Sunday, 20 July 2014

Canadian Government surplus auction site

Among surplus goods for sale is a commercial-sized potato peeler formerly located at the Kingston Penitentiary.
In the market for a slightly used RCMP vehicle? Or maybe you need a 2,300 kilogram-capacity forklift?

Perhaps an opal ring or a designer bag is something that would interest you? These items and more are featured on the Canadian government's surplus item auction site,

A mini-bus formerly used to transport senators and Senate staff around Parliament Hill is among the vehicles offered for sale on the federal government's surplus and seized goods auction site.
The government is also selling a 2009 white Ford Crown Victoria, referred to as a police interceptor.

"Rear doors do not open from the inside," the description of the ex-police car reads. "Vehicle starts with a boost and runs." The car, which is in Edmonton, also has a cracked windshield and a variety of other scrapes and scratches. The minimum bid is $900.

Allentown ventilated rodent housing for rats.

Monday, 14 July 2014

"Indiana Bones" revisted

In late 2013 a relic hunter dubbed 'Indiana Bones' lifted the lid on a macabre collection of 400-year-old jewel-encrusted skeletons unearthed in churches across Europe. Art historian Paul Koudounaris hunted down and photographed dozens of skeletons in some of the world's most secretive religious establishments.

The skeletons are said to be the remains of early Christian martyrs.
Thousands of skeletons were dug up from Roman catacombs in the 16th century and installed in towns around Germany, Austria and Switzerland on the orders of the Vatican.

They were sent to Catholic churches and religious houses to replace the relics destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s.
After they were found in the Roman catacombs the Vatican authorities would sign certificates identifying them as martyrs then they put the bones in boxes and sent them northwards.

The skeletons would then be dressed and decorated in jewels, gold and silver, mostly by nuns. They had to be handled by those who had taken a sacred vow to the church - these were believed to be martyrs and they couldn't have just anyone handling them.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Famous Diamonds V

Pumpkin Diamond: is 5.54 carats in size and is rated fancy vivid orange by the GIA. The diamond went up for auction at Sotheby's in 2001 where it was purchased by Harry Winston for $1.3m. The auction occurred the day before Halloween and stone was renamed the Pumpkin Diamond.

The diamond was set in a ring with two smaller diamonds on both sides and was worn by Halley Berry at the 2002 Oscars when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monsters Ball.
The pride of the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey and its most valuable single exhibit is the 86-carat pear-shaped Spoonmaker Diamond, also known as the Kasikci.

It is an 86 carats pear-shaped diamond, surrounded by a double-row of 49 old mine cut diamonds.
The Star of the South was the first Brazilian Diamond to achieve world recognition. It was found by a slave worker in 1853. After passing through several buyers and sellers, the stone made its way to Amsterdam for cutting.

The result is a stone that measures 128.42 carats and is a light pinkish brown color. The stone was displayed in the London Exhibit in 1862 and the Paris Exhibit in 1867, after which it was purchased for $400,000 as a gift for Sita Devi, the Maharani of Baroda. The stone was then purchased by Cartier in 2002.
The Tereschenko Diamond is 42.92-carat,fancy blue, pear-shaped stone. It was part of the Tereschenko family as a loose stone until it was set in a diamond necklace by Cartier in 1915.

Just after its completion and right before the Russian Revolution in 1916 the stone was removed from the country for safekeeping and eventually sold to a private collector. In 1984 the diamond was sold for $4.5m
The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond is a fancy brown pear shaped modified brilliant cut that measures 104.15 carats. The diamond originated in South Africa, was cut in New York by S&M Kaufman, and was named after it's similarity to the brown chrysanthemum flower.

The current owner of the diamond is unknown.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Archaeopteryx : X-rays shine new light on mystery 'bird'

Archaeopteryx (meaning "ancient wing") is a very early prehistoric bird, dating from about 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period.

The first, and one of the most complete fossils of archaeopteryx is known as the London specimen. It was discovered in 1861, just two years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and made a stir being a transitional form.
Only 12 of these curious creatures have ever been found. Now they are going under the glare of a giant X-ray machine - to find out what lies buried beneath the surface.

Using a new "camera obscura" technique - inspired by Leonardo da Vinci - scientists have captured some of the clearest ever images of Archaeopteryx. For the first time, they can see the complete skeleton in 3D. Not just the surface outlines, but all the hidden bones and feathers too.
"We want to know how Archaeopteryx lived," says Martin Roeper, curator of the Solnhofen Museum, which houses one of the specimens.
"Was he a little dinosaur running, climbing trees - or was he flying? That's the most important question. Could Archaeopteryx fly or not?"

The answer grows closer as new, microscopic details of its anatomy emerge from ever more precise scans. Blood vessels within the bones, for example, can be compared to modern birds.