This is actual German currency from around 1914 to 1923 when the country issued hundreds of varieties of so-called emergency currency (Notgeld, “emergency money”) as a response to a number of different economic crises. By far the most famous of these was the hyperinflation from 1921 to 1923, when 100-trillion mark notes were issued and the exchange rate was around 4 trillion marks to one U.S. dollar. At bottom left are notes ranging from 100 to 100 million marks.
These are electrical safety posters from the 1920s and 30s from various countries that I found in the online archives of a science museum in Vienna (deeply buried and complicated to track down, by the way – poor database design!) Originally they were in the Museum of Electropathology which existed from 1906 to 2002 and was founded by a Jewish doctor named Stefan Jellinek who was the first to specialize in the science and treatment of electric shocks to the human body due to accidents and lightning, and electrical safety in the home and workplace.
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Recently in Amsterdam I trekked out to a semi-remote nondescript residential quarter to visit the world’s first modernist apartment building, built in 1917, which is also one of the most important examples of a gloriously eccentric, little-known and absolutely unique style called the Amsterdam School. Lasting from the late-1910s up to World War II, it combined the austere, spartan functionalism of 1920’s modernisn with Art Deco’s geometric extravagance; Frank Lloyd Wright’s dramatic intersecting planes; and – curve ball! – traditional Indonesian styles; and – another curve ball! – a quirkiness that looks like it could have come from Dr. Suess.
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Here are a couple of items that should shed some light on things that actual French people like and don’t like, or do and don’t do, and despite the endless flow of “insider’s” guidebooks, I’ve never seen them explained in English. (Did you know that you can’t order pastries in restaurants in France, for all intents and purposes?) This post was inspired by a friend who asked for some travel tips for a part of France that I hadn’t been to. It occured to me though that these tips should save every traveler time and headaches and I think they’re fascinating even if you’re not making a trip.
traiteur – a sort of deli that sells prepared foods to go and maybe sliced cheeses and meats (but not sandwiches! , which are sold at boulangeries, bakeries)….
Incredible exhibition of eighteenth-century drawings from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (French National Library) at the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts. The point was to show drawings that were made for all sorts of purposes other than just sketches for paintings or to practice drawing human figures, which normally are just about only kind you ever see in museums and the reason why the drawings galleries are the boring ones you always skip (admit it!) This showed how exciting the drawings departments could be.
For two millienia, India was the only country that had figured out how to dye or print in color in cotton, because it was extremely difficult before the modern era, involving complicated methods and obscure plant extracts. Pliny marveled over it in 70 A.D. and England didn’t learn the methods until the mid-1700s . So India was more or less the sole supplier of printed cottons, or chintz – a Hindi word – not just to Europe but also to places such as Japan, southeast Asia, and the middle East, in patterns following the local traditions. An exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum entitled Global Threads: The Art and Fashion of Indian Chintztells the story.
There’s about four arches deep in the woods an hour or so from Springfield and you can’t seem them from any road; you have walk on a trail which is a popular local sight. There’s also a few assorted disused bridges, a quarry and a tower remaining from some sort of artists colony or commune from the 1960s or 70s. Amtrak and freight trains still use the bridges and I saw an Amtrak train go by just a few feet from the trail.
The bridges were built in in 1840 as “dry” masonry, that is, stones just piled up without cement or mortar. The rail line was the world’s longest, highest and steepest, and the world’s first to go up a mountain. The lead engineer for the construction was Whistler’s father, that is, the husband of Whistler’s Mother, as in the famous painting by James MacNeill Whistler.
Colossal world supermarket – Poland, Germany, Czechia, Italy Russia, Turkey, UK, India, Korea, Japan, China, Arabic countries
This is just a part of the German department with as much Christmas stuff as in a German supermarket: spice cookies, stollen, marzipan, chocolates with liqueur, Ritter brand chocolate bars including limited-edition Christmas flavor (Lebkuchen, Zimtsterne, Stollen, Marzipan, Pralinen mit Weinbrände und Liköre, Ritter Sport Weihnachtssorte). Even a special tongs for melting rum-soaked sugar into a mulled Christmas wine punch (Zuckerzange für Feuerzangenbowle). Nonchristmas German food includes Leberkäse (similar to bologna), Rollmops, Matjes (both are herring), Spätzle (noodles).
The brands of Italian tomatoes you see in every German supermarket and various Russian specialities
This is the exotic produce aisle where more less nothing you see can be found in an ordinary supermarket, such as the sweet potato leaf, drumstick leaves, amaranth leaves, fresh chick peas and jackfruit in the last two photos.
Inside the St. Louis Art Museum looking out from the new wing onto the original building. Black and orange rectangles are a Frank Stella and a Barnett Newman reflected in the window. White ramp is outdoors in front of the old building.
Japanese print from 1873 depicting the moment when the Frenchman Josué Heilmann, inventor of he cotton-combing machine, was inspired by watching his daughter’s hair being combed, from the series “Biographies of Great People of the Occident”.
Nice and the Côte d’Azur are the Miami, and Florida, of France, and much of the rest of Europe and especially the UK and Russia. The fifth largest city in France, Nice is a huge vacation draw in itself and its airport is the arrival point for those traveling to fabled Côte d’Azur destinations such as Monaco, Cannes, St. Tropez and Antibes. Nice looks like Paris painted in pastel sherbet tones, due to the Italian influence that comes from being just a half-hour by car or train from the Italian border, and in fact the region was a part of Italy until 1860 when they voted to join France.
The wide, glorious Promenade des Anglais (“English Promenade”, 2-6), was first built by the English in the 1820s, when Nice was already a popular vacation destination for the English – less so for the French, who weren’t especially interested in seaside leisure – but there was no paved road or sidewalk along the water, so strolling was a messy affair. Queen Victoria was fond of the Côte d’Azur and her eight visits triggered a flood of British vacationers and homebuyers which hasn’t diminished since. Nice’s port (8) is not where the cream of the global tax-evading elite park their yachts – they prefer Cannes.