Category:
1900s

Malone the Rat Fighter

Tough way to earn a living.

This 1908 news story may have inspired Roald Dahl's short story "The Ratcatcher" (first published in 1953 in Someone Like You). Even if Dahl hadn't seen this exact news piece, he must have heard stories (urban legends) about rat catchers doing this.

The Royal Gazette - Oct 6, 1908


A man named Malone, who was fined at Northampton, for breaking hotel windows, was said to earn his living by going from place to place exhibiting freshly-caught rats. These he tethered to a table with string, giving them a certain latitude, and then, with his hands tied tightly behind him, he fought and killed a rat with his teeth. Nine times out of ten he was said to succeed, but frequently the rat bit him severely.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 03, 2016 - Comments (9)
Category: Animals, Jobs and Occupations, Pests, Plagues and Infestations, 1900s

The Dogs’ Dinner at Newport

One of the more infamous excesses of the Gilded Age at Newport, Rhode Island, was the "Dogs' Dinner."

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Original article here.

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Original page here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 01, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough, Dogs, 1900s

If the Man in the Moon Were a Coon



Yes, this once met with mainstream approval as harmless entertainment.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Mar 28, 2016 - Comments (7)
Category: Music, Racism, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Stereotypes and Cliches, 1900s

Castrato Music

By the 20th Century, the practice of castrating vocally talented young boys to preserve their singing voice had been abandoned. For which reason, the solo singing of only one "castrato" was ever recorded. These were the recordings of Alessandro Moreschi, made in 1902 and 1904 when he was already in his 40s, and some say past his prime. Wikipedia notes, "The dated aesthetic of Moreschi's singing, involving extreme passion and a perpetual type of sob, often sounds bizarre to the modern listener, and can be misinterpreted as technical weakness or symptomatic of an aging voice."

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 22, 2016 - Comments (9)
Category: Music, 1900s

Death of the Human Ostrich

1906: Robert Naysmith, the "human ostrich," died from eating too many hatpins and brass nails.

Back in the day, I think there were a number of people who earned a livelihood by exhibiting themselves as human ostriches. Tough way to make a living.

(left) Topeka Daily Capital - July 17, 1906; (right) The Sketch - July 4, 1906



Saint Paul Globe - Sep 24, 1898

Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 27, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1900s

Dying Pigs

In the first decade of the 20th century, "dying pigs" were the must-have toy that every kid wanted. They were rubber balloons shaped like pigs. You inflated them and then, as they deflated, they made a sound like the squeal of a dying pig.





The Brooklyn Daily Eagle - Sep 17, 1905

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 09, 2015 - Comments (2)
Category: Toys, 1900s

Wee tot sent to prison, 1906

Harsh justice in Switzerland.

Could this boy perhaps have been the youngest person ever convicted of a crime and sent to jail?

The Minneapolis Journal - Nov 18, 1906



Wee Tot Sent To Prison
Three-year-old Swiss is convicted as a thief.

Geneva, Nov. 17 — The Swiss public and press are aroused at the extraordinary action of a magistrate presiding at the criminal sessions at Weinfelden in the commune of Thurgoirs, who has sentenced a child barely 3 years of age to three and a half months' imprisonment for "theft."
The child, who is the son of a laborer, saw some penny toys dangling from the doorway of a shop. He seized two of them, and took them home, and an hour later was "arrested" by a tall gendarme on a charge of theft.
When the case was called at Weinfelden the child had to be carried by a gendarme, as he could not be seen over the top of the dock.
In response to the magistrate's questions the little fellow laughingly admitted that he took the toys. He could not speak plainly, and it was with difficulty that the gendarme, who acted as intermediary, was made to understand that he wanted them "as he did not have any toys like other boys."
"Three and a half months' imprisonment," said the magistrate sternly.
The boy's parents fell on their knees before the magistrate, and pleaded with him to remit the sentence on account of his tender age and his inability to distinguish between right and wrong. The magistrate declined to revise the sentence, however, and said "Remove the prisoner."
The gendarme, who was much affected, carried the child out of the dock and placed him in the arms of an astonished warder.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 08, 2015 - Comments (8)
Category: Prisons, Babies and Toddlers, 1900s

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.

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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 - Thu Oct 15, 2015 - Comments (4)
Category: Crime, Frauds, Cons and Scams, 1900s, 1910s

Insect Aircraft

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This 1906 article is the lone reference I can find on the internet to this craft, and I suspect it never existed except on paper.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Oct 08, 2015 - Comments (17)
Category: Insects, Inventions, Air Travel and Airlines, 1900s, Europe

Put husband under bed, 1907

This sounds like it was straight-up spousal abuse, and the wife got away with it.

The Washington Post - May 24, 1907



More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 22, 2015 - Comments (3)
Category: Husbands, Wives, Marriage, 1900s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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