Jan - 30 - 2010
I’m happy to announce that The Fiddler’s Gun: Letters has finally gone to print. I approved the proof on Friday and the presses are rolling. The book is a collection of sixteen letters and other documents that detail some of the further adventures of Fin Button during the course of the events recounted in The Fiddler’s Gun.
If you followed the “Letters to Peter” feature on the site, some of this material will be familiar to you but it has now been edited, expanded, and bound in one volume. Who is Wilberforce Octavian Albemarle III? What is the mystery of the Boot Snuffler? And what is the Baker’s Grail? These letters hold the answers.
Also, included is a sneak peek at an excerpt from Fiddler’s Green.
This special companion to The Fiddler’s Gun is being printed in a limited run of 100 signed and numbered copies. Each of my Tier 2 Patrons will receive their copy in the mail, free of charge. The remainder will be for sale, exclusively at the Rabbit Room store and when they’re gone, they are gone forever (though I do hope to make a digital version available at a later date.)
Here’s a look at the introduction...Read the entire post
Nov - 13 - 2009
When I wrote The Fiddler's Gun and came to the point in the story when Fin begins writing letters home, I initially thought those letters would be part of the book, part of the main narrative. That idea didn't last long though, it slowed the story down and didn't add enough weight to justify the slackened pace. So while Fin's letters are mentioned in the book, the content of them is left to the imagination.
Later, when the book was written...Read the entire post
Oct - 04 - 2009
You may recall that while in Amelia Island, Florida I chanced across the first page of an intriguing letter and was led to believe that the second page was in the keeping of Vanderbilt University back home in Nashville.
When I got home I tried my best to gain access to the letter in the usual ways, but despite a flurry of paperwork and formal requests, I was denied access to the university’s archives. So I was forced to take matters into my own hands. I got in touch with some contacts from the old days in the Marine Corps and called in a few favors. Thirty-six hours later, dressed in my best burgling outfit, I rappelled out of a stealth helicopter and...Read the entire post
Sep - 14 - 2009
While traveling the northern coast of Florida and investigating the economic tendencies of rabbits and their reading habits, I found myself on Amelia Island and took the opportunity to visit their historical museum to see what I might turn up. The curator was a crusty old salt with a jaundiced eye, a severe limp, and a shortage of fresh batteries for his hearing aid. He greeted me kindly and after a lengthy explanation that involved the appearance of an ear trumpet, I finally managed to communicate to him that my interest lay chiefly in the study of 18th century letters, logbooks, and other maritime documents.
I suspect he didn’t think much of my particular interests. He repeatedly steered me toward his vast collection of fish hooks and lighthouse replicas. I would not be dissuaded, however, and at last he showed me to a tiny closet at the rear of the museum inside which were stacked a treasure of...Read the entire post
Jul - 26 - 2009
This weekend a friend of mine moved into a new home and one of her housewarming gifts was an antique desk fitted with an expertly hidden compartment at the back of the bottom drawer (which she expertly found). The compartment, once opened by the pressing of a series of ingenious levers and buttons, contained a single letter dated January 10th, 1776.
Research and appraisal has revealed that the desk dates to mid-19th century Savannah, Georgia. Though this is nearly a hundred years beyond the prime of Fin Button’s documented career, the letter secreted away within the desk is undoubtedly of her authorship. Why it was kept at all, and kept so secretly, we may never know, but there are clues...Read the entire post
Jul - 20 - 2009
The Curator of Postal Antiquities at the Smithsonian Institute contacted me last Thursday with exciting news. He explained that while cataloging a large number of documents received from the estate of Charles Albemarle of Massachusetts he came upon a letter that he suspected would be of particular interest to me. The letter discovered is one sent from Wilberforce Albemarle, III to his mother in the winter of 1776 and in it the person of Fin Button is largely featured. The perspective offered by this letter (dated January 7th, 1776) is a fascinating window into the events of that winter aboard the Rattlesnake and I’m happy to present it on the Letters to Peter page for public examination.
Jul - 12 - 2009
This past weekend I was rummaging through a used book store in Providence, Rhode Island and came across some great buys.
The first book that caught my eye was entitled Naval Knots and Them What Tied ‘Em. I’m always on the lookout for a good old fashioned knot book and saw right off that this was a keeper. It was written by Heathcliff G. Sanderson who most of you will recall was the Knottier-in-Chief of the Department of the Navy in the early 19th century and coined the famous phrase, “Knot without a fight!” during the War of 1812. Naturally, I snatched this little treasure up and added it to my library.
The second find of the day was...Read the entire post
Jul - 04 - 2009
Until last week, it hadn’t occurred to me that the Dead Letter Office in Washington, D.C. might hold some long lost correspondence concerning Fin Button. I’d passed it over in my research because the office wasn’t established until 1825, long after the golden age of Fin’s career, and the overwhelming bulk of letters that end up there are destroyed.
You can imagine my surprise then when I received a call from a rodentially-voiced clerk of the office who reported that in the process of searching for a hidden supply of doughnuts he chanced across a brittle and yellowed letter bearing the initials “FB”.
Though the clerk could not explain the existence of a letter in his file cabinet that predated the office by fifty years, he was kind enough to send it to me for further study. Upon my own inspection I was delighted to learn of its authenticity, yet somewhat saddened to know that its intended audience had never set eyes upon it.
The letter (dated Christmas Day, 1775) has been carefully transcribed and it is presented on the Letters to Peter page so that you may read that which Peter LaMee, regrettably, could not.
Jun - 29 - 2009
Although I was vacationing in the wildlands of eastern Tennessee last week, I was lucky enough to find, among the waterfalls, and cliff-faces, and coal mines, a strange little store named Antiques, Collectibles, Junk? You Decide.
Since I’m a big fan of deciding things, I took the opportunity to go in and put them to the test. I was greeted by Uncle Jesse (who, it turns out, is not in Hazard County, GA, and not dead, but hiding out in this store) who explained that he sold “a little bit of everything and something for everyone.” I was skeptical but I accepted his challenge.
The first thing I decided was that I would not be buying any of his collection of antique spatulas. Then, although tempting, I also decided against a large stack of neatly folded brown socks (I think they were originally white.) I continued my inspection and judgement upon the moldy little shop and easily placed each item into the “Junk” category until I came upon a small packet of letters stored in a Folgers can.
The letters were an admirable collection of correspondence between members of the Bolington family, many of which dated back over a hundred years. I read through each one with passing interest and considered that in this one case the item in question may be elevated above junk and possibly to the esteemed designation of collectible.
But when I reached the final and oldest letter of the series, I had to admit that Uncle Jesse did in fact have something for me. It was a letter of the late 18th century in which Charles Bolington chanced to cross the trail of Fin Button and saw fit to write of it to his wife, Lucilla.
I purchased the letter for a price that both I and Uncle Jesse considered fair and I have spent much of the time since transcribing it. I’m pleased to be able to present it to you here at The Fiddler’s Gun on the Letters to Peter page. Enjoy.
Jun - 22 - 2009
I received a letter this week from the Clerk of Antiquated Documents at the courthouse in Savannah, Georgia. She reported to me that during a recent courthouse yard sale, they’d cleaned out the basement of the old building and found an intriguing set of documents stashed away in an old chest. The documents were an assortment of letters, shipping receipts, philosophical writings, sheet music, grocery lists, and bad poetry dating as far back as the Revolutionary War. The aforementioned clerk had spent the better part of the week delivering the documents to whatever museums, universities, and learned collectors she thought most appropriate and, having seen this website, she was kind enough to contact me regarding one particular letter bearing the signatory of none other than Fin Button.
The letter, dated December 19th, 1775, has been precisely transcribed and is presented on the Letters to Peter page.
Jun - 15 - 2009
I’m happy to report that I’ve spent the weekend investigating the ruins of Ebenezer, Georgia and while traipsing amongst a thick growth of cypress near the Savannah River, I discovered the husk of an old chapel. I approached it in fascination, stepping lightly beneath its gaze of shattered windows and crept inside to see what stories lay untold within her. I emerged some time later having discovered a hidden panel in the chancel out of which I drew a musty collection of documents. One of these was a letter bearing the signatory “FB” and given its content, there can be no doubt of its authorship.
I have meticulously transcribed the letter, dated December 14th, 1775, and placed its tale on the Letters to Peter page.
Jun - 08 - 2009
This Sunday afternoon I received a phone call from a man with a thick German accent calling himself Herr Wilbur Schilling. At first I assumed he had a wrong number and nearly hung up the phone but when he told me he was a member of the Georgia Salzburger Society, he had my full attention.
He told me of a collection of aged documents that he’d found some years ago hidden between the pages of an old Gutenburg Bible. The Bible, he assured me, now rests safely in the hands of the local museum but he held onto the documents having no clear idea of what they might be worth or to whom they might be of interest. He related his elation at the discovery of this website and how, with all haste, he sought me out and then bid me come to inspect his documentary treasure.
I did so at once.
Most of the documents in his care were of little note being either unreadable or unremarkable. Most, not all. One among them, although undated and unsigned, seized my interest at once and I have transcribed it and entered it upon the Letters to Peter page of the site.
Jun - 01 - 2009
For years I’ve dreamed of traveling cross-country to visit the famous National Museum of Maritime and Mercantile Logbooks in Beaufort, South Carolina. It boasts the biggest collection of historical logbooks in all of South Carolina and I had an inkling that I might be able to find something there that could enlighten the story of The Fiddler’s Gun. I was not mistaken.
I hid in a broom closet until they closed and then, under cover of darkness, I snuck into the museum proper to find what I had come for. Having watched Treasure of the Four Crowns last week, I was able to easily avoid the laser alarm system and a rather ingenious nest of booby traps that guarded the logbook. I danced through the laser field like the pasty middle-aged ninja that I am and used a bag of sand to fool the weight-sensitive plate upon which the logbook lay. Then I cut the page in question from the two-hundred-year-old book and left a polite note that I would return it in the near future along with a copy of my library card.
The transcription of this newly acquired log entry can be found on the Letters to Peter page. I hear sirens outside my door.
May - 24 - 2009
This weekend I may or may not have been diving off the coast of Barbados and while I was (or wasn’t) there I may have discovered a heretofore undiscovered shipwreck containing a corroded old 18th century chest from inside of which I may have (just possibly) recovered a rather soggy and chewed at, yet mostly readable, letter from Fin Button. How it came to be inside the chest (which may not even exist) and how that chest came to be aboard a ship sunken and undiscovered in the Carribbean these two hundred years hence, I am not at liberty to reveal.
I am at liberty, however, to reveal the content of said letter, dated November 23rd, 1775, and have transcribed it for you and placed it for public viewing on the Letters to Peter page of this website.
May - 18 - 2009
I’ve just finished transcribing a letter (dated November 13th, 1775) that I discovered when I dug up what appeared to be a crudely marked (yet empty) grave just outside of New Ebenezer, a ghost town in eastern Georgia. Why the letter was buried there, who buried it, and whether or not there was ever an actual body interred may be mysteries we will never uncover.
The letter does, however, shed new light on the matter of Fin’s snuffled boot. It seems a mystery is afoot.
May - 13 - 2009
The studious reader will have noted the link in the sidebar entitled “Letters to Peter” and quite possibly that reader will have wondered why I write letters to myself and post them here. The answer is that, thankfully, I haven’t written myself at all, or if I have, I haven’t posted it here for eyes other than those of the addressee.
In the narrative of The Fiddler’s Gun, Fin Button has multiple occasions to write letters home to her good friend, Peter LaMee. So in the time leading up to the release of the book, I thought it would be fun to discoverRead the entire post