Action Man and the black snowflakes


In the olden days of not really very long ago, in the Midlands, where I grew up, we used to make stuff.  Lots of it.  Every day throughout the greater part of the last century, hordes of people set off for work, wearing overalls and carrying sandwiches in a tin.  One by one they turned in at factory gates, … Continue reading

Tunnelling to the future


The first line in the London Underground network – which was also the first underground line in the world – ran from Paddington mainline train station to Farringdon Street.  It was operated by the Metropolitan Railway Company (MRC).  The line opened in 1863 and was a great success, soon carrying over 25,000 passengers a day. … Continue reading

Smokin’ on the R101


From the safety-conscious perspective of the present day,  it seems really quite surprising that an airship – dependent for its very function on an enormous mass of flammable gas – should have a smoking cabin.   Of course, during the 1920s and 30s, when airships seemed for a while the future of international travel, it would … Continue reading

The puzzle of the battle and the brewery


Cigarette lighters fashioned from rifle shells are among the most common forms of trench art.  First World War examples such as this one turn up relatively often, as indeed do examples made during later conflicts. The basic design varies little. The big difference with this one is the engraving (strictly speaking, I think, die-stamped lettering). The … Continue reading

Randomness, survival and curiosity


The world is full of old stuff. Some old stuff survives because it is important or beautiful or valuable, or because it has been loved by one generation after another.  Some old stuff though, survives for no good reason at all.  It’s just the stuff people didn’t throw away.  It is random old stuff.   Often, random … Continue reading