Category:
1920s

Paid to teach empty classroom

An early example of the "teacher paid to do nothing" phenomenon. Nowadays we've got the Rubber Room.

Portsmouth Daily Times - Jan 16, 1926

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 13, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: School, 1920s

Toilet Tissue Illness

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Scott Tissues ran an advertising campaign that sought to convince the American public that there was such a thing as 'Toilet Tissue Illness,' and that it was one of the great public health crises of the time. Toilet Tissue Illness was caused by using cheap toilet paper. It could lead to serious complications, possibly requiring rectal surgery to fix. So the ads suggested.

The most notorious ad in the campaign was the 'black glove' ad below.



Here's some background info about the Scott Tissue campaign from Richard Smyth's Bum Fodder: An Absorbing History of Toilet Paper:

The image is stark: a clinically white sheet, an array of gleaming surgical instruments, and a hand, clad in a glove of thick black rubber. 'Often the only relief from toilet tissue illness,' the slogan reads (managing to suggest that 'toilet tissue illness' is a recognised medical condition). Consumers who managed to get past the photo and slogan without dropping everything and running for the high hills were then subjected to another lecture from the haemorrhoid-fixated Scott ad-men. It's the usual litany: 'Astonishing percentage of rectal cases ... traceable to inferior toilet paper ... protect your family's health ... eliminate a needless risk.' The words are so much prattle — but the image of the black rubber glove lingers in the mind. Following criticism from the American Medical Association, Scott eventually back-tracked on its doom-laden claims — but pledged to undertake trials in order to prove beyond dispute that 'improperly made toilet tissue is a menace to health'.

And a few of the other ads featured in the campaign:



Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 20, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Advertising, 1920s, 1930s

Mystery Gadget 50



Purpose of this device revealed here.

And after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 26, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Technology, 1920s

Joan Lowell and CRADLE OF THE DEEP



In 1929, Joan Lowell published an autobiography, Cradle of the Deep, published by Simon & Schuster, in which she claimed that her sea captain father took her aboard his ship, the Minnie A. Caine, at the age of three months when she was suffering from malnutrition. He nursed her back to health. She lived on the ship, with its all-male crew, until she was 17. She became skilled in the art of seamanship and once harpooned a whale by herself. Ultimately, the ship burned and sank off Australia, and Lowell swam three miles to safety, with a family of kittens clinging by their claws to her back. In fact, the book was a fabrication; Lowell had been on the ship, which remained safe in California, for only 15 months. The book was a sensational best seller until it was exposed as pure invention.[1] The book was later parodied by Corey Ford in his book Salt Water Taffy in which Lowell abandons the sinking ship (which had previously sunk several times before "very badly") and swims to safety with her manuscript.


Her Wikipedia page.

An article on the hoax.


Read the book here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jun 18, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators, Movies, Oceans and Maritime Pursuits, 1920s

The Funeral of Mike Merlo






Original picture here.


A wax and flower effigy of the deceased featured at his funeral, attended by ten thousand people.

His Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 16, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough, 1920s

Cosmetic Frame for Bent Legs



The vanished horrors of the past.

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 15, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Technology, 1920s, Differently Abled, Handicapped, Challenged, and Otherwise Atypical

Emperor and Empress of Streeterville



Once upon a time, this couple claimed to own a large chunk of Chicago.

Original story here.



Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 05, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Eccentrics, Real Estate, 1920s, 1930s

The Sex Detector

The Sex Detector made its debut around 1920. It was a gadget, sold by "Sex-Detector Laboratories," that promised to be able to detect the gender of an egg — or any piece of biological matter whose sex one might want to find out (oysters, butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, worms). It supposedly even worked on blood. So police could use it to discover the sex of a criminal.

It was basically an empty rifle shell suspended on a piece of string. When held over an egg (or whatever) it would reveal through the direction of its motion the sex of the chick inside.

It was probably more accurately described as an idiot detector... the idiot being the one holding the string.

For a while it was heavily advertised in poultry journals, but when inspectors at the U.S. Dept of Agriculture investigated the efficacy of the device, they found it to be useless. It worked no better than a piece of cardboard attached to a thread. Advertisements for the product were banned.

The Leghorn World - Feb 1921



Wilmington Evening Journal - May 4, 1928



Williams News - July 8, 1921



San Francisco Chronicle - Oct 17, 1920



St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Feb 5, 1922

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 25, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, 1920s

Mystery Illustration 43



What hideous problem afflicts this man? Halitosis? B.O.? Blackheads?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Apr 24, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Body, Advertising, 1920s

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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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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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