mardi 25 novembre 2008

Bons Points

My great grandfather was the head of a school in the beginning of the XXth century, and we recently found boxes containing his collection of "bons points", illustrated cards that used to be given to pupils as a reward for good results. When I was very young, in the 80's, this tradition was still alive and I received some of these nice instructive cards, but I'm pretty sure kids today don't know this.

Anyway, I had an amused and nostalgic look at his collection, and found several curious stories on some of them. This one for example is quite memorable :

The plates of Augustus of Saxe

Augustus, king of Poland and elector of Saxony, was often spending huge amounts of money to satisfy his curious tastes. On June 26th of 1730, at the Zeithain camp, on the shores of the Elbe, he had a splendid dinner served for all his army, composed of 30.000 men. Polish and Saxon chroniclers have written several chapters to the depiction of that strange meal for which whole beefs had been roasted, the dessert had been design by the kingdom's general architect and the monstrous cakes where cut with axes by carpenters. For this occasion, 30.000 wooden plates where sculpted, each one showing a scene of the feast with the date of the day. As soon as the diner was over, the army aligned on the shores of the river and, at the command of the chiefs, the 30.000 plates were throwned into the Elbe, to send the news of king Augustus' magnificence to all towns and villages on the shores of the river and the ocean. This weird act of advertisement didn't miss its goal. Today still, families living on the river bank of the Elbe keep and show these wooden plates bearing the date of June 26th of 1730.