On the French penchant for inventing things already in existence elsewhere

François Dominique Séraphin, Bourbon favourite and reputedly the father of ombres chinoises (shadow puppetry), began operating 15 years later than is generally thought, and may have copied his techniques from an itinerant Italian or a London Alsatian. Featuring the memoirs of the valet to the later Louis XVII, early descriptions of the delights of the renovated Palais Royal (including a pygmy show), jolly old Baron Grimm on the lamentable state of French opera, shadow plays, and marionettes, and William Beckford’s favourite designer of theatrical perversions.

Philip James de Loutherbourg's Eidophusikon around 1782.

Karl Marx condemns organ-grinders!

“Vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux, brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars”

Membres de la société de secours du dix Décembre, dans l'exercice de leurs philanthropiques fonctions.

Smoking Mary: herbal fumes and disease prevention

Mare de Déu Fumadora, Mother of God Smoker, is a local name used in Arenys de Mar on Catalonia’s Maresme coast for the day before yesterday’s feast of the Immaculate Conception, la Purísima. According to the much-maligned Jordi Bilbeny, this is the day when children were allowed to smoke by their parents (picture of kiddie…