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.


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)


Vacuum Tube Online Museum

I recently purchased some wonderfully complicated looking radio vacuum tubes. Transistors and semi-conductors just never looked this cool. I remember TV repair men replacing tubes in the back of our first black and white set. The warm glow coming from these tubes still sticks in my mind. But more importantly they look like the last needed component to …a Transmuter? A time machine? a Deathray? Who knows. A overly simple explanation of these tubes is that there is an electrical charge being introduced through a vacuum. There is a filament or a cathode (don’t ask me to explain cathodes… I’m just an ignorant  time traveler).  I’ll be adding to this gallery in the future.



Time Travel Gadget Fetish

I would like to stand up in front of my 12 step program and announce…”My name is Les, and I have a Time travel gadget fetish”…Below are some very cool electrical…important…uh..things that if they can’t get you back in time, nothing will. My next post will be from 1917…adios!



(above)  From the ebay subscription:  “….a very old multi-tester for phone company use…The latest patent number I could see  on the meter  at 1901 and a Western Electric Pat of 1917”

this baby has “an old Weston meter, switches, buttons, two adjustable rheostats, four telegraph type keys, a row of rocker switches, all sorts of inputs and an indicator light”.

An indicator light!  isn’t that awesome?  How else would you know you’ve reached 1917?  Well, the indicator light is blinking! Right? And the whole thing is portable.


(above) WWII Electric current tester. This small (5″ X 8″ X 5″) unit is probably  just good for sending you back a  couple of hours or maybe even a day.


Or this little hand held TTD (Time Travel Device) where you punch in the date you want and then the gadget does the rest.  Sweet right?

(okay, maybe it’s an 1885 check protector made in Brooklyn, who cares once you’re back in time?)

My Stogie-Caster

A while back I posted a logo I played around with for a cigar box guitar

I finally built the guitar to go with the logo. Kind of ass backwards I know but whether art imitates life or life imitates art is anybody’s guess.  Here are the photos of my little musical Frankenstein, a Romeo y Julieta box with a banjo neck (Are they good smokes?  Supposedly they were Churchill’s favorite… )

a Romeo y Julieta label

I always try to do all my shopping for musical instrument parts in the plumbing aisle of Home Depot.  This actually was a lot of fun, particularly when speaking with sales people.

Me: “Do you have this sink strainer in a smaller diameter?”

Sales Clerk: What size waste pipe do you have?

Me: it’s for a guitar.. not a sink….a guitar uh, made out of a cigar box .

Oh I got all sorts of reactions from  “okay Mr. Deliverance  the great depression is over, they sell real guitars in stores now”  to people who thought it was the coolest thing in the world.  I would advise everyone to check out Cigar Box Nation for all sorts of resources and check out people playing cigar box guitars on youtube  the  playing and sound is  incredible. I guarantee you’ll be converted.

The inside reinforcement for the neck and the sides.

Notice the jack hole at the end in the photo on the left. Yup, this baby is electric! Wired with the best sound you can get for $3.00 at radio shack. Right now it’s got a short piece of copper pipe as a bridge. That will probably change. The sink strainers, on either side on the top,  aside from looking cool and enhancing the sound (I think?) will also catch any bits of food left after dinner so it won’t clog the plumbing!

and …Voila! I can’t wait to start picking and a grinnin’.  As soon as I  learn how to play this baby exactly.

And…it needs a case.