Saturday, February 13, 2010


The release of archives on-line from the National Gallery in London has attracted much interest from the media (for example, see here) but only the intrepid PoH would give you a link to the actual document, which is a hoot. A list of rats killed by Gallery staff during the years 1940-1943 provides not only the number and location, but also the method of dispatch, which includes "drowned by Pitkin," "Calvert's boot," "Calvert - stick and boot" (Calvert, obviously a dedicated rat catcher, turns up several times in the document), and, most graphically, "speared by Pittock with poker after it had escaped, with great excitement." Was the excitement caused by the escape of the rat, or was Pittock stabbing excitedly at the rat with his poker? The documents do not tell. But honestly, what sort of a man impales a rat on a poker rather than just knocking it on the head?


  1. I applaud the National Gallery for such excellent and detailed record keeping. It reminds me that I need to include in our own archives the fact that "Cleveland shoe" was responsible for a number of Periplaneta americana deaths.

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