Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Major Liquidation Sale

Just wanted to give my History Buffs a heads-up - We are having a really big Liquidation Sale at Most of our merchandise is priced right around cost - savings of up to 80% off retail!

Friday, May 26, 2006

This Day in History: May 26, 1896

Czar Nicholas II crowned

Nicholas II, the last czar, is crowned ruler of Russia in the old Ouspensky Cathedral in Moscow.

Nicholas was neither trained nor inclined to rule, which did not help the autocracy he sought to preserve in an era desperate for change. Born in 1868, he succeeded to the Russian throne upon the death of his father, Czar Alexander III, in November 1894. That same month, the new czar married Alexandra, a German-born princess who came to have great influence over her husband. After a period of mourning for his late father, Nicholas and Alexandra were crowned czar and czarina in May 1896.

As the ruler of Russia, Nicholas resisted calls for reform and sought to maintain czarist absolutism; although he lacked the strength of will necessary for such a task. The disastrous outcome of the Russo-Japanese War led to the Russian Revolution of 1905, which Nicholas only diffused after approving a representative assembly--the Duma--and promising constitutional reforms. The czar soon retracted these concessions and repeatedly dissolved the Duma, contributing to the growing public support enjoyed by the Bolsheviks and other revolutionary groups.

In 1914, Nicholas led his country into another costly war--World War I--and discontent grew as food became scarce, soldiers became war-weary, and devastating defeats at the hands of Germany demonstrated the ineffectiveness of Russia under Nicholas. In 1915, the czar personally took over command of the army, leaving the Czarina Alexandra in control at home. Her unpopular court was dominated by the Russian mystic Rasputin, who replaced the czar's competent ministers and officials with questionable nominees.

In March 1917, the army garrison at Petrograd joined striking workers in demanding socialist reforms, and Nicholas II was called on to abdicate. On March 15, he renounced the throne in favor of his brother Michael, whose refusal of the crown brought an end to the czarist autocracy in Russia. Nicholas, his wife, and children were held at the Czarskoye Selo palace by Russia's Provincial Government and in August moved to Tobolsk in Western Siberia under pressure from the Petrograd Soviet, the powerful coalition of soldiers' and workers' councils that shared power with the Provincial Government in the first stage of the Russian Revolution.

In November 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia and set about establishing the world's first communist state. In April 1918, Nicholas and his family were transferred to Yekaterinburg in the Urals, which sealed their doom. Civil war broke out in Russia in June 1918, and in July the anti-Bolshevik "White" Russian forces advanced on Yekaterinburg during a campaign against the Bolshevik forces. Local authorities were ordered to prevent a rescue of the Romanovs, and after a secret meeting by the Yekaterinburg Soviet, a death sentence was passed on the imperial family.

Just after midnight on July 17, Nicholas, Alexandra, their five children, and four family retainers were ordered to dress quickly and go down to the cellar of the house in which they were being held. There, the family and servants were arranged in two rows for a photograph they were told was being taken to quell rumors that they had escaped. Suddenly, a dozen armed men burst into the room and gunned down the imperial family in a hail of gunfire.

The remains of Nicholas, Alexandra, and three of their children were excavated in a forest near Yekaterinburg in 1991 and positively identified two years later using mtDNA fingerprinting. The Crown Prince Alexei and one Romanov daughter were not accounted for, fueling the persistent legend that Anastasia, the youngest Romanov daughter, had survived the execution of her family. Of the several "Anastasias" that surfaced in Europe in the decade after the Russian Revolution, Anna Anderson, who died in the United States in 1984, was the most convincing. In 1994, however, scientists used mtDNA to prove that Anna Anderson was not Anastasia but a Polish woman named Franziska Schanzkowska.

From The History Channel


Still very busy at work. I will try to post when I can!

Have a great long weekend!


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Thursday, May 18, 2006

This Day in History: May 18, 1860

Lincoln nominated for presidency

Abraham Lincoln, a one-time U.S. representative from Illinois, is nominated for the U.S. presidency by the Republican National Convention meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for the vice presidency.

Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to Congress, first gained national stature during his campaign against Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the slavery issue, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party. In 1860, Lincoln won the party's presidential nomination.

In the November election, Lincoln again faced Douglas, who represented the Northern faction of a heavily divided Democratic Party, as well as Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell. On November 6, 1860, Lincoln defeated his opponents with only 40 percent of the popular vote, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. The announcement of Lincoln's victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.

By the time of Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established, with Jefferson Davis as its elected president. One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

From The History Channel


Yes. It's been a very long time. What happened? I got promoted! Which is really cool, but I've been horribly busy, and unfortunately the blog had to pay for it. Things are much more under control now, so I'll be able to be more consistent from now on. Thanks for your patience!

Right now San Diego is having what's called "May Gray". The marine layer from the ocean basically hovers over the city all day, and the sun barely comes out. It's really hard to be a midwestern transplant to have to deal with this, since I'm used to May weather being nice! Summer will be here soon, though...


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Abraham Lincoln Pot Belly box
These handcrafted Pot Belly boxes, designed in Gloucestershire, England, feature presidential caricatures carved into crushed marble bodies. Each boasts hand-painted, "politically correct" details and vivid colors that even Congress would surely approve of. Perfect for storing tiny treasures; great gift, too. 2½"x2".

Friday, April 28, 2006

This Day in History: April 28, 1789

Mutiny on the HMS Bounty

Three weeks into a journey from Tahiti to the West Indies, the HMS Bounty is seized in a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian, the master's mate. Captain William Bligh and 18 of his loyal supporters were set adrift in a small, open boat, and the Bounty set course for Tubuai south of Tahiti.

In December 1787, the Bounty left England for Tahiti in the South Pacific, where it was to collect a cargo of breadfruit saplings to transport to the West Indies. There, the breadfruit would serve as food for slaves. After a 10-month journey, the Bounty arrived in Tahiti in October 1788 and remained there for more than five months. On Tahiti, the crew enjoyed an idyllic life, reveling in the comfortable climate, lush surroundings, and the famous hospitality of the Tahitians. Fletcher Christian fell in love with a Tahitian woman named Mauatua.

On April 4, 1789, the Bounty departed Tahiti with its store of breadfruit saplings. On April 28, near the island of Tonga, Christian and 25 petty officers and seamen seized the ship. Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him. By setting him adrift in an overcrowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific, Christian and his conspirators had apparently handed him a death sentence. By remarkable seamanship, however, Bligh and his men reached Timor in the East Indies on June 14, 1789, after a voyage of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon sailed again to Tahiti, from where he successfully transported breadfruit trees to the West Indies.

Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai. Unsuccessful in their colonizing effort, the Bounty sailed north to Tahiti, and 16 crewmen decided to stay there, despite the risk of capture by British authorities. Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men, a dozen Tahitian women, and a child, decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the Bounty settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated and uninhabited volcanic island more than 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained on Tahiti were captured and taken back to England where three were hanged. A British ship searched for Christian and the others but did not find them.

In 1808, an American whaling vessel was drawn to Pitcairn by smoke from a cooking fire. The Americans discovered a community of children and women led by John Adams, the sole survivor of the original nine mutineers. According to Adams, after settling on Pitcairn the colonists had stripped and burned the Bounty, and internal strife and sickness had led to the death of Fletcher and all the men but him. In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and he served as patriarch of the Pitcairn community until his death in 1829.

In 1831, the Pitcairn islanders were resettled on Tahiti, but unsatisfied with life there they soon returned to their native island. In 1838, the Pitcairn Islands, which includes three nearby uninhabited islands, was incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855, Pitcairn's population had grown to nearly 200, and the two-square-mile island could not sustain its residents. In 1856, the islanders were removed to Norfolk Island, a formal penal colony nearly 4,000 miles to the west. However, less than two years later, 17 of the islanders returned to Pitcairn, followed by more families in 1864. Today, around 40 people live on Pitcairn Island, and all but a handful are descendants of the Bounty mutineers. About a thousand residents of Norfolk Island (half its population) trace their lineage from Fletcher Christian and the eight other Englishmen.

Everyone have a fabulous weekend!

I know I will :)

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British Colonial brass compass
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Thursday, April 27, 2006

This Day in History: April 27, 1901

Magellan killed in the Phillippines

After traveling three-quarters of the way around the globe, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan is killed during a tribal skirmish on Mactan Island in the Philippines. Earlier in the month, his ships had dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebý, and Magellan met with the local chief, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan. In the subsequent fighting, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

Magellan, a Portuguese noble, fought for his country against the Muslim domination of the Indian Ocean and Morocco. He participated in a number of key battles and in 1514 asked Portugal's King Manuel for an increase in his pension. The king refused, having heard unfounded rumors of improper conduct on Magellan's part after a siege in Morocco. In 1516, Magellan again made the request and the king again refused, so Magellan went to Spain in 1517 to offer his services to King Charles I, later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

In 1494, Portugal and Spain, at the prompting of Pope Alexander VI, settled disputes over newly discovered lands in America and elsewhere by dividing the world into two spheres of influence. A line of demarcation was agreed to in the Atlantic Ocean--all new discoveries west of the line were to be Spanish, and all to the east Portuguese. Thus, South and Central America became dominated by the Spanish, with the exception of Brazil, which was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Pedro ýlvares Cabral in 1500 and was somewhat east of the demarcation line. Other Portuguese discoveries in the early 16th century, such as the Moluccas Islands--the Spice Islands of Indonesia--made the Spanish jealous.

To King Charles, Magellan proposed sailing west, finding a strait through the Americas, and then continuing west to the Moluccas, which would prove that the Spice Islands lay west of the demarcation line and thus in the Spanish sphere. Magellan knew that the world was round but underestimated its size, thinking that the Moluccas must be situated just west of the American continent, not on the other side of a great uncharted ocean. The king accepted the plan, and on September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain in command of five ships and 270 men.

Magellan sailed to West Africa and then to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific. He searched the Rýo de la Plata, a large estuary south of Brazil, for a way through; failing, he continued south along the coast of Patagonia. At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarter at Port St. Julian. On Easter day at midnight, the Spanish captains mutinied against their Portuguese captain, but Magellan crushed the revolt, executing one of the captains and leaving another ashore when his ship left St. Julian in August.

On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking. The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America, separating Tierra del Fuego and the continental mainland. Only three ships entered the passage; one had been wrecked and another deserted. It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait, and when ocean was sighted at the other end Magellan wept with joy. He was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named "Pacific," from the Latin word pacificus, meaning "tranquil." By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive. On March 6, 1521, the expedition landed at the island of Guam. Ten days later, they reached the Philippines--they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands.

After Magellan's death, the survivors, in two ships, sailed on to the Moluccas and loaded the hulls with spice. One ship attempted, unsuccessfully, to return across the Pacific. The other ship, the Victoria, continued west under the command of the Basque navigator Juan Sebastiýn de Elcano. The vessel sailed across the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Seville on September 9, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.

My co-worker says that Magellan was killed in the Phillippines because "he had too much fun over there"...

Sorry there was no post yesterday. I’ve been so busy lately!

It’s cold and gray in San Diego today. Again! Why does this keep happening?

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This Day in History: April 25, 1901

New York is the first state to require license plates

In the United States, the first license plates used on automobiles were seen in New York, in 1901. The first NY plates actually had no numbers. From 1901 through 1902, the plates were usually leather pads or flat metal plates, with attached letters indicating the initials of the car owner. New York didn't actually produce a state-issued license plate until 1910, when a cream on blue steel plate was made - undated, with riveted numbers. Plates in New York from 1901 through 1909 were owner-provided plates, usually referred to by plate collectors as "pre-states", because they were "pre-state issue".

Massachusetts and West Virginia were the first states to issue plates, in 1903. The earliest plates were made out of porcelain baked onto iron, or simple ceramic with no backing, which made them extremely fragile and impractical. Few examples of these earliest plates survive. Later materials experimented with include cardboard, leather, plastic, and during wartime shortages, copper and pressed soybeans.

Earlier plates varied in size and even shape from one jurisdiction to the next, such that if one moved, new holes would be needed drilled into the bumper to support the new plate. Standardization of plates came in 1957, when automobile manufacturers came to agreement with governments and international standards organizations. Our standard, the one used in the bulk of the Western Hemisphere countries, is six by 12 inches.

I just came across this little event, and while it’s not incredibly historically significant, it’s rather interesting, don’t you think?

Today is a very un-San Diego day. Cloudy and chilly. Ick. It makes me want to curl up on the couch and watch movies. Maybe Casablanca? ;)

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Set of 10 vintage license plates
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Monday, April 24, 2006

This Day in History: April 24, 1942

Ingrid Bergman signs on for Casablanca
Ingrid Bergman signs with Warner Bros. to play Ilsa, opposite Humphrey Bogart, in Casablanca (1942). Bergman was under contract with David O. Selznick, but he allowed her to do Casablanca in exchange for the right to use Warner Bros.' Olivia de Havilland in another film.

Bergman was born in Sweden, orphaned at a young age, and raised by family. After high school, she attended the Royal Dramatic Theater School and just a year later was landing lead roles in Swedish films. Her performance in Intermezzo (1936) so impressed David O. Selznick that he invited her to Hollywood to reprise her role in the U.S version. In 1937, she married a Swedish dentist, and the couple had a daughter.

In Hollywood, she soon won acclaim for roles in films like For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943); Gaslight (1944), for which she won an Oscar; and Notorious (1946). Her career came to a sudden halt in 1949, however, when she left her husband for Italian director Roberto Rossellini. She and Rossellini married the following year and had three children, one of whom is actress and model Isabella Rossellini.

Bergman's desertion of her family provoked an outcry in an America already concerned about the scandalous behavior of Hollywood stars. No U.S. studio would touch her, but she starred in Italian films directed by her husband-none of which were successful. After seven years, she pulled off an unexpected comeback, appearing in Anastasia (1956) as an amnesiac refugee who claimed to be the daughter of the late Czar. She won an Academy Award and continued to appear in U.S. films. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1974 for Murder on the Orient Express. She died in 1982 after a long battle with cancer.


I must admit that I’ve never seen Casablanca. I should really get around to it!

San Diego weather this weekend was super nice. There was some rain on Saturday night but on Saturday and Sunday during the day it was perfect. I can’t wait for summer! I live a block and a half from the beach. :P


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Framed Casablanca poster
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Casablanca film cell collectible
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