The July 14, 1952 issue of Life
had a photo feature about a contest sponsored by the city of Hammond, Ind., in which schoolchildren were asked to design a better rattrap. The challenge apparently released the inner sadist in some of the kids.
Arnold Knopf's trap: a weight falls, releasing a crossbow which shoots an arrow into the rat's back.
Jim Olsen's contribution: after the rat trips a trigger, a weight falls, jerking a noose tight around the rat's neck.
Steve Miller and Ed Cox designed a rat guillotine that included a basket to catch the rat's head.
From what I can gather, Necropants are an ancient Icelandic (magical) method of obtaining money. Because perhaps if you're wearing these things people will pay you to keep your distance.
Here's the instructions for how to make them (from the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft
If you want to make your own necropants (literally; nábrók) you have to get permission from a living man to use his skin after his dead.
After he has been buried you must dig up his body and flay the skin of the corpse in one piece from the waist down. As soon as you step into the pants they will stick to your own skin. A coin must be stolen from a poor widow and placed in the scrotum along with the magical sign, nábrókarstafur, written on a piece of paper. Consequently the coin will draw money into the scrotum so it will never be empty, as long as the original coin is not removed. To ensure salvation the owner has to convince someone else to overtake the pants and step into each leg as soon as he gets out of it. The necropants will thus keep the money-gathering nature for generations.
[via Notes From a Funeral Director
A bit of Appalachian folklore:
Back when feather pillows were the norm in Appalachian households, it was not uncommon to find a hardened mass of feathers whose quills had turned inward and locked together forming a disc, or crown, in the pillow of the gravely ill, or recently deceased. Finding such an artifact in the pillow of someone ill was a sure sign that the person would die within the next three days, but it was a comforting symbol when found in the pillow of the recently deceased. Finding a crown in a person's pillow meant that the person has gone to Heaven. [Source: Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State
People collect these things. The Museum of Appalachia in Tennessee has the largest collection. Carrollscorner.net
also has a whole bunch of pictures of them.
If you've ever wondered how they bury people when the ground is frozen solid, this is how. Or they jack-hammer the earth for hours. But this is the preferred method. More info here.
I guess in the old days they would store the body in a shed and wait until the ground thawed. That works also.
"The custom of distributing to the mourners at a funeral specially prepared biscuits in wrappers sealed with black wax, was formerly widely prevalent in Great Britain... The practice may be an altered survival of ceremonial cannibalism when the flesh of dead kinsmen was eaten by the mourners."
This may also explain why the British love their tea and biscuits!
[via Pitt Rivers Museum
"This miniature chocolate coffin has a removable lid. Open it up and there is a skeleton inside. This chocolate treat is sure to please." Available from pushindaisies.com
Instead of bringing flowers to a funeral, give some of these!
"I'm deeply sorry, Mrs Jones, but the SWAT team had no way of knowing little Tommy wasn't holding a real grenade before they opened fire."
Original ad here.
Broken limbs, entangled drive chains and potential strangulation guaranteed!
Original ad here.