Nancy 3. Hoffman is a self-confessed eccentric. For a start, she decided to legally change her middle name to '3'. She's a professional accordion player, which is definitely an unusual occupation. And then she created the world's only Umbrella Cover Museum on Peaks Island, Maine in 1996. The museum is still going strong. Due to Covid, it had an outdoor exhibit this year.
Back in 2012, Guinness recognized Nancy 3 for having the largest collection of umbrella covers in the world. At the time that was 730. She now has around 2000 covers.
The reason for their value is that so few of them exist. In 1943, due to the war, pennies were made out of zinc-coated steel. But somehow approximately 40 copper ones were made by accident.
For several decades the US Mint denied the existence of 1943 copper pennies (see news clipping below). It wasn't until a few showed up, and were authenticated by experts, that the mint changed its tune. Now it states:
Approximately 40 1943 copper–alloy cents are known to remain in existence. Coin experts speculate that they were struck by accident when copper–alloy 1–cent blanks remained in the press hopper when production began on the new steel pennies.
Some strange rumors have circulated about the 1943 copper pennies. Such as that if you found one the Ford motor company would give you a free car. Not true, though if you find one, you could afford to buy quite a few cars. And a few of these pennies are potentially still in circulation.
The strange tale of Stéphane Breitweiser, arguably the world's greatest art thief, who managed to steal hundreds of works valued, in total, at well over one billion dollars.
His success was largely attributable to a a loophole in the world of art security: that there's not much security on the front-end (in the museums). Instead, as Michael Finkel notes in a Feb 2019 article in GQ, "art crimes are typically solved on the back end, when the thieves try to sell the work."
And that's why Breitweiser managed to get away with his thefts for so long, because he never tried to sell anything. He stole because he loved the art and wanted to have it for himself, accumulating it all in his mother's house, where he lived.
It doesn’t exactly look like the most sophisticated game. So why are copies of Poop Slinger selling for close to $3000 on eBay? Because it’s the rarest PlayStation 4 game in existence. Only 84 copies were ever sold, making it a collector’s item.
By chance, I recently happened to meet a fellow San Diegan, Paul Franke, who has in his garage a collection of 22,000 license plates. Of course, I was interested in seeing that, and he was kind enough to invite me over and spend an afternoon showing it to me.
I hadn't realized how popular license plate collecting is. The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association has almost 3000 members, and it holds an annual national convention, as well as smaller regional ones. But even within this large community of collectors, Paul's collection of 22,000 plates is very impressive.
Guinness lists the largest collection of license plates in the world as being that of Péter and Tamás Kenyeres who have 11,345 plates. Seeing that, I wondered if Paul actually had the true world record. But no, he assures me that Guinness is wrong. While his collection is undeniably large, he doubts it's even the biggest in San Diego County, and this BBC article indicates there's a collector in Florida with over 50,000 plates.
Paul stores his license plates thematically. Along one wall (above left) he has boxes of plates arranged by state. (He long ago acquired plates from every state.) On another wall (above right) he has boxes of plates with more random themes. For instance, he has a box of error plates. Can you spot the errors in the examples below?
(scroll to the bottom of this post for the answers)
An idea recently introduced by Hanes, which is putting trading cards featuring Michael Jordan modeling underwear into packs of their men's underwear. From the press release:
Beginning March 11, more than 800,000 specially marked bonus packs of Hanes men’s underwear, including Comfort Flex Fit boxer briefs, will contain a pack of 30th Anniversary Michael Jordan trading cards. A total of 170 different Fleer trading cards have been produced by The Upper Deck Company, each with a picture of Jordan from one of his Hanes advertisements on the front and vital statistics and fun facts on the back. Cards are inserted randomly in five-card packs. Ten lucky consumers will find a rare Michael Jordan autograph card in their packs.
If there's a total of 170 different cards, how much underwear would you need to buy to get them all?
Over the course of a decade, from around 1965 to 1975, Joseph Feldman managed to steal 15,000 books from the New York Public Library. He was caught when firemen entered his Greenwich Village apartment while responding to an alarm in his building and discovered all the books, piled up everywhere. When asked why he had taken them all, Feldman responded, “I like to read.”
Arizona Daily Star - Sep 27, 1975
In the 21st century, playwright Erika Mijlin was inspired to write a play, Feldman and the Infinite, about the incident. It was first performed in 2008. Her description of it:
In 1975, Feldman, a 58-year-old lawyer in New York City, was discovered to have stolen 15,000 books from the New York Public Library. He had rented two or three apartments in the West Village specifically to store these books, and it took 20 men, 7 truckloads over 3 days to remove them all. Feldman and the Infinite is a play that ultimately invents Feldman’s motives, and speculates about the universality of his quest - seeking knowledge and enlightenment, and finding what appears to be randomness and chaos.
Paul Di Filippo
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.