The Dorothy who collected Dorothys

Dorothy Richert collected stories about people named Dorothy. Which meant that, once the news story about her had appeared in the paper, she could collect herself.

She held an unusual belief about her name:

Girls who are named Dorothy, she says, are supposed to have interesting things happen to them or do interesting things. She says that girls named Mary run a close second.

Hmm. That would never have occurred to me. In fact, I could think of only two famous people named Dorothy: Dorothy Parker and Dorothy Sayers. Apparently Faye Dunaway's first name is Dorothy, but I don't think she should count because she's famous as Faye, not Dorothy. There's various lists around the web (here and here) if you want to learn about some other famous Dorothys.

As an Alex, the most famous Alex ever is pretty obvious and, I assume, will never be topped.

Port Huron Times Herald - Mar 12, 1950

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 26, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Collectors, 1950s

Banana Label Collecting

Banana-label collecting is not only a thing. It has an active community of collectors.

One of the top collectors is Becky Martz who now has over 22,630 labels. She's archived them at her website, Becky's Gone Bananas.

You can also check out the BananaLabel Catalog of the Produce Real Society. There's not many labels to see on their website, but they sell a master catalog of 31,000 labels going all the way back to 1913.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 16, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Collectors, Bananas

Myrtle Young, the Potato Chip Lady

Myrtle Young worked as a potato chip inspector at the Seyfert Potato Chip plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. During the course of her job, she would occasionally notice potato chips that resembled something, such as an animal or a celebrity. She began to take these chips home to show her granddaughter, and soon she had amassed quite a collection.

When the media became aware of her collection it led to numerous appearances on talk shows, including a 1987 appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. TV Guide named this as the funniest moment ever on television.

I don't know if it's the funniest ever, but it's definitely amusing. The noteworthy part occurs about a minute in.

The scene was later parodied in a 1993 episode of the Simpson's, 'Selma's Choice,' in which Great Aunt Gladys bequeathes to Marge, via video will, her collection of potato chips that look like celebrities. As the video will is playing, Homer is seen eating the chips. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a clip of this scene.

Update: Paul managed to get some screenshots of Homer and the potato chips!

Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 02, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Humor, Television, Junk Food, Collectors, 1980s

The C-3PO ‘Golden Rod’ Card

In 1977, Topps issued a set of Star Wars trading cards. The set included one card that would, arguably, become the most infamous card it ever printed. This was the so-called C-3PO 'golden rod' card — so called because it seems to show C-3PO in a state of prominent arousal.

Mel magazine recently posted an article which explores the history of this card. The article makes a couple of interesting points:

First, Topps not only really did issue this card... it printed a lot of them. This isn't a rare card.

Second (and to me this is the most remarkable thing), no one involved in the creation of the card noticed its most salient feature until after it had been released and word started to spread among card collectors.

Finally, there's no evidence that the card was the work of a rogue artist. The most compelling theory about what happened is that a panel on the side of C-3PO's armor plating must have accidentally fallen open, and was in exactly the right position to create the illusion of robotic arousal. And then, for whatever reason, Topps selected that image, out of all the possible ones, to print.

Eventually Topps released a corrected version of the card (below). Apparently this corrected version is rarer, and more collectible, than the original. Though, ideally, a collector would want to have both.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 09, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Movies, Robots, Collectors, 1970s

Umbrella Cover Museum

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.

More info: Maine Today, twitter

Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 05, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Museums, Collectors

The rare 1943 copper penny

1943 copper pennies are among the most-sought after coins by collectors. In 2010, one of them sold for $1.7 million. Although around $200,000 seems to be what most of them fetch.

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.

More info:

Battle Creek Enquirer - Mar 7, 1963

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jul 13, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Money, Collectors, 1940s

The Man Who Stole Art

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.

His case reminds me of Joseph Feldman, who stole over 15,000 books from the New York Public Library, simply because he loved books. It suggests a recurring weird-news theme: thieves who steal not from a profit motive, but instead to indulge their obsessive collecting.

Stéphane Breitweiser

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 28, 2019 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Crime, Collectors

Poop Slinger - The Game

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.

Read the full story at:

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 16, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Overpriced Merchandise, Excrement, Collectors, Videogames and Gamers

The Amazing License Plate Collection of Paul Franke

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)

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 02, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Collectors

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

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.

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