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A Carpenter's Time Capsule


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A Carpenter's Time Capsule
« on: June 03, 2018, 10:13:29 AM »
I've occasionally left small hidden marks in my work, but never really had the time nor the opportunity to create something along the lines of the 19th century French carpenter's hidden story described below.

"The secrets of a diary written on castle floorboards" | BBC


"1880. Martin J, of the village Crottes. 38 years old."
Image Credit: BBC

When the new owners of the chateau of Picomtal decided to renovate the parquet in some of their upstairs rooms, they made a remarkable discovery.

On the underside of the floorboards - invisible until the boards were taken up to be replaced - were long messages written out in pencil. The messages were dated over several months between 1880 and 1881, and they were signed by a certain Joachim Martin.

Joachim Martin, it quickly became clear, was the carpenter who installed the parquet for the chateau's then owner - and what he left behind was a kind of secret diary intended to be read only long after he was dead and buried.

In 72 entries - some longer than others, some purely factual, others pulsating with personal feeling - Joachim sets out what is in his head as he goes about his daily work.

"These are the words of an ordinary working man, a man of the people. And he is saying things that are very personal, because he knows they will not ever be read except a long time in the future," says historian Jacques-Olivier Boudon of Sorbonne university.

[Continues . . .]

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Re: A Carpenter's Time Capsule
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2018, 11:56:20 AM »
Many old buildings have hidden marks and sgrafitto on their timbers and stones. Just a small attempt at immortality?

In the scriptorium of Blackfriars there are less hidden marks. One is thought to be a sketch of the Maddona, another is text in Latin either coded or so bad, no one has been happy with their translation!. Of course, since they were merely copying from one page to another, copyist scribes did not have to be good at written Latin, and only needed enough aural to understand the responses in church or the prior's formal instructions. They just needed a steady hand, eyesight and a back that would last two or three decades working on a stool and lectern lit by a tiny window or a candle.
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Re: A Carpenter's Time Capsule
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2018, 12:47:30 PM »
I wonder what the original floors looked like.

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Re: A Carpenter's Time Capsule
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2018, 03:29:11 PM »
That's very interesting. I had heard of masons marking their work (usually to receive payment) but never a carpenter leaving messages...
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