In 1843, Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Charles Anderson Dana about writing for the Transcendentalist’s magazine, The Dial:
“It has coaxed & wheedled all men & women for contributions; it has sucked & pumped their brains, pilfered their portfolios, peeked into their journals, published their letters, and what it got, it has mutilated, interpolated, & misprinted, and never so much as said, Thank you, or Pardon me; on the contrary, a favourite method has been to extract by importunity a month’s labor from its victim, & when it was done, send it back or suppress it as not fit for our purpose.”
— Quoted in Yours Ever: People and Their Letters (2009) by Thomas Mallon
La belle dame sans merci (1893) by John William Waterhouse, inspired by John Keats’ poem of the same name, which contains these lines:
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild…
I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”
Painting from the gallery of the Art Renewal Center. Until today, I had never noticed the heart on her sleeve.
Summer Afternoon on a Lake, circa 1895, by Jean-Leon Gerome (1824- 1904)
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company issued many public service booklets. Unfortunately, they did not date them, or credit the writers or illustrators. But I love the art on this one.
One stylish young man, photographed by J. Winter, 22 South Salina and 2 West Rail Road Streets, Syracuse, New York. I love the chair.
Our effusive and sincere thanks to Alan Stamm, a veteran communicator, for ferreting out this advertisement for the photographer whose work is shown above.
Just when I thought I had all that I desired, and could be tempted no more, I discovered that one can make a chess set from amber. At the website of Elizabeth Gann, who specializes in the rare and extraordinary in chess sets, there it was: a chess set in amber — butterscotch for the lighter pieces and cherry for the darker. The pieces are elegant in their simplicity, magical in their material. I wrote to Ms. Gann and asked her for some details, and she replied:
“It took three years to get the colour (cherry) in the amber, and one year to turn and carve. The King is 5.5″. We only made two [sets]. One is in the US and one in Europe. The board was made separately. The pieces can be remade, [upon] finding the same colour, quality and, of course, quantity. The problem is, there hasn’t been any [more amber of this quality] in almost three years now.”
Should you be interested, the price for a new set would be approximately $59,000. Given the set’s rarity, craftsmanship and beauty, it seems like a bargain.
Oh my goodness. I have found yet another source of inspiration, and envy: the Anonymous Chess Collector site. Rare and beautiful sets, with fascinating history and commentary. Until today, I had no idea what “vegetable ivory” was, and that you could make a chess set out of it, but you can.
Shown above, an Irish Killarney set on a matching board. I want it.