Modern Marvels, circa 1885

A lovely long weekend to you my colleagues!  As always, I’m quite happily spending mine poring over Ladies of Mischief artifacts for you.  And I have a very exciting update today regarding Miss Coraline Hackworth’s arrival at The Great Exhibition.  As you recall, she traveled all the way from London with a pit-stop in New York for some exploration and tea, followed by the mid-flight discovery of a charming stowaway.  Let’s see what discoveries the Exhibition itself holds….


17th of June, 1885

Dearest Ladies of Mischief,

The Great Exhibition is fabulously exhilarating! The building itself is a mechanical marvel; the great hall doors have an astounding clockwork frame that will open the doors at the touch of a button. They seem ridiculously inefficient, but the makers swear that such “automatical doors” will be all the rage in the finer cities of the world. I wonder what impact such a change would have on the door-opening etiquette of the day? Fortunately Mr. Thistleby is possessed of wisdom as well as wit, and he merely bowed and stood aside as I pressed the button. What noise! Steam flew out of whistling tubes while gears clicked and ground together. The massive spectacle ended with the doors sliding sideways in a very unusual fashion. While we passed through the doors, I closely examined the frame, as it had some very interesting construction. I became so engrossed that I didn’t notice as the doors started closing again, and nearly became trapped when they closed on my bustle. A vigorous tug from Mr. Thistleby was required to dislodge me. I’ve always found the bustle to be a rather silly fashion but I have never before been endangered by one. I find myself pondering the practicality of an external, detachable bustle. After all, a Lady of adventure must not be so easily caught!
But enough about Fashion- this exhibition is all about Science! I had thought that the doors made an amazing racket, but the exhibition hall noise was beyond comprehension. It was somewhat like standing in the airship engine while making a steep ascension, with an entire percussive symphony playing their instruments at the same time. Startling and thrilling!
After my experience with the door, I was careful not to get too close to the many exciting inventions on display. The local mining operations must be quite dangerous, as I saw several different mechanical arm replacements. There were some attempts to harness the aetherical energy for communication, but nothing as advanced as we Ladies already enjoy.
There was an entire wing of mechanical beasts, ranging from giant clockwork draft horses to something that resembled a small mechanical badger. The clockwork beasts seemed realistic, in that they were as ill-tempered as live animals, and several of them had managed to break out of their cages. Between the rampaging badgers and the copious amounts of oil on the floor, I deemed that wing too dangerous to visit today. Perhaps tomorrow they will have wound down enough for viewing.
I’ll save the most intriguing area of the exhibition for tomorrow’s letter. I want to spend more time delving deeply before I even begin to describe these inventions.

Miss Coraline Hackworth


Thank goodness Mr. Thistleby was on hand to save Miss Coraline in her fashion emergency, as it were.  Perhaps that’s the reason why bustles and mechanical doors don’t both exist in this day and age – it’s a logistical impossibility!  Ahh, science, fashion and technology.  No wonder she was willing to make such a journey (I certainly would!)  I hope she was able to discuss some of her new Airship technology with the other attendees.  But perhaps that will come in the next letter, if the mechanical badgers allow.  Now that’s a phrase I never though I’d find myself writing!  And on that amusing note, I’ll leave you until next time.  Many exciting collaborations in the works and much to share with you soon!



Hello again colleagues!  I’ve recently found another diary in the trunk, this one from Miss Julia Sett, our crafty mathmatician.  Though the entries are sporadic, I’ve found one that appears to chronologically follow her last letter.  It seems she may have found that second set of hands to knit for her after all.

March 13th 1885
The idea of an automated knitting fabrication device has quite consumed me.  Erma brought dinner to me in my library again tonight. I keep forgetting to stop for simple things like eating, and yesterday I even worked through the night and watched the sun rise!
I do believe I am close to something though. I am using the hooked needles found on the designs by Lee and Lamb but I’ve been experimenting with a gearing mechanism by which the needles may be manipulated to create lace patterns. It’s quite exciting to think this delicate craft may be executed in an automated fashion. What a wonder to live in these times. The advances I come across daily inspire me to reach for greater and greater ideas to enrich our lives.
I do hope to have this device fully fashioned and working by the time of The Ladies symposium this year. I believe they would truly appreciate its innovation.  I am nearly finished with the gearing.  My next steps shall be to fully automate the device and set up the steam powering system.  Perhaps the boiler can generate the hot water for my tea as well!
Oh dear, clearly I must get some rest in order to think clearly. Generating the hot water for my tea indeed!

It seems that her passing jest to Alyssa really got her wheels turning, as it were.  I’ve certainly been there myself – when one is of a scholarly persuasion, inspiration can strike from the most unlikely places.  And the good Dr. Erma Melanogaster appears to have been with her;  I had a suspicion those two were close, perhaps even frequent collaborators.  Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  I will get back to the diary right away to see if there’s any truth to my speculations, as well as to see what I can learn about The Ladies symposium Miss Sett mentioned.

Best regards,

~The Archivist

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