1492 in 1932

1492 a

1492 d


The More Things Change

“The President, suspicious of honest men but credulous when among rogues, had swallowed the theory… that the whole affair had been blown up as a political stunt.”

— Gerald Carson, writing about President Ulysses S. Grant and his appointees’ involvement in the “Whiskey Ring” in 1875, in The Social History of Bourbon (1963)

Women in Polo


“The prettiest woman in the world loses her beauty when at these violent exercises. Hot and damp, mopping her flushed and streaming face with her handkerchief, she has lost that sense of repose, that delicate self-restraint, which belongs to the ideal woman. She is no longer dainty. She has thrown off her grace and abandoned all that makes her lovely for the uncomely roughness of pastimes wherein she cannot excel, and of which it was never intended she should be a partaker. We have not yet heard of women polo-players; but that will come.”

— Eliza Lynn Linton (shown above) from “The Wild Women as Social Insurgents” in The Nineteenth Century magazine, October 1891

“Some damsels, too, were present, who were really quite enthusiastic, and who not only wanted to know the names of ponies and players, but even said it was ‘an awful shame that women could not play polo!’ Women do most things nowadays, for have we not lady doctors, lady lawyers, lady gardeners, lady tea-planters, lady cricketers, and the latest development of feminine talent, lady commercial travellers; but really the line must be drawn at polo, though the sight of two damsels hustling each other would perhaps be edifying!”

— J. Moray Brown from “Polo in May” in Baily’s Magazine, June 1892.

And so, some edification for Mr. Brown:

Ed 1

Courtney Asdourian of Catena USA backs the ball underneath the horse of Maureen Brennan of Northern Trust, at the 9th annual Women’s Championship tournament in Wellington, Florida.  Photo by Scott Fisher.

Ed 2

Three polo photos by Mark Crislip

Ed 3

Camila Rossi at a tournament in Pilar, Argentina.

Ed 4

Yamila Natacha Ruano, 2010 Ladies Polo World Championship at Cañuelas, Argentina.

Ale Barbieri Argentina

And one more for good measure, by photographer Ale Barbieri of Argentina.




Dollar Sign

“That the initials U.S. were intertwined to make the dollar sign has become to us today an intellectually degrading fact in the national life.”

— Mabel Dodge Luhan in Intimate Memories: Background (1933)


“Charles Bickell, the blind vendor of pencils, a familiar personage to Auburnians, suffered severe injuries by falling down the elevator shaft of Cossum & Cuykendall in Market street about 11 o’clock Saturday morning. Bickell was going along the street, stopping in the various stores to dispose of pencils. In entering places, he locates the steps with the aid of a cane and as he came along at Cossum & Cuykendall’s store he located the step, as he supposed, leading into the store. Instead of the entrance to the store, however, it was the step in front of the elevator shaft, the next doorway to the East. He got up on the stone step and in feeling for the latch on the door fell down the elevator hole. His cries for help brought the employees to the scene at once and the injured man was carried up out of the elevator hole. Dr. Conway was called and the injured man was removed to his room at the Peacock house where it was found that his skull was slightly fractured and an ugly gash made in the scalp, to close which required nine stitches, besides numerous other bruises and contusions.

“Bickell was formerly a barber and lost his eyesight by being struck on the head with a loaded cane July 5, 1886.”

— “A Blind Man’s Fall,” The Auburn (N.Y.) Bulletin, December 14, 1901

Our Market Is Fair

Slaver's Stationery 10 13 1860

Sometimes it’s the everyday things that touch and teach us, and this envelope from 1860 – stationery used every day for business correspondence – really gave me a jolt, more than any statistics or written history could.

The envelope held a letter, in which a business man calmly noted, “Our market is fair at this time, several here who wish to buy some good negroes…”

Before and during the Civil War, Richmond was a center of the slave trade, with more than 60 slave dealers and auction houses. But the business was no different to most than the trade in salt or tobacco. And slaves weren’t just bought and sold; they were bred, leased, traded, even used as collateral for loans. There was a futures market in slaves. Tens of millions of dollars changed hands.

Nor was this purely a southern enterprise. In the early days of the Civil War, slavery was still legal in six Union states—Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia—and the sale of slaves in these states was taxable.

This chilling piece of history is from an exhibit at the U.S. Postal Museum, which also includes documents that bear federally-issued revenue stamps as proof that the tax on a slave sale was paid, all very routine and official.

You will find the exhibit online here: http://postalmuseum.si.edu/freedom/p2.html

* * *

The site of the Odd Fellows Hall noted on the envelope is today a part of the Richmond Slave Trail, marker #3 at North 15th Street & East Main Street. The marker notes that the slave auctions took place in the basement.

Memorial Money

Garfield FiverShot in 1881 by a disgruntled and delusional office seeker, who wished a diplomatic post in France, President James A. Garfield was remembered in 1882 on a five dollar bill.

McKinley PesoShot and killed by an anarchist in Buffalo at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, President William McKinley was remembered on the Philippine five peso bill in 1921.