Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Art and Work of Jeff Menges

Box cover for Atlas Games Pieces Of Eight by Jeff A. Menges

My Mrs. happens to work with pirate and fantasy artist/illustrator Jeff A. Menges. He has some illustrations up on this website. He has also helped design the game Pieces of Eight, which is put out by Atlas Games. He has also edited many Dover books on pirates, including their Pirate clipart book/cd-rom and a book of excellent color plates by Howard Pyle (who was interested in many of the same subjects as Mr. Menges). Keep up the good work, Jeff!

Update: Jeff also has a blog about Vintage Illustration, click here to visit.

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Pirate Coins In The Golden Age

Bootie, originally uploaded by Ack Ook.

Blunt, booty, tin; call it what you may, but it was the raison d'être for nearly all pirates. The Spanish became fabulously wealthy in the new world, and pirates and privateers set out to relieve them of their riches. Once acquired, the pirates would squander their loot on drink, gambling and other vices you could very well imagine. They seldom, if ever buried their treasure. Coin was not they only thing they were after. Aside from precious metals and gems, things like medicine, clothing and weapons were also highly prized.

Ahhh, but who now can one mention a pirate's treasure without conjuring up images of parrots squawking out "pieces-of-eight" or chests full of doubloons? Here is a rundown of what you might have found in a pirates pockets in the Golden Age:

Pieces-of-eight (silver, 1497 to 1857): This was the silver dollar of its day. It was worth 8 reales (pronounced ray-ahls) and was frequently cut into pieces to make change, hence the name pieces-of-eight.

Doubloon (gold, 1566-?): A gold coin worth 2 escudos, see below.

Spanish Real (as in Reales) (silver/alloy, 1497 to 1864): This coin changed value a number of times throughout its existence. From 1642 to 1737 (which encompasses the Golden Age), there were two reales; on of silver (real de plata) and a less valuable one (real de vellón) made from billon (silver alloyed with other metals).

Gold Escudo (gold, 1566-1833): This coin was worth 16 silver reales during the golden age. Actually, they were minted in several quantities from 1/2 to 8 escudos, the 2 escudo coin was commonly known as the doubloon.

Onza (gold, 1566-????): A gold coin worth 8 escudos.

Going roughly on the facts in books:
1 Doubloon = 2 Escudos = 4 Pieces-of-eight = 32 Reales
1 Escudo = 16 Reales de plata
1 Pieces-of-eight = 8 Reales de plata

It should be noted that coins and other forms of money were in short supply in the new world. A pirate was more likely to come across all manner of goods than a galleon laden with coins. But there were some coins. Pieces-of-eight minted roughly in South America for transport back to Spain were known as cob. There were also coins from other nations used in trade, and a pirate might have to be "his own exchange broker", as Angus Konstam points out in one of his books.

But pieces-of-eight and gold doubloons will always remain at the heart of our romanticized image of pirates, weather its Ben Gunn's cave full of loot in Treasure Island or the treasure room at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean rides. Pirates and coins go hand in hand, or coin in hand, if you please.


  • The Complete Idiot's Guide To Pirates, Gail Selinger

  • Pirates 1660-1730, Angus Konstam

  • Pirate (DK Eyewitness Books), Richard Platt

  • Wikipedia

The Great American Coin Company makes reproductions of some factual and fanciful pirate coins. You can even order them by the chest-load. Click here to go there.

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Skulls (More free images)

As a followup to the free scroll post, here are some skulls from As that name might imply, these skulls are photoshop brushes, so you will have to have photoshop to use them. Enjoy!

Click here to go there.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Free scroll graphics

Over on Vecteezy, you can download some cool piratey looking scroll banner images. These would be great for things like party invites, posters, web images or anything else your pirate heart desires. They are in EPS format.

Click here to go there.

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Pirate Sam Model Sheet

Over on Kevin Langley's Cartoons, Model Sheets & Stuff blog, he posted some Yosemite Sam model sheets, including one of Pirate Sam.

The Pirate Shack: Pirate Sam

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Found on Flickr

Banner POTC Group, originally uploaded by legogallery.ryan.

The principle characters of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ex-Disney "Jack Sparrow" Tells All

Captain Jack Sparrow, originally uploaded by ankneyd.

[Editor's note: the actor portraying Jack in the photo above is not the person referred to in this article (as far as we know)]

Los Angeles magazine has an incredible article "as told to Dave Gardetta", wherein a former Disney cast member (known only as Pinto as far as I can tell) tells all about his experience playing Jack Sparrow in New Orleans Square, Disneyland. he speaks of his hiring, the rules handed down by management, his (sometime rather adult) interactions with guests and how he was eventually escorted off the premises (the only way a true pirate leaves a job, arrrrrrr). He details how he broke a number of Disney's guidelines (including mentioning rum) while in character. One of the things that amused me is how he would sit in people's strollers and let them take pictures. Perhaps most astounding: they wouldn't let him keep is own natural Jack Sparrow goatee, he had to shave it of and use a fake one. He also details how cast members get in trouble for things posted on blogs or clips of them breaking the rules on YouTube. He eventually racked up enough points to get canned, but he still went back for a visit after a while.

Click here for the full arrrrrrticle.

[thank you, Lawrence]

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Photos from The Million Pirate March

The Million Pirate March has posted photos to flickr. The march took place during the annual bay to breakers walk/run in San Francisco.


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Stuart Gordon also planning Pirate movie

I have heard from more sources that another Pirate movie is being planned by Stuart Gordon. Gordon is known for films in the horror and sci-fi genres, so his could be an interesting piece. I have not really heard of any pirates movies in the horror genre before (although horror is not something that typically interest me, so I may have over looked them). Click here for more info.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Dreamworks to make 'Blackbeard' movie

From a variety of sources (including Variety), I have learned that Dreamworks is planning to ride the pirate popularity wave and release a feature film about the real-life pirate Blackbeard. Only time will tell if they can pull it off, or if it will go Cutthroat Island on them. In my opinion, the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie owed to many factors. One factor that took me a while to recognize was the use of the super-natural, which now seems almost vital to a modern pirate movie that is expected to be a blockbuster. Lets see what Dreamworks does...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Million Pirate March

Ahoy there, during today's 2008 Bay to Breakers footrace in San Francisco, there will be a Million Pirate March along the route! It will be a "celebration of rum, parrots and peg legs."

They have some useful info in their links section, including a downloadable Word document on how to build a pirate ship out of a shopping cart (why they didn't make a webpage out of it, I have no idea).

If their site is correct, there should be plenty of pictures and maybe videos too afterwards. Arrrrr. Click here to go to their site.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ojai Pirate Faire

CIMG4392, originally uploaded by *bri*.

There is apparently an annual Pirate festival with lots of costumes an reenactment in Ojai (Lake Casitas?) California. The 2008 Festival is slated for September 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th. So mark your calenders! Combined with Talk Like A Pirate Day, we might as well make September into Pirate Month!

Update: A news article I found points to a festival that just happened. Am I talking about two different festivals?

Click here for more info
News about a previous festival

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Monday, May 12, 2008

What does a pirate flag advertise?

A fireman has been forced to either take down a pirate flag he put up for his daughter's themed birthday or pay for "advertising consent" because the flag "breaches regulations controlling advertising." The article I found is not very long, but I want to know what this flag is advertising. Death? Pirates? Click here to see the article

Update: I found another article here. Apparently you are only allowed to fly national flags in the UK, everything else is advertising. I wonder if that kind of abridgment of the freedom of speech would 'fly' here in the U.S.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Long John Peter

Family Guy

The first third of this past Sunday's Family Guy was an hilarious tribute to classic pirate movies. Peter befriends a parrot and then terrorizes the town with a pirate crew. There is more info here on wikipedia.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Jolly Roger Ice Cream Cup w/ Disneyland Contest Coupon

found on flickr

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Jack Sparrow made of Legos!

Craig Stevens made this great Lego portrait of Captain Jack Sparrow!

Click here for more pictures...

via the brothers brick

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Pirate and the Parrot

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