Thursday, October 31, 2013

Countdown To Halloween: "A Hallowe'en Party" (1896)

"Pumpkin Carving", Benjamin Franklin Reinhart, 1872  (via)
It's Halloween! Which means we've come to the end of the Countdown for another year. There's still time to take in the glory of Benjamin Franklin Reinhart's pumpkin carvers, above, another illustration that comes courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society. It also means it's time for a party - Caroline Ticknor's "A Hallowe'en Party" (1896), to be precise.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Countdown to Halloween: War Wounds

Today, a Halloween story from Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine in 1870, in which the emerging holiday touches upon the trauma of the Civil War and the project of reunion.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Countdown to Halloween: Pumpkins Redux

"Pumpkin Time", H. Harring after Benjamin Champney for L. Prang & Co., 1872, via
It's about time we saw some pumpkins on this Countdown - so make sure you click the image above to get a good look at a chromolithograph of Benjamin Champney's "Pumpkin Time", from 1872, courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society. There's also a nice blog post on this image, here. But that's not the only pumpkin delight on offer today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Countdown to Halloween: Walter Scott, "Tam Lin", and "Thomas the Rhymer"; or, Scary Fairies

"The Young Tamlane"
Fairies and old ballads - for various reasons, none of which we need to go into right now, I've been thinking a lot about both over the last little while. So today's post features two old - very old - ballads that feature fairy folk - one which reaches its climax, no less, on Halloween. And, what's more, it's Walter Scott who'll serve as our guide to these supernatural misadventures.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Countdown to Halloween: The Sleepy Hollow Variations

Norman Rockwell's "Ichabod Crane"
It's not often that this blog syncs so neatly with contemporary popular culture (obviously, anyway). But on Wednesday October 9th, Sleepy Hollow, a new ongoing series based (oh so loosely) on Washington Irving's 1820 story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", premieres on Universal UK. It looks delightfully gonzo: the character of Ichabod Crane (now a Revolutionary War hero, it seems) wakes up in the twenty-first century (Rip Van Winkle style - see what they did there?) to battle the headless horseman. Great television premise or the greatest television premise? I can't wait. It seems like an intriguing off-shoot of the contemporary vogue for revisiting nineteenth century moments - Hell on Wheels and Copper on the small screen, Django, Lincoln, The Lone Ranger on the big, off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more. What goes around comes around, of course - but why now, I wonder?

Regardless, this seemed like a good enough prompt to finally rope "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" into this Halloween countdown, and think a little bit about its persistence in American culture - like Norman Rockwell's great depiction of Ichabod, left. If you've never read it, here it is in an 1821 John Murray edition.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Countdown to Halloween: "The Lemur, A Halloween Divertimento" (1822)

Blackwood's Magazine was the unrivalled home of Gothic terror in the early nineteenth century, which makes it rich pickings for those looking for antiquarian thrills at this time of year. Today, however, I'm highlighting a bona fide Halloween treat from Blackwood's, in name as well as substance - "The Lemur, A Halloween Divertimento", published in both the November and December issues in 1822.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Countdown to Halloween: "The Forest Fairies' Fount" (1829)

And so it begins - with a lost gem, an early American Halloween poem from 1829 that not only connects us back to the beginning of last year's Countdown but also comes with its own sad story.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Countdown to Halloween 2013

"Autumn Leaves", John Everett Millais, 1856 (via)
The leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in - so it's time for a little antiquarian spookiness. Yes, the American Scrapbook Countdown to Halloween 2013 starts here. Last year, I had a lot of fun and learned much more than I expected. Please do revisit those posts, all available here, and make sure to catch the post that I put together for the I. B. Tauris blog summing up the experience. Who knows what this October will bring? (Apart from fewer posts, of course - that's pretty much guaranteed.) Make sure to check out some of the other blogs taking part - almost 200 of them, and counting. Stay tuned.