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Here it begins...

Welcome, wilkommen, bienvenue, etc.!  This is my repository of, well, stuff.  If you've come on purpose, glad you could make it!  If you've come by accident, ditto! 

Below you will find entries documenting my adventuring making and using historical things primarily of interest to the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism).  My work can often be seen at SCA events in the East Kingdom and northern Atlantia.

I welcome commentary; if you see a way in which I can improve the thing or process, kindly inform. 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

Bob Davis

(SCA: Robert Fairfax, CM, QHD)

Kass Army UNITE!

We're losing our search-engine placement for some reason.  This is ruinous.  Something is broken; we're figuring out what it is.  One quick fix is to get everyone we know to post five links to pages on our website.  The links can be random; you can link to products (best bet), articles, etc.  Links are best served surrounded by text.  So if you go to your LJ and post something like, "These are my favorite five things from Reconstructing History" and add links, that'll work.

Please put five links in some web content somewhere you control.  LJ, Facebook, your HTML website, Twitter, discussion forums, whatever.  Don't violate terms of use, of course; be intelligent.

Let's go viral!






Organizational Update

Friends & passers-by: 

As much as I love LJ, it's not really useful for my methods of organization.  I need a repository that's just as easy to update but more amenable to the way I like to do things.

Therefore I'm moving the Files to a new website: 
http://fairfaxfiles.webs.com/ will be the new home.

Please note I'm duplicating the content found here over there, too, so nothing will be lost.  And there's new content over there, specifically historical brewing stuff.  I'll post here when I upload new content there, though you can subscribe to
the new website for content updates also.

Thanks for reading along!

A Names Analysis

Warning: Extremely boring Herald stuff follows.

An Analysis of Names from a 16th-Century Lincolnshire Parish

R. P. Davis
(SCA: Robert Fairfax)

Source: Farmers and Fishermen: The Probate Inventories of the Ancient Parish of Clee, South Humberside, 1536-1742. R. W. Ambler, B. & L. Watkinson.  Studies in Regional & Local History, University of Hull, 1987.

The names included in this work - male and female given names, and surnames - are taken from the transcribed probate inventories of the parish of Clee in Lincolnshire.  Thus there may be errors in transcription.

In a few cases a name may have been counted twice.  Every effort was made to avoid this to reduce skewing statistics; where the author considered the name to be the same person, the years in which this occurred are separated by an ampersand "&".

There is a dearth of female given names in this study, as statistically few widows found their inventories in probate. 

While the records in the source go through 1742, no records past 1599 were included.

Numerals is parentheses indicate the year in which the name was recorded.  Numerals in brackets indicate the number of times the name occurred if more than once.  For instance, (1589[3]) means the name occurred three times in the year 1589.

Every attempt was made to use a more modern, "standardized" spelling of a name as the name header if such a spelling could be found.  Alternate spellings are listed after each heading in italics.  Name headers listed without dates are not documented; they are listed for ease of use.  Where no modernized spelling was tenable, the earliest spelling of the name is used as a header.

Frequency study of male given names and surnames was attempted.  In the latter case, great caution must be exercised by the reader.  The appraisers of probate inventories were invariably men from the leading families of the parish.  Therefore one sees the same names occurring over and over again.  An interesting analysis would be to map the rise and fall of parish families from the frequencies and dates listed in that list, though no such analysis was done here.

One unique male name leaped out: Valentine Browne.  It is odd that, where one expects no characters from 1970s "Blaxploitation" films to be found, there shall they indeed be found.  This is the definition of "serendipity".

On to the lists of names...Collapse )
Now I've discovered how much fun this is, I have more sources I will mine.  The results will be posted here.  Please feel free to distribute this article or link to it freely.

It's been a long time!

So let's talk about something.  In another venue, the topic of SCA A&S Competition judging came up.  I think there's a dichotomy in A&S judging; maybe your comments can help me through it.

Two of the major points sources are Authenticity and Creativity.  These categories are mutually exclusive.  An "authentic" thing is a replica, which does not admit of much "creativity" if any at all. The inverse is also true: Being "creative" means taking steps away from replication. The more creative you are, the less authentic your project must necessarily be.

For example, you're making an Elizabethan pair of Bodys (stays).  The boning used in those bodys was baleen (whalebone).  Baleen is illegal to possess unless you're an Eskimo.  So you cast about for an alternative.  A certain type of reed cane is found which has the same physical properties as baleen, so you use that.

That's a creative use of an alternate material.  But that alternate material is inauthentic for that purpose.  Therefore Creativity goes up and Authenticity goes down.

I don't see another way which makes sense.  Thoughts, gentle readers?  Help me understand how you see it.


Protocol Heraldry

One of the things I like to do most is use my voice to entertain people. A very good way to do that is by acting as the voice of the crown at SCA events. It's easy and lots of fun.

We're not talking about just baronial or royal court, either. Something you'll find at darn near every SCA event is combat of some type.

Read more...Collapse )

Spanish! ... Oh, and legal stuff.

Last weekend, a dear friend of mine was inducted into the Order of the Pearl, the Kingdom of Atlantia's Grant-bearing Order of High Merit for the arts. I had the privilege of making her award document, seen here:

The piece is pretty much a replica of
MS Span 59, housed in Harvard University's Houghton Library. I of course changed the initial to the badge of the Order, and the text is SCA award text translated into Spanish. I tried to keep the size relative. It fits nicely on a 8.5x11" sheet of Arches paper I found ages ago at Dick Blick - it has the same look and feel as 16th-century laid paper I've handled.

There was another commission for this past weekend. Master Eadric (known to most of the SCA as Eadric the Potter and LJ as thatpotteryguy) needed a contract for his new apprentice. So I clerked it up for him. That's here:

It's just a bog-standard late-C14 secretary hand on the same paper. I dressed it up a bit with some fiddly bits on the uprights of some of the letters. But it was fun!

New SCA documents!

I've been meaning to upload these for weeks now.  Below are digital photos taken of Duke Andreas's latest "stepping-down" scroll.  Click on each image for a larger view.

The design was determined by Mistress Kis Marika, who also painted the main image.  The design is based on a page from King Rene's Book of Love.  I did the calligraphy and painted the leaves and flowers and stuff, including the gilded capital.  Gilding was done with powdered shell gold and gum arabic; calligraphy was performed with a quill; red ink is dilute W&N gouache, black is india ink. 
Lady Gerilyn Fjiorden wrote the words.



Main image (Mika is amazing)


King Andreas Eisfalke Von Ulm looked upon his glorious kingdom, peaceful after victory in the 38th Pennsic War.  He saw Prince Konrad von Ulm, strong, wise, and ready to lead the populace, with Princess Brenwen the Faire, inspiration to all, standing proudly by his side. Having done all that he had set out to do, bitter sweet, he took the crown from his head.  Reaching out for the hand of his beloved wife Gabrielle, glorious Queen of these Oriental Lands, they placed the Crowns of the East upon the capable brows of their successors.  Together, Andreas and Gabriella, with their son Andre in his arms, and beautiful daughter Britnee at their side, walk out into the warming sun, just rising above the horizon, shining now upon a new reign.  The people cheered, banners flew, and on this day. All was right with the known world.

Calligraphy & Incidental Illumination: Robert Fairfax

Main Illumination: Mistress Kis Marika

Words: Lady Gerilyn Fjiorden

New Calligraphy and Pen Drawing

It's safe to post this now, because the award went out last weekend.  This is an AoA for an old friend.  I've known her for years, did her Tyger's Cub scroll, and leapt at the chance to do her AoA.  It's based on a German prayer compendium ca. 1590 - 1610.

First is a detail of the initial. 

Next is the complete document.

The document was executed with a quill and India ink on paper specifically selected to match late 16th-century and early 17th-century high-rag-content laid papers in my collection.  The hand is an admixture of extant hands from the late 15th through the mid 16th centuries.  Some letters are from one hand, others from another.  The capitals were taken from the original: MS Typ 110, housed in Harvard University's Houghton Library.

An interesting thought...

...from the Armour Archive.

The topic under discussion was a belief that a Peer has an obligation to teach, regardless of circumstances, even those people he or she finds objectionable for valid reasons.

The general consensus was that the teacher reserves the right to preserve his or her sanity; while an obligation exists, it isn't all-encompassing to the detriment of the Peer's life - in the SCA or out of it.

I'm bringing this up because of a very concise observation made by one of the correspondents.  He goes by the username "Dilan", and I know nothing about him other than that he makes keen observations.  Here's what he wrote:

"There isn't an obligation for a peer to teach - we have no choice.

"You don't have to spar with someone to teach them. You don't have to demonstrate a technique, or lecture, or critique.

"As a Peer, you teach others by simply doing what you do.

"Every event, every toruney, every court. People see you, hear you and learn. Learn by what you do, and don't do.

"The only question is - what do they learn from you?"

I find this a very useful thing to keep in mind in my SCA life.  I'm not a Peer, though I do aspire to that honor.  It's little tidbits like this that help to shape that Bob.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share.  Well, really, I wanted to put the quote somewhere I can easily find it!  But since this is that easily-found place, you, dear reader, get to share in my inspiration.

Latest Month

July 2010