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Urania was considered the fair Muse of Astronomy, for Elfinspell she provides factual information, usually off-beat and interesting, appealing to a broad range of people — the curious types.

(The deadly dull--to some--but essential information not found elsewhere easily may show up here as well.)

But let's start with a favorite: a trivia guide of the nineteenth century--it's a must for those whose ambition is to appear on Jeopardy someday.

This book made it to at least six editions, proving that trivia and useless knowledge was information of great interest in the last century as it continues to be today.

If you don't find a fascinating fact here somewhere, then you either know all this already or you will have never navigated your way to this page in the first place.

Having been published in 1884, some of the information is out of date, especially geographical data. Even with this, you will get a glimpse of the world as it was in this year.

Bet you don't know a bunch of this stuff and when you read on, you'll find a use for the information. (A poor innocent stranger was just informed of the first card game ever invented at a small Chinese restaurant this very evening. He took it very well and it certainly didn't affect his appetite one bit.)

Go on, try it!

For starters, Elfinspell's Urania is delighted to bring you:

Quirks and Quibbles from Queer Quarters
by Albert P. Southwick, A. M.

And a tidbit on the first use of the word Christmas in early English literature here.

A little bit about Sneezes and Sneezing — folklore, allusions, superstitions, etc., can be read in this excerpt by William Mathews from A Pinch of Snuff.

From John Timbs', The Abbeys, Castles, and Ancient Halls of England and Wales; their Legendary Lore and Popular History:

Sarum Castle,

Wardour Castle,

The Castle and Abbey of Malmesbury,

Wilton Abbey and Wilton House,

Castles of Marlborough, Great Bedwin, and Trowbridge,


Lacock Abbey,

Amesbury Monastery,

Cranbourn Chase: King John’s Hunting-seat,

Devizes Castle,

Littlecote House. — A Mysterious Story,

Draycot House. — The Legend of the White Hand,

Avebury, Stonehenge, and Silbury Hill,

Some definitions of Older English terms for property and land divisions, the definition of socage, and other agricultural terms from the Appendix of A Short History of English Rural Life by Montague Fordham:

The Tùn, The Vill and the Parish, The Socage Tenant, Names of the Various Features of Common, Arable and Meadow Land

In this book, there is also a map that forms the Frontispiece by Mr. Widlake, showing the plan of a XIIth century Manor, which helps illustrate some of the terms used in the above brief descriptions.

Two pages from P. LaRousse's French Dictionary, showing pictures of modes of transportation in France these were also used in much of Europe, in the late 19th century. The terms are in French, and most are translated into English. This was found in F. Berger's (1896) French Method.

From Anecdotes of Dogs by Edward Jesse:


The Irish and Highland Wolf-Dog,

The Turnspit,


Dalmatian or Coach-Dog,

Great Danish Dog,

Cur Dog,


Ban Dog.

The Full Text and Pictures of Romantic Castles and Palaces, As Seen and Described by Famous Writers, edited and translated by Esther Singleton.

Other Castle matter: The Groves of Blarney, the once-famous song about Blarney Castle, with another picture and notes by Charles Eliot Norton. It is from the Sixth Book, of the Heart of Oaks Books Series.

The Full Text, with Pictures, of Beautiful Buildings in France & Belgium, Including many which have been destroyed during the war. Reproductions in Colour and Monochrome from rare old Prints and Drawings, by and after Prout, Boys, Coney, W. Callow, David Roberts, C. Wild and others, with descriptive notes, by C. Harrison Townsend, F.R.I.B.A.

Some short comments and engravings of trees and shrubs used for making perfumes, or of other interest (to me), are here from the section Trees and Plants Described in the Bible, from "Peter Parley's Merry Stories:

The Algum-Tree,

The Plane-Tree,

The Camphor-Tree,

The Balsam-Tree,


The Mustard-Plant,

The Cinnamon-Tree,

Calamus, or Sweet Cane,

The Anise,

The Rose,

And so you can know as much geography as an ancient scholar did, there's Classical Geography, by H. F. Tozer. This an abbreviated form of his much larger book, and it covers the basics and was one of the Literature Primer Series of the American Book Company.

For Karl, who played around with a comic strip about bugs, during a summer sojourn working at an organic farm: Farm Spies, How The Boys Investigated Field Crop Insects, by Conradi and Thomas. This book was written by two professors of entomology at the Clemson Agricultural College.

Copyright © 2004 by Elfinspell

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