Bluidy Mackenzie

Here’s a Hallowe’en tale to make your blood run cold and your hair stand on end. Turn down the lights, ignite the candle inside the pumpkin, and brace yourselves to hear about a creepy graveyard, a Black Mausoleum, a vile atrocity from Scotland’s history, an evil poltergeist, and six spooky, spectral, spine-chilling coincidences. … More Bluidy Mackenzie

Apollo’s Ankles, or What I Know About Plaquettes

The clearest and most informative way to tell interested readers about my newly-acquired 16th century bronze plaquette is to use the Frequently Asked Question. The plaquette, however, is a rather obscure topic, so I have varied the well-tried FAQ technique. Allow me to introduce the SAQ, or Seldom Asked Question. … More Apollo’s Ankles, or What I Know About Plaquettes


This is a luckenbooth. It’s a brooch. As well as being a brooch, a luckenbooth is a Scottish love token, some buildings, a dance, a novel, and a popular design motif in the art of the Iroquois people of North America. There are a lot of intermingled stories here which will require some unpicking. … More Luckenbooth


This Japanese tea-bowl or chawan is the only interesting object in a recent auction job lot. I know little about Japanese ceramics and have no expertise to describe them or express opinions. So I should keep very quiet and not even make the attempt. OK. I’ll give it a go … … More Chawan

Seating for 78

Hearing about a large house furnished with 70 chairs, I determined to count the seats in my more modest home to check if this was a serious over-provision. Outcome: it seems my suburban semi-detached house can amply provide seating for 78. So here’s a reader challenge: how many seats do you have in your home? … More Seating for 78

Utility Paradox

Here are two small tables. Stylistically they couldn’t be much more different from each other. One is bright, lightweight and minimalist, the other is dark, heavy and traditional. And yet in many ways, they are the same table. Sorry to get all paradoxical, but stick with the story and you’ll see what I mean. … More Utility Paradox