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What are these things?
July 15, 2008 6:33 PM   Subscribe

What are these things? And what do they say?

I bought these 2 pictures (1 and alternate 1, 2 and alternate 2 ) at an estate sale / yard sale about a month ago. The people who sold them knew nothing about their origins. My translation attempts have gotten bogged down trying to interpret what the symbols actually are.

So does anyone know what type of art/lettering/whatever this is? What they are saying? Why they have page numbers at the top? What the deal is with the apparently faked aging process?
posted by aburd to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's a rebus. "...(eye) consider w(hat) (yew) have (awl)ready done for my (bee)hoof, and t(hat)...." and so forth.
posted by katemonster at 6:43 PM on July 15, 2008


katemonster has it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:44 PM on July 15, 2008


It appears in the first one the devil is thanking Lord whatever for his services in spreading vice ("encouraging all manner of wickedness, by gaming..." and promising that he will be a privy counsellor forever. It involves some business in Germany.
No clue what the source is or why the page numbers, but that's what I can make out so far.
posted by katemonster at 6:57 PM on July 15, 2008


I've been wondering what that darn bush was this whole time. And to be honest, I've never before even heard of a yew bush.
posted by aburd at 7:03 PM on July 15, 2008


They look like rebuses. The first is maybe
A (letter) (to) Sir L--e Dund(ass):

(Eye) consider w(hat) (yew) have (awl)ready done for my (bee)half, and t(hat)
... never again hap(pen) (to) (bee) in (yew)r way to (ass)ist my emmissaries
... (eye) (can?)not forb(ear) (lamb)enting (yew)r late mis(fort)une, (to) re(cap)itulate (awl)
I like "ser(vice)s" and "the y(ear) (fort)y-6."

I can make out most of the words but not much of the meaning.
In Germany w(?) Commis(saw)ry sent thousands to the grave for want of bread. Since commencing Baro(?) you have been no less assiduous in (?)ing my kingdom by encouraging all manner of wickedness, by gaming (?) false swearing to serve your and my ends, for all which services you may assure yourself of being made a (fruit?) of my kingdom and my private counsellor for ever.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:04 PM on July 15, 2008


Google search for "dundass devil" brings up this, which you might be looking at a copy of?
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:07 PM on July 15, 2008


"In Germany w(hen)" -- a really weird looking hen -- and baro(net).

Although I can't believe I missed "ass". I kept trying to figure out what kind of animal he meant that to me.

A yew is a tree -- to be honest, I have no clue what they look like, I just figured it based on context.
posted by katemonster at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2008


aburd, do you have access to a scanner? Could you scan these guys and make them available? They're just way too cool.
posted by phunniemee at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2008


Baro(ness), maybe? The mailing list suggests Dundas is a Scots name.

Oh, it could be a net. Good call on the hen.

Hmmm, Baronet Lawrence Dundas might have been a public figure subject to satire in the mid-1700s.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:28 PM on July 15, 2008


... Wikipedia says Dundas provided goods to the British army during the Jacobite Rising ending in 1746. That seems like who your letters are about.

If your artifacts look like imitations a historian interested in Britain during that period might recognize them.

Whee! This was fun.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2008


phunniemee, I do have a scanner but the pictures came framed. So I don't want to take them out and have to get them reframed. I might be able to get someone with a much better camera and a much better grasp of how to use a camera to take the pics so they don't look so craptastic.

I'm doubting they are original as the aging doesn't look real to me. I could be wrong but I'm just not thinking that's the case as they cost me like $30 bucks.
posted by aburd at 7:57 PM on July 15, 2008


Is it just me or does "he developed Grangemouth" sound more like a loathsome disease and less like a property development?
posted by katemonster at 8:07 PM on July 15, 2008


aburd, I didn't mean to suggest you've found Priceless Yard Sale Antiques. But if they pique your interest and they are copies of something well-known, a historian might say "oh! that's the blah" and give you some more context.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:10 PM on July 15, 2008


I have one of them deciphered, I think:

_________________________________________

An Answer To The Devil

The expressions in your letter are cold and ill dispatched {?} -- is this a dispatch {?} to lament that I cannot serve you? Have I not sent you the Deacon of Sk_ners within these 10 days last, is not the whole town set by the ears on my account? I also consign over to you all the other Deacons for placing their Miller in my mill and I assure you that I will take care of the Merchant herd {?} so as to secure them. I likewise forgot one essential service I rendered you in Germany when I had the address to get my Clerk hanged/hung instead of myself. So that I think myself well entitled to all the Honours you have proposed.

I am yours forever

Dundas
_________________________________________


note: the "Miller" thing is about a political opponent of Sir Lawrence Dundas, Sir William Miller, who was elected to parliament, but then unseated due to Dundas petitioners. Or somesuch. Some info here.

I am most stuck by the woman(?)-on-a-rock-with-scythe images, if that's what they are. I've only been able to come up with "ill dispatch-ed" or possible "ill omen-ed". Not at all sure on that one.

I haven't yet looked at the letter from the devil to Dundas...
posted by taz at 3:32 AM on July 16, 2008


taz, I just got really close to it and it looks like nothing but a woman on a rock with a scythe. And next to her is a pipe maybe?

Thanks man!
posted by aburd at 5:06 AM on July 16, 2008


Here's the other one:
_________________________________________

A Letter to Sir Lawrence Dundas

When I consider what you have already done for my behoof, and that it may never again happen to be in your way to assist my emissarys as formerly, I cannot forbear lamenting your late misfortune. To recapitulate all your services would be endless -- In the year 46 you grasped that opportunity to get rich by the death of thousands of familys {?} -- In Germany when commissary to the army you sent thousands to the battle for want of bread. Since commencing baronet you have been no less assiduous in increasing {?} my kingdom by encouraging all manner of wickedness, by gaming, holding {?} false swearing to serve your & my ends, for all which services you may assure yourself of being made a peer of my kingdom and my privy counsellor forever.

I am yours &tc

The Devil
_________________________________________

I have no idea what the image is that I have interpreted as "familys". Can't make that one out at all.
posted by taz at 6:56 AM on July 16, 2008


Could it be "no less assiduous in crowding my kingdom"?
posted by katemonster at 7:07 AM on July 16, 2008


oh, yeah - better!
posted by taz at 7:11 AM on July 16, 2008


DUH! It's "peopling"!
Now if only the woman with the scythe would begin to make sense.
posted by katemonster at 11:04 AM on July 16, 2008


:)

The woman with the scythe seems iconic, like a classical reference we should understand... but I can only think of Demeter/Ceres as possible woman-with-scythe, and that doesn't make any sense (and why would she be sitting on a rock, anyway, when she should be out harvesting?

I'm curious if the death figure was ever a woman, because I was going with the death idea for "dispatch" but that is really unsatisfying. It would be cool to get that one squared away.
posted by taz at 1:12 PM on July 16, 2008


I think the woman with the scythe is fate. As in "ill-fated" and "fate-toe" (fatal).
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:20 AM on July 18, 2008


In Free Masonry the scythe represents "time"...seems to fit.
Here is an explanation via google books.
posted by lobstah at 7:25 AM on February 28, 2009


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