If you guessed "whatever man is in that self-portrait" you would have been half-right. Leonardo da Vinci was the original paint-by-numbers inventor: he used numbered background patterns for his students and apprentices. During the 1940s, Dan Robbins (the guy in the self-portrait) heard about da Vinci’s method. He worked for Detroit's Palmer Paint Company, and Robbins convinced his boss to try it out, coming up with kits featuring landscapes, horses, kittens, and puppies. Things that amateurs would want to paint, in other words. And they were a hit! Sales hit a record $20 million in 1955.
Unfortunately for the Palmer Paint Company, the idea of paint-by-numbers is very simple. Which makes it easy for other companies to copy the idea. As competitors flooded the market, the Palmer Paint Company could not keep up, and was eventually sold. But Robbins -- and Da Vinci -- had made their mark. Paint-by-numbers kits have been continuously sold since they were first invented in the 1940s, and Robbins’s work of making art accessible to all has been celebrated by the Smithsonian Institution.
An interesting summary of the linguistic history of the Iberian Peninsula! Although this is not entirely accurate -- Mozarabic speakers would say they spoke “Ladino,” for instance, and there were no linguistic census in 1000 CE to check exactly where the borders between languages and dialects were.
The archangel Michael, whose cult first emerged in Ethiopia under the patronage of Emperor Zär'a Ya'eqob (ruled 1434–1468), remains the most venerated archangel in Ethiopia. This is largely due to his role as an intercessor on behalf of the faithful. In this folio dating to the late 1600s, Saint Michael rescues the faithful from the flames of hell. And on the facing page, those Michael has already saved are depicted as living safely in paradise.
Pineapples were cultivated by the Tupi-Guarani indigenous people in South America. In their language, "nana" means "excellent fruit." When the Spanish encountered the pineapple, they called it "pina" from Latin's "pinus" meaning "pine." The French called it "ananas" after the Tupi-Guarani word. And thus the fruit spread around the world with two very different names
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By Lillian Audette
This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!