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Category:
Nineteenth Century

Octagon Houses

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For a brief time in the USA, eight-sided houses were a thing. Based on the crackpot theories of one fellow.

The example above can be found in my native Rhode Island. I used to marvel at it all the time when I was younger.

Read the history here.

Order a book here.


Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Oct 20, 2014 | Comments (10)
Category: Buildings and Other Structures, Eccentrics, Nineteenth Century

The Edibility of Animal Spleens

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Read the whole four pages here.

A tip of the hat to pal Brad V. for finding this one.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Oct 08, 2014 | Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Junk Food, Nineteenth Century

American Cornball

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Christopher Miller's new book is a must-have for any WU-vie, detailing with comprehensive wit all the old humor tropes that once delighted millions, but are now just plain weird, but with a residual underlying universality.

Read a sample here.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Sun Oct 05, 2014 | Comments (2)
Category: Humor, Stereotypes and Cliches, Books, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century

Causes of Lunacy

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I love these reasons for being committed to the lunatic asylum, as given in this report for the year 1836.

"Repelled eruption" confused me, until I found this sentence from a text of the same era: "If the insanity succeeds the suppression of a cutaneous disease, of a fetter, an erysipelas, or any other repelled eruption, vesicatories are the means, par excellence : they are preferably applied upon the place where the disease at first existed."

And almost thirty years later, many of the "causes" were still present, as seen below in this report for the year 1891.

Browse through more reports here.

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Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Sep 16, 2014 | Comments (8)
Category: Experts and Authority Figures, Nineteenth Century, Brain Damage

A Singular Will

Source: Notes and Queries, Nov 6, 1858.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat Sep 13, 2014 | Comments (4)
Category: Death, Law, Nineteenth Century

The Dog Exterminator

An advertisement in The Wheel and Cycling Trade Review, August 1893. This seems to be similar to the pepper spray that mailmen carry nowadays, but with a more colorful name. [via What the Apothecary Ordered]

Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Aug 28, 2014 | Comments (12)
Category: Advertising, Nineteenth Century

Heidelberg Beer Club

I came across this in the Washington Post (Mar 27, 1892). I like the idea that the ability to drink a gallon of beer in one sitting makes you "beer honorable".

Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Aug 26, 2014 | Comments (6)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants, Nineteenth Century

Simplex Typewriter



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Original ad here.

From 1891 to at least 1948. Not a bad run for any toy.

More info here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Jul 30, 2014 | Comments (9)
Category: Technology, Toys, Comics, 1940's, Nineteenth Century

Lord Timothy Dexter

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I just learned about a famous New England eccentric named Lord Timothy Dexter. People like this make me proud to be a Yankee.

Just one of his whimsicalities, from this write-up:

In 1798, Mr. Dexter returned to Newburyport, and August 15th of the same summer he bought the large house on High street that had been erected by Jonathan Jackson in 1771. Its situation is high, and commands an extensive view of the coast and the Isles of Shoals. The grounds were laid out by intelligent landscape gardeners. Everything about the house was in excellent order; but not to his wish. He raised minarets on the roof, and surmounted them with gilt balls. He caused it to assume a gaudiness and cheapness that was most undesirable to a person of taste.

Directly before the front door of the house, on a Roman arch, he erected a figure of Washington in his military garb, and on his left, a figure of Jefferson, and on his right one of Adams, the latter being hatless. On columns erected in the garden were figures of Indian chiefs, generals, philosophers, politicians, statesmen, and goddesses of Fame and Liberty. He changed the name of the statues by the aid of the painter's brush as he pleased. General Morgan was thus transformed into Bonaparte, and to the latter Dexter always touched his, hat. There were more than forty of these figures, including four lions, two couchant, and two passant. These images were of wood, life size, and fairly well carved. The lions were open-mouthed and looked fierce. The figures were made by a young ship carver who had just come to Newburyport, named Joseph Wilson, and were gaudily painted. The images were all in good condition when Dexter died, and the first to fall was an Indian. The remainder stood until the great September gale of 1815, when all but the presidents were cast prostrate upon the earth. The images were sold at auction, the specimen that brought the most money, five dollars, was the goddess of Fame. William Pitt was sold for a dollar, and the "Travelling Preacher," fifty cents. It is said that the arch and figures of the three presidents, all the presidents there had been in Dexter's day, cost at least two thousand dollars, the lions two hundred dollars apiece, and the other images a similar amount.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Jul 18, 2014 | Comments (8)
Category: Eccentrics, Landscaping, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.