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  • Victorian Urban Legend: The Coffin Trick August 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Coffin Trick

    This is an absolutely brilliant story, but probably not a very good scam. That suggests that we are dealing here with a nineteenth-century urban legend. According to the New York Herald, a charitable gentleman his lately been imposed upon in the most shameful manner in Boston. Meeting a woman in one of the streets in […]

    British and Irish Wild Men August 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    British and Irish Wild Men

    There follow nineteenth-century reports of wild men from Britain and Ireland: can anyone add to the list, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com (fiction is good too) 1851: Co Limerick (Ireland), a rumour was doing the rounds that a wild man with no clothes lived in the wood there. He had been carrying off and killing […]

    Foundling Names August 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Foundling Names

    We recently offered a post on the names given to bastard children. Here is a related and far nicer post on the names given to foundlings, who seem to have been treated, perhaps strangely, with rather more respect by society. Today, if an anonymous individual turns up, he is, in the US, referred to as […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: the Pickpocket’s Diamond Ring August 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: the Pickpocket's Diamond Ring

    Beach has offered a series of Victorian and Edwardian urban legends in the last weeks, some of which he has his doubts about. This one though is a slam dunk of the best kind. First, it is the clear ancestor of the stories where an honest person accidentally steals something from a stranger: though in Beach’s […]

    When Spain Was Nigeria: the Origin of the Email Scam August 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    When Spain Was Nigeria: the Origin of the Email Scam

    Here is an early instance of the 419 scam. Was Spain nineteenth-century Nigeria? For some months a number of persons in several parts of Europe have had letters addressed to them in French, in Spanish, and in German, bearing different signatures, but all of almost similar purport. Were they in bad French, English and German? The […]

    Wedding Ring Superstitions August 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Wedding Ring Superstitions

    Everything to do with weddings attracts superstitions and rings are no exception: as the most visible material sign of the bond between man and wife it is only natural that they were included in rituals. The following folklore (all we have in our files) comes from Britain and Ireland, all but one are from nineteenth-century […]

    Baby Loving Snakes August 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Baby Loving Snakes

    There are many stories about snakes getting into cradles or generally just hanging around children. Here are a few crude, and possibly in some cases factual instances from pre-war British newspapers. The 18 months-old son of Mr and Mrs Howell of Mainchlochog, Pembrokeshire, walked into the house yesterday with a snake coiled round its neck. […]

    The Index Biography #20, Prize a Good Book July 31, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Index Biography #20, Prize a Good Book

    ***Gary V got this, apparently the prostitutes gave it away… Spool down for the answer*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The writer must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight […]

    The Earliest Telephone Call from the Dead July 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Earliest Telephone Call from the Dead

    The telephone call from the dead apparently dates back to 1964 and an episode of The Twlight Zone entitled: Night Call. It transpires that the freaky calls that a woman is getting are from the grave of her dead fiancé. Beach, however, recently ran across an earlier example that he wanted to share with readers. It […]

    In Search of Nineteenth-Century Urban Legends July 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of Nineteenth-Century Urban Legends

    Urban legends are short stories typically about death, sex or crime, which are told as if they are true. They spread by word of mouth, the newspaper and any other means of communication to hand. The classic modern examples of the urban legends include the vanishing hitchhiker (a minority of urban legends have a supernatural […]

    William Allen White’s Brush With the Elm Fairies July 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    William Allen White's Brush With the Elm Fairies

    In 1972 Fate Magazine published a fascinating article by Glenn Clairmonte (1972) examining a fairy encounter of William Allen White. For those who have never heard the name WAW (obit 1944) was a self proclaimed champion of Middle America against Conservatism. His politics don’t concern us here rather what is interesting is the fact that […]

    Don’t Blame Germany July 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Don't Blame Germany

    Germany has never been a very popular country. But it is fair to say that Germany is perhaps more unpopular in 2015 than at any time since the bush fire memories of the Second World War started to die down in the mid 1950s. In several countries Germany is loathed: top of the list here […]

    The King of the Non-Existent Mary Ann Islands July 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The King of the Non-Existent Mary Ann Islands

    Strangehistory has enjoyed micronations on several occasions. However, here is a particularly early and exciting example from late nineteenth-century France.  A young pupil at the Ecole Normale of Grenoble, named Antoine Lanfrey, received by post in the course of the year a packet of papers, bearing the seal of a Royal Chancery constituting him King […]

    The Tower Monster #10: Cobblers July 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #10: Cobblers

    This wrap-up post looks at some of the modern accounts of the cylinder/bear ghost and particularly their inaccuracies. This is not done in a condescending way or with spite: this blogger makes factual mistake after factual mistake as his readers constantly remind him. It is, instead, to show again how we, with paranormal sources, where […]

    The Tower Monster #9: The Sexual Predator Ghost July 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #9: The Sexual Predator Ghost

    Chris from Haunted Ohio Books a world authority on ghosts (and urban legends, and fairies and…) has written in with an extract from a book entitled Familiar Spirits: Sexual Hauntings Through the Ages, Colin Waters, Robert Hale,1993, (for pdf extract click here) sexual hauntings. CW reviews the evidence but then reveals a new source ‘another nineteenth century […]

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