Guaranteed to Visually Satisfy

(above) The Royal Ascot card of Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham, right fielder in a single major league game for the New York Giants on June 29th 1905. Part of the “50 Subjects of Interest” series.


The invention of color lithography in the 1870′s created a boom in product packaging and advertising, add that to the rise of the cigarette as a popular tobacco product and you get hundreds of  brands of cigerattes. brands with names like HinduCarolina BrightsPiedmont, HassanMuradSweet Caporal.  1909-1911 was the hey day of Tobacco cards, also know as T-206  set  to collectors. The American Tobacco Company (which had 16 brands that contained cards) introduced Royal Ascot cigarettes in 1910.  Royal Ascots held their own in ATC’s line -up and the brand thrived  until the early 20′s when for some unknown reason it was mysteriously discontinued. The only clue in the mystery is a telegram sent to the factory from the home office ordering production to cease without explanation.

(above)  A faded Royal Ascot advertisement  on an exterior wall of a factory.


(above) One of the few brands to attain a loyal following abroad in it’s day,Ascots were an extremely popular brand in Asia.


Like ATC’s other brands , Royal Ascots also included trading cards as a buying incentive. Though not as popular as it’s competitors sports card series, R.A. ‘s  ”50 Subjects of Interest” series is hard to come by on the collecting circuit due to it’s eclectic (some say odd) mix of subjects (obscure figures of the day, unknown baseball players, etc.) s. The mysterious history and discontinuing of the brand  along with it’s quirky images have led to it’s popularity 100 years later among collectors. Ascot cards in decent condition can sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars , which has invariably lead to a number of fake cards surfacing in recent years.

(above) An rare enameled Ascot advertisement (right) that was rescued from a junkyard (left). Not many turn up, and when they do they usually command top dollar.


(Above) The front (left) side panel , and back (right) of a 10 count box of Royal Ascot cigs.


I hope to collect all the  ”50 Subjects of Interest” series cards and post them as a group .


50 Subjects of Interest

Royal Ascots Turkish Blend Cigarettes  included trading cards as a buying incentive. Though not as popular as it’s other cigarette brands  sports card series, Royal Ascots’  ”50 Subjects of Interest” series is hard to come by. I’m determined to collect them all.


Voilá, The i-Victrola!  Don’t you want to enjoy your  i-pod with the tinny, scratchy sound that befits the post-industrial revolution? I had originally thought that this would be a dock with a port on the top but then at the suggestion of  my  better half I tried it by placing an i-pod inside and let the horn act as a passive amplifier. it works surprisingly well. The top of this lifts up.

The right side sports a coffee mill ( you could brew your own java will listening to NPR in the morning), and of course there is a gauge in the front to…uh…gauge things.

For a quick sound demo click on this link



Don’t Take Any Wooden Pelvises

Every once in  a while I use the  cast off  blocks of wood in the shop to make something for my daughter.

This fellow is a little early for halloween…

and his half -brother…”Scrappy”.

Portable Time Machine


I’m still working out a couple of the kinks in this PTM (Portable Time Machine) but it’s close.  I’ve rigged it so a battery can  jump start the  cathode which initiates the chronal displacement. As for  the rest…well you know, it operates like any other time machine, set it to an open field (vs. closed with positive ions moving from the electrolyte to the positive cathode) and pftt! you’re back in time.  Well more like hummm then pftt!

(above left) a modified 1920’s ‘B’ Battery  (right) The cathode core. Don’t forget, cathode polarity isn’t always negative which works out fine since I’m not going back before 1900.



(above) Fortunately for me, when these photos got passed around  no one noticed the curious device on my dresser.



(above) My AEF I.D.  Thankfully it doesn’t list a date of birth.  “uh…43 years from now?”


Creating a machine that bridges the gap between handwriting and the printed word seems an inevitable invention. Voilá…the Typewriter.  Simple in concept, yet a mechanical wonder. The user depresses a key and it causes a typebar to make an impression in ink of the selected character on your paper. Just like a small letter-press.  It’s mechanical beauty is in the details. Keys that don’t strike simultaneously and jam, the ability to shift from uppercase to lowercase letters on the fly, an advancing ribbon of ink to ensure a crisp black impression. It really is a marvelous invention. It’s also (like most great inventions) an idea that went through countless incarnations and improvements until it reached the version we think of today, the classic Underwood that Hemingway  used or the 1960’s IBM selectric.   Typewriters are perfect components for steampunk mad scientists. Typewriters revel in their mechanical function.  Early tinkers  looking to improve the typwriters performance thought so too ergo the problem in discerning between a contemporary steampunk mod (modified) and the real deal. Care to take a quiz? Below are some images of typewriters and typwriter related machines, guess which is a historial fact and which is a mod. The answers appear at the bottom of the post.












1. U.S. Army c.WWII Teletype (

2. Steampunk mod

3. Ford typewriter circa 1895

4. Linotype Machine .  A typesetting machine that allows the operator to casr molten lead into lines of type. Prior to the ’70s the standard in the newspaper industry.

5. Wozniaks Conundrum, Steampunk mod by Steve La Riccia. A combination of a Mac and an 1898 Remington.

6. Hansen Writing Ball, c. 187a by Rasmus Malling-Hansen

Some images from

A New Negative Bias Dynode Raygun

Fresh out of the work shop…(just needs to be charged)