Archive for November, 2014


Early U.S. Monetary Nomenclature

   Posted by: craig    in History, Things Lexical

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

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

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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