World Records

Most eye tests performed in 8 hours

While at the eye doctor yesterday for a routine check-up, I noticed a plaque on the wall of the lobby. It was the word 'Guinness' that happened to catch my eye, and looking closer I realized it was a certificate from Guinness World Records recognizing the ophthalmology department I was in for performing the most eye tests in an 8-hour period: a total of 1,109 tests!

I hadn't known that speed eye testing was a thing.

However, some googling reveals that their record has subsequently been shattered. The Guinness website lists the current record holder as "V Senthilbalaji" of Karur, India, which performed 25,355 eye tests in 8 hours on April 4, 2015. (I'm assuming V Senthilbalaji must be the name of a hospital).

But what are the rules for gaining this record? Is there no limit on how many doctors can participate? In which case, speed isn't as important as just collecting a whole bunch of eye doctors in one place. And what exactly counts as an 'eye test'?

(My apologies for the lousy quality of the picture below. I'm blaming it on my phone's lousy camera. Or maybe I just need my eyes checked...)

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 23, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: World Records

Least Successful Author

William A. Gold of Australia had the dubious distinction of being named the least successful writer ever in the 1975 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. To my knowledge, Guinness never awarded this record to anyone else.

Gold gained the title because, as of 1975, he had written at least eight novels and 100 short stories, but none of them had been published, despite his best efforts. His writing had only ever earned him 50 cents from an article published in the Canberra News.

I've only been able to find the titles of two of Gold's book. One of them was John Lewis Seeks a Mission, which he submitted to the Adelaide Advertiser $2000 Literary Competition in 1966. (Obviously, he didn't win.) The other was One Best Seller: A Satire on the Publishing Game. The Sydney Morning Herald described this as dealing with "the adventures of author Eric Bellamy, literary agent Lawrence Templeton, and the latter’s attempts to get Bellamy’s novel, Sibelius on Sunday, published." Gold eventually self-published this novel in 1984. (and it's available for purchase from some used book stores in Australia.)

Gold died in 2001, and his collected papers are now stored at the National Library of Australia.

"23-7-87. Mr. Bill Gold, the world's greatest unpublished author, with his own published book, "One Best Seller." No one wants the book." (Getty Images)

"23-7-87. I'm broke, give me ten dollars for two books. This was Mr. Bill Gold as he makes dinner in his small flat in Queanbeyan. He is the world's greatest unpublished author." (Getty Images)

The Montreal Gazette - Feb 9, 1979

Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 05, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Literature, Books, World Records, 1970s

The woman who counted to one million

The great claim to fame of Marva Drew of Waterloo, Iowa was that she typed the numbers one to one million on a manual typewriter. It took her about six years, starting in 1968 and ending in 1974 (although she took several years off in the middle). It totaled 2,473 pages.

She explained that she got the idea when she heard that her son’s high school teacher had told him that no one had ever counted to a million, and that anyone who tried would be crazy. So Marva decided she’d do it.

She noted that if someone started at the age of 18, they could conceivably type up to 50 million in their entire life.

Some other info from the Waterloo Courier:

“Corrections and erasures were done meticulously, and often whole handfuls of pages were discarded when she discovered she’d left out a number somewhere along the way...
There were physical problems, too. The endless carriage returns caused pains in her wrist, back, and shoulders, and there were swollen fingers, eyestrain, headaches, and insomnia."

Marva Drew poses with the stack of completed pages.

Update: I just recalled that we have another story on WU about someone counting up to one million. It's the case of Henry Parish of Meddybemps, Maine who counted a million peas in one month, back in 1922.

The first and last pages typed.

Waterloo Courier - Dec 5, 1974

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 04, 2019 - Comments (4)
Category: Eccentrics, World Records, 1970s

Showered for four-and-a-half days

Preston ‘Rocky’ Stockman's comments after standing in a shower for 4½ days in an attempt to set the world record for longest shower (which he didn't even come close to setting): “My hands and feet were wrinkled. Then my ear became plugged, and I tried to unplug it. Everything I did was futile. It just got worse and worse… It got to the point where I was standing there in absolute agony.”

Shreveport Times - Mar 31, 1974

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 02, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: World Records, 1970s

86-year-old trapeze artist

Betty Goedhart first tried the trapeze at the age of 78, after a career as an ice skater. So she had an athletic background. Even so, she's got some seriously good genes.

More info: fox news

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 14, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Sports, World Records

The Jump-Roping Rabbi

Rabbi Barry Silberg set a world record in 1975 for jumping rope for five hours. According to Guinness, the current record, set in 2009, is 33 hours 20 minutes. That's not even close. So why such a huge difference? Did shoes get better, or something?

Moline Dispatch - June 25, 1975

Green Bay Press Gazette - Mar 31, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 10, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Sports, World Records

World’s largest swing made from colored pencils

Is it just me, or do world record categories seem to be getting increasingly specific?

More info: Express Tribune

Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 11, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: World Records

Most walnuts cracked against the head

S. Navin Kumar of Nellore, India recently smashed 217 walnuts with his head in one minute, thereby beating the old record by 36 walnuts.

Unfortunately the video ended too soon. I wanted to see what his forehead looked like after finishing.

Also, he lost a lot of time turning around the end of the table. I bet he could beat his record simply by setting up a longer row of tables.

More info: Food & Wine

Posted By: Alex - Sun Sep 23, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: World Records

Death by Snails

November 1979: World-champion snail eater Marc Quinquandon died soon after eating 72 snails in three minutes and four seconds.

More info: Death of a snails man (Washington Post - Nov 29, 1979)

San Bernardino County Sun - Nov 27, 1979

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 10, 2018 - Comments (11)
Category: Death, Food, World Records, 1970s

Jim Purol, world-record smoker

One of comedian Jim Purol's recurring gags was to stuff record-setting amounts of things in his mouth, especially cigarettes and cigars. For instance, he set a Guinness world record for smoking seven packs of cigarettes simultaneously. Ironically, he was a non-smoker. From the LA Times (July 18, 1987):

His trick of broadening a yawn into a crater crammed with seven packs of gaspers also has given Purol, 35, a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He scored a second mention by smoking 38 pipes at one puffing. He opened wider, gritted his tonsils, and earned a third entry in 1983 by smoking 40 finger-fat stogies at the same time.
Paradoxically, Purol is a nonsmoker. It gets better. His world cigar smoking record was a charity performance benefiting the American Lung Assn.
"I hate smoking," he explained. "I perform the stunts as a statement against smoking. Lookit this picture of me with cigarettes stuffed in my face. This is glamorous? It's disgusting."

Jim Purol (left) and Mike Papa each smoking 135 cigarettes in five minutes - October 1978

Weekly World News - Jan 1, 1985

Philadelphia Daily News - Apr 22, 1983

Back in 1976, he also set the world's duration drumming record by drumming for 320 hours.

Jasper Herald - June 30, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 15, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: World Records, Smoking and Tobacco

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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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