1898 99

OTTO WAGNER, Mietshaus Linke Wienzeile 38, Vienna, Austria, 1898-99,
Photography by Keiichi Tahara


Becker revolving shotgun

Designed by Kelner in Germany c.1898-99 then manufactured by Römerwerk Suhl c.1920′s.
16 gauge 5-shot cylinder, blow-forward single-action semi-automatic, all shells are ejected automatically except for the last one, which is ejected using the tab on the right side of the frame.

Only about a hundred of these were made but damn is it not fancy.


Pearson’s Magazine Jan-June 1898; among many other articles this volume contains the first appearance in print of Flaxman Low; credited as being the first psychic detective. This volume contains the first 6 [of a total of 13] ‘Real Ghost Stories’ created by British authors Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard and his mother Kate O'Brien Ryall Prichard, published under the pseudonyms “H. Heron” and “E. Heron”. Flaxman Low is actually a pseudonym for “one of the leading scientists of the” Victorian era, whose real name is not disclosed in the stories. He was an accomplished athlete in his youth and has turned his interests to a scientific study of the occult
the stories in theis volume are as follows
The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith (1898); Low is called in by an old friend to investigate a house haunted by a suffocating, bladder-like presence
The Story of Medhans Lea (1898); Low investigates a house plagued by a child’s crying, and a sinister figure dressed in black with a horrifying laugh
The Story of the Moor Road (1898); Low crosses paths with a sickly, coughing spirit which assaults travelers on the Moor Road
The Story of Baelbrow (1898); When the ephemeral, harmless ghost of Baelbrow takes on a material, deadly form, Low risks his life to find an explanation.
The Story of the Grey House:  Low’s curiosity is piqued by the history of the Grey House, where numerous residents have been found mysteriously hanged, even though no rope is ever found
The Story of Yand Manor House (1898); Low brings a friend, French philosopher Thierry, along on a curious case.  The Yand House dining-room is possessed by a malevolent spirit which cannot be seen or heard: only felt and tasted
Flaxman Low himself is a psychic detective of a pure Sherlock Holmes-ian style: he investigates and solves psychic mysteries with no tools other than his immense knowledge of supernatural phenomena and his keen powers of observation - “The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (2009) includes a short story by author Barbara Roden, “The Things That Shall Come Upon Them” which teams up Flaxman Low with Sherlock Holmes who together investigate a haunted house mystery

The full collection of stories was published in 1898/99 in Pearson’s Magazine and later in one volume in 1899 as The Experiences of Flaxman Low - the magazine however has 75 illustrations many more than were featured in single book which used only 12.

Increasingly uncommon 


Antoon van Welie (1866-1956, The Netherlands)

Van Welie was a Dutch painter bridging a range of late 19th century and early modern styles. His best-known portraits of women show an influence of Pre-Raphaelism and Academicism, but his style came to absorb elements of Symbolism, Luminism and Post-Impressionism. He has been described as “the last decadent painter”, referring to a movement of art and literature that emphasised man and its creation over nature, ennui over morality, and transgressive or sumptuous qualities opposed to those who professed ‘good taste’.

For Black History Month, let’s remember Bridget (often called Biddy) Mason, a Los Angeles woman whose contributions to the city were many.

According to reports in The Times over the years, Mason was born a slave in Mississippi in 1818. She eventually came to California and in the courts won freedom for herself and her three daughters in 1856.

She helped found the first black church in Los Angeles, First African Methodist Episcopal, and an elementary school for black children. She was a midwife in Los Angeles and became a wealthy landowner in what is now downtown L.A. Her home was at the corner of 4th and Spring streets. There’s a parking structure there now, but if you walk through the courtyard of the garage (adjacent to the Washington Building) toward Broadway, look to your right when you see the odd water sculptures. There’s a memorial to Mason there.

When Mason died Jan. 15, 1891, The Times didn’t run an obituary (that I can find). It did run a brief notice about her will on the 21st:

And The Times covered a subsequent dispute over taxes on Mason’s valuable land. A report on city and county assessments in 1898-99 said “a fair valuation of the premises lies between $150,000 and $200,000.” In 2014 dollars, that would be a high of about $5.7 million, according to an estimate based on Consumer Price Index data. According to county assessor’s records, a building on that block sold in 2013 for $18.5 million. Quite an inheritance in the 1890s.

You can read a bit more about Biddy Mason here: Following L.A.’s history through maps

Matt Ballinger

Photo: Portrait of Biddy Mason. Credit: Los Angeles Times file