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  • Beach’s Book of Shadows February 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Beach's Book of Shadows

    Beach has a heaving filing cabinet full of spells: spells from the Middle Ages, spells from early modern Europe and spells from as recently as the Second World War. Some of these apparently date back to deepest antiquity; some are probably the spontaneous invention of men and women with borderline psychologies and would, as such, […]

    Redhead the Lost Spaniard February 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Redhead the Lost Spaniard

    Get ready a human flotsam and jetsam story. A few months ago Beach introduced the Itza, the last independent Indian state in the Americas. The Itzas held out against the Spanish in Guatemala until 1697, a remarkable achievement. When he was looking through the sources he ran across the following reference in Jones, The Conquest of […]

    Was Napoleon III an American?! February 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Was Napoleon III an American?!

    Beach has already proved (to no one least of all his own satisfaction) that Napoleon III survived death. But Beach now discovers, to his horror, that Napoleon III was not Napoleon III. This story appeared in the American press in 1858. This was a story given by one Louise Mercier on her sick bed in 1853. […]

    Early Alien Encounter February 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Early Alien Encounter

    This is a particularly precious account from the Athenian Mercury, a late seventeenth-century publication. As Beach is always interested in encounters with supernatural entities he thought that he would print it in full: this might stand as an early alien encounter. He likes the way the narrative unwinds. He didn’t see the climax coming. Not […]

    The Ring Dodge February 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ring Dodge

    This trick is so well known that Beach has seen versions of it on crass TV shows. Still here is the ring dodge in all its pristine glory from 1894. At the London Guildhall, on Monday, Ann Francis was charged with attempting to obtain money by false pretences. Detective Evans, of the Great Eastern Railway […]

    Index Biography #38: Prize a book January 31, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #38: Prize a book

    *** Susan M got this, scroll down for the answer: commiserations to Nate who came in second*** The Index Biography is a quiz pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral […]

    A Very Old Carp January 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Very Old Carp

    This is an uncommonly good fish story. It appears in a curious book entitled: Johann Heinrich Cohausen, Hermippus redivivus, or, The sage’s triumph over old age and the grave. If you want to achieve immortality you should probably give said book a read. In any case let’s move on to a centuries-old carp. It is not only the […]

    Hartlepool Wandering Jew January 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hartlepool Wandering Jew

    This is the record of a Wandering Jew from Hartlepool in the north-east of England. The text is in dialect and a rather difficult dialect at that: it appeared in the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail (24 Jul 1880), 4. ‘Did ya ivver knaw thot Wandering Jew cam tiv Hertlepol, sir,’ said an old man, a […]

    Wandering Jew c. 1700 January 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wandering Jew c. 1700

    In his Curious Myths of the Middle Ages Baring-Gould describes a Wandering Jew in England. This is his most interesting account of a modern encounter. About the end of the seventeenth century or the beginning of the eighteenth, an impostor, calling himself the Wandering Jew, attracted attention in England, and was listened to by the […]

    Cockney Wandering Jew January 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Cockney Wandering Jew

    Beach has recently been interesting himself with sightings of the Wandering Jew in modern times. A friend of this blog Filip Graliński has been himself looking and has found a remarkable Polish record relating to sightings of the Wandering Jew from just before the First World War. Beach, stung by his failure to find anything […]

    Ghost Larks January 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Larks

    Nineteenth-century newspapers are full of ghost reports. One thing that is rarely taken into account in modern ghost books, is just how many of these were larks. Remember that ghosts led to ghost riots and general excitement. Bored in an evening? Throw a white sheet over your head. Here is a typical one: At Felling, […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: Thief at the Theatre January 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Thief at the Theatre

    This is a fine urban legend like-story. The newspaper editor wrote ‘good if true’. A wealthy Englishman had the misfortune to be robbed of his portemonnaie the other day, containing a large sum, with a ticket for a box at the theatre, which he had purchased in the morning, and a carte-de-visite. He went to […]

    Mermaid Lies January 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Lies

    Thomas Crofton Croker was an early mid, nineteenth century Irish writer, most famous today for his Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, which appeared in three volumes between 1825 and 1828. Croker was not, in the modern sense, a folklorist. Some of the stories he wrote out he had heard as a […]

    Breaking the Ampoule January 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Breaking the Ampoule

    A WIBT moment from eighteenth-century France: the collision of the hoary old with the bright-eyed, metallic and ghastly new. It involves a cathedral, a hammer and the crystal fragments of a Roman perfume bottle, the Sainte Ampoule, one of the longest continuously used objects in world history. This tiny flacon had been made in the late Roman […]

    Richard Cosway Meets the Wandering Jew January 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Richard Cosway Meets the Wandering Jew

    This story appears in Cyrus Redding’s Fifty Years in the third volume (1858). Redding is describing a Mr. Beckford, an immensely rich Englishman in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century with whom he was personally acquainted. The following story is not from Beckford but from a friend of Beckford which means, of course, we are […]

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