“The cattle business became a fad–a fashion. Rich men’s sons, college and university graduates, foreign investors in France, England and Scotland put their money in the business.” (Bartlett, History of Wyoming, Vol. 1)
The Cheyenne Club opened its doors in 1881. It was three stories tall with a kitchen and wine room in the basement. Servants trained in the East poured the finest liquors, which were brought in by train. Two vaults for the expensive wines. Caviar.
Members enjoyed a billiards room and a reading room with magazines and newspapers from the East. The club was decorated with paintings and thick carpets.
While the cattlemen dined in luxury, the cattle were left to fend for themselves during the winter, to find grass and unfrozen water or die. Even at the time, other people pitied the distressed animals.
The harsh winter of 1886-7 killed more cattle than usual, and the investors lost money. That spelled the end of their Cheyenne Club. Here’s a photograph of their grand building.
Bartlett, I.S., ed. History of Wyoming, Vol. 1. Chicago, S.J .Clark, 1918
Dary, David. Seeking Pleasure in the Old West. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
Larson, T.A. History of Wyoming. University of Nebraska Press, 1965.
The Old West: The Cowboys. New York, Time-Life Books, 1973.
Posted in HIstory, History in the Late 1800s, Life Around 1900, The Old West, Uncategorized | Tagged Cheyenne Club, Clubs for men in the Old West, Rich cattlemen in West, Rich men in Old West | 3 Comments »
Artist Chris Burden was profiled in the Los Angeles Times on May 11, the day after his death. The first line says that he once had himself shot in the arm for a performance piece. Luckily, the bullet just grazed him. Although shocking, that’s not why art critic’s Christopher Knight article about him was on the front page of the L.A. Times, where only the famous, such as statesmen and Hollywood celebrities, get their obituaries. Burden’s is there because his “Urban Light” has become a Los Angeles landmark.
Chris Burden saw art in vintage streetlamps. He painted them gray and installed them in front of the L.A. County Museum of Art, on busy Wilshire Boulevard. They are now solar powered. The lampposts in each row are identical, so that even the most ornate have a peaceful grace.
This video by Mike Fix showcases the art installation with aerial views and gorgeous music: “Experience” by Ludovico Einaudi.
Posted in Arts in the Present, Places to Visit, Videos | Tagged Beautiful Art in Public Places, Chris Burden, Classical modern art, Los Angeles art lampposts, Los Angeles museum streetlamps, Urban Light lampposts, Urban Light streetlamps, vintage lampposts, vintage streetlamps | 3 Comments »
Autry National Center of the American West, Los Angeles. Photo by Pamela Tartaglio.
The implements of a cheating gambler fit inside this box. Because he was serious about winning at any cost, he was probably a roving gambler.
The large pin with the ace is a “bug.” The ends are sharp and could spear the underside of the table and hold the card.
The other card is in a card trimmer. It looks like a miniature paper cutter.
The drills and metal guide are to load dice. Cheating gamblers drilled holes on the black dots of one side and filled them with a heavy metal such as gold. They painted a new black dot on top of each one they altered. When rolled, the dice were more likely to land with the heavy side down.
A gambler’s opponents were often armed with a derringer or dagger, so it astonishes me that the owner of this cheating set had his initials put on the box, along with the year (JMD 1867). The box does not lock.
It has a simple hook latch, and might fall open if dropped, and it could be opened by anyone, such as someone who just lost a bundle to Mr. JMD. He could have marked his box discreetly, like he did cards and dice, to tell it apart from boxes of other gamblers.
He risked getting shot by having his initials put on this. He liked taking a big risk, and he was one cocky son of a gun.
Posted in HIstory, History in the Late 1800s, The Old West | Tagged cheating Old West gamblers, Frontier gambler, Gambling in mining camps, Gambling on riverboats, Gambling on trains in old West, itinerant gamblers in west, Old West gamblers, poker and saloons, Poker in the Old West, saloons and gambling, Western saloons | 4 Comments »
There were two kinds of professionals, the gamblers who stayed in one town for months or years, and itinerant gamblers who traveled so they could play opponents they might never see again. Guess which type cheated more often.
Resident gamblers made their home in a town or city. They often worked in boomtowns, where a gold or silver strike or the coming of the railroad had caused a “boom” in population. Resident gamblers, like all good Victorians, guarded their reputations. These men were seen as upright members of the community, men with a skilled profession, even though they may have worked in raucous saloons and gambling halls. They were called “square dealers.” Square meant fair, honest, and straightforward. We still say “square deal.” Some resident gamblers were women.
They were skilled at the games, and they made a good living without cheating. Many of them probably cheated occasionally, for instance, they might if they realized an opponent was cheating them (The Gamblers, Time-Life Books).
Roulette Table. After 1900.
A portable roulette game from the 1860s.
The roulette table above is heavy, with the layout, the area where people placed their chips, painted on the table. By contrast, the roulette setup at right has a separate wheel and the layout is enameled canvas, which the itinerant gambler could roll up for travel, great when he needed to make a quick getaway.
Roulette wheels were sometimes rigged.
Itinerant gamblers liked playing travelers on the great Mississippi riverboats, river towns and trains. Travel was slow compared to today, so travelers had time, they carried money, and many had come west looking for fortune and adventure. Camps of miners and prospectors were prime territory for itinerant gamblers. Prospectors hoped to get lucky and strike it rich by finding silver or gold, or at a game of chance. The cheating, fly-by-night gambler was happy to play them.
Posted in HIstory, History in the Late 1800s, Life Around 1900, The Old West | Tagged cheating Old West gamblers, Frontier gambler, Gambling in boomtowns, itinerant gamblers in west, Old West gamblers, Roulette in the Old West, Roulette Table, Western boomtowns, Western mining camps, Western saloons | 5 Comments »
The month of Halloween, people often bring up Victorian mourning practices. Back then, it was an elaborate system, as was etiquette in general. I’ll talk about it another time, but here is something much more upbeat, a great movie clip from Gone with the Wind. The clip is four minutes, 45 seconds. At the end, Scarlett is a teenager in Deep Mourning, the first stage of mourning, which includes relative isolation. Note that even her jewelry is black. The other woman in mourning is her mother. Hattie McDaniel gives her Oscar-winning performance as Mammy. This clip sounds gloomy but is fun.
Posted in Arts in the Early 1900s, HIstory, Life Around 1900, Videos | 1 Comment »
This gallery has paintings and 285-year-old furniture from Houghton Hall’s Saloon room, and a copy of its wallpaper.
It’s not the real Houghton Hall in Norfolk, England, but a San Francisco museum has plenty of its furnishings and art. Different rooms of the hall are depicted in the rooms of the California museum. Houghton Hall was built in the early 1700s by Sir Robert Walpole, the first de facto British Prime Minister. Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House is an exhibit at the Legion of Honor, a grand building itself. The grounds have a sweeping view of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and sea cliffs. The exhibit will be there until January 18, 2015.
Furniture from the Marble Parlour in front of a large photo of the real parlour papering the wall.
The Marble Parlour was a dining room, and its beautiful china and silver is here along with its chairs, above.
The Library, as displayed in San Francisco’s Legion of Honor.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a fifteen-volume work
The galleries have videos of the actual rooms, so ornate they are stunning! I’ll give you a link to the real Houghton Hall below, and look in the bottom row for the room with the bright blue wallpaper shown below. That same room has a lavish bed for a child, the grandson of Sir Robert Walpole, a christening gift from the child’s godparents, King George II and Queen Caroline. The bed is in San Francisco, too. This page of the website of Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England, has a dozen small photos you can click on to enlarge.
Wallpaper hand-painted and -printed in China about 1780. From Houghton Hall.
Posted in HIstory, Places to Visit, The Arts | Tagged English Country House at San Francisco Museum, English House at Legion of Honor, Exhibit of English house in American museum, Houghton Hall exhibit in San Francisco, Houses like Downton Abbey, like Downton Abbey | 1 Comment »
This is about Lady Sybil, not of the show Downton Abbey, but of the Houghton Hall of my last post. This Lady Sybil rescued Houghton Hall from neglect. She and her brother Sir Philip Sassoon collected art which is now at the Hall, and some is now at the San Francisco exhibit.
Lady Sybil Sassoon (1894-1989), later Lady Chalmondeley, was a friend and supporter of statesmen and artists. She founded the Women’s Royal Naval Service.
The American painter John Singer Sargent painted this portrait of her as a gift when she married the heir to Houghton Hall, the Earl of Rocksavage, in 1913. Sargent gave her the cashmere shawl she wears and painted “To Sybil from her Friend, John S. Sargent.”
Her husband inherited Houghton Hall six years later and it was Lady Sybil’s home for the next seventy years, and she restored it to its former glory.
Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England © Copyright dennis smith
Last week, I posted photos from San Francisco’s Legion of Honor’s current exhibit Houghton Hall. Here’s a photo of one more room in the exhibit, the gallery with artifacts from Houghton Hall’s Tapestry Dressing Room.
Lady Sybil wore this robe, train and dress at the coronation of George IV in 1937. A peer’s rank dictates the type of ceremonial dress. Her father-in-law, the 4th Marquess of Chalmondeley, had the role of Lord Great Chamberlain at an earlier coronation (Edward VII in 1902) and wore the uniform above, including this hat.
Here is the website of Houghton Hall, a page showing its splendid rooms. Click on the thumbnail photos to enlarge them. The exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor closes January 18, 2015.
Posted in Arts in the Early 1900s, HIstory, Places to Visit | Tagged Houghton Hall, John Singer Sargent, Lady Sybil, Lady Sybil of Houghton Hall, real Lady Sybil, real Lady Sybil of England, Sybil Sassoon | 2 Comments »