What were the odds?

Maybe the "White Gloves of Destiny" are more powerful than we realised!?

With eyes closed, it was essentially a "lucky dip" from the Royal Society card catalog.

But in the tradition of golfers who hit errant tee shots, I chose a second card as my "provisional".

The two cards selected by fate related to:

1) a letter about a mortgage


2) observations of a lunar eclipse.

Head librarian Keith Moore and I headed deep into the archives.

And we found them both, of course.

The mortgage letter, from 1891, was a little on the dry side?

Though it is worth noting a £15,000 mortgage back then is worth well into the millions these days.

And though I did not discuss it on camera, I was also amused by the phone number on the letter - just four-digits, 2604.

The second document was more interesting, dealing with James Short's observation of an eclipse in 1760.

BUT HERE IS THE BIT WE MISSED (a viewer named Simon pointed it out).

The letters - 131 years apart - originated from the same small London street!

Both the address of the accountants (Few and Co) in 1891 and the eclipse observations in 1760 were in Surrey Street, Strand.

(Short's home, instrument workshop and observatory were in Surrey St)

131 years apart - but joined by the White Gloves of Destiny!

I also noted Short spelled his street as "Surry" but it was changed to Surrey in the final published version in Philosophical Transactions.

PS: Of course I'm aware it's likely quite a few professional types were more concentrated back in the day - but still!?

There are LOTS of cards in that catalog.

STOP PRESS (added on 10 August)

Another obvious coincidence I completely omitted in the article above!

The first letter was written to Mr Long.... The second one was written by Mr Short.

I really am not very good at noticing this stuff!