jump to navigation
  • Ghost Pills! October 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Pills!

    How do you get rid of supernatural worries: call the priest, the alienist or the local bobby? Why no, you buy a tube of nineteenth-century vitamin pill, of course! This at least was the solution offered by one Irish newspaper in 1840. The belief in supernatural appearances has generally prevailed during the superstitious ages has […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Bodies in Trees October 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Bodies in Trees

    Kay Massingill has recently offered to readers of Forteana Exchange a series of body in tree stories. The earliest seems to be this one from 1873 and they carry on into the 1920s. The tale typically has it that someone, perhaps escaping from danger, climbs into a tree, then cannot get out. That brings us to […]

    Index Biography #22: Prize a book September 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #22: Prize a book

    ***Tacitus wins*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography 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 facts about the individual’s life. We offered up previously here Sheridan le Fanu […]

    Foreign Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Foreign Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    More in our swindlers series. Bread Trick: X in Russia goes to a jewelers and gets 4000  roubles worth of goods. He can only pay 500 but asks the owner (the victim) to come to the bank for the rest. At the bank he reminds the banker that they had spoken before and says ‘can […]

    Fried Mice and Urine Mouth Rinses: Traditional Toothache Cures September 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fried Mice and Urine Mouth Rinses: Traditional Toothache Cures

    Beach has been living toothache hell for the last two weeks. A wisdom tooth had to be extracted and that was just fine: a bit of anesthetic and POW. But then the jawbone became infected and said bone had to be scraped with little in the way of laughing gas. Painkiller, antiobiotics were rushed in […]

    French and Parisian Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French and Parisian Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    More in our swindlers series. Eye Expert: the greatest French eye expert is Dr Sichel. To his horror Dr Sichel discovers that there are not one but two other Dr Sichels pretending to be him in the provinces. West Dail Press, 29 Apri, 1876, 7. Horse Trick: X sold old nag who says that he […]

    Fat Virgin Mary in the Lost Provinces September 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fat Virgin Mary in the Lost Provinces

    In 1871 Prussia (on its way to becoming Germany) seized by force and then won by negotiation Alsace and Lorraine, an act that secured their Rhine territories and that arguably led to two world wars: the lost provinces would cost millions of lives. ‘What flag flies over Strasburg?’ asks a nineteenth-century politician returned from the […]

    British Provincial Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    British Provincial Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    More in our swindlers series. Bee Trick: X carries bees around in a matchbox and releases them onto young wealthy women. The bee attaches to the dress that X pats down, then Y picks their pockets while they are distracted. Sus Adv, 2 Sept 1851, 8. Betting Man: X goes to working class houses announcing […]

    Human Pixy-Leading in Suffolk September 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Human Pixy-Leading in Suffolk

    As noted before in this place Suffolk, where this story took place, is part of East Anglia in which witch traditions were particularly strong. In fact, so strong were these witching traditions that sometimes they blotted out other parallel traditions. Fairylore, for example, are difficult to dig up in this part of England. Take this lovely […]

    US Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    US Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    More in our nineteenth-century swindlers series. Confess: X writes to hundreds of bank clerks across the country saying that he was in receipt of tens of thousands of dollars left by a banker to help bank clerks who had embezzled money. Many bank clerks replied admitting that they had done so at which point X blackmailed […]

    The Judge, His Wife and the Witch’s Orgy September 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Judge, His Wife and the Witch's Orgy

    Beach has recently been reading the descriptions of Johann Weyer (obit 1588) who published in 1563 On the Illusions of the Demons and on Spells and Poisons. Weyer’s position was essentially this: the supernatural certainly existed (there was no question for example that the Devil abused and tempted humanity); but the witch craze, which he […]

    London Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    London Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    Here are some lovely London swindles from the nineteenth-century. Bet Swindle: Victim in railway carriage joined by man x and man y (travelling separately), man x loquacious and obnoxious American who bets victim that Henry VIII had six not seven wives. The two agree to wager five pounds that they give to y. Y turns […]

    Dead Babies and Creature and Vitalis September 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Dead Babies and Creature and Vitalis

    You are reading through a medieval or early modern English record and you come across the name Vitalis or alternatively Creature, as you will from time to time. Two random examples. Vitalis, son of Richard Engaine, and Sara his wife, released his manor of Dagworth in 1217 to Margery de Cressi. 1550, Nov 5. Buried […]

    The Science of Bells and Thunderstorms September 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Science of Bells and Thunderstorms

    Can bells drive away thunder and lightning? Well, d’oh, obviously not. But most of us know that for centuries that western Christians believed that bells did have this power. What Beach had not understood until today was that there was an early modern attempt to explain the science behind bells and thunder: that is the notion that […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: the Clever Pickpocket September 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: the Clever Pickpocket

    Beach has recently been searching for nineteenth-century urban legends, a real challenge because the category did not exist as an idea, though of course incredible ‘true’ stories circulated. Perhaps this is one of them. The pickpocket who is so clever that he or she puts the wallet back once everything is stolen. Folkestone is filling […]

    Page 30 of 96« First...1020...2829303132...405060...Last »