In the 18th and 19th centuries, mudlarks were people who sifted through the mud on the banks of the River Thames to find things of value. Ted Sandling keeps the dream alive. He compiled his curious collection in a book, London in Fragments: A Mudlark's Treasures, and you can also follow his finds on Instagram. If you're inspired to dig yourself, new laws require mudlarkers (and metal detector users) to apply for a permit first and then report any treasures you uncover to the authorities.
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A couple of days ago I found this spoon, standing straight up in the gravel like a very small and shapely monolith. There was a symbolic significance to its position, as if it had been placed with deliberate purpose, probably to do with britishness, and tea. I picked it up (how could one not?) and brought it home for someone who is six and a half years old and likes spoons. The reverse tells all manner of stories to those who can decode the hallmarks (I can’t, but I know a google who can). It’s silver plate, made by James Deakin & Sons in the late nineteenth century and has what sophisticates know as ‘rather a lot of dings’ in the bowl. Also, for some ceremonial reason, most of the silver has come unplated. It’s their Sidney Silver brand, so called because it was made at the Sidney Works on Sidney Street, quite possibly by a man named Sidney.
Author Haruki Murakami is donating a large collection of his personal materials -- original manuscripts, letters, foreign language editions of his books, and 10,000 vinyl records -- to his alma mater Waseda University. From the Japan Times:
The donation “is a very important thing for me, so I thought I should explain clearly” by holding a news conference, said Murakami, 69. “I don’t have any children, and it would cause trouble for me if those materials became scattered or lost..."
Using the donated materials, the university in Tokyo is considering setting up an international study center featuring the author’s works. It also plans to create a space that will resemble a study room with bookshelves and music records...
In the envisioned facility to house his documents, Murakami said if possible he wants to organize a concert using his collection of vinyl records, which total more than 10,000 copies.
Murakami, who opened a cafe for jazz enthusiasts in Tokyo while still a student at Waseda University, has said music is an essential component of his career in literature.
Previously: "A Murakami playlist"
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From Gareth Smit's article in The New Yorker:
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The Berg Collection’s roughly two thousand linear feet of manuscripts and archival materials were donated to the library, in 1940, by two brothers, Henry W. and Albert A. Berg. The brothers, both doctors who lived on the Upper East Side, were avid collectors of English and American literature—and of literary paraphernalia.
The library categorizes these items as “Realia”—objects from everyday life. The Berg Collection includes Charlotte Brontë’s writing desk, with a lock of her hair inside; trinkets belonging to Jack Kerouac, including his harmonicas, and a card upon which he wrote “blood” in his own blood; typewriters belonging to S. J. Perelman and Paul Metcalf; Mark Twain’s pen and wire-rimmed glasses; Vladimir Nabokov’s butterfly drawings; and the death masks of the poets James Merrill and E. E. Cummings.
Although the Berg Collection is intended to cater to researchers, curators are always keeping an eye out for items that complement the existing archive. Virginia Woolf’s cane may be of little interest to scholars, but it’s an important artifact that was likely the last thing she used before her death.
The Treasures in the Trash Museum in East Harlem is at turns delightful and sad. Curator Nelson Molina is a city sanitation worker with a nice eye and ear for hidden garbage gems. The whole museum demonstrates how utterly wasteful humans are. Read the rest
Boing Boing pal Adam Savage (MythBusters, Tested) tours the incredible prop collection of Peter Jackson, producer of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9, and the forthcoming The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun. One of his favorite pieces? An original Hal 9000 faceplate! That is quite the wunderkammer, Mr. Jackson! (Tested)
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There is literally nothing in the world that isn't made cooler by being displayed in a bell-jar, and the addition of a diffused white LED base to the traditional jar in the Suck UK jar is a genius move that is obvious in retrospect. Read the rest
Collectors Weekly has a great gallery and profile of uranium-infused glassware from the early 20th century. They ask experts: is it safe, and why does it glow under UV light? Read the rest
What construction crews could learn from your high school science class, and more great earth science videos.
Ossian Brown was a member of the dark, magickal electronic music group Coil and is currently in Cyclobe, a duo with his partner Stephen Thrower. Ossian is a strange attractor. Weird things find him. Like his exquisite collection of antique vernacular photographs of Halloweens past. Brown compiled his favorites of the freaky found photos, all dating between 1875 and 1955, into a gorgeous book titled Haunted Air.
After viewing the photos, filmmaker David Lynch said, "I was somewhere else. I thought I was someplace but now I didn't know what place. I seemed to be inside foreign worlds where there was some kind of troubling camaraderie -- as if a haunting joke was known to everyone but me and yet faintly I knew it too."
Last year, we featured selections from Haunted Air. Now is a lovely time to take another peek.
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This playlist from YouTube user hideyasann features more than 100 short clips of trains and train restrooms in Japan. Most of the train videos are of trains pulling into a station, or changing tracks. Most of the toilet videos emphasize the flushing mechanisms—of which there are a surprising variety.
As a rail fan, it's interesting to see what so many different Japanese stations and trains look like. And there's no narration, so it's also interesting to watch these very matter-of-fact clips and think about the visual context they trigger in your head. Men in suits waiting on a platform for a train to change tracks—that's a scene from a serious drama about the inner psychology of a businessman. A shakey clip where the videographer walks towards an arriving train, and a station agent, while breathing heavily—that's totally a scene from a horror movie. I'm honestly not sure what to make of all the toilets.
It's also kind of awesome to just think about the level of obsession that went into this playlist. I'm not really sure what hideyasann is trying to document—Train variety? Train cleanliness? Is he or she just collecting the same footage from as many trains as possible? Whatever the goal, you can clearly see the love and fascination here. There's totally a Happy Mutant at work.
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