A Dummy Goes to Africa

Unfortunately, the book is not digitized, and original copies go for big bucks. But you can see more pics and read an account of the tale at the link.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 21, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Puppets and Automatons, Religion, Books, 1960s, Africa

Fifty Years in the Magic Circle

Life for a Victorian magician wasn't always easy, with the audience using live ammunition.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 17, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand, Books, Nineteenth Century

Banvard’s Folly

I am halfway thru reading this book and can testify to its greatness, and to its allure for all WU-vies. I have already learned about so many hoaxes, weirdos and charlatans I never knew about before.

Here's how the book opens:

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 01, 2021 - Comments (8)
Category: Frauds, Cons and Scams, History, Historical Figure, Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators, Inventions, New Age, Supernatural, Occult, Paranormal, Books, Goofs and Screw-ups

The Boy Fancier

Published in 1912, the title of this book really hasn't aged well. Although even in 1912 I imagine the title could easily have been misconstrued.

Looking up the word 'fancier' in the dictionary, I found that it means: "a connoisseur or enthusiast of something, especially someone who has a special interest in or breeds a particular animal." I hadn't known that the word had this association with animal breeding.

Nature offered this review of the book:

FROM his professional training as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the author of this well-illustrated volume is thoroughly qualified to give sound and trustworthy information with regard to the general care, feeding, and treatment in illness of animals kept as pets, or, like poultry and goats, reared for profit. And although the work before us is primarily intended for the benefit of young persons, it will be found equally valuable for those of more mature age, who, for purposes of pleasure or profit—or both combined—devote their attention to the keeping and rearing of dogs, cats, goats, guinea-pigs, rabbits, squirrels, poultry, pigeons, cage-birds, &c.

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 26, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Books, 1910s

Profit in Potato-Digging

Undated. I'm guessing it's late 19th Century. From

A small well-produced agricultural sales brochure for the Acme Potato Digging Attachment of the Potato Implement Co. of Traverse Mich.

Maybe I should give up this blogging gig and start digging potatoes!

Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 01, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Self-help Schemes, Books, Vegetables, Nineteenth Century

The Wicked Bible

An edition of the Bible printed in 1631 came to be known as the 'Wicked Bible' because it omitted one, important word — the word 'not' from the seventh commandment. This made the commandment read, 'Thou shalt commit adultery'. More details from The Guardian:

One thousand copies of the text, which also came to be known as the Adulterous or Sinners’ Bible, were printed, with the printing error only discovered a year later. When it was uncovered, the printers Robert Barker and Martin Lucas were summoned by order of Charles I to court, and found guilty. They were also fined £300, and their printing licence removed, with the entire print run of the offending text called in, and the majority destroyed.

There's still debate about whether the omission was accidental, purposeful, or sabotage.

Only ten copies of the Wicked Bible are known to exist today. The current going price for one is around $100,000.

More info: wikipedia

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 13, 2021 - Comments (10)
Category: Religion, Books, Seventeenth Century


Getaway, by Ronald George Eriksen 2 (is the '2' an alternative form of Jr.?), offers instruction on evasive driving techniques. Or, as he says, how to handle a car in the event that someone tries to kill or kidnap you while you're in the car. It was published by Loompanics in 1983, but you can read it for free at

In it, you'll find tips such as how to make a smoke screen blow out of your exhaust:

A cheap but effective smoke screen can be made as follows: First drill a hole into the exhaust manifold of your car, and weld the nozzle of a small plant sprayer over it. A gas line is then run from the nozzle to a pump and container containing castor oil inside the vehicle. Clouds of smoke are produced by pumping the castor oil onto the hot exhaust manifold.

Also, how to do a bootlegger's turn:

(1) Speed at around 25-30 mph.

(2) Get off the gas and crank the steering wheel to the left ¼ to ½ of a full turn. At the exact same time, hit the emergency brake hard. Those of you with manual transmissions will have to depress the clutch, also.

(3) When your vehicle is at approximately 90 degrees, release the emergency brake, step on the gas, and straighten out the steering wheel. If you have a manual transmission, you will have to let the clutch back out as you are hitting the gas.

(4) Get out of the area fast.

Bootlegger's Turn

Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 24, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, Books

Avakoum Zahov, the Soviet James Bond

Avakoum Zahov was a fictional secret agent who featured in the novels of the Bulgarian writer Andrei Gulyashki. Zahov made his first appearance in the 1959 novel The Zakhov Mission. He returned in the 1966 novel Avakoum Zahov versus 07 — in which he battles and defeats a British agent known as '07'.

image source: pulp curry

There have been persistent rumors that Gulyashki created Zahov at the behest of the KGB in an attempt to produce a Soviet James Bond. Details from an article by Andrew Nette:

Journalist and popular historian Donald McCormick was the first to raise the idea that Gulyashki was involved in a propaganda scheme to create a proletarian Bond. In his 1977 book Who’s Who in Spy Fiction, McCormick lists the Bulgarian as a ‘novelist who responded to the KGB’s request for writers to glorify the deeds of Soviet espionage and to improve its own image in the early sixties. The object was to popularise secret agents of the Soviet Union as noble heroes who protected the fatherland and it was launched by Vladimir Semichastny, the newly appointed head of the KGB in 1961, when he contributed an article to Izvestia on this very subject.’

It is not clear where McCormick got his information, but others have since picked up the claim and run with it. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory states that Gulyashki ‘was invited by the KGB to refurbish the image of Soviet espionage which had been tarnished by the success of James Bond’. Likewise, Wesley Britton claims in Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film that, in 1966, the Bulgarian novelist was hired by the Soviet press to create a communist agent to stand against the British spy ‘because of Russian fears that 007 was in fact an effective propaganda tool for the West’.

"My name is Zahov, Avakoum Zahov" just doesn't have the same ring as "Bond, James Bond".

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 06, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Literature, Books, Spies and Intelligence Services, 1960s

Essay on Silence

Essay on Silence, authored by Fra Elbertus (pen name of Elbert Hubbard) was published by the Roycroft Press in 1905. It consisted of 40 blank pages, bound in leather with a spine printed in gilt. As such it belongs to the genre of empty books.

image source: Specific Object

Wikipedia notes that most empty books are published as political satires. For example, one of the earliest examples of the genre was The Political Achievements of the Earl of Dalkeith, consisting of 32 bound, blank pages. Hubbard's book seems to be the earliest, non-political example of the genre.

A 1905 first edition of the Essay on Silence will cost you $125. But there were various reprints published over the years, which are cheaper. Some of the reprints included a four-page, blank text insert titled, "The Essay on Silence Revised Edition with Corrections and Emendations to Date."

Incidentally, Elbert Hubbard is rumored to be the uncle of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. At least, L. Ron Hubbard claimed this to be so. But Elbert Hubbard's followers disagree, arguing that "L. Ron Hubbard was known to elaborate on his background, and it is said he used the popularity of Elbert’s name to promote his own causes."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 25, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Books, 1900s

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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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