Steampunk Luggage Cart

   Posted by: craig   in Prop Making

I gave my folding hand truck a makeover — a little masking tape, a little spray paint, a few dabs of copper paint on the rivet heads, and a leather scrap sewn around the handle, … and wallah! Read the rest of this entry »

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Flash Fiction Writing Exercises

   Posted by: craig   in Writing

Flash Fiction, Defined

Flash fiction is extremely short fiction. Two common forms are 200-words-or-less and 50-words-exactly. In both cases, the length of the title does not count, but keep it reasonable. Writing flash fiction can be satisfying in and of itself, but I find it’s particularly useful as an exercise in simplicity with lessons to teach writers of longer forms.

Simplicity in Word Choice

The primary lesson that flash fiction writing teaches is simplicity in word choice. When every word counts, Read the rest of this entry »

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Steamathon Notes

   Posted by: craig   in Events, Music

If you did not make it to Steamathon, then I’m sorry to say that you missed a good one. Steamathon was a convention with real heart that persevered despite two major roadblocks. (I’m not privy to the details, but I am convinced that they were both circumstances beyond the committee’s control and not likely to reoccur.) Yes, Steamathon had all kinds of scheduling problems to the point that much of the programming devolved to ad lib, but I’m still calling it the best first con I’ve ever been to in my almost 40 years of congoing because of the attitudes of everyone involved: staff, talent, and guests. (The head of security at the Main Street Station Casino also went on record to say that this was the friendliest, most well dressed, most well behaved group of people they’ve ever hosted.) I personally made 15 friends before the opening ceremonies even began and 30 more by the time it was all over.
So, “Hip, hip, cheerio!” to Doc Phineas Kastle, Alexander de Lion, Taylor Hummon, Wolfe and the rest of the Queen’s Temporal Service for putting on a most unusual convention that was a treat to attend. I am most definitely looking forwards to a number two.
  • The party started early on Thursday night when a dozen of us from San Diego and Orange County headed over to the extremely steampunk Rx Boiler Room in the Mandalay Bay Casino. The absolutely wonderful food, combined with the sublime decor was well worth the price. Note: The Rx Boiler Room is on the second floor across from the Ice Bar and is not to be confused with the “1936” Speakeasy, one flight down (although that looks like fun, as well). Read the rest of this entry »

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Should you find yourself in need of an excuse to party, look no further…


19 — Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) — American author, poet, editor, and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. 27 — Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) — English Mathematician, writer and author of Alice in Wonderland.


7 — Charles Dickens (1812-1870) — Writer and social critic. Dickens more than any other writer captured the Victorian age, especially some of the poverty that was endemic in Victorian inner cities. 8 — Jules Gabriel Verne (1828-1905) — French novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his adventure novels and his profound influence on the literary genre of science fiction. 12 — Charles Darwin (1809-1882) — English naturalist. Developed the theory of evolution, creating one of the greatest changes of thought during the Victorian period. Read the rest of this entry »

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Early U.S. Monetary Nomenclature

   Posted by: craig   in History, Things Lexical

A 100 dollar bill from 1862.

As I am looking forward to several upcoming Steampunk events, I became curious to know what monetary terminology would be most appropriate when conducting business with the dealers I’ll find there. Here is what my research produced.

Part I: Early U.S. Monetary Nomenclature that is Still Useful Today

Penny, Nickel, Dime, Quarter
As today (1793-).
Backslang for a penny (i.e. the word “penny” spoken phonemically backwards). Backslang evolved in Victorian England to enable private or secret conversation among street and market traders, notably butchers and greengrocers. Yennaps (pl.) refers to money, in general.
A very small amount of money, as in a handful of pennies. (“I picked it up for coppers at the Five and Dime.”)
Two Bits
25¢, i.e. two-eights of a dollar. Holdover from the Spanish dollar which was worth eight reales (as in “pieces of eight”), or eight “bits.” (“Shave and a haircut, two bits!”) Read the rest of this entry »

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A Timeline of Christmas through the Victorian Era

   Posted by: craig   in History

The Royal family enjoy the first Christmas tree at Windsor Christmas was hardly celebrated in Britain, nor in the States, in the early 19th century. It only became popular mid-century which many attribute to Queen Victoria’s marriage to the German-born Prince Albert. In 1848 the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree according to the ways of Prince Albert’s childhood in Germany. Because of this, the German tradition of a candle-lit tree adorned with sweets, fruit, homemade decorations and small gifts quickly spread throughout Britain. This supplanted old traditions of gift-giving at New Years. Gift-giving also became more important during the Victorian era, morphing from small, homemade gifts being hung on the tree, to larger, shop-bought gifts being placed under the tree. At around the same time, the mailing of Christmas cards became a new tradition, one made possible by the industrialization of color printing and by the economies of the postal system such that postage only cost half a penny. A myriad of new practices and refinements grew from there. For example, the Victorians revived and popularized the singing of carols, putting old words to new tunes and forever associating them with Christmas. Also, in Victorian Britain it was established that Christmas was time for family reunions — and that’s when it was determined that a roasted turkey was the perfect size to serve such a family gathering, rather than roasted goose. And then there was Charles Dickens. While A Christmas Carol did not invent the Victorian Christmas, it certainly helped to spread the traditions and to focus the celebration of Christmas on the notions of happiness and peace, family togetherness, charity, and goodwill.
325 AD
  • Saint Nicholas (born sometime during the 3rd c. in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara) attends the first Council of Nicaea under the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great.
336 AD
  • Christmas first celebrated in Rome.
6th c.
  • Roman emperor Justinian I builds one of the first of many thousand churches dedicated to Saint Nicholas at Constantinople (now Istanbul).
8th c.
  • The Christmas tree tradition begins with Saint Boniface, who converted the druidic German people to Christianity.
  • Italian sailors steal Saint Nicholas’ alleged remains from Myra and take them to Bari, Italy.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Steamathon Las Vegas February 2015

   Posted by: craig   in Events

Steamathon Logo I can hardly wait for Steamathon, which is coming up in Las Vegas in February 2015. It’ll be held at the Main Street Station Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas, which is the perfect venue for a steampunk convention. The whole establishment has the ambiance of the finest San Francisco hotel straight out of the gilded age. I had the occasion to be in Vegas last week. While I was there, I met briefly with Doc Phineas and the rest of his staff, and I was duly impressed with what they have planned and the support they’ve received so far. This being their first time out, things are still rough around the edges, but I have no doubt that it’ll all come together in time. (And, what the heck? It’s Vegas. You’re guaranteed a good time no matter what happens.)

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Greetings Fellow Steampunks and Swashbucklers

   Posted by: craig   in Uncategorized

Captain Blackjack You’ve found tinker1881.com, the new home for the musings of Craig Jones, a time traveler who also goes by the following names:
  • Mr. Norman Neville Lundy (19th century),
  • Lord Craig of the Glyn (13th century), and
  • Captain Blackjack (18th century).
Shortly, I’ll be transferring old posts to here from my old site (tankardsaweigh.com), as well as posting new ones.