Columbia – The Personification Of The USA

Badge from a Columbian Printing Press

This is the badge from a Columbian Press, a printing machine designed in the USA and made in Edinburgh and now in the National Museum of Scotland.

The counterweight that is partly visible at the top of the photo is in the shape of an American Eagle.

The explanatory panel states that the printing press was designed by a George C Clymer in 1813. The press wasn’t a success in the USA so he brought his design to Scotland.

The panel also explained that the name of the press came from the name Columbia, which is the female personification of the USA. Who knew?

According to Wikipedia, the name Columbia was dreamed up by Samuel Johnson to describe the British Colonies in America at a time when reports of debates in the UK Parliament had to be disguised because it was illegal to report them directly.

The name was adopted by the founding fathers to add gravitas to their country to combat the UK’s Britannia when the US was working towards independence.

Florence – Of Squares And Synagogues


Tamara and I wandered into this Square in Florence while en route to visit the Great Synagogue.

The local people had gathered in the Square to buy and sell on the stalls but also to assemble and march to demand something.

What that something was I was not sure exactly because of course the proceedings were in Italian. But I think I got the idea – agrarianism, respect for the land, community before profit, and so on.

I saw a group talking and noticed how animated they were and how quickly the human interaction went from curious, to serious, to joking, to something else, and back again.

Here are closer images in colour and then in black and white.


talking - The Speed Of Human Interaction

The Great Synagogue

As I said, I passed the Square on my way to visit the Great Synagogue, which is an absolutely huge building.

Tamara too wanted to visit the Synagogue and we met there and then afterwards had a meal at Ruth’s, the restaurant next door.

The space inside the synagogue is unobstructed by columns and must have been quite something when it had a full congregation.

There is a museum on the upper floors with a collection of Judaica and the story of the Jews of Florence during the Second World War.