An idea proposed, but never realized, for the Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo in 1901.
Some info from the Butte Miner
- June 26, 1899:
Chicago's great fair had the Ferris wheel and Paris had the Eiffel tower. What will be the chiefest "dominant extraneous feature" of the Pam American exposition, which will be held at Buffalo on the Niagara Frontier in the summer of 1901 is not yet known, but there will be a number of features of special interest…
[An] idea, which was born in the brain of a man of biblical mould, is that of the "Jonah" theatre, and the submitted plan calls for the construction of a mammoth whale: a whale of iron and steel, which is to lie anchored in shallow water near the banks of the exposition. Dainty ferry boats are to play between the shore and the mouth of the simile of the floating Standard Oil company of former days, and those cheerful ones who live to enjoy themselves in strange ways are to be ferried from the shore to the tongue of the floater. There a smooth young man will have his hands crossed with silver and after this transaction the passengers will be at liberty to walk down the whale's tongue to the room where for three days and three nights Jonah sat and mourned the day that he became a Populist.
In that section all will be light and cool and cheerful, and on a stage vaudevillians will kick and sing and cavort and musicians will add to the gaiety of the scene and will make many believe that the ancient stories of Jonah's troubles were much overrated.
The application is simplicity itself. You merely apply the ointment to the part you wish reduced, then literally, "wash the fat away" without injury to the most delicate skin.
I can't find any description of what was in this ointment, but it sounds like something out of a horror story.
Munsey's Magazine - vol 29, 1903
Carl Kusch of Germany invented a way that a person would never be without a saw when they needed one, because the saw could be worn around their neck at all times. From his 1909 patent:
This invention relates to a saw which can be worn on the dress or on the person and is also provided with a frame adapted to serve as a guard.
The invention consists in a flexible saw frame convertible at any time by suitable means into a rigid frame and which is so constructed that the saw blade can be put into the frame in the known manner, when the saw is used as a tool, or be fixed to the flat side of the frame when the frame is used as a guard. In the latter case the frame of the saw protects the dress or the body from contact with the saw blade.
Kusch evidently had high hopes for his invention, because he obtained patents for it in the United States, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Although in his patent he never explained who he thought was going to buy the thing. The military, I'm guessing, because it seems designed to be part of a German soldier's uniform. Although as far as I know, no army ever outfitted its soldiers with this thing.
Circus proprietor Edward Wulff patented a curious device in 1904. It was an apparatus that catapulted animals upwards. It had the rather alarming title, "Throwing Animals For Taking Death Leaps" (Patent No. 774,017
). Wulff claimed it could throw "horses, elephants, monkeys, &c.." The patent illustration shows a horse, so these were evidently the primary animal being thrown.
The device was relatively straight-forward. The animals were placed in a harness that held them on top of a spring-powered platform. The release of the springs then flung the animals upwards. Wulff emphasized that his apparatus was designed, via the harness, to place the projecting force on the full body of the animal, rather than just their legs. He seemed to feel that this was a safer, more humane method of throwing animals.
Wulff explained that this device was designed to be used as part of a circus stunt known as "a death leap or so-called 'salto-mortale.'" But he didn't offer any further explanation about the nature of the stunt or how far the animals were flung. And I couldn't locate any descriptions of this stunt in other sources. All the references to a 'death leap' stunt that I came across involved human trapeze artists, not animals. So I was about to conclude that the stunt would have to remain a mystery until I got the idea to check if Wulff had filed the patent in any other countries. Sure enough, there was a British version of the patent
, and while its text was almost identical, it had a different title that explained the nature of the stunt:
Improvements in Apparatus for Throwing Animals to take a Somersault.
So Wullf's apparatus was evidently designed to somersault animals. Not simply to catapult them upwards. This made me recall something I posted here on WU back in 2012
. It was a brief item that appeared on the front page of the Washington Post's
'Miscellany Section' on April 21, 1907, titled 'Horse Can Turn Somersaults.' At the time, this random reference to a somersaulting horse totally baffled me. I even suspected it was a hoax. But now it makes sense. It must have been a circus stunt. Perhaps it even made use of Wulff's invention. I can't find any evidence that Wulff's circus was in Boston in April 1907, but it was in New York in December of that year.
Wulff, it turns out, was the author of another odd patent, granted to him in 1887. The patent was titled, "Means and apparatus for propelling and guiding balloons."
He intended to use birds such as "eagles, vultures, condors, &c" to guide balloons. The birds would be attached to the balloon by a harness, and an aeronaut would then force them to fly in the desired direction, thereby propelling the balloon.
This patent has received quite a bit of attention, because there's a lot of interest in the history of early attempts at flying machines. Knowing that Wulff was a circus proprietor, I wonder if he intended his eagle-guided balloon to be used as part of a circus act, rather than as a practical flying machine.
This pretty much encapsulates my average workday.
Children should be forced to do this nowadays.