i run nedxnancy.tumblr.com for my daily fix of nancy/ned action. i love: nancy drew, law & order criminal intent, the fall, dark city, mad men, arrested development, archer, community, justified, lois & clark, star trek, perry mason, jane eyre, eddie izzard, terry pratchett, addams family, apple, bertha cool & donald lam, MST3K, interpol, my morning jacket, st vincent, playmobil, diana gabaldon's cracktastic outlander series, raymond chandler, cillian murphy, wodehouse; alias, chuck, carnivale, pushing daisies, the adventures of pete & pete, tomorrow people (new series), veronica mars, legend of the seeker/the sword of truth, lost, x-files.





Today we step into the Archie McPhee Library to explore a macabre and fascinating book entitled The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death [Buy on Amazon] by Corinne May Botz, whose outstanding photos reveal one of the strangest and most significant tools in the development of modern forensic analysis: eighteen miniature, exhaustively detailed crime scene models built in the 1940s and 50s by pioneering criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962). She called her models “Nutshell Studies” because, “the purpose of a forensic investigation is said to be to ‘convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.’”

Glessner Lee was a grandmother in her 60s when she painstakingly created these dollhouse models, each of which is based on an actual homicide, suicide or accidental death. To help ensure accuracy she attended autopsies and made sure that even the smallest details of her models were correct. Clothing is appropriately worn out, pencils write, locks, windows, and lights all function, whistles blow, and mice inhabit the walls. These astonishing models were (and still are!) used to train detectives on how to asses visual evidence.

Corinne May Botz’s lush color photographs lure viewers into every crevice of Frances Lee’s models and breathe life into these deadly miniatures, which present the dark side of domestic life, unveiling tales of prostitution, alcoholism, and adultery. The accompanying line drawings, specially prepared for this volume, highlight the noteworthy forensic evidence in each case. Botz’s introductory essay, which draws on archival research and interviews with Lee’s family and police colleagues, presents a captivating portrait of Lee.

Frances Glessner Lee was also an heiress who used her considerable fortune to found Harvard’s department of legal medicine, the first forensic pathology program in the nation. In 1943 she was appointed an honorary Captain in the New Hampshire State Police. She was the first woman in the United States to hold that rank.

It’s a dark topic, to be sure, but this beautiful book is an intimate and utterly captivating look at the work of a truly remarkable woman and one of the most important figures in the development of modern forensic analysis.

[Images via the New York Times and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death]

This is your semi-regular reminder that a really smart and skilled lady made dollhouse version of crime scenes to train police detectives on how to asses and interpret visual evidence. In the 1940s and 50s. They are currently kept in Baltimore at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and can only be viewed by appointment (they also loan them out to other police agencies).

There is also a documentary about the Nutshell Studies that is available to stream on netflix called “Of Dolls and Murder” which is super good and narrated by John Waters (who else?) and you should watch it if you want to know more. Although I have to warn you, no one tells you the solutions to these crimes.

You should also listen to the missedinhistory episode about Frances Glessner Lee!



Good morning and welcome to Miniature Monday!

I have really been into these tiny reference books lately, and today’s post features what may be my favorite one.  The Lexicon Kleinstes Buch Der Welt 175,000 Wortes is a miniature “conversation encyclopedia” printed in Berlin in 1896.  Its author is Daniel Sanders, a German lexicographer working near the turn of the 19th century.  Frustrated by the quality of the Deutsches Wörterbuch (German Dictionary) compiled by the Brothers Grimm (yes, those brothers, they were lexicographers as well as authors), he began producing his own dictionaries.  This tiny Wörterbuch is one of many published under his guidance, and comes with its own stylish magnifying glass, embedded in it’s case.  A book, a case, a magnifying glass and an interesting history all existing in just a few square inches. Wunderbar!

Sanders, Daniel: Lexicon Kleinstes Buch Der Welt 175,000 Wortes. Bugo Steinitz: Berlin, 1896.  Charlotte Smith Miniature Collection, Uncatalogued.

-Laura H. 

See all Miniature Monday posts.



Patrick Jacobs

“Jacobs’s dioramas provide peeks into a world in which reality is presented in such exquisite detail it begins to look surreal.

The artist draws from art history and garden pest control brochures alike to create miniature 3D works of art, viewed through a circular glass lens. Viewers get the impression that they are looking into another realm, simultaneously natural and constructed, familiar and unknown. In a way, we get a taste for a fish’s life from inside the bowl.”


(Source: likeafieldmouse)


Before and After.

I found a bench with a sink for my dollhouse, and some pictures to go in it too. It looks much better now,

this is so adorable.



I keep thinking about a question someone sent me a month or so ago, about what you might not know about me from reading my blog. I keep thinking of things. One of them is that I love miniatures. I don’t have a lot of space in my apartment to build a lot of stuff, so although I have all the contents and most of the structural pieces to build a miniature Bag End, I haven’t been able to do it yet. (It kind of broke my heart when Elijah tweeted about somebody else’s mini Bag End a couple of weeks ago… mine will be old news whenever I manage to finish it! Oh, well. I’m still going to build it!)

But a couple of years ago I did build a roombox of Harry Potter’s room at Number Four Privet Drive. You can see the earliest pictures of the room, not quite finished, and read about a lot of the details here (actually, you might want to do that first!). These are updated/finished pictures, with some of the later elements added.

From top:

1) Probably the most important addition to the room is Harry himself. My friend sent me this Harry action figure. I think he’s 4.5” tall, and he’s just slightly too large for the room. So that gives you a sense of scale. (Also, he’s HBP Harry and the room is dressed for just prior to the opening of GoF, but shhh, we won’t quibble.)

2) More evidence that Harry’s a slob — pajamas and shoes on the floor. EDIT: Oh, and I should add that the cricket bat is an homage to Dan Radcliffe, who loves the cricket. (I don’t think the books ever imply that Harry’s much of a cricketer.)

3) There’s Harry’s broom leaning against the corner of his bookcase.

4) There’s Harry’s orrery, which I put together from jewelry findings (see link to EVMiniatures below). Dumbledore’s office is full of these ancient devices for studying the rotation of the planets, but Harry’s got a simple one of his own for his astronomy classes. You can also see his telescope there, next to the crystal ball (which I need to rescue before it falls and shatters!). 

5) Harry’s school bag has been moved to the floor next to his desk chair, in order to make room for his school scarf (knitters will note — and, I hope, forgive! — that my color jogs are atrocious, because I hadn’t yet learned how to do them properly; this miniature ribbing took so dang long to do, though, that I can’t bring myself to re-knit the thing now!). 

6) At last I have a decent picture of the top of Harry’s desk. It seems he’s in the midst of a bit of pre-term homework or research: he’s got a scroll, a piece of parchment, his quill and inkpot, and his copy of Defensive Magical Theory all spread out, and a few stray tarot cards. (The lantern’s there, too, just out of frame.)

7) There are a couple of new items in Harry’s school trunk now — a wonderful scroll all about dragons (good thing he’s got this… maybe it’ll have some information about Hungarian Horntails!), and the Sneak-O-Scope that Ron gave him for Christmas last year. 

8) Harry’s bed has some new items. In addition to his favorite book and his famous glasses, there’s also his wand. I feel extremely lucky to be the first person to have a replica of the wand Harry uses in the movies, from EVMiniatures (link below). In addition, Harry’s left his school sweater (knitted by me) out on the foot of his bed. He should probably put that away…. 

The kit to make the orrery, the two beautiful scrolls, and Harry’s replica wand are the beautiful work of Ericka van Horn.

The pattern for Harry’s school sweater is my own modification of the Boys’ School Uniform sweater pattern offered by Buttercup Miniatures.

Harry’s broom, cricket bat, and the spinning-top that forms the base of his Sneak-O-Scope were hand-made by a British artisan, Chris Sturgess-Lief, who tragically passed away last year. I am grateful to own his beautiful pieces, and I hope that Harry’s room will live as part of his artistic legacy. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your wonderful gift.

May I just say that this is most awesome thing ever…