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The 29th of February, a Leap day, is coming up again. On this mysterious date 20- year- olds celebrate their fifth birthdays and so on. What has this got to do with this beautiful armilliary sphere , on display in The Science Museum, London?   Armiliary sphere by Sisson (credit: Science Museum) The sphere was made in 1731 for Prince Frederick , son of George II,  who died before his father, hence he never came to the throne. Both he and Princess Augusta were […]

My post on January 21st marked the anniversary of the execution of King Louis XVI. Clearly, January was a bad month for European monarchs historically, as the 30th marks the anniversary (the 362nd!) of the be-heading of another flamboyant ruler – Charles I of England – in 1649. The battered little heart-shaped jet pendant amulet above commemorates this particular royal execution. It would have been worn as a piece of mourning jewellery and, like other memento mori, a reminder of death […]

In the last few days, an awful lot of web space has been devoted to the lady ‘time traveller’ filmed in 1928, who appears to be chatting away on a mobile.  Of course back then, the film crew were focusing on a Charlie Chaplin premiere, rather than splits in the space-time continuum. But through the eyes of those living in 2010, where mobile phones are omnipresent, the first reaction of many is to reach a fantastical conclusion. Alternative readings of this […]