Weird Universe

Twentieth Century



Here is an old British toy that had a lot of good intentions, but also some unanticipated drawbacks.

Buildings were constructed on allegedly waterproof waxed card bases. The bricks etc. were stuck together with a mortar made from a mixture of flour and chalk powder. It required a great amount of skill to erect buildings accurately, very time-consuming and beyond the patience of most of the children it was aimed at (8 to 14 years). Especially so in cold houses (as most British homes then were) it would take several days for the building to 'set'. Reusing the components involved a process of dunking the entire model in a large bowl of warm water. After the model fell apart the bricks and plaster pieces required lengthy rinsing to remove all organic traces to prevent mould growing on them.

I wonder how well they sold in the USA, as touted in the ad below, from Boys Life for September 1948.


Fan page.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Sun Sep 20, 2015 | Comments (7)
Category: Buildings and Other Structures, Toys, Children, Europe, Twentieth Century

Regrettable Superheroes


I have not seen a copy yet, but I am betting this book will be a winner, based on the description.

For every superhero hitting the big time with a blockbuster movie, there are countless failures, also-rans, and D-listers. The League of Regrettable Superheroes affectionately presents one hundred of the strangest superheroes ever to see print—from Atoman to Zippo—complete with backstories, vintage art, and colorful commentary.

Drawing on the entire history of the medium, the book celebrates characters that haven’t seen the light of day in decades, like Natureboy, Dr. Hormone, Thunder Bunny, and more. It’s a must-read for comics fans of all ages!

Until it appears in June, why not read an issue of DOLLMAN now.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Apr 23, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art, Comics, Superheroes, Twentieth Century

Mystery Illustration 5


Why is this fellow masked at his writing desk? Kidnapper? Bank Robber? Sex games?

Find the answer here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Feb 18, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Art, Disguises, Impersonations, Mimics and Forgeries, Twentieth Century






What exactly were the ingredients of Nervine that made it sell effectively for many decades?

Read all about it here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sun Nov 16, 2014 | Comments (5)
Category: Medicine, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century

Stuffed Gators


Original article here.

Apparently, back in the early part of the 20th century, it was common to have a stuffed alligator as an umbrella stand. I searched the web for an image of such a thing, but could not find one. Maybe one of our clever WU-vies can.

But I did find the great feat of taxidermy seen below. I'm so sad the piece got auctioned before I could bid. As a fan of Pogo, I would have loved it.



Original auction here.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Nov 07, 2014 | Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Anthropomorphism, Comics, Twentieth Century

American Cornball


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

Dr. Sanden’s Electric Stimulator




[Click to enlarge]

[Click to enlarge]

"Seminal weakness" indeed!
Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Apr 15, 2014 | Comments (12)
Category: Scams, Cons, Rip-offs, and General Larceny, Sexuality, Advertising, Twentieth Century, Genitals

The Bald-Headed Men of America

Apparently there have been several instances of the formation of clubs to serve as fraternal organizations for bald men.

The New York Times has this 1896 report.


Then comes this account in 1920, also from The New York Times.


Then comes this report from 1954.


But sometime after that, the original group must have gone under, because in 1972, John T. Capps, III founded the Bald Headed Men of America. They were profiled in a PBS documentary from 1989, as partially shown below.

Apparently, they are still going strong.

Peg-Leg Bates

Unfair career advantage: he had to buy only half the number of tap shoes of other dancers.

Wikipedia entry.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Sun Feb 16, 2014 | Comments (3)
Category: Disabilities, Dance, Twentieth 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.