February 10, 2011

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 3, Volume 5, Astronomy: Observations and Related Calculations about the Medicean Planets

This manuscript contains observations and calculations made by the Italian scientist and mathematician Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) on the so-called Medicean Planets—the satellites rotating around the planet Jupiter that Galileo discovered using the powerful telescope he invented and built in late 1609. Galileo made these notes in the course of his intense astronomical studies of early 1610, when he was in the last months of his tenure of the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua. These observations were then synthesized in his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry messenger), published in Venice in March 1610. The codex also contains, at c. 18r, a signed letter to Galileo from his friend and student Benedetto Castelli (1578-1643), in which Castelli sends Galileo his own observations of the planets. On c. 54v is a drawing by Galileo of a landscape with sails on water.

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 3, Volume 12, Astronomy: Discourse on the Comets Produced by him at the Florentine Academy During his Very Consulship

Three comets appeared in the skies over Europe in 1618, a phenomenal series of events that ignited a debate about the nature of these celestial bodies and the implications of their appearance for the Aristotelian theory that celestial bodies were unchanging and “incorruptible.” In 1619, the Jesuit astronomer and mathematician Orazio Grassi published under a pseudonym his treatise on the comets, in which he upheld the established view of celestial bodies as unchangeable and orbiting the Earth. Already under attack for his defense of the theories of Copernicus, Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) did not issue a direct reply to Grassi, but worked through his student and follower Mario Guiducci, who in 1619 published his Discorso delle comete (Discourse on comets). The text of Guiducci’s work is in large part attributable to Galileo. Underlying the discussion about the comets, although not made explicit, was the debate about the motion of the earth and the validity of the Copernican view that the Earth moves around the sun.

Charter Given by the High and Mighty Lords of the States General on the Date of June the Third, 1621

On June 3, 1621, the States-General, the governing body of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, issued a charter to a group of Dutch merchants to establish the Dutch West India Company. Similar to the Dutch East India Company, which was founded in 1602 in order to promote trade with Asia, the West India Company was granted a 24-year monopoly on all trade by Dutch merchants and inhabitants in a region that included the Americas and West Africa. The text of the charter, published in this 1623 pamphlet, contained 45 articles that reflected the high level of business organization in the Netherlands of the early 17th century. Article 18 established the Lords Nineteen as the company’s governing body and specified the number of representatives each province would have on this body. At its peak, the West India Company controlled settlements in the Caribbean, Brazil, and Suriname, the colony of New Netherland located in parts of the present-day U.S. states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware, and was involved in the African slave trade. Initially profitable, it fell on hard times as it lost many of its territories to Portuguese, French, and British rivals. In 1674, the Dutch West India Company ceased to exist.

Thousands of Live Alligators on Free Exhibition

This broadside, dating from about 1950, is an advertisement for Osky’s, also known as Osky’s Curio Shop or Osky’s Alligator Store, a Jacksonville mercantile store that sold gift items, rare or bizarre decorative items, and goods made out of alligator skin, including lamps, purses, and wallets. The shop also exhibited live alligators and other reptiles. Jacksonville was home to many of Florida’s earliest tourist attractions, including the Florida Alligator Farm. Operating for several decades on Jacksonville’s historic Bay Street, Osky’s promoted itself through postcards featuring images of its alligators and alligator goods and advertisements such as this one.

Women Getting their Hair Done at the Chez Marie Beauty Shop

This image shows women getting their hair done at a beauty salon in Miami, Florida in 1939, near the end of the Great Depression in the United States and on the eve of the outbreak of World War II. Women’s hairstyles were becoming longer and fuller as permanent waves (perms) became popular and more widely available. The modernist furniture and the use of technology to deliver a standard service were trends of the times. The photograph was taken by William Arthur Fishbaugh, who as a young man traveled widely, selling his first photographs while with the mounted policed in the Boer War (1899–1902), others taken in the Philippines in the Spanish-American War circa 1900, and images of the building of the Panama Canal in 1905–08. He became a commercial photographer, and he was active in Florida from the 1910s to the 1940s, originally in Tampa and, after 1917, in Miami.

Midwinter Crowd at Miami Beach

Winter tourism became a major factor in the development of Miami and south Florida from the 1920s onward. Development, particularly of hotels, grew apace, with the increasing popularity of this tourism and retirement haven, and much helped by the spread of commercial aviation. By 1940 Miami had about two million vacationers a year. President Harry S Truman was there for the dedication of the Everglades National Park in 1947. Some of the new hotels, such as the 1948 Sherry Frontenac, had fine Art Deco details. This photograph, taken on December 1, 1948, shows people gathered on the beach in Miami, part of the new wave of tourists who descended on the Miami shoreline in the wake of World War II. In the background of the photograph can be seen the Roney Plaza Hotel, a Miami landmark that opened in 1926. It described itself as “one of Miami's most beautiful and fashionable hotels. Both tea-time and the evening find happy throngs dancing to seductive music in the romantic setting of palms and Florida’s soft breezes.”