Friday, November 30, 2012

INDIANA JONES PROP SALE – The Holy Grail of Props Sold

Christistie’s had a prop sale this past Thursday, 29 November 2012 that would make a prop collector pass out. 

I have always loved movie props and couldn’t afford to get into the action when Forrest Ackerman’s magnificent collection of classic movie props were auctioned off a few years back.  Up until now, I had thought that sale was the ultimate “cat’s meow” of collecting, until now.


In the Christie’s auction catalogue of Pop Culture on pages 68 and 69 were several movie props that were calculated to make movie fans and prop collectors pass out with envy.  They had on auction Indiana Jones’ whip from Raiders of the Lost Ark!  If that wasn’t enough, they also had items from The Last Crusade such as the grail diary and the holy grail.  These are some of the most beloved Indy props around.  About the only few things they didn’t have was Indy’s hat, jacket, and map case.  As for me, I am waiting for the Raider’s prop of the ark of the covenant to show up at auction.


The prices realized were $32,000 for the whip $30,000 grail diary prop $19,000 for the holy grail prop.  I follow prop making sites and prop collecting sites such as Propnomicon and even seen a few well made grail diaries and the like but to own the original screen used prop … priceless.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Military Folding Bicycles and Curiosities

Historical cycles for Neo-Victorian Steampunk Revivalists and historians of the industrial revolution.

I have always like the history of early military bicycles, which for me started years back with reading an article about the U.S. Army’s flirtation with military bicycles and also with a series of pre WWI Dutch photogravures I purchased of a machine gun unit that used bicycles to transport and deploy their weapon.   Add to that an interest in inventions such as the folding bike and we’re off to the races.  There is no point in me “reinventing the wheel” so to speak, so I’ve decided to just post some of the photos and links I have found for others who share an interest in military history, invention, and bicycles. 

For an excellent overview of Victorian military bicycling costume, which is perfect for you military minded steampunkers, click the following link. has some excellent information including an amazing folding penny farthing along with a lot of good period illustrations of other early folding bikes and is perhaps one of the clearest and best sites on the subject in a single post.

Don’t forget to check out the BSA & military bicycle museum site, which as a page about military folders.  I really recommend it.

There are a couple of books that I keep seeing referenced, The Bicycle in Wartime: An Illustrated History by Jim Fitzpatrick and It's in the bag: A History of Portable Cycles in the UK, by Tony Hadland; I haven’t read them, but pass the titles along for others to read. 

Wikipedia has the inevitable article
Also try the online bicycle museum site
 Here is an article about the previously mentioned U.S. Army bicycle tests.  I didn’t mention previously that it was performed by Buffalo Soldiers.  And an article about the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps and their coast-to-coast journey to prove the bicycle was an asset to military movement and logistics.  and
 An interesting sidelight on the subject of inventions is this chainless shaft drive bicycle that seems to offer possibilities for fresh innovation.
 I hope these articles have piqued your interest in military and folding bikes, somewhat and that you continue follow links to find more information.

Update January 2015 -- I have turned up some sequential photos, circa WWI showing a mounted trooper and his bicycle.  It shows him riding, dismounted, firing, carrying his bike, folding it up and then putting it on his back to carry it.  It's actually a pretty impressive way to get mounted infantry around in modern Europe.
 A good deal stranger is the motorized tricycle with a maxim gun mounted on the front.  You can't get more steampunk than that, unless it had a steam engine rather than an early internal combustion engine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

William Hope Hodgson and the H. P. Lovecraft Connection

Horror and fantasy before the Great War unleashed its own horror

Lovecraft was a voracious reader and one author that clearly had an influence on young Lovecraft was the works of William Hope Hodgson whose books all date to before WWI.  Hodgson had a fascinating and varied career as a sailor, bodybuilder, personal coach, poet, author, and military member.  In fact, he died in WWI in April 1918 at Ypres.  Had he lived, who knows what other books he would have written.  As it is, he was a great influence to readers and writers.

These works were always scarce, hard to find and not sought out much by the average reader.  I first read The Boats of the Glen Carrig, and House on the Borderland when Ballentine published the Adult Fantasy Series, bringing back into print important and rare books of influence in the genres of Science Fiction, fantasy, and horror at an affordable price.  I read The Night Land somewhat later.  Long before Project Gutenberg, these editions were the only way an average person could read these scarce tomes.  In fact, if you follow the link, there is a list of published works that are a primer of horror and fantasy.  Now with the internet and on-line book finders such as, it is possible to turn up had to find books. 

I posted this blog entry to interest new readers to Hodgson or Lovecraft and to provide a rudimentary introduction to some of Hodgson’s works.  I am by no means a Lovecraft or Hodgson scholar and the advanced reader won’t find much here that he/she hasn’t already found out about this fascinating author.  Really this has been a trip down memory lane for me and if nothing else, the blog reader will find a few links of interest and some free downloadable books.  You just can’t beat free these days.

H. P Lovecraft had a bit to say about Hodgson’s The Boats of the Glen Carrig in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature  (1927):

"In The Boats of the Glen Carrig (1907) we are shown a variety of malign marvels and accursed unknown lands as encountered by the survivors of a sunken ship. The brooding menace in the earlier parts of the book is impossible to surpass, though a letdown in the direction of ordinary romance and adventure occurs toward the end. An inaccurate and pseudo-romantic attempt to reproduce eighteenth-century prose detracts from the general effect, but the really profound nautical erudition everywhere displayed is a compensating factor."

The Night Land (1912) is a much longer and more ambitious book, that seems to presage Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.  Lovecraft absorbed much in his reading and little escaped his eye, filing away information like a computer for later inquiry or incorporation.  The House on the Borderland (1908) is perhaps the best known of Hodgson’s works to the modern reader, and one can see elements in Dreams in the Witch House.  China MiĆ©ville traces the origin of "the tentacle" as an object of horror in H. P. Lovcraft in the book, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, about ships trapped Devil’s Triangle of the Sargasso Sea in  his 2009 essay, The Tentacles.

Lovecraft’s early milieu is one that needs study to understand how genres of fantasy & horror evolved and then much later fused with elements of science fiction and reading the books that Lovecraft read can help our understanding of that time. The influences on the Cthulhu Mythos is varied and deserves study and our attention.  Interest in Hodgson’s works are now at an all time high and editions are more plentiful and easier to find.   However, you need not go out of pocket because Project Gutenberg has these  Hodgson novels available for free download:

The House on the Borderland
The Boats of the Glen Carrig
As well as two other novels
Carnacki, The Ghost Finder
And a short story by Hodgson from another source  The Fifth Message from the Tideless Sea
Lovecraft’s Supernautal Horror in Literature download

Additional links of interest

Undoubtedly I have missed some obvious links and observations, but this little bit should be enough to entice and send an inquiring mind off into the aether of the internet for more information and stories.  Happy hunting and happy reading.