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The Prologue

Prague - The Phtography of Karel Plicka

Photogravure (copper-plate printed) images of early 20th-Century Prague, from Karel Plicka a once-famous virtuoso of black-and-white photography, an early 20th century Czech artist, the "Ansel Adams" of Czechoslovakia.

His urban photography shows Prague in an unparalleled and extraordinary view. His work is an incarnation of medieval, renaissance, baroque, neo-classical, empire, art nouveau and cubist motifs. In his work Prague speaks a language of ancient mystique, stunning expression and captivating realism.

Gasometers At King's Cross

As featured in The Ladykillers (original version). Note that the uprights actually have the form of classical columns. The future of the listed gas holders, which monopolise the King's Cross skyline behind the station, remains uncertain but the majority of those consulted want the holders to be dismantled and the area re-built as either a residential site or a new set of office blocks. However, it is likely that the gasometer 'triplets' - designed and built between 1879 and 1881 for the Gas, Light and Coke Company - will be preserved and resited.

Itlachiayauhque, The Place From Which He Watches

This mirror was used by the Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer and magician John Dee (1527-1608/9) as a 'shew-stone', one of many polished translucent or reflective objects which he used as tools for his occult research.

The mirror, made of highly-polished obsidian (volcanic glass), was one of many Aztec cult objects and treasures brought to Europe after the conquest of Mexico by Cortés between 1527 and 1530. Mirrors were associated with Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers, whose name can be translated as 'Smoking Mirror'. Aztec priests used mirrrors for divination and conjuring up visions. Dee had an interest in optics and optical mirrors or 'glasses' as described in his private diary and works. he was also interested in psychic phenomena and, from 1583, worked with Edward Kelly as his medium. Kelly would see visions in the 'shew-stones' of 'angels' that communicated by pointing to one square after another in tables of letters and unknown symbols, which Dee and Kelly transcribed.

The case, made to fit the obsidian mirror with its projecting handle, has a paper label with the handwriting of the English antiquary Sir Horace Walpole, who acquired the mirror in 1771. The text begins 'The Black Stone into which Dr Dee used to call his spirits ...'. He has added later 'Kelly was Dr Dee's Associate and is mentioned with this very stone in Hudibras [a satirical poem by Samuel Butler, first published in 1664] Part 2. Canto 3 v. 631. Kelly did all his feats upon The Devil's Looking-glass, a Stone.'

Faustův Dům

Faustův dům, the Faust House, is located in Karlovo namesti (Charles Square), the Old Cattle Market of Prague. I visited the Czech Republic in April of 2006, but unfortunately the house is closed to the public. A difficult blighter to get a photograph of as well. Built in the 14th century and owned by the alchemist Prince Václav of Opava, John Dee and Edward Kelley resided here while living in Prague in 1586

Scold's Bridle

A scold's bridle (also the brank or branks) was a torture device, resembling an iron muzzle or cage for the head with an iron curb projecting into the mouth and resting
precariously atop the tongue. The curb was frequently studded with spikes so as
to cruelly torture the tongue if it dared stir.


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