19th Century Ghosts


Material Culture

The Armour-Stiner Octagon House

Of all the historic houses I’ve seen, the Armour-Stiner Octagon House in Irvington, New York has become a new favorite. I am absolutely enamored by its bold color palette, stunning interior, and unique structure. Its preservation story is also quite heartwarming.

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The Comb Ran Away with the Razor: The Storied Furniture of William Burges

“Now this is how you engage with a piece of furniture!”

exclaimed Ian Dungavell, course leader for the Victorian Society in America’s London Midlands tour. Only amongst a group of decorative art and architecture enthusiasts would an intense discussion on furniture not only happen, but also be so stimulating.

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At last, two years in the making, the book I contributed to is finally out!

Continue reading “I’M PUBLISHED!”

Once Upon a Movember: Peter the Great’s Beard Tax

As I am enamored by both Russian history and beards, what better way to kick off Movember than with a post on Peter the Great, otherwise known as the Tsar who sheared a nation.

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A Mustache State of Mind

It’s Movember! Do you have mustaches on the brain? I sure do… In fact, I spend quite a lot of time thinking about them. Perhaps you’re wondering how this obsession began…

A few years ago, I was browsing the New York Historical Society’s open collections storage when my eyes singled out a tiny, seemingly insignificant object: a mustache comb.

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The Victorian Penchant for Plumage

Naturalia bloomed in the Victorian period. People filled their parlors with ferns, terrariums, aquariums, shell collections, and taxidermy. Fondness for the natural world literally translated from parlor to person. Flowers, fruit, furs, birds, feathers, reptiles, and mice were popular decoration for the fashionable accessories of the late nineteenth-century and predominantly so on women’s hats.

[Image credit: Silk bonnet with birds, ca. 1890, Metropolitan Museum of Art]

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