When's Then?

Actaeon

Actaeon Runs Aground


Prospero uses a model of this ship to travel northward [The Face in the Frost; 35].

Built in 1775, the 28-gun HMS Actaeon was one of three vessels assigned to enfilade the front of Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island, but became grounded before taking up position. Opening fire on the fort, the Actaeon could not be freed and was set on fire on the morning of June 28, 1776 and abandoned by the British. Seeing this, the Americans rushed aboard and turning the guns on the enemy fired broadside, set fire to a train to her magazine, and then retreated. The HMS Actaeon went down with her guns left in position until discovered 111 years afterwards.

 

American Revolutionary War

American Revolutionary War


The Weiss children tell Rose Rita the story of the treasure taken from Donniker, Pennsylvania during this war; Rose Rita realizes this event took place a mere half-century ago in the current timeline [The Ghost in the Mirror; 77].

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers. The Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776, announced that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. The war ended with effective American victory in October 1781, followed by formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

 

Battle of Lepanto

Battle of Lepanto


Johnny finds Professor Childermass upstairs in his bathroom wearing a rubber apron and reenacting this battle in the bathtub using small wooden boats with matchstick oars and keeping score on a blackboard [The Curse of the Blue Figurine; 61].

The Battle of Lepanto took place on October 7, 1571 between a fleet of the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece, having sailed from their naval station in Naupactus (Italian: Lepanto). The victory of the Holy League prevented the Mediterranean Sea from becoming an uncontested highway for Muslim forces, was the last major naval battle in the Mediterranean fought entirely between galleys, and been assigned great symbolic importance.

 

Battle of New Orleans

Battle of New Orleans


Lewis remembers seeing a portio of this famous battle playing out in the mirror on his uncle's magical hat rack [The Doom of the Haunted Opera; 57].

The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815 and was the final major battle of the War of 1812. American forces, commanded by Major General Andrew Jackson, defeated an invading British Army intent on seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the Louisiana Purchase. The battle is widely regarded as the greatest American land victory of the war, although it hasn’t been unequivocally proven British soldiers actually ran through briars, brambles, and places where rabbits couldn't go.

 

Fort Ticonderoga

Capture of Fort Ticonderoga


While traveling through Vermont, Professor Childermass humors Johnny and Sarah with stories about the history of the state, including a stirring account of this event [The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder; 67].

Fort Ticonderoga (whose name translates as “between the two waters”) is a 18th Century fort built by the Canadians and French in upstate New York. Constructed between 1754-57 during the French and Indian War, it was during the American Revolutionary War that the fort again saw major action. British soldiers stationed at the fort were awakened at dawn on May 10, 1775 in a surprise attack by forces led by, as noted by the professor, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold.

 

Constantinople, Been A Long Time Gone


Johnny, Fergie, and Professor Childermass time travel to 1453, days before the fall of Constantinople, when the Ottoman Empire defeats the Byzantine Empire [The Trolley to Yesterday; 29].

Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos could only muster up about 5,000 Byzantine soldiers plus another 2,000 visitors to meet the 80,000-strong Turkish army. The city walls proved a formidable defense against the invading forces, taking a month of fighting for the army to finally breach them on May 29, 1453. The capture of Constantinople marked the end of the Roman Empire and was a massive blow to Christendom; some mark the end of the Middle Ages by the Turkish victory.

 

Dissolution of the Monasteries

Dissolution of the Monasteries


A scene in the enchanted coat rack mirror shows the remains of Holyrood Abbey following the Dissolution of the Monasteries [The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost; 109].

The Dissolution of the Monasteries was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries and convents and appropriated income of same across England. He was given the authority to do this by the Act of Supremacy (1534) which made him Supreme Head of the Church in England, thus separating England from Papal authority. Along with the destruction of the monasteries, some of them many hundreds of years old, the related destruction of the monastic libraries was perhaps the greatest cultural loss caused by the English Reformation.

 

English Civil War

English Civil War Pits Cavalier vs. Roundhead


A group of British Puritans (or Roundheads) rose up against King Charles I, leading to the English Civil War [The Vengeance of the Witch-finder; 24].

The English Civil War (1642-51) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and Royalists (Cavaliers) that led to the trial and execution of King Charles I, the exile of his son, Charles II, and replacement of English monarchy with the Commonwealth (1649-53) and Protectorate (1653-59) under Oliver Cromwell's personal rule. Although the monarchy was restored in 1661, it was only with the consent of Parliament, who chose the line of royal succession with the Act of Settlement (1701).

 

Fox Sisters

Fox Sisters Become Spirited Sensation


It is said Belle Frisson was witness to this sibling trio and their claims of supernatural rapping [The Specter from the Magician's Museum; 42].

The Fox Sisters – Leah (1814-90), Margaret (1833-93) and Kate (1837-92) – are credited with founding the entire Spiritualist movement. In 1848 the two younger sisters used rappings to convince their older sister and others that they were communicating with spirits in their Hydesville, New York home. Leah moved the girls out of their home and set them up in a profitable business, finding ways to link Spiritualism with other reform movements of the time, including abolition and women's rights. In 1888 Margaret confessed that their rappings had been a hoax though spiritualism flourished into the second half of the 19th Century. Also, the sisters always called their rapping sessions "spirit circles" and the term seance did not come into use until several decades later.

 

Frank Furness Inspires a Desk


Mrs. Oxenstern sells a desk that had been designed by this noted Victorian architect [The Mansion in the Mist; 118-20].

Frank Furness (1839–1912) was one of Philadelphia's leading architects of the 19th Century, producing more than 400 known works that included some of that city’s most important monuments. His Victorian architecture seems to have inspired the design of furniture created by noted woodworker Daniel Pabst (1826-1910); a desk and chair (c.1870-1) attributed to both are in the Philadelphia Museum of Art collection.

 

Hailes Abbey

Hailes Abbey Recieves a Relic


The Duke of Cornwall gives Hailes Abbey a small vial that contained some of the blood of Jesus – hence the relic known as the Blood Hailes [The Dark Secret of Weatherend; 177].

In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church encouraged people to make pilgrimages to special holy places, or shrines. There the devout prayed so that they may be forgiven for their sins or cured from an illness or disease. More likley than not these pilgrims had to pay to view the shrine's relics - which made it all the more important that the shrine really have something worth traveling to see. Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire, England needed something like this so on September 14, 1270 a phial containing the blood of Jesus was presented to the monks. The Blood of Hailes did the trick. It was put on permanent display for years until eventually being declared a fake, reported to either nothing more than a mixture of saffron and honey or animal blood.

 

Halley's Comet

Halley's Comet Appears Over England


Lewis reads about this astronomical event appearing of England during the Norman Invasion [The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer; 19].

In the spring of 1066, around Easter, a comet appeared that brought fear to the people of England. We now know that the comet-star in the sky was Halley's Comet making one of its 76-year cyclical appearances. Its appearance turned out to be bad luck for Harold II, who died during the Battle of Hastings that October, but the opposite for the man who defeated him, William the Conqueror. The comet is represented on the Bayeux Tapestry as a fiery star.

 

1938 LaSalle

LaSalle, Model Year of


While cleaning in the library, Anthony sees a black car parked in front of the building and from this make and model knows instantly that its Emerson Eells’ [The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb; 101].

Emerson Eells is already known for being a bit eccentric and driving a luxury car almost twenty-years-old only adds to the mystification. The LaSalle was a product of General Motors and sold from 1927 to 1940; the car’s debut model year is considered the beginning of modern American automotive styling. While initially popular, the Great Depression combined with stalling sales' numbers, caused GM to reconsider the line.

 

Martin Coles Harman

Lundy is Sold to Harman


Johnny remembers reading about the Island of Lundy and its being sold in the 1930s [The Secret of the Underground Room; 70].

Martin Coles Harman (1885-1954) bought Lundy Island in 1925, becoming its absolute ruler. In 1929 he issued two bronze coins of Half Puffin and One Puffin denominations to become one of the few private individuals (and one who’s living at the time) to have his portrait on coinage. These coins went against British minting laws and Harmon was fined the following year. While the coins were withdrawn, in the mid-1960s a collector’s set was struck to commemorate Harmon and his ownership of the island. In 1969 the island was again purchased and given to the British people.

 

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides is Saved


Jonathan cites this poem as a good example of anger and defiance, used to stir some courage in his nephew following incidents at the Hawaii House [The House where Nobody Lived; 117]

The USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled frigate of the United States Navy and the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. Launched in 1797, in 1830 an article appeared that erroneously claimed the Navy intended to scrap Constitution. Two days later, Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem was published as a tribute, igniting public indignation and inciting efforts to save Old Ironsides from the scrap yard.

 

Ormsby coin

Ormsby Mints a Coin


Minted by John S. Ormsby in Sacramento during the Gold Rush, this piece of legal tender is so rare that there’s only one of them in existence [The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost; 51].

J. S. Ormsby (1808-1876) was the first private gold coiner in Sacramento. His coins, which have no date engraved on them, were issued in $5 and $10 pieces during the first part of October 1849. The pieces were struck by sledge hammer (rather than a press) and, as such, were badly debased and did not continue to circulate past the early months of 1850. Eventually the coins were turned into assay offices and melted down. Only six or seven specimens exist today; in 1999, a $10 gold piece dated 1849 imprinted with the name J.S. Ormsby & Co. was valued at over $185,000.

 

Peloponnesian Wars


Professor Childermass chides his former student, Harrison Dixon, about a 20-year-old exam answer involving this ancient war [The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie; 73].

The Peloponnesian War (431-04 B.C.) was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens-led Delian League and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to the war's beginning, was reduced to a state of near-complete subjection, while Sparta became established as the leading power of Greece. The war continues to fascinate later generations due in part to The History of the Peloponnesian War, an account of the war written by Thucydides, an Athenian general who served in the war. It is widely considered a classic and regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history.

 

Roman Conquest of Britain

Roman Conquest of Britain


Prospero comes across a prominent road in the Southern Kingdom and recognizes it as Roman – he realizes that the Romans had gotten to England as well as the Southern Kingdom, too [The Dolphin Cross; Magic Mirrors; 166].

Part of the island of Great Britain was controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410. The first extensive Roman campaigns in Britain were by the Julius Caesar but the first significant campaign of conquest did not begin until AD 43, in the reign of the Emperor Claudius. The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia. During their occupation of Britain the Romans built an extensive network of roads which continued to be used in later centuries and many are still followed today, and many of Britain's major cities (such as Londinium, Mamucium, and Eburacum) were founded.

 

Salem Witch Trials

Salem Witch Trials


Johnny learns that a series of witchcraft hearings occurred in colonial Squampatanong but were not as well known as those that occurred elsewhere [The Hand in the Necromancer; 8].

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. In 17th Century colonial North America, the supernatural was part of everyday life, for there was a strong belief that Satan was present and active on Earth, and then men and women in Salem believed that all the misfortunes were attributed to the work of the devil. The episode is one of the most famous cases of mass hysteria, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, and false accusations.

 

Al Smith Runs for President

Al Smith Runs for President


A Catholic textbook notes a canard about a tunnel leading from the White House to the Vatican should Alfred Smith be elected president [Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies; 63].

The United States presidential election of 1928 pitted Republican Herbert Hoover against Democrat Alfred Smith – the first Roman Catholic to run for President as a major party nominee. His religion became an issue during the campaign, with many Protestants fearing Smith would take orders from church leaders in Rome in making decisions affecting the country. The outcome of the election was a disaster for Smith: he only won 8 out of 48 states and didn't even carry his own state of New York. And no, there was no such tunnel.

 

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Enlightens NY Harbor


Lewis finds pictures of New York Harbor before the Statue of Liberty was installed there [The Tower at the End of the World; 68].

The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World is a colossal neoclassical sculpture dedicated on October 28, 1886. Standing on what is known today as Liberty Island, a 14 acre parcel of land in the New York Harbor, the island was originally one of the three Oyster Island and, later, named Bedloe’s Island. Construction of a land battery on Bedloe’s began in 1807; the 11-point star-shaped Fort Wood saw little use after 1823, serving as a recruiting station during the Civil War. Arriving at New York Harbor in the 1870s, French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi focused on Bedloe's as a site for his statue, struck by the fact that vessels arriving in New York had to sail past it.

 

Staunton Harold

Staunton Harold Church Constructed


While attending Camp Chocorua, Johnny and Fergie encounter this out-of-place estate [The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt; 36].

An old-fashioned English church and manor house isn’t really the sort of thing you’d expect to find tucked away literally off the beaten path somewhere in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire – unless it’s there because of John Bellairs. One can easily assume he came the real Staunton Harold estate and church - that Robert Shirley built in 1653 - during one of his overseas vacations and found a clever way to tie its name into the story of a a missing will.

 

Spanish Armada in Ireland


Jonathan Barnavelt creates an illusion of the Spanish Armada at John O'Groats, Scotland [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 73]

Following its defeat at the naval battle of Gravelines in France, the Spanish Armada attempted to return home through the North Atlantic, when it was driven from its course by violent storms and, in September 1588, it sailed around Scotland and Ireland into the North Atlantic. Up to 24 ships of the Armada were wrecked on a rocky coastline. What survivors there were were either put to death or fled across the sea to Scotland. It is estimated that 5,000 members of the fleet perished in Ireland.

 

Statue of Eros Unveiled


Childermass cites the installation of this statue as proof that aluminum had been in use for decades when the light-weight nature of the pitching robot’s arm is discovered [The Eyes of the Killer Robot; 65].

At the southwestern side of London’s Piccadilly Circus stands the Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain, erected in 1892-93 to commemorate the philanthropic works of Lord Shaftesbury. The monument is topped by Alfred Gilbert's winged statue of an archer, sometimes referred to as The Angel of Christian Charity and popularly known as Eros after the mythical Greek god of love – although the statue is actually an image of his twin brother, Anteros. The statue was the first in the world to be cast in aluminum and is set on a bronze fountain.

 

Treaty of Westphalia

Treaty of Westphalia


Professor Childermass undergoes hypnosis as a way to figure out the “Crazy Annie” clue left by the ghost of his brother but pretends he underwent the treatment to remember important historical facts – such as when this agreement was signed [The Chessmen of Doom; 98].

The Treaty, or Peace, of Westphalia was the collective name of agreements that were signed between May and October 1648 that ended the Thirty Years' War throughout the Holy Roman Empire. As a result borders were realigned and a new system of political order in central Europe was begun, based upon the concept of a sovereign state governed by a sovereign leader. For the record, Westphalia is a region in Germany roughly defined the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name has been applied to several different entities throughout history.

 

Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun Tomb Toured


The discovery of King Tut’s tomb prompted a sharp spike in fascination with ancient Egyptian history [The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn; 10].

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled ca. 1332-23 BC), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. Archaeologist Howard Carter had spent many years in Egypt before his 1922 discovery of the lost tomb of the Tut in the Valley of the Kings. His discovery set off a worldwide interest in Egyptology and King Tut’s burial mask still serves as the iconic representation of Ancient Egypt. The interest in this tomb and its alleged "curse" also led to horror movies featuring a vengeful mummy.

 

Underwood Typewriter

Underwood Typewriter


Snodrog gnashes or grinds of thrashes his teeth as loud as a 1916 model of this machine [The Pedant and the Shuffly; 61].

The Underwood Typewriter Company was a manufacturer of typewriters headquartered in New York City, New York. The Underwood No. 5 launched in 1900 has been described as "the first truly modern typewriter.” Two million had been sold by the early 1920s, and when the company was in its heyday as the world's largest typewriter manufacturer, its factory at Hartford, Connecticut was turning out typewriters at the rate of one each minute. We’re told John typed upon an Underwood though we don’t know he used a 1916 model (or something a bit more modern).

 

Victory Over Japan Day Celebrated

Victory Over Japan Day Celebrated


Jonathan wears a special white linen suit that is only brought out on particular occasions; the last time was this event [The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring; 182].

Victory over Japan Day (also known as V-J Day) is a name chosen for the day on which the Surrender of Japan occurred, effectively ending World War II, and subsequent anniversaries of that event. The term has been applied to both of the days on which the initial announcement of Japan's surrender was made (August 15, 1945) and when the signing of the surrender document occurred (September 2, 1945). One of the most famous photographs ever published by Life, V-J Day in Times Square, was taken in Times Square shortly after the announcement by President Truman occurred. It was the largest crowd in the history of New York City's Times Square.

 

Voynich manuscript

Voynich's Vexing Manuscript


Dr. Coote explains what makes this manuscript’s finding this century so puzzling [The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost; 56].

The Voynich manuscript is a 240-page work which dates to the early 15th Century and named after the book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, who purchased it in 1912. Much of the manuscript resembles herbal manuscripts of the time period, seeming to present illustrations and information about plants and their possible uses for medical purposes. However, most of the plants do not match known species, and the manuscript's script and language remain unknown and unreadable. Possibly some form of encrypted ciphertext, the manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, but has defied all decipherment attempts and none of the speculative solutions proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified. It currently is housed at Yale University.

 

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night


Mrs. Zimmermann explains the significance of April 30, the day Eliphaz Moss dies, as an important for witches and warlocks [The Figure in the Shadows; 149].

Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) is a traditional spring festival on April 30 in large parts of Europe. It is exactly six months from All Hallows' Eve and, like Halloween, it has its roots in ancient pagan customs, superstitions, and festivals. According to the ancient legends, this night was the last chance for witches and their nefarious cohorts to stir up trouble before Spring reawakened the land. The festival, often celebrated with dancing and with bonfires, is named after the English missionary Saint Walburga, who was canonized on May 1 and became associated with May Day.

 

Willard Brothers Make Time for Horology


The Childermass Clock is reminiscent of the clocks made by the Willard Brothers during the early 1800s [The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull; 11].

The Willard Brothers were the most celebrated clockmakers in the early United States. Born on the family farm in Grafton, Massachusetts, the four brothers all apprenticed in horology craftsmanship and went on to construct clocks to varying popularity. Simon (1753-1848), the most innovative and famous, first patented the banjo clock in 1802; the other brothers were Aaron (1757-1844), Benjamin Jr. (1743-1803), and Ephraim (b.1755).