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  • Victorian Urban Legend: Familiar Robbers February 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Familiar Robbers

    This is a cute story from the States, picked up by an Irish newspaper in 1873. Whether this story is true or false we do not know; but it is said here that recently in the parish of St. Martin, Iberia, or somewhere down that way, an old widow lady, whose children had all married […]

    Poker Wallet February 14, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Poker Wallet

    This poker story comes from an extremely rare poker book that has, unfortunately, never been scanned and put online, John Lillard’s Poker Tales. It is perhaps the best collection of poker anecdotes the world has seen and dates to 1896: A certain very well known New Jersey politician – an old man, whose fame extends […]

    Dumb Duels #6: Spanish Duel February 13, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dumb Duels #6: Spanish Duel

    Beach lived for three glorious years in Spain and there is something very Hispanic about the following Spanish duel. Honour, pain and everyone taking themselves a little too seriously. Two officers have decided to fight. The duellists are fencing experts of unusually high standard, and the bitterness between the two men was so great that […]

    The Invisible Bean Spell February 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Invisible Bean Spell

    Location: the spell is described by the English writer John Aubrey in the 1680s. He alleges though that it was from ‘[t]he Jewes’. Aim: to grow a number of magic beans that will render the eater briefly invisible. Ingredients: some black beans, a decapitated human head, a young child. Method Aubrey’s Spell (Aubrey 1881, 102-3) […]

    The Raven Stone Spell February 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Raven Stone Spell

    Location: tradition found in the Germanic regions of Continental Europe and Scandinavia, and also in parts of Britain. Aim: The collection of the raven stone (korp-sten in Scandinavia, Lloyd 1854, 331) that will render the owner invisible, though note that the stone is also credited with bringing luck and curing humans and cattle of diseases: […]

    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 […]

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