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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged weird:

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

I dragged my parents to see these beauties today! The Rock Houses of Kinver Edge were the last troglodyte dwellings occupied in Britain. Set high in the rock face just above Kinver, Staffordshire, the Rock Houses are said to have first been inhabited from at least the 18th century, as reported by Joseph Heely who wrote of taking refuge with a ‘clean and decent family’ in an ‘exceedingly curious rock’.

In its hey day around 40 people lived in the little community, on three levels rising up the heath. Carved out of sandstone, the houses were easy to adapt to ones needs. If a room needed to be slightly larger or a new doorway was required, the inhabitants could just chisel away. The Rock Houses were lived in until the 1960s and are now owned by the National Trust. 

Thief Caught in the Jaws of Death
In his new book The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton, Jeremy Clay showcases a collections of the strangest stories from Victorian newspapers, including this gem:

A burglar in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, was recently caught in a remarkable manner. Breaking into a closed and unoccupied office of a physician of that town, the burglar opened a closet (while his companion with a dark lantern was in another part of the room), and, feeling for clothing at about the height of closet hooks generally, got his hands between the jaws of a skeleton, which being adjusted with a coil spring and kept open with a thread, closed suddenly on the intruding hand by the breaking of the thread.

A sudden thought striking the burglar, of his being caught by a skeleton in the doctor’s closet, so terrified him that he uttered a faint shriek, and when his companion turned the lantern toward him and he beheld himself in the grim and ghastly jaws of Death himself, he became so overpowered by fear that he fainted, fell insensible to the floor, pulling the skeleton down upon him, and making so much noise that his companion fled immediately, and the doctor, alarmed at the noise and confusion, hastened into the office and secured the terror-stricken burglar still held by the skeleton.

Other stories can be read here.

Thief Caught in the Jaws of Death

In his new book The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton, Jeremy Clay showcases a collections of the strangest stories from Victorian newspapers, including this gem:

A burglar in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, was recently caught in a remarkable manner. Breaking into a closed and unoccupied office of a physician of that town, the burglar opened a closet (while his companion with a dark lantern was in another part of the room), and, feeling for clothing at about the height of closet hooks generally, got his hands between the jaws of a skeleton, which being adjusted with a coil spring and kept open with a thread, closed suddenly on the intruding hand by the breaking of the thread.

A sudden thought striking the burglar, of his being caught by a skeleton in the doctor’s closet, so terrified him that he uttered a faint shriek, and when his companion turned the lantern toward him and he beheld himself in the grim and ghastly jaws of Death himself, he became so overpowered by fear that he fainted, fell insensible to the floor, pulling the skeleton down upon him, and making so much noise that his companion fled immediately, and the doctor, alarmed at the noise and confusion, hastened into the office and secured the terror-stricken burglar still held by the skeleton.

Other stories can be read here.

Le Livre Sans Titre

Le Livre Sans Titre, which translates as The Book Without a Title, is an 1830 French illustrated book warning against the harmful effects of masturbation. The book charts the steady degradation of its protagonist from a gentleman, ‘young, handsome; his mother’s fond hope’, to when, at the age of seventeen, he ‘expires, and in horrible torment,’ all thanks to ‘self-harm’ or masturbation.

The text in images two through to ten tells the story as so:

He was young, handsome; his mother’s fond hope… He corrupted himself! [and] soon he bore the grief of his error, old before his time… his back hunches… See his eyes once so pure, so brilliant; they are extinguished! A fiery band envelops them. Hideous dreams disturb his slumber…he cannot sleep… His hair, once so lovely, falls as if from old age;his scalp grows bald before his age… His chest collapses… he vomits blood… Pustules cover his entire body… He is terrible to behold! His entire body stiffens!… his limbs stop moving… At the age of 17, he expires, and in horrible torment.

Some pages from the book are missing from the post due to Tumblr’s image limit but the book can be seen in its entirety at the source link below.

[Source: Izismile]

St. Hilarius Parish Church of Näfels, Walnut Oil, and a 14th Century Murder
In 1357 one of two murders occurred in the Swiss town of Näfels - either a man named Konrad Mueller killed a man named Heinrich Stucki, or a man named Tschudi killed is brother. It doesn’t really matter which. Whatever happened, the outcome was an agreement between the murderer and the church in which walnut oil, from walnut trees belonging to the murderer, was deeded to the church, “for eternity”, to maintain their eternal flame. The murderer would, in return, not be prosecuted for his crimes.
For more than 650 years, the deed having become attached to the land where the walnut trees once grew, successive owners honoured the agreement - despite the trees, original house, and obviously the murderer, being long gone. That is, until the owner in 2012, somewhat disgruntled at still having to pay for the sins of a man he never met, decided enough was enough. 
At some point the deed was altered to payments of 70 Swiss Francs a year, despite there being no longer being any particular link between the land and the church. Upon hearing of the farmer’s refusal to pay this money the church took him to court. The court, as one would hope, deemed the law of 1357 null and void.
Hilarius.
[Sources: Joyful Molly Wordpress | Wikipedia | Newly Swissed]

St. Hilarius Parish Church of Näfels, Walnut Oil, and a 14th Century Murder

In 1357 one of two murders occurred in the Swiss town of Näfels - either a man named Konrad Mueller killed a man named Heinrich Stucki, or a man named Tschudi killed is brother. It doesn’t really matter which. Whatever happened, the outcome was an agreement between the murderer and the church in which walnut oil, from walnut trees belonging to the murderer, was deeded to the church, “for eternity”, to maintain their eternal flame. The murderer would, in return, not be prosecuted for his crimes.

For more than 650 years, the deed having become attached to the land where the walnut trees once grew, successive owners honoured the agreement - despite the trees, original house, and obviously the murderer, being long gone. That is, until the owner in 2012, somewhat disgruntled at still having to pay for the sins of a man he never met, decided enough was enough.

At some point the deed was altered to payments of 70 Swiss Francs a year, despite there being no longer being any particular link between the land and the church. Upon hearing of the farmer’s refusal to pay this money the church took him to court. The court, as one would hope, deemed the law of 1357 null and void.

Hilarius.

[Sources: Joyful Molly Wordpress | Wikipedia | Newly Swissed]

Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan
Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan isan 1898 novel by Morgan Robertson whose plot, which concerns a large ship colliding with an iceberg, bears an uncanny resemblance to the real-life sinking of the ship Titanic, which happened fourteen years later.
The most obvious comparison is the ships’ names, Titan and Titanic, whilst the margin between their dimensions (Titan is described as being 800ft long, whilst Titanic was 882ft) is strikingly narrow. Eerily, both ships carried only the minimum number of life boats, or “as few as the law allowed”, as it says in the novel. On both ships this number was not enough to save even half the number of passengers and crew onboard - which was, for both, (approx) 3000.
Whilst the press labelled Titanic “virtually unsinkable”, fourteen years earlier Robertson described Titan as “practically unsinkable”. Then, both ships, travelling at similar speeds (Titan: 25knots vs. Titanic: 22 1/2knots) struck icebergs on an April night, both 400 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Both ships sank.
In fact, it seems the only thing the tragic real-life story of the Titanic is missing, which the novel has, is an alcoholic protagonist who jumps onto the iceberg to fight with a polar bear in order to save the life of the daughter of his ex-lover…
[Sources: Wikipedia | The novel online | Thanks to Vintage-Royalty]

Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan

Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan isan 1898 novel by Morgan Robertson whose plot, which concerns a large ship colliding with an iceberg, bears an uncanny resemblance to the real-life sinking of the ship Titanic, which happened fourteen years later.

The most obvious comparison is the ships’ names, Titan and Titanic, whilst the margin between their dimensions (Titan is described as being 800ft long, whilst Titanic was 882ft) is strikingly narrow. Eerily, both ships carried only the minimum number of life boats, or “as few as the law allowed”, as it says in the novel. On both ships this number was not enough to save even half the number of passengers and crew onboard - which was, for both, (approx) 3000.

Whilst the press labelled Titanic “virtually unsinkable”, fourteen years earlier Robertson described Titan as “practically unsinkable”. Then, both ships, travelling at similar speeds (Titan: 25knots vs. Titanic: 22 1/2knots) struck icebergs on an April night, both 400 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Both ships sank.

In fact, it seems the only thing the tragic real-life story of the Titanic is missing, which the novel has, is an alcoholic protagonist who jumps onto the iceberg to fight with a polar bear in order to save the life of the daughter of his ex-lover…

[Sources: Wikipedia | The novel online | Thanks to Vintage-Royalty]

Nocturnal Amusements of the 18th Century
No, not sex. It would seem people in the 18th century had better stuff to do. Like stabbing one another in the butt and slashing one another’s faces with knives… 
According to Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, one “diversion practiced by the bloods of the last century” was Sweating:

these gentlemen lay in wait to surprise some person late in the night, when surrouding him, they with their swords pricked him in the posteriors, which obliged him to be constantly turning round; this they continued till they thought him sufficiently sweated.

Then, “somewhat like those facetious gentlemen some time ago known in England by the title of Sweaters,” were Chalkers. In Ireland Chalkers were “Men of wit … who in the night amuse themselves with cutting inoffensive passengers across the face with a knife.”
[Sources: Hypervocal | From Old Books]

Nocturnal Amusements of the 18th Century

No, not sex. It would seem people in the 18th century had better stuff to do. Like stabbing one another in the butt and slashing one another’s faces with knives…

According to Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, one “diversion practiced by the bloods of the last century” was Sweating:

these gentlemen lay in wait to surprise some person late in the night, when surrouding him, they with their swords pricked him in the posteriors, which obliged him to be constantly turning round; this they continued till they thought him sufficiently sweated.

Then, “somewhat like those facetious gentlemen some time ago known in England by the title of Sweaters,” were Chalkers. In Ireland Chalkers were “Men of wit … who in the night amuse themselves with cutting inoffensive passengers across the face with a knife.”

[Sources: Hypervocal | From Old Books]

Frog-hopping gravestones. Glasgow, 1948. (x)

Frog-hopping gravestones. Glasgow, 1948. (x)

Postcards from the Alligator Farm

I had long suspected that these images were merely imaginative artwork, similar to tall tale postcards. Today I learnt that, in fact, they’re halftone photographs with applied colour depicting fun for all the family at the Los Angeles Alligator Farm in the early 20th century:

Originally located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Joseph ‘Alligator Joe’ Campbell’s Alligator Farm was relocated to tourist hotspot Lincoln Heights, California in 1907. The animals were loaded onto a train and a banner was hung from the side advertising the advent of the attraction.

After paying their 25 cents admission fee, visitors could enjoy the hundreds of alligators, of various sizes and ages, that lived in the back garden - and, as the postcards show, there were opportunities to ride the reptiles. In time, the farm began to supply alligators for the movie industry and feature in such films as ‘King Solomon’s Mines,’ ‘The Adventures of Kathleen,’ Walt Disney’s ‘The Happiest Millionaire’, and numerous Tarzan films.

Most famous was an alligator called Billy. Visitors to the farm would witness Billy sliding down chutes and wrestling underwater with famed alligator wrestler George Link, and, until the 1960s, most of the alligator jaws seen in films belonged to Billy, as he would automatically open his mouth when a piece of meat was dangled above him, just out of view of the camera. Billy was one of the alligators so domesticated that his owners could put a saddle on him and give their visitors a ride. Another highlight was 250lb Galapagos tortoise, Humpy. The owners’ children would put a saddle on Humpy and Billy each and race them around the garden. Humpy would regularly stray off the path but was invariably the winner.

In it’s hey day the farm was the most complete reptile collection in the world, as various other species of snake and lizard were introduced over time, and would entertain 130,000 visitors a year. 

[Mice Chat | Iconic Muse | Image Archeology | Image Sources: 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 | More black and White photographs]

Atomic Bomb Hair Style
“Liliana Orsi, a 22-year-old beauty in Rome, Italy, displays her new atomic hairdo and the photo of the atomic blast which inspired it. It took a hair stylist 12 hours to arrange Liliana’s coiffure, so it’s not recommended for daily wear. It’s an old fashion and something dangerously new.”
- Acme Newspictures

Atomic Bomb Hair Style

“Liliana Orsi, a 22-year-old beauty in Rome, Italy, displays her new atomic hairdo and the photo of the atomic blast which inspired it. It took a hair stylist 12 hours to arrange Liliana’s coiffure, so it’s not recommended for daily wear. It’s an old fashion and something dangerously new.”

- Acme Newspictures

(Source: retronaut.com)

Netherlandish Proverbs

Netherlandish Proverbs is a 1559 oil-on-oak-panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder which depicts a land populated with literal renditions of Dutch/Flemish proverbs of the day. The picture is overflowing with references and most of the representations can still be identified; while many of the proverbs have either been forgotten or never made the transition to the English language, some are still in use.

Proverbs were popular during Bruegel’s time and his paintings have themes of the absurdity, wickedness and foolishness of mankind, and this painting is no exception. The picture was originally entitled The Blue Cloak or The Folly of the World which indicates he was not intending to produce a mere collection of proverbs but rather a study of human stupidity. Many of the people depicted show the characteristic blank features which Bruegel used to portray fools. 

Even weirder is the number of these proverbs which centered around the theme of arses and defecation. I shit you not:

  • Image Two: “To crap on the World” meaning “To despise everything”
  • Image Three: “He who eats fire, craps sparks” meaning “Do not be surprised at the outcome if you attempt a dangerous venture”
  • Image Four: “To wipe one’s backside on the door” meaning “To treat something lightly”
  • Image Five: “They both crap through the same hole” meaning “They are in agreement”

For the other proverbs depicted in the painting, see here. For similar treats, see here.

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