Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Every time you say you don't believe in fairies...


I found this stage-coach flyer from 1706 yesterday, sitting in an ancient frame and perched high up on the shelf of a shop.

I took it down and looked at it through the magnifying glass which I always carry with me, and saw no obviously modern print tell-tales, so became mildly excited.

On the wood panel at the back of the dirty old frame, there was a 19th century book-seller's label saying, 'Melville Fletcher & Son, St. Andrews NB.' I began to think that Mr Bodingfold had travelled further North than York, ending up in Scotland, but then I wondered what the letters 'NB' stood for.

An internet search said that it was New Brunswick. Maybe Mr Bodingfold had gone even further and ended up in Canada? The plot really thickened.

I bought it for a reasonable amount of money, and when I took it home I looked at it a little closer through the glass in the frame. I was drinking a bit of red wine at the time. There was a slightly iridescent sheen on the surface of the paper, and I became a bit more doubtful.

This morning - in the light of day - I took it out of the frame, then took a few photos through my electronic microscope.



There were obviously no print impressions, or indeed any sign of it having been reproduced using relatively modern photocopying machinery. It began to look as if someone had photographed the original with an old-fashioned camera, then mounted it onto a bit of paper.

So I typed some relevant words into a search and found this:


The original appears to be in the Science Museum, London, because they claim copyright of the image.

I now think that mine is a Victorian photograph and, as such, may still be worth the sort of money I paid for it, but not what it would have been if over 300 years old...

Moral: Don't let your excitement and optimism get in the way of hard, logical deduction. You would think after a lifetime of Sherlock Holmes I would have learned this lesson by now, but obviously not.

I sat at the kitchen table and remembered a time when I was about 12 and bought a cow leg-bone in The Lanes in Brighton because the bastard told me it was from a dinosaur. I didn't want to believe it even when my aunt and father laughed at me for being so gullible, and I kept it for years afterwards, eventually swapping it for some other trifle.

I haven't progressed much in the intervening years.

14 comments:

  1. Have you been right more times than you have been wrong or wrong more times than you have been right? I'm very impressed you have an electronic microscope and imagine it comes in very handy from time to time...

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    1. If I have been wrong more times than right, then a lot of other people have been duped as well. It's only a cheap microscope.

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  2. Better to be a little bit wrong occasionally than jaded and unenterprising. We like the Tom who rattles round with sacks full of dubious dinosaur-bones.

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    1. Sounds like a description of me strolling in my trousers.

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  3. Even reasonably cheap modern printers can reproduce documents, watercolours, bank notes, etc, that would fool the most cautious.

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    1. We know, Cro. How do you think I have 'made' all my money for the last 15 years?

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  4. Could there be a moral in this?:
    'Arthur Dent: What happens if I press this button?
    Ford Prefect: I wouldn't-
    Arthur Dent: Oh.
    Ford Prefect: What happened?
    Arthur Dent: A sign lit up, saying 'Please do not press this button again.”
    (Douglas Adams, The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts)

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  5. Even though it's not the original it's still a pretty good find.

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    1. I think so - I hope two others will as well.

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  6. No Tom, but you have got a romantic soul - and don't ever lose it.
    Incidentally, those fairies live at the bottom of our garden, and they are very worldy wise.

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    1. True, Weave. Don't blame the slugs ever again.

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  7. I agree with Elaine …… it's still a nice little find and will look good in the right frame.
    If you clap your hands and say " I believe in Fairies ", maybe it will turn into the original Tom !! XXXX

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    1. I am gullible, but not quite that gullible. That way madness - or extreme wealth - lies. I choose poverty.

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