The Drama of Point d’Alençon Needle Lace
In its heyday, lace was beautiful, expensive, and handmade. Naturally, lace smuggling became the stuff of legend.
Hot Air Balloon Launch Riot!
In the early days of ballooning, launches were prone to failure. When failure looked imminent, the crowd’s mood would begin to turn.
The Cabarets of Heaven and Hell
In 1890s Paris, cabarets in bohemian Montmartre gave visitors a chance to tour the afterlife.
Venus of the Sewers
The Roman sewer, the Cloaca Maxima, was presided over by a goddess whose shrine stood near the Forum.
How Wet-Nursing Stoked Class Tensions
“[N]o man can justly doubt, that a childs mind is answerable to his nurses milk and manners.”
Peter the Great’s Beard Tax
Why did the Russian tsar seek to ban beards?
The Anatomical Machines of Naples’ Alchemist Prince
Rumor had it that these machines were once the Prince’s servants, whom he murdered and transformed into anatomical displays. Scholars showed otherwise.
Joanna Koerten’s Scissor-Cut Works Were Compared to Michelangelo
And then, snip by snip, she was cut out of the frame of Renaissance art history.
When Paid Applauders Ruled the Paris Opera House
Professional applauders, collectively known as the “claque,” helped mold the tastes of an uncertain audience.
The Princes of Saxony Collected These Kitschy Miniature Mountains
Struck with “Berggeschrey,” or “mountain clamour,” early modern nobles of Saxony dolled up the dirty and dangerous work of the mines with gold and glitter.