Friday, October 28, 2016

Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library

I recently ran across the image of an old paperback I had back in the late ‘70s and it brought back a flood of memories.  It was the same edition I had owned of The Glittering Plain from the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library series, which pretty much took over the field when the Ballentine Adult Fantasy series petered out.  The crappy blue monocolor cover and the hippy-dippy “mod” font on the inset was unmistakable. .This got me googling around the internet to unearth some information about the long-gone Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library series of books.  I hadn’t thought about them for decades. Those old style covers eventually were phased out for full color covers with original art with later issues. 

The creators of the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library series, Douglas Menville and Robert Reginald, were no newbies to the fantasy genre or to publishing.  They previously had produced the magazine, Forgotten Fantasy from October 1970 to June 1971, running to only five issues of reprints of fantasy works.  I seem to recall seeing some copies lying about years later at used book shops, but I never picked them up, to my loss.  Little did I know, but the mod font of Forgotten Fantasy inset on the covers of the NFFL series was from the previous magazine, Forgotten Fantasy.  It only took thirty something years to clear up the mystery for me!  The late sixties and throughout the seventies were a rich time for new stories, revivals of old stories and for the world of gaming as we know it.
You’ll see some familiar faces with the NFFL series such as William Morris, Lord Dunsany and lots of H Rider Haggard and even an appearance of Bram Stoker.  Many of these authors had previously appeared in the Ballentine Adult Fantasy[1] series, although those stories were not repeated in the NFFL series.  More importantly you will find some authors not commonly mentioned in the past fifty years such as Leslie Barringer author of the hard to find Neustrian Cycle.  David Lindsay is there, but he’s not the modern American author, but the Englishman who wrote A Voyage to Acturus (1920), which appeared in a precursor volume of the Ballentine Adult Fantasy Series in 1968.
As a warning to some of the younger readers of this blog, the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library series is a collection of antique books that are primarily Anglophile or Eurocentric in scope.  They were reprinted in the 1970s, much like the earlier Ballentine Adult Fantasy series and should be treated as a snapshot of that period.  Many of the books of these series were originally published a century or more ago, so they may not conform to the present state of fantasy writing, which is just as well, as fantasy is all about going out of the box and exploring “what ifs”.  When we lose our ability to dream and to put those ideas out in public we lose a large part of ourselves.  When we lose the possibility of publishing those dreams or being able to find them at bookstores or on line, we are in a dystopia.

One may ask, why such old tales are important now?  Here thirty five years later, well after the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library ended its run and the original stories are sixty to a hundred fifty years old, with its books consigned to private libraries and to quiet bookshops, these authors have something to say to us about times past and about how people thought and read.  Really, they are not fundamentally different from us nor we from the author of Gilgamesh. 

I’m not here to create new or anoint exiting cannon, just to give new readers some ideas outside of the (present) box and let some older readers go down memory lane for a bit with these familiar works.  There’s recently been a lot of fuss about Appendix N [2] books and the like, as well as other “must read” or “must not read” lists.  There are attempts to control the narrative of Fantasy in the present as well as quelling books from the past.  Let’s keep our intellectual freedom open and away from self-appointed gatekeepers who think that they are the only ones who know what should be in print or on the net.  The other side of this problem is that there are those who think that the Fantasy genre is static, like a fly in amber and only their approved cannon is of consequence.  Both sides are wrong. 

Many of these books are out of copyright and available for free on line through such sites as Project Gutenberg or its sister down under Project Gutenberg Australia, or at the Internet as well as through other electronic means. I found nearly all of them online in a variety of e-formats, including audio, and for free.  Did I mention free?  Additionally, some of these titles can be found as physical books at on-line book sites and at some book shops, used and for fairly reasonable prices.  Call me old fashioned, but nothing really takes the place of holding a real book in your hands. 

I have listed these works in order of their printing in the NFFL series, with the title and author linked to a page.  You can easily explore around and learn a bit about these books and their authors.
The Glittering Plain (1891) by William Morris, #1 NFFL, pub Sept 1973

The Saga of Eric Brighteyes (1890) by H. Rider Haggard, #2 NFFL, pub Mar 1974

The Food of Death:  Fifty-One Tales, (1915) by Lord Dunsany, #3 NFFL, pub Sept 1974

The Haunted Woman (1921) by David Lindsay, #4 NFFL, pub Mar 1975

Aladore (1914) by Sir Henry Newbolt, #5 NFFL, pub Sep 1975

She and Allan (1921) by H Rider Haggard, #6 NFFL, pub Sep 1975

Gerfalcon (1927) by Leslie Barringer, first book of the Neustrian Cycle, #7 NFFL, pub Mar 1976

Golden Wings and Other Stories (1856) by William Morris, #8 NFFL, pub Mar 1976

Joris of the Rock (1928) by Leslie Barringer, the second book of the Neustrian Cycle, #9 NFFL, pub Sep 1976

Heart of the World  (1895) by H Rider Haggard, #10 NFFL, pub Sep 1976

Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair (1895) by William Morris, #12 NFFL, pub Apr 1977

Shy Leopardess (1948) by Leslie Barringer, the last book of the Neustrian Cycle, #13 NFFL, pub Oct 1977

Ayesha:  the Return of She (1905) by H Rider Haggard, #14 NFFL, pub Oct 1977

The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed (1914) by Kenneth Morris, #15 NFFL, pub Apr 1978

The House of the Wolfings (1889) by William Morris, #16 NFFL, pub Apr 1978

Under the Sunset (1881) by Bram Stoker, #17 NFFL, pub Oct 1978

Alan Quatermain (1887) by H Rider Haggard, #18 NFFL, pub Oct 1978

The Roots of the Mountains (1889) by William Morris #19 NFFL, pub Apr 1979

Nada the Lily (1892) by H Rider Haggard, #20 NFFL, pub Apr 1979

Jaufry the Knight and the Fair Brunissende (1856) trans by Alfred Elwes #21, pub Oct 1979

The Spirit of Bambatse (1906) by H Rider Haggard, #22 NFFL, Oct 1979 also titled Benith elsewhere

When Birds Fly South (1945) by Standton A Coblentz, #23 NFFL pub, Apr 1980

Alan’s Wife [and other tales] (1889) by H Rider Haggard, #24 NFFL pub, Oct 1980

I’ve enjoyed doing a bit of research on the Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library and find that I had owned and had read about half of the books on the list, several from the NFFL, which means I have a dozen more books to read! 
In some cases there are no simple links to the titles available.  I ask the readers to please help and add the articles to Wikipedia if they have read the books.  When you do so, let me know and I’ll update this list with a link.

Keep on reading …                 CoastConFan

[1]  I’ve written previously about some of the books from the Ballentine Adult Fantasy series books in other posts on my blog, eventually I’ll actually produce a post about the BAF.

[2]  The introduction and book list to Appendix N of the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide (1979) by Earnest Gary Gygax, p 224 says it well:

Additional Links of interest

Leslie Barringer’s three Neustrian Cycle books might still be in copyright, if so, they are available as pay e-books online.  
A great site with some of the illustrators for H Rider Haggard’s books

Now a little exit music please – .    My thanks to The Zimmers for their 2007 cover of The Who’s My Generation, which was first released in 1965 in the UK, so it seems appropriate.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ernest Bramah, Kai Lung, Li Kung and A Case for Mandarin English

My first exposure to the works of Ernest Bramah Smith, under the pen name  Ernest Bramah, was from Lin Carter’s Ballentine Adult Fantasy Series, which introduced young readers (and not a few older ones) to fantasy works both important and rare, many of which had been out of print for years.  This was especially important in those days before the internet or for those without a major metropolitan library available.   Although the series ran from 1969 to 1974, it placed important volumes in the hands of readers who might never have previously encountered them.
name was

The series had two Ernest Bramah books in its listings, Kai Lung’s Golden Hours (number 45), which was reprinted in 1972 for the series and Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat (number 64) in 1974.  Actually I read the second one first and turned up the former at a SF convention in the latter ‘70s.   Eventually, I had nearly all the BAF books, including the precursors and leftovers, carefully collected over many years at used book shops, conventions and flea markets.  Alas, they went with The Storm, along many hundred of their siblings, but such is the way of things.   But now I have many of them in electronic format.

Recently I turned up a book that made me suspect that Bramah’s character Kai Lung may be a humorous nod to a real historical figure in Chinese history:  Li Kung-lin [a] , was a Sung  philosopher and painter of the 11th century who is considered to be an important scholar of Confucius.  The transliteration of the name stuck me as too much of a coincidence as Ernest Bramah Smith was supposedly quite well read.  I have a strong feeling that Li Kung was indeed the inspiration for Bramah’s literary character Kai Lung, although I have no proof.  Now this possibility might be known and documented some deep Ernest Bramah scholars, but that is unknown to me.  I’d certainly like to see somebody take this up and either expose my ignorance or agree with my hypothesis.

The book in question in this bit of serendipity that set this post in motion was a volume called Li Kung-lin’s Classic of Filial Piety[b] , which was published in translation (1993) by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, authored by Richard M. Barnhart, Gonglin Li, and Robert E. Harrist.  The Met site had it available for free download and you know me and free ebooks. Many thanks to the Met for their e-generosity.  The link to download both this fine Met book and English translations of Li Kung’s original work for those of you who are interested is available here. 

Translations of the text here 

Bramah’s technique of poking fun at British institutions by pretending they are actually translated from Chinese and written in a stilted “English translation” style of formal language which is jokingly called Mandarin English for its formal stiffness and yet subtlety of meaning.  In addition to facetiously flowery language, circumlocution, and obscure descriptions of common western ideas, he also used joking proverbs and aphorisms, many of which are recognizable distortions of English sayings.  For examples of these you can go to the Wikipedia page for Ernest Bramah page in the “writing career” section

This site gives twenty five Kai Lung quotes to amuse the reader as does Wikiquote .  Here is a pretty good essay about Ernest Bramah that also explains Mandarin English .

An origin of this style of writing in English literature can probably be referenced to Tobias Smollett’s satirical work The History and Adventure of an Atom, (1749) where Smollett makes fun of England and English figures by pretending it’s actually Japan. Bramah’s Kai Lung stories does pretty much the same, but more gently and with a good deal more geniality.  The History and Adventure of an Atom is an amusing proto-science fiction work in itself, as communication with an atom is not possible nor are they sapient, at least as far as we know.  The link for downloading is in the link section.

Another possible source (and closer to the experience of the average person) is Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu, which Bramah was surely familiar since the opera has run on stages from its debut in 1885 to the present day.  Nobody watching or reading the operetta could fail to notice that the characters of The Mikado were actually based British civil servants. 

Another source is Jonathan Swift’s satire is probably better known to today’s readers with his famous Gulliver’s Travels.  Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) has the Struldbrugs of Luggnagg near Japan, but this is probably reaching a bit in connecting him to Brama.  What can’t be discounted, however is that Bramah was familiar with Swift’s satire.

To bring this discussion a bit more up to date, Brama’s humorous Mandarin English style is not what is now is being called orientalization by any means.  In fact, he was poking fun at Britain and its institutions, not at Chinese people or the their culture during the imperial period.   Nor was Bramah doing so it in the sense of Edward Said’s definition found in his book Orientalism (1978), which is making the rounds again in fashionable salons who have just discovered the book as it nears its fourth decade in print. 

Lin Carter, the architect of Ballentine Adult Fantasy Series said in his book Discoveries in Fantasy (1974)  Ernest Bramah’s China, then, is a fantastic bogus China of convention, not the real historical thing at all.  He wrote in a prose so perfectly conceived that it become a miracle of style.  As Hilarie Belloc once observed, the sly humor and philosophy of Bramah’s stories is a trick he achieved by pretending t adapt the flavor of Chinese literary conventions into the English”.  Kai Lung had several fans over the years along with Hillary Belloc and surprisingly Jorg Luis Borges was also a fan.

There are two Kai Lung books have been printed, both containing stories not previously available.  One is a rare volume in an edition of 250 published in 1974, that escaped my attention for many years due to its rarity, which was called Kai Lung Six, which is a group of stories originally published in Punch and not seen the light of day since then.  Those stories and a number of never-published Kai Lung stories appear in the much more accessible and more recent  book, Kai Lung Raises His Voice (2010) by Durrant Pub.  I haven’t yet gotten a copy, but it’s on my list.

At this point, I’d like to point out another work by Bramah that showcases his style is, The Mirror of Kong Ho (1905). While not part of the Kai Lung series, its in the mood of his style with a series of short stories in the form of letters from a Chinese gentleman discussing the eccentricities of the barbarians living in England.  It really holds up a mirror to the west at a time where westerners took themselves and their superiority for granted. 

Personally, Ernest Bramah Smith very private man who gave no details of his life during his time on this planet.   The only recent biography of him is by Aubrey Wilson, The Search for Ernest Bramah (Creighton and Read 2007).  I didn’t use this book as a source simply because I didn’t have a copy available.  It’s possible the Kai Lung/Li Kung story is explained there.   The Wikipedia article on him and the below essay in links is about all that’s easily accessible on the web as far as his personal life.  But what’s important is not the man, but the works and what them mean to us, both when they were originally written, beginning about a century ago and what they mean to us today.

Hopefully, this bit of esoteric diversion hasn’t bored you too much and has given you a few books to consider reading this fall.  I’m no scholar but have been a reader and autodidact for half a century and not a few books have both fallen into my grasp as well as escaped my attention.  In any case, all but a few of the mentioned books are free downloads, so it won’t cost you anything to enjoy them. 


The text to this post is copyright William Murphy 2016 – ‘cause I created this.  The images belong to their creators and quotes of others are attributed.  If I missed anything, let me know.   Feel free to link to this post or quote me. 

[a]   “The figure painter Li Kung-lin, who lived in China from about 1041 to 1106, was the leading exponent of the Northern Sung scholar-official aesthetic. One hundred seven of his works were recorded in the great government catalogue of the imperial collection of paintings a few years after his death. Sadly, today only three of his works still exist. The hand scroll of the Hsiao-ching, or Classic of Filial Piety, a classic of the orthodox canon of Confucianism, is one of those three. It is among the preeminent monuments of Chinese cultural and art history”.  Richard M. Barnhart, Prof  History of Art at Yale

Additionally, for those of you who have a thirst for knowledge, the role of filial piety within Confucian thought and society is discussed in Fung Yu-lan’s, A History of Chinese Philosophy, trans. Dirk Bodde, 2 vols.  Also I found Li Kung-lins’s name in A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, pg 704.

[b]  “A slight volume composed of eighteen chapters, the Classic of Filial Piety takes the form of a dialogue between Confucius and his disciple Tseng-tzu on the meaning and application of filial piety in the affairs of the individual and of the state. The text dates to the period between 350 and 200 B.C., long after either Confucius or his immediate disciples lived, but its subject, the governing of relationships among men and the rules of conduct by which society is made secure, was for centuries before and for centuries to come the keystone of Chinese society.
Before Li's time, the art of painting had been a public and imperial art, conveying the images, ideas, values, and propaganda of the imperial court, the powerful hereditary families, and the great temples. In the eleventh century, under the inspiration of Li Kung-lin and a few others, painting was transformed into a formal mode of expression, which, like poetry, could serve to convey the mind of the artist as well as the emblems of those who controlled his life. For Li, art was a tool, a moral vehicle that allowed him to set out his views of the institutions, ideas, and conflicts of his time.”  Richard M. Barnhart, Prof History of Art at Yale

Links of Interest – in no particular order, because I’m lazy
The Ernest  Bramah site

Wikipedia article on The Wallet of Kai Lung 

Download a digital copy of some of Bramah’s works
Kai Lung series
The Wallet of Ki Lung (1900)
Kai Lung’s Golden Hours (1922)
Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat (1928)
The Moon of Much Gladness (1932)  Unavailable for free in digital format for now
Kai Lung Beneath the Mulberry Tree (1940)  Unavailable for free in digital format for now
Kai Lung Six (1974)  Unavailable for free in digital format
Kai Lung Raises His Voice (2010) Unavailable for free in digital format

The Mirror of Kong Ho (1905) While not part of the Kai Lung series it sets the pace for his style with a series of short stories in the form of letters from a Chinese gentleman discussing the eccentricities of the barbarians living in England.  It really holds up an amusing mirror to the west.

And some other works by Bramah that were also popular in his time
Four Max Carrados Detective Stories
The Secret of the League:  The Story of a Social War

More stuff
An essay about Ernest Bramah

The most recent biographical source is: Aubrey Wilson, The Search for Ernest Bramah (Creighton and Read 2007), which I have not read and so consequently have not used in this article.

Ernest  Bramah site

Download Smollett’s Adventure of an Atom (1749)

Download Johnathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels in digitial formats

What started this article in the first place was the discovery of this book (which you can download for free BTW) and of the existence of Li Kung, at least for me 
By Richard M. Barnhart, Gonglin Li, Robert E. Harrist

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Happy Birthday H. P. Lovecraft

Today is 20th of August and H P Lovecraft’s birthday.  He was born in Providence, RI on 20 August 1890 and died 15 March 1937.  His life was short but his writings are a major influence on writers, readers, and fans for decades.  Here’s a card.

Here’s a link to the complete works of HPL via The Arkham Archivist in several e-formats

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Canyons of Madness -- The Grand Canyon Hoax of 1909

Well known to my readers is H. P. Lovecraft’s story, The Mountains of Madness (pub 1931) which features an expedition and a huge ancient city in an inaccessible mountain range at the bottom of the world, but lesser known is the story about another expedition and a gigantic city, but this time underground, beneath the Grand Canyon dating from 1909. 

Years ago, I had read a reference to a “lost city” in the Grand Canyon in a magazine, but in those pre-internet days some 40 years ago, doing follow-up research was difficult.  Recently, I ran across references to the Grand Canyon Hoax online and could finally follow it up.  The information was so interesting, I had to share it with those of you who hadn’t already found this interesting hoax previously.  Of course, I did a bit of digging and a ended up with a little bit of interesting digression in this post.

The main body of the hoax was published in a local newspaper, the Arizona Gazette, on 5 April 1909.  A preceding hoax article was published on 12 March 1909 as a setup for The Big One.  Fortunately, I have managed to glean scans of the original articles as well as have clearer text of the articles as the scans are not very clear.  I’ll take these two articles out of order and run straight into the body of the hoax itself and then return back to the shorter and earlier article at the end of the post along with some observations.

Much like H. P. Lovecraft’s fictional work of horror, The Mountains of Madness, this hoax featured an entirely fictional protagonists, G. E. Kincaid and Prof S. A. Jordan, but linked to a very real and well known organization, the Smithsonian Institute of Washington DC.  I did a lot of searching and couldn’t find any reference to these fictional characters, even though there are some interesting biographical tips present in the article (see the 5 April article text, but alas, these worthies doesn’t exist outside of the body of the hoax. 

Of course, the best way to create believability is to embed the fantastic into verifiable facts and then give the hoax “facts” as having a plausible explanation as to why they can’t be verified.  See also H. P. Lovecraft’s essay, Notes on Writing Weird Fiction. [1]  This newspaper hoax is excellent fodder for writing scenarios and background for role playing games.
Now without further ado, here is a scan of the actual article.  As it’s hard to read, the text copy is available below from page one and the second half.
   From the Arizona Gazette, April 5, 1909
- Mysteries of Immense Rich Cavern Being Brought to Light
- Jordan is enthused
- Remarkable Finds Indicate Ancient People Migrated From Orient

The latest news of the progress of the explorations of what is now regarded by scientists as not only the oldest archeological discovery in the United States, but one of the most valuable in the world, which was mentioned some time ago in the Gazette, was brought to the city yesterday by G.E. Kinkaid, the explorer who found the great underground citadel of the Grand Canyon during a trip from Green River, Wyoming, down the Colorado, in a wooden boat, to Yuma, several months ago.
According to the story related to the Gazette by Mr. Kinkaid, the archeologists of the Smithsonian Institute, which is financing the expeditions, have made discoveries which almost conclusively prove that the race which inhabited this mysterious cavern, hewn in solid rock by human hands, was of oriental origin, possibly from Egypt, tracing back to Ramses. If their theories are borne out by the translation of the tablets engraved with hieroglyphics, the mystery of the prehistoric peoples of North America, their ancient arts, who they were and whence they came, will be solved. Egypt and the Nile, and Arizona and the Colorado will be linked by a historical chain running back to ages which staggers the wildest fancy of the fictionist.

 A Thorough Examination
Under the direction of Prof. S. A. Jordan, the Smithsonian Institute is now prosecuting the most thorough explorations, which will be continued until the last link in the chain is forged. Nearly a mile underground, about 1480 feet below the surface, the long main passage has been delved into, to find another mammoth chamber from which radiates scores of passageways, like the spokes of a wheel.

Several hundred rooms have been discovered, reached by passageways running from the main passage, one of them having been explored for 854 feet and another 634 feet. The recent finds include articles which have never been known as native to this country, and doubtless they had their origin in the orient. War weapons, copper instruments, sharp-edged and hard as steel, indicate the high state of civilization reached by these strange people. So interested have the scientists become that preparations are being made to equip the camp for extensive studies, and the force will be increased to thirty or forty persons.

 Mr. Kinkaid's Report
Mr. Kinkaid was the first white child born in Idaho and has been an explorer and hunter all his life, thirty years having been in the service of the Smithsonian Institute. Even briefly recounted, his history sounds fabulous, almost grotesque.

"First, I would impress that the cavern is nearly inaccessible. The entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall. It is located on government land and no visitor will be allowed there under penalty of trespass. The scientists wish to work unmolested, without fear of archeological discoveries being disturbed by curio or relic hunters. A trip there would be fruitless, and the visitor would be sent on his way. The story of how I found the cavern has been related, but in a paragraph: I was journeying down the Colorado river in a boat, alone, looking for mineral. Some forty-two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon, I saw on the east wall, stains in the sedimentary formation about 2,000 feet above the river bed. There was no trail to this point, but I finally reached it with great difficulty. Above a shelf which hid it from view from the river, was the mouth of the cave. There are steps leading from this entrance some thirty yards to what was, at the time the cavern was inhabited, the level of the river. When I saw the chisel marks on the wall inside the entrance, I became interested, securing my gun and went in. During that trip I went back several hundred feet along the main passage till I came to the crypt in which I discovered the mummies. One of these I stood up and photographed by flashlight. I gathered a number of relics, which I carried down the Colorado to Yuma, from whence I shipped them to Washington with details of the discovery. Following this, the explorations were undertaken.

 The Passages
"The main passageway is about 12 feet wide, narrowing to nine feet toward the farther end. About 57 feet from the entrance, the first side-passages branch off to the right and left, along which, on both sides, are a number of rooms about the size of ordinary living rooms of today, though some are 30 by 40 feet square. These are entered by oval-shaped doors and are ventilated by round air spaces through the walls into the passages. The walls are about three feet six inches in thickness. The passages are chiseled or hewn as straight as could be laid out by an engineer. The ceilings of many of the rooms converge to a center. The side-passages near the entrance run at a sharp angle from the main hall, but toward the rear they gradually reach a right angle in direction.

 The Shrine
"Over a hundred feet from the entrance is the cross-hall, several hundred feet long, in which are found the idol, or image, of the people's god, sitting cross-legged, with a lotus flower or lily in each hand. The cast of the
 Explorations in Grand Canyon 
(from page one, following text)
face is oriental, and the carving this cavern. The idol almost resembles Buddha, though the scientists are not certain as to what religious worship it represents. Taking into consideration everything found thus far, it is possible that this worship most resembles the ancient people of Tibet. Surrounding this idol are smaller images, some very beautiful in form; others crooked-necked and distorted shapes, symbolical, probably, of good and evil. There are two large cactus with protruding arms, one on each side of the dais on which the god squats. All this is carved out of hard rock resembling marble. In the opposite corner of this cross-hall were found tools of all descriptions, made of copper. These people undoubtedly knew the lost art of hardening this metal, which has been sought by chemicals for centuries without result. On a bench running around the workroom was some charcoal and other material probably used in the process. There is also slag and stuff similar to matte, showing that these ancients smelted ores, but so far no trace of where or how this was done has been discovered, nor the origin of the ore.
"Among the other finds are vases or urns and cups of copper and gold, made very artistic in design. The pottery work includes enameled ware and glazed vessels. Another passageway leads to granaries such as are found in the oriental temples. They contain seeds of various kinds. One very large storehouse has not yet been entered, as it is twelve feet high and can be reached only from above. Two copper hooks extend on the edge, which indicates that some sort of ladder was attached. These granaries are rounded, as the materials of which they are constructed, I think, is a very hard cement. A gray metal is also found in this cavern, which puzzles the scientists, for its identity has not been established. It resembles platinum. Strewn promiscuously over the floor everywhere are what people call 'cats eyes,' a yellow stone of no great value. Each one is engraved with the head of the Malay type.

 The Hieroglyphics
"On all the urns, or walls over doorways , and tablets of stone which were found by the image are the mysterious hieroglyphics, the key to which the Smithsonian Institute hopes yet to discover. The engraving on the tables probably has something to do with the religion of the people. Similar hieroglyphics have been found in southern Arizona. Among the pictorial writings, only two animals are found. One is of prehistoric type.

 The Crypt
"The tomb or crypt in which the mummies were found is one of the largest of the chambers, the walls slanting back at an angle of about 35 degrees. On these are tiers of mummies, each one occupying a separate hewn shelf. At the head of each is a small bench, on which is found copper cups and pieces of broken swords. Some of the mummies are covered with clay, and all are wrapped in a bark fabric. The urns or cups on the lower tiers are crude, while as the higher shelves are reached, the urns are finer in design, showing a later stage of civilization. It is worthy of note that all the mummies examined so far have proved to be male, no children or females being buried here. This leads to the belief that this exterior section was the warriors' barracks.

"Among the discoveries no bones of animals have been found, no skins, no clothing, no bedding. Many of the rooms are bare but for water vessels. One room, about 40 by 700 feet, was probably the main dining hall, for cooking utensils are found here. What these people lived on is a problem, though it is presumed that they came south in the winter and farmed in the valleys, going back north in the summer. Upwards of 50,000 people could have lived in the caverns comfortably. One theory is that the present Indian tribes found in Arizona are descendants of the serfs or slaves of the people which inhabited the cave. Undoubtedly a good many thousands of years before the Christian era, a people lived here which reached a high stage of civilization. The chronology of human history is full of gaps. Professor Jordan is much enthused over the discoveries and believes that the find will prove of incalculable value in archeological work.

"One thing I have not spoken of, may be of interest. There is one chamber of the passageway to which is not ventilated, and when we approached it a deadly, snaky smell struck us. Our light would not penetrate the gloom, and until stronger ones are available we will not know what the chamber contains. Some say snakes, but others boo-hoo this idea and think it may contain a deadly gas or chemicals used by the ancients. No sounds are heard, but it smells snaky just the same. The whole underground installation gives one of shaky nerves the creeps. The gloom is like a weight on one's shoulders, and our flashlights and candles only make the darkness blacker. Imagination can revel in conjectures and ungodly daydreams back through the ages that have elapsed till the mind reels dizzily in space."

 An Indian Legend
In connection with this story, it is notable that among the Hopi Indians the tradition is told that their ancestors once lived in an underworld in the Grand Canyon till dissension arose between the good and the bad, the people of one heart and the people of two hearts. Machetto, who was their chief, counseled them to leave the underworld, but there was no way out. The chief then caused a tree to grow up and pierce the roof of the underworld, and then the people of one heart climbed out. They tarried by Paisisvai, which is the Colorado, and grew grain and corn.

They sent out a message to the Temple of the Sun, asking the blessing of peace, good will and rain for people of one heart. That messenger never returned, but today at the Hopi villages at sundown can be seen the old men of the tribe out on the housetops gazing toward the sun, looking for the messenger. When he returns, their lands and ancient dwelling place will be restored to them. That is the tradition.

Among the engravings of animals in the cave is seen the image of a heart over the spot where it is located. The legend was learned by W.E. Rollins, the artist, during a year spent with the Hopi Indians.

There are two theories of the origin of the Egyptians. One is that they came from Asia; another that the racial cradle was in the upper Nile region. Heeren, an Egyptologist, believed in the Indian origin of the Egyptians. The discoveries in the Grand Canyon may throw further light on human evolution and prehistoric ages.
Who is this Egyptologist, Heeren?  The closest I can find is an Arnold Heeren, a German historian who died in 1842 in obscurity and who could have had no connection with the 1909 article or even the Powell Expedition. In any case, he doesn't appear to have been an Egyptologist. 

Who is W. E. Rollins, the southwestern artist of Hopi fame?  I did find Warren Eliphalet. Rollins born in Carson City, Nevada in 1861, raised in Northern California and studied at the San Francisco School of Design.  Rollins indeed traveled throughout the southwest, living with a number of native tribes. He lived and painted in Pasadena, California and moved to Arizona around 1917, making Arizona his home. Later, was also central to the Santa Fe and Taos Art colonies and died in 1962. So he is actually contemporary and lived in the region.  I wonder how he felt about being named in the hoax article.
Interestingly, this particular lost city hoax sits broadly upon the back of an earlier famous hoax, the Mobertly Montana Lost City Hoax of 1885.  That earlier lost city hoax appears in the pages of the Evening Chronicle of St Louis Mo, on 8 April 1885.  On April 9, the Evening Chronicle had a follow up article.  Let’s also keep in mind that the whole Lost Civilization/Lost City modern literary genre was pretty much made up whole cloth by H. Ryder Haggard starting with his classic, King Solomon’s Mines [2], published in September 1885 with a huge publicity campaign prior to release.

The Hoaxter found?
Soon after the Grand Canyon story hit, the Coconino Sun published a headline on 16 April 1909, Vol 20, No 2, “Looks like a Mulhattan Story” which is pretty much the only acknowledgement of the story in the press.  It basically indicates that the Grand Canyon story was viewed as an hoax, because Joseph Mulhattan’s name [3]  was well associated with southwestern hoaxes in the late 19th century, whether he authored the story or not.. 

In support of his possible authorship, an article from The Ol’ Pioneer,Summer 2009, which is a publication of the Grand Canyon Historical Society, sheds some light on Mulhattan and his possible association to the story.  This article (available as PDF at the link above) links the Grand Canyon story to well-known late Victorian hoaxter Joe Mulhattan.  The infamous Mulhattan also appears in the pages of Hoaxipedia as Joseph Mulhattan, as well as in the book Hoaxes, by Curis D. MacDougall, pub by Macmillan NY, 1940 (although I don’t have copy of the latter).   Ultimately, though there is no absolute proof that Mulhattan had anything to do with this whopper, although it’s certainly in his league. 
A bio of Mulhattan is here

Now we come to the cream of the jest, which was actually presented first in the press.  It gives all the appropriate clues to the local, period readers that this was all a farce.  First the photocopy of the original article and then a text copy for clarity.

Arizona Gazette, March 12, 1909

G. E. Kincaid Reaches Yuma
G. E. Kincaid of Lewiston, Idaho, arrived in Yuma after a trip from Green River, Wyoming, down the entire course of the Colorado River. He is the second man to make this journey and came alone in a small skiff, stopping at his pleasure to investigate the surrounding country. He left Green River in October having a small covered boat with oars, and carrying a fine camera, with which he secured over 700 views of the river and canyons which were unsurpassed. Mr. Kincaid says one of the most interesting features of the trip was passing through the sluiceways at Laguna dam. He made this perilous passage with only the loss of an oar.

Some interesting archaeological discoveries were unearthed and altogether the trip was of such interest that he will repeat it next winter in the company of friends.

An amusing bio for the phantom explorer, Mr from the 5 April article and worth recounting:
“Mr. Kinkaid was the first white child born in Idaho and has been an explorer and hunter all his life, thirty years having been in the service of the Smithsonian Institute. Even briefly recounted, his history sounds fabulous, almost grotesque.”  The 12 March article claims he was the second person to make a solo descent of the Colorado river.  Who was the first?  Even John Wesley Powell didn’t try it solo in his 1869 or 1871 trips. 

Notice the nod to the one-armed Grand Canyon explorer, John Wesley Powell who had previously lost his right arm at the battle of Shiloh, who noted some interesting things in his notebook, later printed in his books about the Colorado.[4]  If you followed the footnote, you will see that Powell’s notes from his book are the jumping off point for this little hoax.

The spillway today
The other clue that this is just a big josh is the fact that Kinkaid made a great deal out of the descent through the Laguna Diversion Damspillway at the end of his solo adventure down the Colorado Rive.  That particular drop is an easily graded 10 foot slide, which would be well known to the reader of the newspaper especially since the dam and the spillway was very recently completed.  Note that this picture was made after a renovation much later.  Certainly claiming the spillway drop was somehow more treacherous that the whole of the Colorado River rapids, pretty much lets the knowledgeable in on the joke. I leave it to modern white water rafters to chuckle over that one.

In summary:
Lately the Grand Canyon hoax has been seized upon once again.  The proof?  That nobody at the Smithsonian ever heard of G. E. Kincaid.  Want more proof?  It was published in print!  I now have a most excellent bridge across the Hudson for sale if you wish to purchase …

I've tried to keep a good sense of humor while working on this article and I learned a few things, I didn't know before.  I hope that you have enjoyed the article and the links. Thanks for reading,

King Tut Saloon, far away from the Grand Canyon
[1] From his HPLs essay: Inconceivable events and conditions have a special handicap to overcome, and this can be accomplished only through the maintenance of a careful realism in every phase of the story except that touching on the one given marvel. This marvel must be treated very impressively and deliberately—with a careful emotional “build-up”—else it will seem flat and unconvincing. Being the principal thing in the story, its mere existence should overshadow the characters and events. But the characters and events must be consistent and natural except where they touch the single marvel.”

In building hoax legitimacy, the use of very specific measurements are used to legitimize but also to cordon off explorers so the hoax can’t be easily exploded.  Yeah, go looking 1,500 feet down a sheer cliff on some random wall of the Grand Canyon.  Consider this quote, “First, I would impress that the cavern is nearly inaccessible.  The entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall.  It is located on government land and no visitor will be allowed there under penalty of trespass.”

[2] See also charges of plagiarism by James Runciman, King Plagiarism and His Court, Pub in The Literary News, Vol 11 April 1890, but that’s another story

[3] Variant spellings of his name appear, including Mulhatten, Mulhatton, and Mulholland. Curtis MacDougall, author of the 1940 book Hoaxes, referred to him as "Mulholland." However, sources from the late nineteenth century most consistently wrote his last name as "Mulhattan."

[4] Quotes from Powell’s book, Canyons of the Colorado
August 11 -- We remain at this point to-day for the purpose of determining the latitude and longitude, measuring the height of the falls, drying our rations, and repairing our boats.

Captain Powell early in the morning takes a barometer and goes out to cimb a point between the two rivers. I walk down the gorge to the left at the foot of the cliff, climb to a bench, and discover a trail, deeply worn in the rock. Where it crosses the side gulches in some places steps have been cut. I can see no evidence of its having been traveled for a long time. It was doubtless a path used by the people who inhabited this country anterior to the present Indian races--the people who built the communal houses of which mention has been made.

I return to camp about three o'clock and find that some of the men have discovered ruins and many fragments of pottery; also etchings and hieroglyphics on the rocks.

It's easy to see how somebody who is either sloppy or ignorant might misread the above quotes.  The people previous to the present Indians were other Indians, going back some 10 to 30 thousand years, not Egyptians.  Also, the term "hieroglyphics" does not automatically mean Egyptian, it's just the most common known to the average person.  Other cultures have used logograms as well.

Some Additional Links of Interest
List of lost cities, some real and some are fantasies

Another reference to the Montana lost city

Caribbean city hoax, but much more recent  

The city that was not so lost and no hoax, Tanis 

Hoaxipedia, the website of the Museum of Hoaxes.  see the entry

See book, Hoaxes, by Curis D. MacDougall, pub by Macmillan NY, 1940

See also Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology, by Keenneth L. Feder (PhD), October 2010, pub by Greenwood.  Some bio info on Feder

Download digital versions of King Solomon’s Mines

Finally for your listening pleasure:  Walk Like the Egyptians and  King Tut 
G. E. Kinkaid -- ruler of the Grand Canyon

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Message 2016

This holiday is always a somber one for me.  This history of Memorial Day is interesting as well.

My suggestion for this Memorial Day is to learn how to make a cord bracelet in the memory of someone you know/knew … and then give it away.  This is much in the same mood as the Vietnam era metal POW-MIA remembrance bracelets, which I remember from when I was younger.  Let’s remember all the people who served as well those who are serving now including their spouses and children.  We can make Memorial Day one of remembrance and healing.  

Bracelets go a way back in the military, with wrist dog tag bracelets being issued as early as the Spanish American War and then later into WWI.  The tradition of knotted cord bracelets in the Navy goes back a good deal farther.  Sailors made knotted items in their spare time and one of the things they made to show their skill were bracelets.  Those earlier type bracelets didn’t necessarily have a military association and they were generally nautical work.

My father, Iwo Jima
WWII saw jewelry makers produce men’s ID bracelets in sterling and they were very popular.  Many had the owner’s name engraved on the front and the back and possibly branch of service or a specialty insignia, such as pilot’s wings or the Marine Corps logo.  They were popular gifts to from women and from men as well.  Sterling ID bracelets continued to be popular after WWII and were very commonly worn up until the late 1960s.  The military forms powerful bonds of brotherhood and military members gave tokens to each other such as a dog tag exchange, or personalized gifts such as sterling ID bracelets in WWII

The Vietnam War saw implementation of the original POW/MIAmetal bracelets I referred to previously, with the missing or prisoner’s name on the bracelet.  The idea was to remember the person until they were released or their remains identified. See also

More recently, parachute cord bracelets may have been around early as WWII because the cord was available to many military members, not just those in paratrooper units and aviators.  The cord had many uses and GIs scrounged the cord for a multitude of uses.  The Vietnam War perhaps also saw the modest use of parachute cord bracelets, but I have not been successful in finding any examples.
I've always liked this image of Winston enjoying a Tommy Gun moment

Certainly parachute cord bracelets, in the form we have become familiar with begins to appear about 1980, although I personally can’t date exactly when I saw the first one.  Originally they were buddy bracelets and were woven permanently on a person’s arm by their buddy and were not removable.   Later ones, used a BDU button to make it removable, probably because some commands didn’t allow the bracelet for a number of reasons, some of which might have been safety.

By the late 1980s I began to see parachute cord bracelets that had a plastic latch buckle, a miniature version of the type used on military combat belts.  Now paracord bracelets are in a variety of colors, for a variety of causes and are not always associated with the military.  The utility of having 8 to 10 feet of 550 pound test nylon multistrand cord handily around your wrist appealed to survivalists, hikers and folks who just liked being prepared. 

A fairly good-sized cottage industry has grown up making and selling paracord bracelets at flea markets, gun shows, and through the internet for a variety of causes in a variety of colors.  Rather than be a fashion accessory, let it be a symbol of caring.  It doesn’t matter if you have never been in the military yourself, make one and give it to somebody who was or is in the military or their spouse or children.  The gesture of giving something you have personally made means far more than you think.   Let’s put the memory back into Memorial Day.  This isn’t about supporting war or being against war, it’s about supporting people.

Here are some guides on making a paracord bracelet for yourself or for others:

Washington Navy Yard Museum (National Museum of the US Navy) in Washington DC has perhaps the earliest bracelet as from the sinking of the Maine.

How to make turkshead knot work bracelet