Our summer series of Tea & Talks continue with Dr. Bob Brier (“Mr. Mummy”), recognized as a foremost Egyptologist, who will examine the fascination with the ancient world along the Nile River. He will cover the events that fanned the flames of “Egytomania” during the last two centuries in his visual presentation on Tuesday, June 18 at 4:00 pm. A Victorian tea will follow his talk.
What were these events? There were Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign that led to a new decorative arts trend, the Suez Canal Big Dig and the carting of gigantic obelisks to Paris, London and New York. Brier states perhaps the greatest boost to Egyptomania was Howard Carter’s discovery and opening of Tutankhamen’s intact tomb. Later, in the 1970s, traveling exhibitions of the boy-king’s treasures kept the momentum going.
Brier will also discuss why Victorians were especially interested in ancient Egypt and will present many images of the collectibles that the fasciation inspired, from a beautiful Wedgwood Egyptian tea service to mechanical lead pencils in the shapes of mummies and coffins.
As Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, Brier conducts pioneering research in mummification practices and has investigated some of the world’s most famous mummies, including King Tut, Vladimir Lenin, Ramses the Great, Eva Peron and the Medici family of Renaissance Italy.
In 1994, Brier became the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver using the exact techniques of the ancient Egyptians. This research was the subject of a National Geographic TV special titled “Mr. Mummy.”
The speaker was the host of several award-winning television specials, including “Pyramids, Mummies & Tombs” and “Mummy Detective.” National Geographic TV presented his research in a documentary called “Secret of the Great Pyramid,” discussing a new theory of how the Great Pyramid of Giza was built. His research has been featured on such media venues as CNN, 60 Minutes and in the The New York Times. His most recent book is Cleopatra’s Needles: The Lost Obelisks of Egypt. (Bloomsbury, 2016).
The Summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.
Cost to attend the Brier’s talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event. Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited. For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.
Author Richard René Silvin returns to the mansion to present a Tea & Talk on the subject of his latest book, Normandie, the Tragic Story of the Most Majestic Ocean Liner. He will make his visual presentation on Tuesday, June 25 at 4:00 pm. Following will be a Victorian tea during which the speaker will autograph copies of his book.
His father was French and his mother was American. With lasting memories of crossing the Atlantic as a child accompanying his parents on such splendid ocean liners as Ile de France, the Queen Elizabeth and even the last completed crossing of the Andrea Doria, Silvin focuses on the French Line’s most glorious and glamorous flagship that first set sail from Le Havre on May 29, 1935. Normandie died an inglorious death by fire at a New York dock on the Hudson River on February 10, 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor and with war ravaging in Europe.
Silvin introduces us to his book by stating, “The story of Normandie’s demise affected me deeply as a young child. I read as much as I could about her life and death. I studied her deck plans and craved hearing anyone’s stories about their crossing aboard her…I used to boast that, even though I had never set foot on Normandie, I could give tours of all her astonishing public rooms and many of her private suites.”
Silvin, who resides in Palm Beach, Florida, maintains a particularly active interest in historic preservation as vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission. He is the author of Noblesse Oblige, the Duchess of Windsor as I Knew Her, the subject of his lecture at Ventfort Hall last year. He is also the author of I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools: An Arc to Triumph and Villa Mizner: The House That Changed Palm Beach.
The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.
Cost to attend the Silvin talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event. Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited. For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.
The Comical Mystery Tour ensemble returns to the mansion with a new program, “Murder Maiden China,” and invites the public to join the fun on Saturday, June 29th. Doors open at 5:00 pm. Program starts and first course served at 5:30 pm.
Gertrude Ingrid Josephine Mattel, a.k.a. GI Jo, is running the Maiden China toy company since her father’s passing. He was well loved, but she is more of a dictator and has made some enemies. Actually, she doesn’t have many, if any friends, including her hen pecked husband, Lou Zerr. Her assistant, C. Alice Knightly, is more like a slave. Goldie Digger, Lou’s “secretary,” has no good feelings towards her, she thinks, well maybe she doesn’t, what were we talking about? Charlie Brown III is the delivery guy for “This Side UP” package service. She calls him names every time he makes a delivery. Someone gets sick of it and GI Joe ends up in permanent retirement. Come along for the ride and help figure who offed Joe.
In production since 1995, The Comical Mystery Tour has had over 50,000 audience members viewing and/or participating in their programs. The ensemble appears regularly at Ventfort Hall.
Cost to attend is $40 per person including a full course dinner. A cash bar is available for beer and wine. Reservations are required by Wednesday, June 26th. Seating is limited. For information or reservations call us at 413-637-3206.
Revolutionary then, but a common everyday event today, Prof. Catherine J. Golden will put the stamp on “Posting It, or Networking, Victorian Style,” based on her book Posting It: The Victorian Revolution in Letter Writing. She will autograph copies of her book during a Victorian tea following her presentation.
Before e-mails, Instagram, Facebook and blogs, letter writing was the only way to communicate with a broad audience. The recipient, not the sender, paid to receive a letter at the time of delivery. So high were postage rates in early Victorian Britain—determined by the number of pages in the letter and the route a letter traveled—that many people dreaded the postman’s knock.
But all that changed with the Penny Post established in 1840. In London by 1860, there were 12 postal deliveries a day, from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Letter writing—no longer a privilege for the wealthy—became an affordable way to connect with family, friends and beyond.
“Posting It, or Networking, Victorian Style” presents the story of this revolutionary change. Through a PowerPoint presentation and material objects on display, we will journey with Golden to Victorian England to see the first adhesive postage stamp, called the Penny Black, which allowed letters up to ½ ounce to travel anywhere in the UK for only a penny. Stamps and prepayment quickly became the model for other nations including the United States, which issued its first stamps in 1847.
George Elgar Hicks’s narrative painting The General Post Office: One Minute to Six (1860)—on the cover of Posting It—shows the relevance of the Penny Post for networking in Victorian times and our time. The painting serves as a point of origin for computer-mediated communication (CMC), complete with the excitement, challenges, and dangers that users experience today.
Golden will consider, too, how the Penny Post brought blessings and problems relevant in the twenty-first century. It facilitated family ties, promoted business, and spread information to an ever-widening postal “network”— but it also became a tool for blackmail, slander, unsolicited mass mailings and junk mail. The Penny Post anticipates and was as revolutionary to the Victorians in sending letters, newspapers, books and other information as e-mail, text messages, and blogs are to us today.
Golden is professor of English and the Tisch Chair in Arts and Letters at Skidmore College. She is author of Serials to Graphic Novels: The Evolution of the Victorian Illustrated Book (2017) and Images of the Woman Reader in Victorian British and American Fiction (2003). She is editor or coeditor of five additional books on topics ranging from Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Victorian illustration, literature and culture and a regular contributor to Illustration Magazine, a British arts journal.
Posting It received the 2010 DeLong Book History Prize for the best book on any aspect of the creation, dissemination, or uses of script or print awarded by SHARP, the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing. Autographed paperback copies of Posting It and Serials to Graphic Novels will be available for purchase at the tea.
Tickets for the Golden talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event. Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited. For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.
Downton Abbey has been a television phenomenon watched by fans throughout the UK and the USA followed by the wildly successful traveling exhibition. Like other British costume dramas, the clothing is presented with attention given to meticulous detail.
Historic textile and costume expert Susan J. Jerome will present facts to weave into her story of “Downton Abbey Style: The Influences on Fashion, 1912 – 1925” here on Tuesday, July 9 at 4:00 pm. A Victorian tea will follow.
Jerome will explore the social, technological, and political developments of the early 20th century as reflected in the notable evolution of women’s and men’s clothing. Her visual presentation will look back at what was fashionable, or not, as a way of understanding why people wore what they did.
She will have her audience look at some of the influential designers and other persons involved in the years spanning the Downton Abbey series. Time will be given for questions and discussion, which are encouraged.
Jerome is the Collections Manager at the University of Rhode Island Historic Textile and Costume Collection. She earned her MS degree from the University of Rhode Island, Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design. Prior to continuing her education, she worked for a number of years at Mystic Seaport Museum.
Jerome also works as a textile and quilt conservator at CT Quilt Works in Mystic, and a consultant to museums and historical societies. An avid textilian, she is happiest when writing, talking and doing all things concerning textiles.
The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks presented every Tuesday until September 10 are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.
Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.
Join David Raby for a paranormal investigation of the historic and haunted Ventfort Hall. A non-fiction author and paranormal investigator, Raby has always been intrigued by history. He undauntedly enters haunted locations that would terrify others with hopes of contacting lingering spirits to discover why they remain.
Raby is the author of four published books and countless online articles. With his passion for the paranormal field, he has accumulated over a decade of experience, founded a paranormal group and has helped many people (and spirits) that ranged between the curious and those seeking urgent advice.
His interest in the paranormal was shaped by the fact that spirits seem to be attracted to his compassion and openness. He has a knack for storytelling that fuels his intensive historical research and fact finding.
He believes that by bringing people’s stories out of the shadows and into the light of our awareness, they may find eternal rest and peace.
Before the investigation, he will give a brief history of the lives that once graced the hallways – and possibly still reside within. He will also share some of his favorite evidence from previous investigations and will be happy to answer any questions about paranormal investigations. This event is perfect for everyone; from someone who has never been on a paranormal investigation to the seasoned investigator.
The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. and concludes at midnight. Tickets for this exciting event are $35 per person. All of the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the preservation and restoration of Ventfort Hall. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.