Duelling as an Olympic sport

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Duelling at the 1908 Games

The 1908 Olympic Games were held in London, beginning on the 27th of April. While medals were awarded for many sports, some were labelled “associate sports” and were for display only.

Duelling was one of these. Historically, duels were fought between two people (usually men) to defend their honour, and frequently resulted in grave injury or death.

At the Olympics the bullets were made of wax, and the contestants wore protective outfits.

The Games were supposed to have been held in Rome, but were moved after a devastating Mount Vesuvius eruption.

Unlike today, the event ran for months, from April to their conclusion on the 31st of October.

The odd world of Victorian Easter cards

For Easter last year the BBC ran a story about the rising trend for Easter greeting cards in the Victorian era:

The odd world of Victorian Easter cards

The popularity of greeting cards rose over the nineteenth century as changes were made to Britain’s postal service.

While Easter cards aren’t as commonly posted in Britain anymore, they are still a big part of the holiday in some other parts of Europe.

Some of the funnier cards are below. The Jewish one in particular is very confusing (why does one of the chickens have a bandaged foot and a walking stick?), while some of the others are simply creepy to modern eyes!

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On this day: the birth of a British Olympian

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Walter Tysall X

British Olympic gymnast Walter Tysall was born in Birmingham on the 3rd of April, 1880.

At the age of twenty-eight Tysall competed in the individual all around competition at the 1908 London Olympic Games. He won the silver medal, with Italian Alberto Braglia winning gold and French gymnast Louis Ségura taking bronze.

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Italian gold medallist Alberto Braglia

Though the British women’s gymnasts would go on to reach the Olympic podium a few years later, Tysall’s silver was the only medal won by a British male gymnast until 2008.

Tysall died in Ashton-on-Ribble in 1955.

On this day: a funeral procession for an English entrepreneur

William Whiteley, Yorkshire-born entrepreneur and founder of Whiteleys department store in London, was murdered on the 24th of January, 1907.

His killer was a young man who claimed to be his illegitimate son. The man shot Whiteley dead in his shop.

Whiteley’s will left £1 000 000, which is the equivalent of about £90 000 000 today.

The funeral procession is seen here on the 30th of January, making its way through Ladbroke Grove.

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100 Objects – Victorian Tea Set

The British Museum’s A History of the World in 100 Objects has been on loan to the National Museum here in Canberra for a while, and we finally got to it on the weekend.

I was pretty unimpressed with the idea “the world” apparently doesn’t include huge sections of it (they couldn’t manage anything from the huge Slavic societies of the east of Europe, nor huge sections of other continents, but a handful of countries are seriously overrepresented?).

However, being as crazy about the Victorian era as I am, here is a stoneware and silver English tea set from the early 1840s that is part of the exhibition. Oddly – and for the BRITISH Museum – it is about the only thing representing the British Empire, and the only thing from 19th century Britain.

However – look at it! I love it.

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On this day: the founding of Essex County Cricket Club

Essex County Cricket Club was founded at a meeting in Chelmsford‘s Shire Hall on the 14th of January, 1876.

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The Essex team in 1897. X

The sport of cricket had been in the area since some time in the 16th century, but no major teams were organised until the late Victorian era. Essex CCC became First-Class in 1894.

Most of the team’s home games are played in Chelmsford, the county town of Essex.