Vintage

Whose Ordered Plan?


The British say this is a work of madness:
An eccentric architectural plan thought to have been drawn by George III during his period of "madness" has been discovered at the British Library.
It is part of a huge collection of papers put together by the King during his reign from 1760 to 1820.
The loose piece of paper was tucked inside a volume about the Palaces of Hanover in Germany.
The diagram of a building was drawn in ink over a pencil outline "in a rather savage way", according to experts.
Peter Barber, head of map collections at the British Library, said the drawing, scribbled on the back of an order of service from St George's Chapel in Windsor, was "not an ordered plan".
It looks like someone was working out some ideas; if this is what madness looks like, oh well.

We have to remember that this was drawn with a crude implement, dipped in ink, and probably not in the best of light. It could have been a sketch to work out some ideas or it could have been the work of someone trying to amuse themselves. It could also have not been drawn by George III at all and it could have been done by a servant or someone at his direction.

Take a Cultural Treasure Away From the British


Kelly Clarkson has been gracious, but there's no reason why she has had to be. Her decision to accept the sale of Jane Austen's ring back to the English speaking people of what they call Great Britain now is admirable. I come down on the side of history. Let the highest bidder walk away with items that are privately owned.

The British government has appropriated untold numbers of treasures from other countries. Sending back the cultural artifacts of Greece alone would involve removing massive numbers of items and sending them back to the Greece. And we're having a conniption about one ring?

The conqueror and the thief have reigned for thousands of years and now we're going to deny the purchasing power of the pop princess who wants to take something she's willing to pay for home with her? Something is a little out of whack here.

No Reason to Call Them The Tudors


I think that the scholarship on display here is more than adequate to the task of explaining why the term "Tudor" does not appear in the writings of the 16th Century. Clearly, one would have to have a fairly significant amount of time spent with the writings and the materials of the day.

However, the written word does not equal the spoken word. A term like "Tudor" could certainly have been spoken or used when two people spoke of the monarchy, but the formal, written words used during that time may have avoided the term. We know that people cursed; rarely do you see written proof of what they said informally. We know they had sex; rarely do you find examples where the details are laid out in the text. We know there were jokes, songs, and cutting remarks made, because that is part of human nature. Funny how they were not written down all that much.

The official records and writings of the time may not reference "Tudor" but perhaps some of the more cutting remarks made between rivals included the term. Perhaps some of the songs of the era used the word as a shorthand or a mocking term. Saying conclusively that the term was not used is a little hard for me to believe, but I do accept what Mr. Davies is saying.

This is a Fanciful Notion


One of the safest jobs in the world is that of a piano tuner. If you have enough clients, I would be willing to bet that you can keep your gig and not have to worry about being replaced by a robot. Aside from a downturn in the economy (and a dearth of young people playing the instrument), there isn't much to work against you, as far as I know.

Tuning a piano requires a great deal of skill. And tuning a piano used by people who own the higher end instruments is like being welcomed into a special place. If you own and play a top of the line piano, you're not going to trust it to just anyone. So, when I saw this story about how piano tuners are going to be replaced by robots, I just laughed:


Given that people are picky--and, given that people believe themselves to be able to discern music in ways far superior to machines--I would be willing to bet you that few people will accept the robot tuner unless it is used by their old and faithful piano tuner in order to do the job quicker and cheaper.

But, really. If you're paying someone to tune your piano, what's a few bucks between old friends?

England Slaps an Export Ban on a Manet


Imagine coming up with a significant amount of money for a painting only to be thwarted from buying it at the last minute by the machinations of the British government. How this is fair, I do not know; the cultural treasures of certain nation/states are, understandably, protected.

The problem here is that Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus is not a cultural treasure of England in any sense of the word or idea; it is a treasure that has been rarely seen and has nothing to do with England at all. It is, however, valuable and that may explain why this is less about art, more about money.

How this stands up in the court of international opinion is unknown. I would think that this would lead to people being very wary of buying anything owned by a British subject and would make it exceedingly difficult for a British subject to sell anything valuable.
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England Slaps an Export Ban on a Manet


Imagine coming up with a significant amount of money for a painting only to be thwarted from buying it at the last minute by the machinations of the British government. How this is fair, I do not know; the cultural treasures of certain nation/states are, understandably, protected.

The problem here is that Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus is not a cultural treasure of England in any sense of the word or idea; it is a treasure that has been rarely seen and has nothing to do with England at all. It is, however, valuable and that may explain why this is less about art, more about money.

How this stands up in the court of international opinion is unknown. I would think that this would lead to people being very wary of buying anything owned by a British subject and would make it exceedingly difficult for a British subject to sell anything valuable.
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The Myth of Vintage Instruments


This admission from Norman Lebrecht is a fascinating one. He is, by being so candid, risking his own livelihood and the derision of people who play fine instruments. So, kudos to him for being so precise in his account of what happened when new violins were compared to vintage ones (not just of the Stradivarius variety).

Lebrecht says, in effect, a violin made recently and worth maybe $10K is actually a better playing experience than a ten million dollar vintage instrument.

This brings to mind the ongoing fraud that is the vintage guitar market. Guitars are manufactured with some very high standards but not as high as violins. Guitars are made to accommodate wires and metal bars and magnetic pickups and things of that nature. The violin is, essentially, a box with strings held together with glue. And if such a thing as that can be better than a vintage one, then why can't a modern-manufactured guitar be better than one made in the 1950s?