Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2009

fat man
Ballou’s Dollar Monthly, March 16, 1862. 300 pounds! Why, it simply beggars belief. Seems like the guy’s nutritional advisers missed the memo on the whole low-carb thing, although the basic principle had been laid out in Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste in 1825. Also seems like Americans have gotten a lot better at coping with being fat over time.

flamer Ballou’s Dollar Monthly, March 16, 1862. Sacre bleu! We could be looking here at the historical origins of that beloved special effects staple, The Flaming Guy.flaming guy Irwin Allen wouldn’t even be born for another half century.

COINBallou’s Dollar Monthly, March 16, 1862. I reckon some watchmaker or other skilled machinist must have made these, either for fun or as a premium to give to customers, and then someone accidentally put them into circulation. Either that or it’s the work of an early and unsung conceptual artist. Anyway, you can acquire a starter kit for your own set of nesting coins here.

eminent domainNew York Times, October 4, 1854. There’ll always be some folks who just don’t cotton to the concept of eminent domain.

gator kidsDaily Picayune, September 12, 1882. “The Bloody Knife Combination Company!” Now that is a proper name for an entertainment concern. No wonder they were able to attract the top acts. The stipulation that McDonald family was white raises the question: Were black people considered to be especially prone to generating lusus naturae? You can see how that impression might come about, as black sports of nature would be that much more prone to commercial exploitation. Read More »

grand rapids eve press march 22 1907Grand Rapids Evening Press, March 22, 1907. This strikes me as legislative overkill. Seems like there’d be less economic derangement and dislocation if Senator McKnight simply brought his missus to live in Little Rock full-time. Or if that would cramp his style too much, maybe the railway could build her a special rail car with a lily-white hydraulic lift.

It’s a weird thing about coverage of Jim Crow stuff in old papers–some stuff arbitrarily gets lampooned, but it’s no crazier than the stuff that doesn’t.

I wonder if there’s a hidden meaning to the billing being “referred to the department of agriculture”?

half humanDaily Inter-Ocean, January 24, 1880. The woods were thick with these half-human hybrids back in the day, as we’ll see. Read More »

a human frog 1Macon Weekly Telegraph, June 6, 1886. They ain’t kidding. This story is like a collaboration among Zora Neale Hurston, Erskine Caldwell and Edgar Allan Poe. Read More »

american register 1 1 17American Register, January 1, 1817. Well, those mail coach drivers certainly seem to have earned their paychecks. We’ve seen this spooky horses-on-autopilot trope before.

boston journal 1 17 13 1Boston Journal, January 17, 1913. The name for this poor woman’s dangerous fixation is claustrophilia. It’s a sex thing for some people. Read More »