Editorial: Husarskie anioły.
Travel: Architectour city guides.
Technology: Steth IO.
Stationery: Ystudio ruler.
Gadgets and Gear: Origami knife.
Books and Writing: The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries.
Project of the week: Baron Fig backpack.

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EDITORIAL: Husarskie anioły

In last week's Books and Writing Section PD mentioned the Polish Hussars with their winged uniform. P.W. asks whether the wings were worn in battle or just for ceremonial purposes. The short answer is they served both purposes and were definitely used in battle as a functional part of the amour.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries these elite troops were the "mailed fist" of the army (the hussars continued into the eighteenth century). Their successes are legendary. The hussars were from the nobility ("szlachta"). The wings were made of wooden frames with attached feathers, the most sought after being eagle feathers. As well as armour, hussars also wore a tiger or leopard cloak.

A company of hussars on horseback would have looked magnificent and intimidating to the enemy. The wings helped to frighten enemy horses and in the heat of battle gave protection from sabre attack from behind and from lassoing by Tatars, who used this technique to capture soldiers for ransom.

The hussars were well equipped, with long lances, twenty feet in length, which outreached infantry pikes, a sabre or rapier with a six foot blade, a pair of pistols and other weapons.

The list of their victories is long and glorious. In his book Adam Zamoyski mentions a few:
In Kircholm in 1605 4.000 Poles accounted for 14.000 Swedes.
In Klushino in 1610 6.000 Poles defeated 30.000 Muscovites and 5.000 German and Scottish mercenaries.
In Gniew in 1665 5.500 Poles defeated 13.000 Swedes.
They were also instrumental in saving Vienna in 1683 from the Ottoman troops (not to be confused with the previous siege in 1529). That is a story in itself.

For those interested, a visit to the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw is a great educational experience.

(Images from the museum).

For the curious: As stated in last week's Books and Writing section, "husarskie anioły" means "hussar angels". The "l" with a dash through it is the Polish letter equivalent of the English "w" and the pronunciation is similar. Most readers would know that the Polish "w" is similar to an English "v" sound, so something had to be done to have a "w" sound! Confused? It is quite simple, really.

TRAVEL: Architectour city guides

Architectour guides are beautifully designed hardcover travel guides that are very practical. As well as the usual sights, they also feature the not-so-obvious places.

Each location has its own page, with a sketch (no photographs to spoil your upcoming visit), story, recommendations, a map, recommended itineraries, information such as opening times and suggested itinerary. There are other useful tips such as how long it will take you to visit the place, how to pay and how to get the cheapest tickets. There is also a useful timeline to put the place in context.

These are practical guides that PD wishes he had when he started traveling.

Currently available for London, Paris and New York.


Following on from last week's story on the iCloud, yet another smartphone stethoscope is to be released, the Steth IO. Details are limited at the moment as it is still under development, however the company is already taking pre-orders.

What makes this stethoscope different is that it is incorporated into a phone case and it converts sounds into a visual image. It allows annotations to be added.

PD's concern is that unlike the iCloud, it is obviously phone specific, so the company needs to produce many versions, and if you change your phone, which some people do frequently, then you can no longer use it. Great as this instrument may be, PD thinks that this will limit its appeal. Perhaps design something that clips over any cell phone or connects via the micro-USB port to make it more versatile. This is something that PD would like designers to think about.

STATIONERY: Ystudio ruler

A ruler is a very handy desk accessory, so why not make it a pleasant one? There is a large choice of materials available, including wood, plastic and metal. PD has featured Ystudio stationery items before, and he especially likes the Brassing line, which includes postcards, pencils and pens. There is also this beautiful ruler, which, like the line suggests, is made of brass. It would look great on either a modern or antique desk.

GADGETS AND GEAR: Origami knife

PD was struck by this great looking knife made from maple wood and with a three inch 440C stainless steel blade. It comes in a beautiful matching box. Just display it as a piece of art.

BOOKS AND WRITING: The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries

PD is not going mad. He is not foaming at the mouth. He is well aware that it is not Christmas but this is a book that is too big to read over Christmas, so you can get a head start. This is an anthology of short stories by mystery writers, all bound together by a Christmas theme. Not all are violent or end tragically; some are funny and some are sad. In some there is no violence but the crook gets his just desserts. The stories are from a good cross section of writers, some famous and familiar to everyone, some you may not have heard of. All write well. Examples include Agatha Christie, Catherine Aird, Robert Barnard, Peter Lovesey, Ellery Queen, and many more. The book is edited by Otto Penzler, who introduces each story with a short paragraph about the author and the story. A great book to delve into.

Available from your local bookseller.

For the curious: Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York.

PROJECT OF THE WEEK: Baron Fig backpack

A backpack is a very useful way of carrying things and became popular quite a few years ago. Although in recent times it has a rival in the form of the messenger bag, it is still widely used. What has been missing is a slim, minimalist backpack that does not look like a miniature camping pack. Something to put in a few files and a bit of stationery or perhaps a tablet computer. Baron Fig has created such a pack.

If you really must have a messenger bag, Baron Fig also makes one, as well as a tote bag.

For the curious: The backpack is an adaptation of the hiking or camping bag, but its history goes back to ancient times as a means of carrying game and other things.

The messenger bag gets its name from the utilitarian bags carried by messengers or couriers. The modern version started with a bag designed by the DeMartini Globe Canvas Company in the 1950s. This was designed for telephone linemen so that they could easily access their tools while high up on a telephone pole, and was then introduced to bicycle and motorcycle messengers.

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Important disclaimer: Remember that crowdfunding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.

Note: Photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

© 2017 Prowling Dog