Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Homemade Windmills Across America, ca.1900

Much time on my part has been spent in the sub-basement annex of the University of Minnesota library. That's where they keep the old, old, pre-1900 copies of magazines.

I've been doing research on Bartitsu, a rare hybrid martial art, combining ju-jitsu and boxing and was developed by a Victorian Brit named E. W. Barton Wright. Down there in the stacks, among the crumbling pages, are some of the most interesting reading I've come across.

These magazines are so interesting, I could spend hours (and I have) reading through them when I should be doing something else.

Some days, I can't get enough of those crumbling magazines from America and Britain printed in about 1900. Subject matter? It's all over the board: self defense articles, the habits or African and Asian animals, many, many article on prison life for some reason (and it sounds awful!) and a fair amount on travel to exotic places which back then were actually quite exotic and hard to get to, making magazine accounts about the only way for the average person to get to Asia or Africa.

I came across an account of "Windmills of America." It's interesting to see the home-made designs of windmills made by frontier and homesteading farmers out of the materials available to them. Some of these designs are incredibly complex and they certainly show an ability to design and fabricate mechanisms with I imagine, only rudimentary tools.

Are they efficient? Well, that might be another story. But here they are, rickety looking and wonderful.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Th Bartitsu Society would love to hear more about the articles you've found. Barton-Wright's most famous articles were his series for Pearson's Magazine, one on "The New Art of Self Defence" (mostly a presentation of jiujitsu techniques) and one on "Self Defence with a Walking Stick". He also probably ghost-wrote an anonymous review of his Bartitsu Club for a magazine called "Balck and White Budget" and the notes from one of his lectures were compiled into an article for the journal of the London Japan Society.

Have you found any others down in the stacks?