Archive for February, 2017

Book Heist in London!

So many elements of a great crime novel here!


  • A criminal mastermind known as “The Astronomer
  • Scotland Yard
  • Drilling holes in a skylight and then rappelling down to avoid motion detectors


From The Smithsonian,


Thieves Rappelled Into a London Warehouse in Rare Book Heist

The burglars made out with more than 160 books worth an estimated $2.5 million



“Do you remember that scene in the original Mission: Impossible when Tom Cruise hangs suspended above a computer? Well, it appears that criminals recently seem to have taken a page from Ethan Hunt’s spy book. Three thieves robbed a west London warehouse in late January by drilling holes in the building’s skylight, and then using rope to descend vertically into the space to avoid motion-detection alarms, George Sandeman at The Guardian reports. In total, the robbers made out with more than 160 books worth an estimated $2.5 million.



The theft was a precision hit; the burglars came well-equipped and appeared to know exactly what they wanted. They specifically targeted the boxes containing valuable rare books, with one source saying they compared the titles in the containers to a list, reports James Cook at Business Insider. The books were being temporarily stored in the warehouse on their way to the California Book Fair.



The rarity of the books would make them incredibly hard to unload on the open market, Cook notes, and investigators theorize that a wealthy collector known as “The Astronomer” may have hired the thieves to steal the books for him…”



Read the rest here.


Behold: A richly furnished Celtic burial chamber

They had me at “shoe ornaments” —



From The Vintage News,


The Hochdorf Chieftain’s Grave – intact and richly furnished grave of an Early Celtic chieftain


“Discovered in 1968 by an amateur archaeologist near Hochdorf an der Enz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and excavated in 1978/79, the Hochdorf Chieftain’s Grave is a richly furnished Celtic burial chamber dating from 530 BC.


It is one of about 100 such graves dating from the second half of the sixth century BC found in France, Switzerland, and Germany.


The man in the grave,who was laid out on a lavishly decorated 9 ft (275 cm) bronze couch on wheels, was about 40 years old and unusually tall for the Iron Ages, being just over 6ft tall. Judging by other objects found there, this man had probably been a Celtic chieftain.


He had been buried with a gold-plated torc on his neck, amber jewelry, a gold-plated dagger made of bronze and iron, a bracelet on his right arm, a nail clipper, a comb, fishing hooks, a flat cone-shaped hat made of birch bark adorned with circle patterns and punched decorations, arrows, a razor knife, and most notably, thin embossed gold plaques were on his now-disintegrated shoes….”


For the rest (many lovely photos), click here.



“Too big a sport. Talks too much.” Chap Records – The Dating App of 1908.

Happy Valentines, lovers!



From Atlas Obscura,


Chap Records Were Basically Yelp for 1900s Eligible Bachelorettes
The books helped women keep track of—and review—their suitors.
by Rick Paulas


“After a second date in 1908 with a suitor named Ray Smith, Carol Pardee, the privileged granddaughter of Oakland mayor Enoch Pardee, took out her notebook and, with careless spelling, wrote her opinion about the boy: “To big a sport. Talks to much.”


Later in the year, she met Frank Haudel. Verdict: “[t]oo dirty. Teeth are green.” On January 16th, 1911, after a date with Wyman Smith from Sacramento, she wrote a one-word summary of the courter: “FOOL.”


These pithy reviews—others range from “dandy” to “tiresome” to the frequently used single-word dismissal of “mutt”—are still on display at The Pardee House museum in Oakland in Carol Pardee’s Chap Record, a small volume bound in green and gold with a dapper gentlemen doffing a hat on the cover.


The Chap Record was a mostly blank book with sections to be filled out by the “girl of the period”—things like Name, Date, Place, and Opinion. In the front was a section for the Twelve Most Notable Chaps. Published by the Frederick A. Stokes Company in 1898, it sold for a dollar…”


For the rest, click here.


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