How to Distinguish Fishes


Sept. 3, 1898. Forest and Stream Pg. 188-189

How to Distinguish Fishes.

The average angler knows by sight all the fish which he captures, but ask him to describe one and he is puzzled, and will get off on the color of the fish, which is of the least value of all its points. Some time ago a letter came from Sullivan county, N. Y., saying: “We hare a fish in our streams which we call whitefish; it grows to a length of 8 or 10in., and is dark on the back and light on the belly; can you tell us what it really is?” As the description will fit a” catfish, an eel or a black bass, I gave it up. I asked the man if the fish had hard or soft fins, scales, and other questions, but he “hadn’t noticed.” This habit of not noticing is very common. Not one angler in a hundred can tell you how many fins a black bass or a yellow perch has on its back, yet he knows the fishes well by sight.

In this article there is no intention to dip deeply into ichthyology and to delve in the mysteries of pyloric appendages, gill rakers and pharyngeal teeth, which only dissection can show, but merely to map out the salient points on the outside of our angling fishes, so that they will present themselves as prominent features in determining species or in describing a fish which is strange to the one who captures it. Such a smattering of fish lore is not hard to acquire. Every boy knows a dog from a cat, but few of them could describe the differences so that a person who had not seen either one of the animals could distinguish them. I would like to ask 100 bright boys of about fifteen years to write out the differences between the dog and cat, and see how many noted the shape of the pupil, the retractability of the claws, and other differences. This would illustrate how careless we are apt to be with familiar things, and the vast majority of anglers are as careless in their notice of fishes. Give them a name for a fish and they think they know the fish. The elder Agassiz once said: “Never mind the name of a fish until you have studied it ‘and know what it is.” He meant the peculiarities of its structure, and its resemblance to and difference from forms nearly allied.

I had fished from early boyhood, and knew as little of the fishes which I ought as do most anglers—merely a name, nothing more. I was over forty years old when Dr. Theodore Gill, Ichthyologist of the Smithsonian Institution, asked me if I had ever noticed any variation in the teeth on the vomer among the trout in my ponds. I truthfully answered that I had not, for I did not know what the vomer was, and never had paid attention to the teeth of trout. But as he talked my wonder grew. Here was a man who knew all about fins and a hundred other parts of fishes which I had never heard of, and I vowed to look these things up. I had all the instincts of a naturalist, but had never met a trained one before. I studied, bought books, and studied fish until I got where I knew something of the subject, and a fascinating one it was, not that I ever hoped to become a prominent ichthyologist, my collateral education was too deficient for that, for a man needs to be learned in the anatomy of all vertebrates before he can rank high in any department of zoology. Yet I learned something, and the pleasure it brought was worth more than the cost.

An outside view of a fish reveals several things of value in classifying it. These are: General shape, body elongated, compressed or round; length of head as compared to body. “Head, 5,” means that the length of the head is one-fifth of the body. Fins, number and character, as spiny or soft; and scales, whether on head, cheeks or body, and their size as shown bv the number in the lateral line.


To begin with, we may divide fishes into two classes—those which have hard or spiny rays and those whose fins are soft. All the soft-rayed fishes have the first ray of their fins more or less stout, or even spiny, as in the catfishes, where the first rays of the pectoral and dorsal fins arc very hard and thorny; yet the catties, bullheads, etc., are soft-rayed fish. The trout, suckers, chubs and others are soft-rayed, but the first spine on all the fins is stout, but not sharp, while the caudal has several short hard rays on the upper and under sides.

Pectoral Fins.

The pectoral fins take their name from the breast and are found on each side just back of the gill opening. These and the ventrals are often spoken of as the “paired fins.” being on opposite sides, while all others are vertical. This is the case with even the flat fishes of salt water—flounders, flukes, etc.—for they are flattened laterally, as the sunfishes are, but they lie upon one side.  The pectoral fins are always soft, but they vary in shape from the short ones, as in the eel, to the long pointed ones of the salt-water sheepshead.   The number of rays in the pectorals are usually given, but they do not vary in different families as much as the rays in the other fins do.

Dorsal Fins, from Latin dorsum, the back: They may be single, double, triple, or compound.  The single fin, if soft, has a certain number of rays which must be noted, also its position and height.  By position is meant

whether well forward, median or back.  The dorsal fin of a trout is nearly central while that of a pike or a pickeral is placed far back.  In Fig. 4  we see the little adipose dorsal fin which marks the salmonidse. A drawing of the fish will help to identify it, with description.

The single “compound” dorsal fin is shown in Fig. 1. It contains both hard and soft fins. To describe such a fin Roman numerals are used for the spiny rays and Arabac for the soft ones, and it would be written thus: D. VII., 15, supposing that to be the correct number.

Fig. 2 represents two separate dorsal fins, one hard and one soft. Remembering that there is usually one hard spine in a soft fin, the formula of the dorsal fins of our common yellow perch is D. XIII.— I, 14; that represents


thirteen spines in the first dorsal and one in the second, followed by fourteen soft rays.

Fig. 3 shows a codfish which is rich in fins. It has three soft dorsals and two soft anal fins, as well as a barbel under the lower jaw.

Ventral Fins.

Ventral fins are named from L. venter, the belly, and not from English “vent”; this is a constant source of error. If the pectorals are homologous with the fore legs of quadrupeds, the ventrals bear the same relation to the hindlegs. Their functions, however, are not analogous. These fins are always paired when present; they are absent in the eel, hence that fish is the family Apodal, or “footless.” But note how inconstant nature has been in placing these limbs on the different families of fishes.

Note the ventral fins on Fig. 4, the whitefish and one of the salmonidse, which includes trout, grayling and others. Here we find the ventral (belly) fins in the middle of the fish, where it will be found on most softfinned fishes; I say most, because in the soft-finned cod fish, Fig. 3, the ventrals are thoracic, or on the thorax and in advance of the pectorals.

Then see the position of the ventral fins in the bass-like fishes, Figs. 1 and 2. In Fig. 4 the dorsal and ventral fins are near the middle of the body, and are attached to a bony plate in what is called the “dermal skeleton.” This is readily cut out because there is no connection with the true skeleton, but with the perch and the bass like forms these fins are joined to the shoulder-girdle; that hard bone which extends from the upper part of the head down and back of the gill opening. All the spinvrayed fishes have the ventrals thus placed. Note the number of rays.

The Anal Fin.

This is named from the anus, or vent, and is always behind it. The cod and its relatives’ usually have two anal fins, some having but one, as the ling, cusk and hake. This fin may have several spiny rays or maybe soft. If it has hard rays they are recorded, as in the dorsal fin.

The Caudal Fin.

Anglers usually miscall this the “tail.” but the true tail is the fleshy part between the anal fin and this tail fin, which the densely scientific fellows know by the clumsy name of “caudal peduncle.” Again, the angler wrongly includes the caudal fin in the length of his fish, but it has no more right to be so included than have the dorsal and anal fins the right to be considered in measuring the depth of a fish. The rays in the caudal fin are difficult to count; they have so many small ones on the edges, and branch so, that it is not necessary to enumerate them; but the shape should be considered, whether deeply forked, as in Fig. 4; slightly forked or square.

This fin formula is not at all difficult to learn. After the names of the fins are learned it is easy to see if there is more than one dorsal fin and its character.

The Lateral Line.

This is a line, usually well defined, running on each side of the fish; it may be straight, as in Fig. 4, or curved, as in Fig. I. This should be noted. The lateral line gives us the side of the scales, an important point to know. For instance, the big-mouth black bass has larger scales than its brother, there being only sixty-eight scales in its lateral line, while the other has from seventy-two to seventy-five. This seems a slight difference on paper, but with the two fish of equal length before the eye the difference in the size of their scales is readily apparent.


It is not worth while for the angler to go into the number of row’s of scales above and below the lateral line, as the fish sharps do; but it is important to note where scales grow. Of course if a fish is without scales, as the eel and catfish, the fact should be noted. The body may be well scaled and the head entirely naked, as is the case with the chubs, trout and others; or the head may be covered with scales, as in the salt water drum, weakfish or squeteague, croaker, kingfish or barb, and that fresh-water relative, the gaspergou, drum, etc.

The three divisions of the pike family are distinguished mainly as follows: Cheeks and gill cover naked, mascalonge; cheeks naked and opercle (gill cover) scaled, the great pike; scales on both cheeks and opercle. pickerel, or the two small species of brook pike. All this it is important to note.


Teeth are to be noted if the fish is a strange one. The pikes have strong, single canine teeth on the jaws, but in the roof of the mouth we find three bands of bristle like teeth, in the middle of the “vomer,” that bone which we can feel in our mouths and which separates the nostrils, and also large patches on the palatine bones, which lie on each side of the vomer, as well as small teeth on the tongue. The teeth of the black bass are all bristle-like; the bluefish of salt water has teeth set in a row along the jaws, and are capable of biting a piece out of a herring, which most other fish cannot do. The pikes, perches and basses can hold a smaller fish in their teeth, which all slant backward, but cannot bite a piece from a fish as the bluefish can. Then we have another type of teeth—that of the sheepshead and drum. The sheepshead has teeth in its jaws that are almost human; they project, and are used for cutting off the byssus of the salt-water mussels, Mytilus, by which they adhere to wrecks and rocks, and then the shells are crushed by what is properly called a “pavement” of teeth in the roof of the mouth. So powerful are these that the drum destroys oyster beds, crunching the shells and ejecting them after the oyster is extracted. Therefore don’t neglect the dentition when you describe a fish. Note if the fish has a barbel on the lower jaw, as in Fig. 3; the catfish has them on both jaws.

The Mouth.

Some fishes have the jaws even; others are “overshot.” as the drums and all the bottom-feeders, i. e.. the upper jaw is longest. Fishes which usually get below their prey. like the bass and pikes, have a longer lower jaw. The broadlv smiling catfish has its jaws of equal length, and takes its food in any way that it offers; if on the bottom it will stand on its head to take it. Then there are mouths which are protractile, and can Fig. 3. be thrown out, like the carp and some other soft-finned fishes, the hippocampus and others. This feature is more pronounced in the fresh-water suckers and in the sturgeons, which are bottom feeders.


This is important. In addition to the length of the specimen and the location of its capture, one of the most important things to know is its shape. Is it almost cylindrical, like the pikes; compressed laterally, like the sunfishes. or is it triangular, like the trunk fishes of salt water? Then the degree of compression should be stated in its depth, measured at the dorsal fin, and its thick ness, as: “Slightly compressed,” black bass; and “greatly compressed,” sunfish and the crappies.

All that is Necessary.

These points are really all that is necessary for an angler to know in order to describe a fish which is unknown to him to one who has made a study of fishes. I have tried to simplify it, and hope that the effort has been a success; but the learned ichthyologist goes away into the air bladder, the stomach appendages, and the teeth in the throat of the chubs and other cyprinoids, which is chopping it too fine for us fellows who go a-fishing and only want to be able to put our catch in the right class, and to give them the name which belongs to them by right of usage, and which is accepted by the majority of anglers and specialists in fish lore.


This is of the least importance: yet the angler is apt to attach great value to it. Let us see how little there is in it. The mascalonge is black-spotted in the Great Lakes and in Minnesota, but has no spots in Chautauqua Lake, N. Y., nor in the Ohio River and its tributaries, where it is occasionally found. The white perch of brackish waters and coastwise streams is of a drab color in saltish water, and is bright silvery in the upper rivers. The Eastern brook trout loses its red spots if it remains long in salt water, but regains them after ascending the streams. Few fish vary as much in color as this trout does, according to the waters it happens to be in; on Long Island the trout are much lighter in color than those from the Adirondacks, while many Canadian trout are almost black.

In some species we find the males differing greatly from the females at breeding time, especially in the cyprinoids, or soft-finned, toothless fishes, of which we have over seventy species, such as chubs, horned dace, shiners, and a host of small species which only attain a length of 2 or 3in., for which the angler has no other name but minnow, often corrupted into “minny”; but the student of fishes takes them all in. and sees’ that they differ. The so-called “red-finned shiner” (Luxilus cornutus), which is found “in all brooks from Maine to the Rocky Mountains, except those of the Carolinas and Texas,” is a fair sample of the value of color. Only the male has red fins, and he only in the breeding season. At this time his head is covered with hard tubercles, which are shed when the season is over. This is a common fish in Adirondack waters. It runs into the streams in June to spawn, and then the males are exceedingly brilliant. Their length is about 5in., and the sexes


are so different in appearance at spawning time as to be take for different species.  It was only by opening many specimens that I convinced a dozen or more of the guides that the “red fins” were all males and the “shiners” were all females, by showing that the “shiners” alone carried eggs.

Our creek chub, called horned dace, has protuberances on the heads of the males at breeding time, hence “horned.” This fish grows to a foot in length, and is a favorite with boyish anglers, but while its colors do not vary much it is introduced here to show that other things vary besides color. Some species seem to be permanently marked, like the yellow perch, with its ground-work of yellow and its dark bands, which arc merely intensified at the breeding season; but curiously the salt-water fishes do not seem to change their colors much at that time. The male brook trout brightens his fins at the mating period, puts on a brighter red on his lower sides, and at the height of that season adds to his war paint a stripe of black just above the ventral fins, and tops off with a drab coat on his back, being an entirely different looking fish for a fortnight, some time between November and January, than he is during the rest of the year.

Color is a thing to be noticed; for in some species it is of value; but it is not to be relied on in diagnosing a fish. It has nowhere near the value that it has in determining species among birds, because it is more variable.

The Important Points.

As all this may be thought difficult to master, as given in detail, let me make the points plainer by a synopsis. To describe a fish note the shape—flat, compressed or cylindrical: position, number and character of fins, with their ray formula: shape of caudal fin; number of scales in the lateral line; barbels, if any; scales on any part of head, or their absence; teeth, as indicated above: and the position of the mouth, as terminal, etc. After all these structural differences, which cannot be varied by any change of habitat, you can add the colors. These are the points on which an expert would think it worth while to give an opinion as to the place of any particular fish in the system, and they are not hard to learn.

There are minor points, and I only mention them to show that what has been written is not the whole of ichthyology. One of these is In the black basses of fresh water there is a character which has not been mentioned: that is. the small mouth has minute scales on the soft parts of its dorsal and anal fins, while the big-mouth has none.


For convenience all fishes are first grouped into families from some peculiarity of structure common to all, and the name usually ends in idæ, as salmonidæ. the salmon family, which includes fishes of quite different structure, but may be described as: “Body oblong, covered with cycloid scales; head naked; mouth terminal or subinferior, of varying size; teeth various; maxillary with supplemental bone forming side of upper jaw; pseudobranchiæ? (false gills) present; no barbels; dorsal fin median: an adipose fin; vcntrals median; lateral line present; belly not compressed; vertebra? about sixty. Stomach siphonal. with 15 to 200 pyloric cœca; eggs large: no oviduct.”

In this family we find several genera, and a genus is nearer to what we consider a human family, in the narrowest definition of that term, for here we find two names for each fish, the generic and the specific. The salmonidæ has the following genera: Coregonus, the whitefishes; Thymollus, the graylings; Salmo, the salmons; Salvelinus, the chars. In naming a fish the genus is placed first, just as we index: “Smith, John,” and “Brown. James”; so we say of the chars: Salvelinus namaycush for the lake trout, and S. fontinalis for the brook trout. The object of using Greek for the generic and Latin for the specific name is that these names are accepted by scientific men the world over, and if I write of capturing a pike the name is merely an English one. The Germans call the fish hecht, the French brochat. etc., but if I write pike, Esox lucius, the Russian. Dane and Jaanese know as well as the German and the Frenchman the exat fish intended, for it is named in the language of science.

The local angler may recognize the need of such a universal language when he realizes that partridge means a small bird in Virginia and the South, and a large one in New York and further East; and that but three fishes on our Atlantic coast—the eel, sturgeon and shad—bear the same name from Maine to Texas. That the name blackfish in New England means what is a sea bass in New York, Centrofristis striatus, while east of New York the Indian name of tautog is used among the whalemen from Long Island to Maine blackfish is the name of a small whale. Chub in the North means one of the two species of large cyprinoids, softfinned, while on the Tar River, North Carolina, the name chub is applied to the black bass.

These examples show that the vernacular names are so largely local as to be of no value beyond the localities where they are used, and they are often loosely applied there: hence the necessity of a nomenclature that is universal.

In the early days of Forest and Stream the older anglers ridiculed scientific nomenclature; they “didn’t see the use of it: a bass was a bass and a trout was a trout, what more do you want?” At the first meeting of the American Fishculturists’ Association, now the Fisheries Society, an ignorant, egotistical boor, who posed as the only authority on fish, made some remarks about a trout. Mr. William Clift. the first president of the society, asked: “Mr. ——do I understand you to refer to Salmo fontinalis ?” Our Eastern brook trout was then classed in the genus Salmo.

With scorn in his emnhasis. the man addressed answered: “Well, you might call him that, or you might call him a sawbuck: I call him a trout.” and then he rambled on. That day has passed, and the observant angler has develoned into the “scholarly angler” in America, and within a quarter of a century has so in fluenced angling literature that such a scene in the proceedings of an angling or fishcultural society would be impossible to-day.


Top of Pg.

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Herbal Psychedelics – Rhododendron ponticum and Mad Honey Disease

Toxicity of Rhododendron From

“Potentially toxic chemicals, particularly ‘free’ phenols, and diterpenes, occur in significant quantities in the tissues of plants of Rhododendron species. Diterpenes, known as grayanotoxins, occur in the leaves, flowers and nectar of Rhododendrons. These differ from species to species. Not all species produce them, although Rhododendron ponticum [...] Read more →

Fortune, Independence, and Competence

THE answer to the question, What is fortune has never been, and probably never will be, satisfactorily made. What may be a fortune for one bears but small proportion to the colossal possessions of another. The scores or hundreds of thousands admired and envied as a fortune in most of our communities [...] Read more →

Peach Brandy


2 gallons + 3 quarts boiled water 3 qts. peaches, extremely ripe 3 lemons, cut into sections 2 sm. pkgs. yeast 10 lbs. sugar 4 lbs. dark raisins

Place peaches, lemons and sugar in crock. Dissolve yeast in water (must NOT be to hot). Stir thoroughly. Stir daily for 7 days. Keep [...] Read more →

Zulu Yawl

Dec. 10, 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 477-479


The little ship shown in the accompanying plans needs no description, as she speaks for herself, a handsome and shipshape craft that a man may own for years without any fear that she will go to pieces [...] Read more →

Palermo Wine

Take to every quart of water one pound of Malaga raisins, rub and cut the raisins small, and put them to the water, and let them stand ten days, stirring once or twice a day. You may boil the water an hour before you put it to the raisins, and let it [...] Read more →

Coffee & Cigarettes

Aw, the good old days, meet in the coffee shop with a few friends, click open the Zippo, inhale a glorious nosegay of lighter fluid, fresh roasted coffee and a Marlboro cigarette….

A Meta-analysis of Coffee Drinking, Cigarette Smoking, and the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

We conducted a [...] Read more →

A History of the Use of Arsenicals in Man

The arsenicals (compounds which contain the heavy metal element arsenic, As) have a long history of use in man – with both benevolent and malevolent intent. The name ‘arsenic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘arsenikon’ which means ‘potent'”. As early as 2000 BC, arsenic trioxide, obtained from smelting copper, was used [...] Read more →

Guaranteed 6% Dividend for Life. Any takers?

Any prudent investor would jump at the chance to receive a guaranteed 6% dividend for life. So how does one get in on this action?

The fact of the matter is…YOU can’t…That is unless you are a shareholder of one of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks and the banks under [...] Read more →

A Conversation between H.F. Leonard and K. Higashi

H.F. Leonard was an instructor in wrestling at the New York Athletic Club. Katsukum Higashi was an instructor in Jujitsu.

“I say with emphasis and without qualification that I have been unable to find anything in jujitsu which is not known to Western wrestling. So far as I can see, [...] Read more →

Method of Restoration for Ancient Bronzes and other Alloys

Cannone nel castello di Haut-Koenigsbourg, photo by Gita Colmar

Without any preliminary cleaning the bronze object to be treated is hung as cathode into the 2 per cent. caustic soda solution and a low amperage direct current is applied. The object is suspended with soft copper wires and is completely immersed into [...] Read more →

The Racing Knockabout Gosling

The Racing Knockabout Gosling.

Gosling was the winning yacht of 1897 in one of the best racing classes now existing in this country, the Roston knockabout class. The origin of this class dates back about six years, when Carl, a small keel cutter, was built for C. H. [...] Read more →

Art Fraud

A la Russie, aux ânes et aux autres – by Chagall – 1911

Marc Chagall is one of the most forged artists on the planet. Mark Rothko fakes also abound. According to available news reports, the art market is littered with forgeries of their work. Some are even thought to be [...] Read more →

Carpenters’ Furniture

IT requires a far search to gather up examples of furniture really representative in this kind, and thus to gain a point of view for a prospect into the more ideal where furniture no longer is bought to look expensively useless in a boudoir, but serves everyday and commonplace need, such as [...] Read more →

Cleaner for Gilt Picture Frames

Cleaner for Gilt Frames.

Calcium hypochlorite…………..7 oz. Sodium bicarbonate……………7 oz. Sodium chloride………………. 2 oz. Distilled water…………………12 oz.


Home Top of Pg. Read more →

Popular Mechanics Archive

Click here to access the Internet Archive of old Popular Mechanics Magazines – 1902-2016

Click here to view old Popular Mechanics Magazine Covers

Home Top of Pg. Read more →

Fruits of the Empire: Licorice Root and Juice

Liquorice, the roots of Glycirrhiza Glabra, a perennial plant, a native of the south of Europe, but cultivated to some extent in England, particularly at Mitcham, in Surrey.

Its root, which is its only valuable part, is long, fibrous, of a yellow colour, and when fresh, very juicy. [...] Read more →

Blunderbuss Mai Tai Recipe

Blackbeard’s Jolly Roger

If you’re looking for that most refreshing of summertime beverages for sipping out on the back patio or perhaps as a last drink before walking the plank, let me recommend my Blunderbuss Mai Tai. I picked up the basics to this recipe over thirty years ago when holed up [...] Read more →

Books Condemned to be Burnt








WHEN did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was [...] Read more →

Fly Casting Instructions

It is a pity that the traditions and literature in praise of fly fishing have unconsciously hampered instead of expanded this graceful, effective sport. Many a sportsman has been anxious to share its joys, but appalled by the rapture of expression in describing its countless thrills and niceties he has been literally [...] Read more →

British Craftsmanship is Alive and Well

The Queen Elizabeth Trust, or QEST, is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of British craftsmanship through the funding of scholarships and educational endeavours to include apprenticeships, trade schools, and traditional university classwork. The work of QEST is instrumental in keeping alive age old arts and crafts such as masonry, glassblowing, shoemaking, [...] Read more →

Banana Propagation

Banana Propagation

Reprinted from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (

The traditional means of obtaining banana planting material (“seed”) is to acquire suckers from one’s own banana garden, from a neighbor, or from a more distant source. This method served to spread common varieties around the world and to multiply them [...] Read more →

Mocking Bird Food

Mocking Bird Food.

Hemp seed……….2 pounds Rape seed………. .1 pound Crackers………….1 pound Rice…………….1/4 pound Corn meal………1/4 pound Lard oil…………1/4 pound


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Some Notes on American Ship Worms

July 9, 1898. Forest and Stream Pg. 25

Some Notes on American Ship-Worms.

[Read before the American Fishes Congress at Tampa.]

While we wish to preserve and protect most of the products of our waters, these creatures we would gladly obliterate from the realm of living things. For [...] Read more →

Snipe Shooting

Snipe shooting-Epistle on snipe shooting, from Ned Copper Cap, Esq., to George Trigger-George Trigger’s reply to Ned Copper Cap-Black partridge.


“Si sine amore jocisque Nil est jucundum, vivas in &more jooisque.” -Horace. “If nothing appears to you delightful without love and sports, then live in sporta and [...] Read more →

Texas Tarpon

Early Texas photo of Tarpon catch – Not necessarily the one mentioned below…

July 2, 1898. Forest and Stream Pg.10

Texas Tarpon.

Tarpon, Texas.—Mr. W. B. Leach, of Palestine, Texas, caught at Aransas Pass Islet, on June 14, the largest tarpon on record here taken with rod and reel. The [...] Read more →

AB Bookman’s 1948 Guide to Describing Conditions

AB Bookman’s 1948 Guide to Describing Conditions:

As New is self-explanatory. It means that the book is in the state that it should have been in when it left the publisher. This is the equivalent of Mint condition in numismatics. Fine (F or FN) is As New but allowing for the normal effects of [...] Read more →

Sir Peter Francis Bourgeois and the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Noel Desenfans and Sir Francis Bourgeois, circa 1805 by Paul Sandby, watercolour on paper

The Dulwich Picture Gallery was England’s first purpose-built art gallery and considered by some to be England’s first national gallery. Founded by the bequest of Sir Peter Francis Bourgois, dandy, the gallery was built to display his vast [...] Read more →

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said. Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. Home Top of [...] Read more →

Cup of Tea? To be or not to be

Twinings London – photo by Elisa.rolle

Is the tea in your cup genuine?

The fact is, had one been living in the early 19th Century, one might occasionally encounter a counterfeit cup of tea. Food adulterations to include added poisonings and suspect substitutions were a common problem in Europe at [...] Read more →

Catholic Religious Orders

Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the mendicant Order of Friars Minor, as painted by El Greco.

Catholic religious order

Catholic religious orders are one of two types of religious institutes (‘Religious Institutes’, cf. canons 573–746), the major form of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church. They are organizations of laity [...] Read more →

Clairvoyance and Occult Powers

Vishnu as the Cosmic Man (Vishvarupa) Opaque watercolour on paper – Jaipur, Rajasthan c. 1800-50



By Swami Panchadasi

Copyright, 1916

By Advanced Thought Pub. Co. Chicago, Il


In preparing this series of lessons for students of [...] Read more →

The First Pineapple Grown in England

First Pineapple Grown in England

Click here to read an excellent article on the history of pineapple growing in the UK.

Should one be interested in serious mass scale production, click here for scientific resources.

Growing pineapples in the UK.

The video below demonstrates how to grow pineapples in Florida.

[...] Read more →

Country Cabbage and Pea Soup

Add the following ingredients to a four or six quart crock pot, salt & pepper to taste keeping in mind that salt pork is just that, cover with water and cook on high till it boils, then cut back to low for four or five hours. A slow cooker works well, I [...] Read more →

The Public Attitude Towards Speculation

Reprint from The Pitfalls of Speculation by Thomas Gibson 1906 Ed.


THE public attitude toward speculation is generally hostile. Even those who venture frequently are prone to speak discouragingly of speculative possibilities, and to point warningly to the fact that an [...] Read more →

The Billesden Coplow Run

*note – Billesdon and Billesden have both been used to name the hunt.


[From “Reminiscences of the late Thomas Assheton Smith, Esq”]

The run celebrated in the following verses took place on the 24th of February, 1800, when Mr. Meynell hunted Leicestershire, and has since been [...] Read more →

Glimpses from the Chase

From Fores’s Sporting Notes and Sketches, A Quarterly Magazine Descriptive of British, Indian, Colonial, and Foreign Sport with Thirty Two Full Page Illustrations Volume 10 1893, London; Mssrs. Fores Piccadilly W. 1893, All Rights Reserved.

GLIMPSES OF THE CHASE, Ireland a Hundred Years Ago. By ‘Triviator.’

FOX-HUNTING has, like Racing, [...] Read more →

A Survey of Palestine – 1945-1946

This massive volume gives one a real visual sense of what it was like running a highly efficient colonial operation in the early 20rh Century. It will also go a long way to help anyone wishing to understand modern political intrigue in the Middle-East.

Click here to read A Survey of Palestine [...] Read more →

The Effect of Magnetic Fields on Wound Healing

The Effect of Magnetic Fields on Wound Healing Experimental Study and Review of the Literature

Steven L. Henry, MD, Matthew J. Concannon, MD, and Gloria J. Yee, MD Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Missouri Hospital & Clinics, Columbia, MO Published July 25, 2008

Objective: Magnets [...] Read more →

Cocktails and Canapés

From The How and When, An Authoritative reference reference guide to the origin, use and classification of the world’s choicest vintages and spirits by Hyman Gale and Gerald F. Marco. The Marco name is of a Chicago family that were involved in all aspects of the liquor business and ran Marco’s Bar [...] Read more →

Protecting Rare Books: How to Build a Silverfish Trap

Silverfish damage to book – photo by Micha L. Rieser

The beauty of hunting silverfish is that they are not the most clever of creatures in the insect kingdom.

Simply take a small clean glass jar and wrap it in masking tape. The masking tape gives the silverfish something to [...] Read more →

The Stock Exchange Specialist

New York Stock Exchange Floor September 26,1963

The Specialist as a member of a stock exchange has two functions.’ He must execute orders which other members of an exchange may leave with him when the current market price is away from the price of the orders. By executing these orders on behalf [...] Read more →

Cleaning Watch Chains

To Clean Watch Chains.

Gold or silver watch chains can be cleaned with a very excellent result, no matter whether they may be matt or polished, by laying them for a few seconds in pure aqua ammonia; they are then rinsed in alcohol, and finally. shaken in clean sawdust, free from sand. [...] Read more →

Here’s Many a Year to You

” Here’s many a year to you ! Sportsmen who’ve ridden life straight. Here’s all good cheer to you ! Luck to you early and late.

Here’s to the best of you ! You with the blood and the nerve. Here’s to the rest of you ! What of a weak moment’s swerve ? [...] Read more →

List of the 60 Franklin Library Signed Limited Editions

The following highly collectible Franklin Library Signed Editions were published between 1977 and 1982. They are all fully leather bound with beautiful covers and contain gorgeous and rich silk moire endpapers. Signatures are protected by unattached tissue inserts.

The values listed are average prices that were sought by [...] Read more →

Proper Wines to Serve with Food

Foie gras with Sauternes, Photo by Laurent Espitallier

As an Appetizer

Pale dry Sherry, with or without bitters, chilled or not. Plain or mixed Vermouth, with or without bitters. A dry cocktail.

With Oysters, Clams or Caviar

A dry flinty wine such as Chablis, Moselle, Champagne. Home Top of [...] Read more →

The Kalmar War

Wojna Kalmarska – 1611

The Kalmar War

From The Historian’s History of the World (In 25 Volumes) by Henry Smith William L.L.D. – Vol. XVI.(Scandinavia) Pg. 308-310

The northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, as already noticed, had been peopled from the remotest times by nomadic tribes called Finns or Cwenas by [...] Read more →

The Fowling Piece – Part I

THE FOWLING PIECE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811.

I AM perfectly aware that a large volume might be written on this subject; but, as my intention is to give only such information and instruction as is necessary for the sportsman, I shall forbear introducing any extraneous [...] Read more →

The Snipe

THE SNIPE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811

AFTER having given a particular description of the woodcock, it will only. be necessary to observe, that the plumage and shape of the snipe is much the same ; and indeed its habits and manners sets bear a great [...] Read more →

Arsenic and Old Lace

What is follows is an historical article that appeared in The Hartford Courant in 1916 about the arsenic murders carried out by Mrs. Archer-Gilligan. This story is the basis for the 1944 Hollywood film “Arsenic and Old Lace” starring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane and directed by Frank Capra. The [...] Read more →

The Human Seasons

John Keats

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year; There are four seasons in the mind of man: He has his lusty spring, when fancy clear Takes in all beauty with an easy span; He has his Summer, when luxuriously Spring’s honied cud of youthful thoughts he loves To ruminate, and by such [...] Read more →

Commercial Tuna Salad Recipe

Tom Oates, aka Nabokov at en.wikipedia

No two commercial tuna salads are prepared by exactly the same formula, but they do not show the wide variety characteristic of herring salad. The recipe given here is typical. It is offered, however, only as a guide. The same recipe with minor variations to suit [...] Read more →

Chinese 9 Course Dinner

The following recipes form the most popular items in a nine-course dinner program:


Soak one pound bird’s nest in cold water overnight. Drain the cold water and cook in boiling water. Drain again. Do this twice. Clean the bird’s nest. Be sure [...] Read more →

Blackberry Wine


5 gallons of blackberries 5 pound bag of sugar

Fill a pair of empty five gallon buckets half way with hot soapy water and a ¼ cup of vinegar. Wash thoroughly and rinse.

Fill one bucket with two and one half gallons of blackberries and crush with [...] Read more →

Mudlark Regulations in the U.K.

Mudlarks of London

Mudlarking along the Thames River foreshore is controlled by the Port of London Authority.

According to the Port of London website, two type of permits are issued for those wishing to conduct metal detecting, digging, or searching activities.

Standard – allows digging to a depth of 7.5 [...] Read more →

Antibiotic Properties of Jungle Soil

If ever it could be said that there is such a thing as miracle healing soil, Ivan Sanderson said it best in his 1965 book entitled Ivan Sanderson’s Book of Great Jungles.

Sanderson grew up with a natural inclination towards adventure and learning. He hailed from Scotland but spent much [...] Read more →

The Crime of the Congo by Arthur Conan Doyle


Man looks at severed hand and foot….for refusing to climb a tree to cut rubber for King Leopold

Click here to read The Crime of the Congo by Arthur Conan Doyle

Victim of King Leopold of Belgium

Click on the link below for faster download.

The [...] Read more →

Seeds for Rootstocks of Fruit and Nut Trees

Citrus Fruit Culture

THE PRINCIPAL fruit and nut trees grown commercially in the United States (except figs, tung, and filberts) are grown as varieties or clonal lines propagated on rootstocks.

Almost all the rootstocks are grown from seed. The resulting seedlings then are either budded or grafted with propagating wood [...] Read more →

Chronological Catalog of Recorded Lunar Events

In July of 1968, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA), published NASA Technical Report TR R-277 titled Chronological Catalog of Recorded Lunar Events.

The catalog begins with the first entry dated November 26th, 1540 at ∼05h 00m:

Feature: Region of Calippus2 Description: Starlike appearance on dark side Observer: Observers at Worms Reference: [...] Read more →

Tobacco as Medicine

The first published illustration of Nicotiana tabacum by Pena and De L’Obel, 1570–1571 (shrpium adversana nova: London).

Tobacco can be used for medicinal purposes, however, the ongoing American war on smoking has all but obscured this important aspect of ancient plant.

Tobacco is considered to be an indigenous plant of [...] Read more →