that the recipe had anti-bacterial properties, Harrison set forth on a quest to recreate it as accurately as possible. She looked for heritage vegetable varieties, used historic wine and immersed brass into the mixture so she could use sterile glass bottles. And she sourced “bullocks gall,” or cow bile, using salts that are usually prescribed for people who have had gall bladder removal surgery…”

 

Read more.

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