Magician of the Week #50: Eusapia Palladino

Today’s magician is not technically a magician, but rather an Italian spiritualist and medium named Eusapia Palladino.

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Palladino’s “phenomena” referenced in Carrington’s book, above, included levitating tables and stools, bells ringing in the air, mysterious hands touching observers, sounds of ghostly tapping on furniture, and the like.

An orphan and former wife of a traveling conjurer, she was brought to public attention in 1888 by a Professor Chiaia of Naples who wrote a letter to a Professor Lombroso claiming that he had investigated Palladino’s phenomena extensively, was convinced of their legitimacy, and requested Lombroso to investigate them in turn. This led to more than a decade of investigatory seances in which various researchers (including a number from the Society for Psychical Research, and even, at one point, Pierre and Marie Curie) tried to prove or disprove Palladino’s methods. She attracted huge numbers of both skeptics and supporters.

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Wikipedia has an extensive entry on Eusapia Palladino, which I won’t summarize here, although I do highly recommend it. Instead, I offer this tidbit from Eusapia Palladino and her Phenomena, in which the author describes an incident Palladino’s early life, based on her own recollection:

The villagers took little care of the orphan. Once when she was only a year old, she was allowed to fall, so that a hole was made in her head. That is the famous cranial opening from which, in moments of trance, a cold breeze is felt to issue. On this scar has grown a tress of hair that has always been white since infancy, and which is easily distinguishable in her photographs.

I will also leave you with a quote from psychical researcher Eric Dingwall (nicknamed “Dirty Ding”, according to Wikipedia), who was not convinced of Palladino’s powers, nor awed by her apparent cranial wind tunnel, but rather thought that she was “vital, vulgar, amorous and a cheat.”

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Announcing Our New Online Gallery

Here in PPL’s Special Collections, we have the immense pleasure of working frequently with amazing artists and designers who use our collections for information, inspiration, and source materials. They challenge us with unusual research questions and dig into our materials in delightful, non-linear ways.

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Photo of paint brush and palette from a studio visit with Keri King

Which leads to our exciting announcement: we’ve created an online gallery featuring artworks inspired by materials from our collections! Click through to see artworks, source materials, artist bios, and links to artists’ websites. (Special thanks to our Digital Content Coordinator, John Bent, for all of his hard work on this.)

We’ll be adding to the gallery in the coming months. Have you made something based on Special Collections research that you’d like to see included? Drop us a line.

Bad Children of History #36: Curtains Are Not For Wiping

Oh how we’ve missed the Bad Children of History! We recently cataloged a book that’s part of our Wetmore Collection, and contains dozens of delinquents and ill-mannered imps: La Civilité Puérile et Honnête, an etiquette book for children with illustrations by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel.

Boutet de Monvel’s illustrations aptly capture the sneakiness and hilarity of childhood, as well as the joy of hanging out at the seaside with miniature pizza peels.

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(Etiquette hot tip: don’t bury your friends’ heads in the sand.)

The “what not to do” images are priceless.

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“It wasn’t me.”

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“Agh, I dropped my Twinkies!”

This book’s children are naughty, and snotty.

They’re wiggly and squiggly.

 

They’re rude and crude.

We love the action shots.

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We also love the recommendation about bread-licking in the “table manners” section.

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Reminder: Creative Fellowship proposals due 10/1

Reminder: proposals for our 2019 Creative Fellowship are due this coming Monday, October 1. A full description of this year’s theme, along with application instructions, can be found here.

Creative Fellowship

 

Call for Proposals: 2019 Creative Fellowship

We’re excited to announce that PPL is now accepting proposals for our 2019 Creative Fellowship.

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We’re looking for an artist working in the field of creative writing (poetry, playwriting, fiction, creative nonfiction, etc.) to make new, research-based work related to the theme of our 2019 exhibition and program series: cityscapes and the evolving built environment.

Details on the Creative Fellowship, requirements, and application guidelines can be found here.

PPL Renovation: It’s Here!

Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Twitter have already heard, but for blog-reading purists: PPL is beginning a major building renovation this week! We’re excited for all the changes this will bring, and the ways in which it will improve how we serve the public.

The 12-18 month renovation will affect our general circulation, as well as access to Special Collections. Notably: we are no longer holding weekly open hours, but Special Collections is still open to researchers by appointment. This Building Transformation page on the PPL website will have up-to-date information throughout the renovation. (It also has cool architect’s renderings of the new space.)

Tattoo Ideas from the Updike Collection

Our Updike Collection on the History of Printing contains a tremendous number of type specimen books, many of which have sections of cuts–small, reusable illustrations that printers could purchase to illustrate books, newspapers, broadsides, and the like. (We often describe them as “historic clip art”.)

More often than not, first-time viewers of these cuts will point to one and exclaim, “Wow, that would make a great tattoo!” Which brings us to two points:

  1. If you own a tattoo shop and want to work out a deal, get in touch;
  2. We have a LOT of fun ideas for tattoos.

We’d like to present a few recent inspirations, all from a recently cataloged specimen book from the G. Schildknecht type foundry in Brussels.

Religious tattoos are always popular, but does anyone really need to see another bicep graced by a sacred heart? Why not get a unique religious tattoo, like this image of St. Nicholas with three babies in a wooden tub?

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(If you don’t know the story of St. Nicholas miraculously resurrecting three babies who were chopped up and salted by an evil butcher, well, now you do.)

If that’s too tame for you, you could also get this image of an apparition of Mary in a… tree? Is that a mushroom cloud? Why don’t Mary or baby Jesus have limbs? If you know more about what this image is depicting, please let us know.

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If a religious tattoo isn’t for you, may we suggest an animal? Such as…

…totally stoked cat, disheveled porcupine, maned sloth with a weird face, or side-eye sheep?

For the truly fun-loving tattoo-getter, there’s always Dionysus, which is my preliminary identification of the fun-loving and wavy-eyedbrowed gent shown here:

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And finally, for those looking for a unique twist on the traditional “Mom” tattoo, how about this stylized face situation, with “Mom” on the banner?

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