My New Article: The Origin of '007'

007 bus line
"007" is one of the most-recognizable numbers in the world, and central to the  James Bond mystique.

"Casino Royale," the first of Daniel Craig's James Bond movie, even begins with a scene explaining how an agent achieves the vaunted "double-O" status.

But how did Ian Fleming come up with  "007" and that "double-O" status in the first place?

Lashana lynch 007
MGM/Universal Pictures/EON

Some Fleming enthusiasts insist the world’s most-famous code number was inspired by 16th-Century English explorer/spy John Dee.

Others point to the 007 British bus line, or a 1897 Rudyard Kipling story about an American locomotive entitled “.007,” a World War I code, or part of the telephone number of Ian Fleming’s first literary agent.

There’s just one trouble with these theories. They’re balderdash.

Now, in advance of Craig's fifth and likely final James Bond movie, my new  article for spills all the beans.

You can read it here.

Above: The beginning of ".007," a short story by Rudyard Kipling in Collier's magazine; the legendary John Dee, and an editorial cartoon about the Zimmerman code.

More James Bond Talks in the Works!

Screen Shot 2021-08-28 at 10.40.41 AM
Now that the 25th 007 movie is officially coming out on Oct. 8, I am lining up several presentations on the real James Bond (1900-1989), the well-known Philadelphia ornithologist and author of Birds of the West Indies.

I am working on on-site presentations for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Free Library of Philadelphia -- both will be available as Zoom talks. 

During my research, I used the archives of both of these fine institutions and unearthed all sorts of rare images and documents pertaining to the ornithologist Bond.

My Oct. 8 presentation for the Free Library, for example, will feature rarely seen objects from the Free Library's archives of Bond and his wife, author Mary Wickham Bond. These include will include a photo of Bond (wielding a double-barreled shotgun), a toy Aston-Marton DB5 (complete with ejector seat) and the real Bond's 007 vodka bottle.

You can register for the Free Library Zoom talk here

Will post more info about the Academy presentation when it becomes available.

Also have talks in the works for several N.J. groups and libraries, including Bergen County Audubon and the Ridgewood Library. Stay tuned.

'Spectre' & 'Birds of the West Indies'

Spectre and BondThanks to the THUNDERBALLS,  the unofficial James Bond Picture Archive, I was able to track down this publicity still from "Spectre"  (2015).

The most memorable cinematic reference of this sort, of course, was from "Die Another Day," when Pierce Brosnan's Bond told Halle Berry's Jinx that he was an ornithologist... "I'm just here for the birds."

The archive is excellent.

Bond's Bahama Nuthatch: Distinct and/or Extinct?

Bahama nuthatch ansp skin
The excellent birding blog "10,000 Birds" just posted my short article about the Bahama Nuthatch, recently declared a distinct species by the American Ornithological Society and also feared extinct.

The real James Bond "discovered" the bird 90 years ago. The study skin above is part of the collection at Bond's Academy of Natural Sciences.

You can read it here.

Photo: Special thanks to Matt Halley/Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.



News about Bond's Bahama Nuthatch

Hayes Bahama Nuthatch  closeupIMG_7607-1200-(2)Late last month, the American Ornithological Society announced that the Bahama Nuthatch -- "discovered by James Bond" -- is now considered a distinct species.

As Mary Wickham Bond (Bond's wife) recounted in To James Bond with Love, Bond collected two specimens of a heretofore undescribed nuthatch in the scrub-pine forests of Grand Bahama:

"The bird is a close relative of the Brown-headed Nuthatch of the southeastern United States, and many ornithologists consider it a distinct species."

Now the American Ornithological Society agrees. You can read the Birds Caribbean account here.

The nuthatch was one of the three Bond birds that I discussed in my talk for the Linnaean Society last February. It's an extraordinary story.

I hope to post more about the AOS decision, the bird and Bond soon.

(Photo above by William K. Hayes.)

Bond's Pre-COVID Ship Medical Exam

3-u Oranje Nassau

When James Bond traveled from the Bahamas to Haiti in 1929 for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia,  he needed a medical clearance from the Oranje Nassau's doctor.

The doctor found that the ornithologist "has not any loathsome, or dangerous, or contagious. or infectious disease and is apparently in good health."

Maybe today's cruise ships should do more of the same....

Health cert. from ship DSCN9933

Monday: Free Zoom Talk for Science Cafe

Screen Shot 2021-06-08 at 3.52.18 PM
My next free Real James Bond  Zoom talk is this Monday (June 14) from 5 to 6 p.m.

Tyson pileatedI'll be speaking at the MDI Science Cafe about Bond, his uncle (the famous painter Carroll Tyson)  and their long history with the birds of Mount Desert Island -- from Tyson's renowned fine-arts prints to their unique field guide the island's birds.

Tyson's prints sell for thousands of dollars and are highly sought-after. One of my favorites is the Pileated Woodpecker print.  (Saw one -- the print and the bird -- on MDI just last week!)

The Science Cafe is sponsored by the MDI Biological Laboratory, a rapidly growing, independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution.

The laboratory's mission is to improve human health and well-being through basic research, education, and development ventures that transform discoveries into cures.

You can learn more about the talk and register here.

Today Is Ian Fleming's Birthday!

Bond meets fleming-DSCN9866

Ian Fleming, who wrote the first 12 007 novels and two 007 short-story collections, was born on May 28, 1908.

He wrote his first 007 novel and "lifted" ( his word) the name of Philadelphia ornithologist James Bond for his secret agent in early 1952.

The two men for the first and only time at Goldeneye in Jamaica in February 1964.

Above is the only known photo of the two men, taken by Mary Wickham Bond, James Bond's wife.  Photo courtesy of the Rare Book Department, Free Library of Philadelphia.