Weird Universe


George Graham Rice

A new book about a legendary con man seems like an intriguing read for all WU-vies. Maybe one for your Xmas wish list.

You can learn quickly about this rascal at the Scripophily page where you can buy an actual stock certificate signed by the scammer, as seen below.


George Graham Rice, a famous stock promoter, capitalized the stocks of Goldfield, Greenwater and Rawhide mines, listed them on the national exchanges, and reaped the profits until convicted of mail fraud in 1911. In 1907 when investors nation-wide were delirious over the stupendous rise in the market value of securities of Goldfield mining companies, the public clamored for opportunities to buy into Nevada mining stocks. With childlike faith they invested in Death Valley's Greenwater and also the Rawhide district, where several companies capitalized stocks, listed them on the national exchanges and had them underwritten by prominent brokerage houses. In Rice's own words: "I make a conservative statement when I say that the American public sank $30 million in Greenwater in less than four months . . . yet the suckers, . . were crying for more."

You can read his original 1913 memoir here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Oct 15, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Crime, Frauds, Cons and Scams, 1900's, 1910's

John Duval Gluck:  Santa Claus Con Man


The story of this Xmas scammer--as summarized in this article--strikes me as eminently weird, and is detailed at length in the book linked to below. I trust an author whose other publication is the "Weird-o-Pedia."

Posted By: Paul | Date: Sun Oct 04, 2015 | Comments (1)
Category: Holidays, Scams, Cons, Rip-offs, and General Larceny, Books, 1910's

How the Bank Sneak Works


After a lifetime of crime, Harry Schindler was thoughtful enough to divulge all his tricks for the edification of bankers and other monied types.

Read the whole thing here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Jul 07, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Crime, Books, 1910's

Cornelis Van Blaaderen and his Floating Safe


After the Titanic, inventors tried to think of ways to preserve items during a sinking. Dutch inventor Cornelis Van Blaaderen came up with his Floating Safe, which never quite caught on.

This site has a brief explanation in English.

This website has the full story, but all in Dutch. Google translate should help. But even if you don't bother, there are great pictures and a film!

Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Jun 20, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Disasters, Inventions, Oceans and Maritime Pursuits, 1910's, Europe

Mystery Gadget 29

image image

Gadget with closeup.


Different model.

What is this thing intended for? Hint: even though it would have had more widespread use a century ago, it could still be useful today.

The answer is here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Jun 12, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Technology, 1910's

Hoop Skirt Parachute


What are the odds this would actually work? Maybe if you bailed out when your airplane was about twenty feet off the ground....
Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Jun 09, 2015 | Comments (8)
Category: Inventions, Air Travel and Airlines, 1910's

A Strange Pet


Original article here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Jun 06, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Death, Children, 1910's, Australia

The Clavilux, or Color Organ

The Clavilux was a device that displayed a psychedelic light show on a screen. It was invented by Thomas Wilfred in 1919, who hoped that it would become so popular that one day every home would have one. That didn't quite work out. Though one of these sitting in your living room definitely would be a conversation piece. More info.

The "Clavilux Jr" of 1930 from Bright Eye Cinema on Vimeo.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue May 19, 2015 | Comments (5)
Category: Inventions, 1910's

Mystery Gadget 27


What did this big monster machine do? I'll mention that it was not a one-off experimental device, but something in daily use in New York City.

The answer is here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu May 07, 2015 | Comments (15)
Category: Technology, 1910's

Alligator Joe


Proving that Florida, home to our esteemed Chuck Shepherd, has harbored weirdos for over a century.



Original article here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Apr 20, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Eccentrics, 1900's, 1910's
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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.