Saturday, March 8, 2014 0 comments

The age of the airship was short lived.

It lasted scarcely more than a a quarter of a century and during that time very few of these elegant and enormous machines survived very long. There are only a handful that survived the rigors of  flight to be broken up. Most were destroyed by fire, accident, storm or carelessness and yet as the author of this marvelous book, Len Deighton, says:

 For me the airship has a magic that the aeroplane cannot replace. The size is awesome, the shape Gothic; a pointed arch twirled into a tracery of Aluminum... the airship remains one of the greatest triumphs of structural engineering the world has ever seen.
This slim volume, written and compiled by Len Deighton and Arnold Schwartzman, is a chronicle of every airship disaster, accident, crash, and explosion. Although a chronicle of dismay it is in a sense also the chronicle of an experiment in engineering magnificence. Even in the grainy black and white images of the twisted and broken girders, torn envelopes, and flaming wreckage there is elegance. The immense labour of the design, the intricacy of the parts, and the bravery of those who would dare to take such vehicles into the skies, are apparent.
In this book, with the help of experts, I have told the story of the airship's failure. It shows the daunting task that the airship designer faced. Perhaps all simple acts of faith bear an imprint of absurdity, and you will find it here. But the book is intended as a tribute to the master builders and their aluminum marvels. This generation of engineers dared to build their cathedrals in the sky; no wonder then that so few of them stayed there.
--Len Deighton
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.


Len Deighton
Arnold Schwartzman

Jonathan Cape Ltd



Evidence of Parasol Duelling in Historical Artworks

Saturday, March 1, 2014 0 comments

Parasol Duelling in art!

Originally posted in Madame Saffron Hemlock's Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

Some strong evidence for Parasol Duelling can be found in these paintings by John Fredric Lloyd Strevens (1902-1990). While these pictures were painted in the first half of the Twentieth Century however they incorporate very interesting details when looked at from a Parasol Duelist's perspective. 

Key points to notice with reference to the Rules for Parsol Duelling I posted previously here:

1) No "hooks" on the handle to prevent catching during the "twirl"
2) There is no catch to keep the parasol closed so it is tied with the same ribbon used to mark the complete rotation during a twirl
3) When closed the parasol is hung from the arm by a loop, thus keeping it handy even when both hands were needed.
4) The cuffs are not plain, but where lots of lace is present they are mid forearm length thus preventing any interference with the parasol.

Key elements here are the lack of hook on the handle and the ribbons keeping the duelling parasol closed. Note how this duelist keeps her parasol handy in case of need by the removable ribbon that hangs the parasol from her arm.

While an otherwise unremarkable domestic scene, I would not be surprised if this lady did not figure very well in the competitions!

An elegant twirl!

Worthy of a Flirtation Trial finalist!

 A fine "snub" form.

Note the steely gaze of a hardened competitor!

The mid sleeve lace is common during the time when lace cuffs were fashionable amongst the non-duelling public.

Going for the "plant"!

Note how the ribbon that holds the parasol shut has been slipped back out of the way. This painting shows the confident stance and easy motion of an accomplished Parasol Duelist.

She could easily go to a "snub" or a "twirl" next.

This lady knows her business!

Things to note in this image, the relatively plain cuffs, the ribbon holding the parasol to her arm in readiness, the tipped forward hat. This latter is important because it allows a lady's hat to be elaborate but also prevents interference with the Parasol during a "twirl".

I particularly like the intense look of this serious competitor!

Paintings taken from this fantastic website Tutt's Art@

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

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