Curiosities (July 1901)

These reader-contributed ‘curiosities’ were a very common way for The Strand Magazine to end an issue. This one contains the usual mix of trick photos, interesting situations, and puzzles. The most interesting one for me was the very last one–imagine if Darwin’s equipment has been kept, and we then proposed throwing it away in a similar fashion today–are there any equivalent scientists today where history will wish that we’d kept their possessions?



“Coming through the Suez Canal on the P. & O. R.M.S. Victoria, we had, as usual, several dolphins swimming along in front, close under the bows of the ship–with what ‘porpoise’ it is hard to say, unless the affrighted smaller fish are driven along in front of the big liner, and thus fall an easy prey. One big fellow piloted us for several miles, and leaning over the bows I snapped him as he came up to breathe. You will notice the blow-hole in the back of his head.”–Mr. John W. Glenny, The Far East Studio, 1, Crouch Hill Road, N.



“I hope inclosed by find a place among your interesting Curios. The dogs are represented hanging on to a piece of rope by their teeth, a feat which they seem to relish much, and which affords great amusement to spectators.”–Mr. E. G. Wheat, 9, Torrington Square, W.C.



“This picture of apparently seven charming young ladies is really made up of three persons. How this attractive result was arrived at is the secret of the photographer, who, with the assistance of his colleague the sun, has performed a bewildering trick.”–Mr. M. P. Haskell, Box 38, Roxbury, Boston, Mass.



“The photo. I send you is that of a puppy taken twice on the same plate. The negative was exposed a second time by mistake, the puppy in the meantime having changed its position.”—Mr. W. J. Underwood, Bellevue, Sevenoaks.



We quote here a soldier’s letter, written by one at the front to Mr. John Player. The letter will explain the photograph which we reproduce in connection with it : “Edenburg, February 8th, 1901.–To John Player, of Navy Cut fame.–Sirs,–I am forwarding you a box of your famous cigarettes, which undoubtedly saved me from a very serious wound, if not my life. No doubt you have read of our stand against the Boers (I belong to the C. in C. Bodyguard) when we went into action 150 strong and only fifteen came out without a wound, and where we refused to cease fire when told to. Well, your cigarettes were served out to us the day before, and I had smoked about six that day (and how acceptable they were; most of us had not had a smoke for some time), and I had put them in my serge pocket; that day I was hit in six places, but nothing serious till I got this one in my groin. It knocked me over, and I really thought I was done for, the pain was so severe; but on examination it proved to be only a severe bruise, and am now fit for duty again, although rather sore. The bullet, as you can see, penetrated the box, but did not cut the skin, and I think you will agree with me that it was a near thing.”—Mr. P. F. Carroll, Bristol. Photo, by G. Pendry, Nottingham.



“It is difficult to imagine that this picture is that of a man, but such is the fact. He went to a masquerade ball to represent a snow man, and by wrapping himself in cotton produced the effect shown in the photograph. The costume was so warm that during the evening the wearer fainted in the hall, as it was almost impervious to the air. The idea was to represent a snow image crudely made, and Mr. Samuel Wohlgemuth, of Philadelphia, the wearer, secured first prize for his originality.”–Mr. D. A. Willey, Baltimore.



“I think the inclosed photo. may amuse some of your readers. It is an old marmalade tin of Crosse and Blackwell’s, which my brother bought from a snake-charmer (in an out-of-the-way Indian village) who was using it as a tom-tom.”–Mr. G. Parkin, Whyerton House, Blackheath, S.E.



“I send you the photograph of an ordinary Transvaal shilling, on which some sportive soldier has transformed ex-President Kruger’s head into a capital likeness of a stern old Scotsman, by adding a Scotch tartan cap or Tam-o’-shanter, and adorning his coat with the stripes of the tartan, the strokes being made with a pen-knife or other sharp instrument. By its side has been placed an ordinary Kruger shilling, for comparison, and the photo. represents the coins about twice the size of the originals, for clearness’ sake.”–The coin was sent from South Africa by Mr. Harry Altman, of the Aliwal North Town Guard, and the photo. taken by Mr. David Isaaks, of Ripley House, Elizabeth Street, Cheetham.



“I inclose a post-card which was sent to me. I think it rather cleverly done, and it took me some time before I could understand its meaning. The principal message is on the big island in the centre of the map–an invitation to meet the sender at a café, with the day. The name of the island below on the left-hand side is at once translated, ‘If so, do.’ The names of the land at the bottom of the map are meant for ‘Same time and place as before’ and ‘Don’t let anything hinder you’ respectively. The following is a translation beginning at the top and working to the right: ‘Straights of cash. If you don’t come, all sorts of ills befall you. Come early. Let me know if you can come or not. I say, there’s a peculiar thing! You’re getting it by degrees. Can’t you see? Bay rhum. Get your hair cut! Deuced bad straights. See you later. Don’t you see? Devil take you. You are a merry cus! Good old flipper. Love to all. Oh! Tut, tut. R.S.V.P. Yours ever, Guy.'”–Mr. Charles Craik, Holyrood, Upper Bristol Road, Weston-super-Mare.



“This peculiar photograph, the very reverse of a ‘living picture,’ as may be surmised by the reader, represents a hunting scene. The man on horseback is a North American Indian, who, with his dog, has attacked a bear. The weapon seen is a spear, which was quite frequently used by Indians in Western portions of the United States on their hunts. The skeletons of the animals were mounted in the natural positions, and are life-size. The work was done by Mr. Frank H. Ward, of Rochester, N.Y.”–Mr. D. A. Willey, Baltimore.



This huge camera was set up in the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, D.C., and from thence was transferred to Wadesboro, North Carolina, where it was utilized for taking pictures of the sun during the total eclipse of May 28th, 1900. This camera was 135ft. long, and provided with a telescopic lens 20in. in diameter, the enormously elongated bellows being made of black cloth. The dry plates used were 30in. square. The lens was placed at the near end of the tube, as shown in the picture, on the left-hand side. At the farther end, as also shown, was a little box-shaped house, made light-tight and lined with black paper, in which the photographer in charge stood while manipulating the plates. Because of its great length the camera could not be pointed upward toward the sun, the image of which, during the eclipse, was reflected by a mirror into the end of the black cloth tube. The photos. were made chiefly for the purpose of recording the aspect of the solar corona. In the picture the tube is seen covered with tents, the object of which is to prevent the overheating of the air inside of the tube, which might interfere with optical results.–Miss Violet Biddle, 1823, Q. Street, Washington, D.C.



“This curious-looking object is the famous ‘saddle-stool,’ of Berkswell, Warwickshire, where it is kept in the village church as a memento of a fox-hunting parson of long ago, who was so much at home in the saddle–and who felt so awkward out of it–that he could not preach comfortably except astride the semblance of a horse, and who, therefore, had this stool made for his use in church. It will be seen that it is a very good imitation of a saddle. The photographer ventured to suggest that the seat might have been used on account of some bodily infirmity on the part of the rev. gentleman who had it made; but the charitable supposition was met by the parish-clerk with a strenuous assertion that the popular view of the ‘saddle-stool’ is the correct one. The clerk’s predecessor used to declare the same, and the story appears to be authentic. If so, this was ‘riding a hobby’ with a vengeance. As it was too dark in the vestry the stool was carried out into the churchyard to be photographed.”–Mr. C. S. Sargisson, Glenthorn, Shansham Hill, Moseley, Birmingham.



“I send you a portrait of President McKinley made by Mr. T. W. Grain, exclusively from cancelled stamps of but two hues, red and green. There are 1,005 stamps in the picture, and of this number no fewer than 632 were employed to make the face and hair. The hair lines are the marks commonly made to cancel the stamps on passing through the post. There are 352 stamps in the coat alone, which contain that number of heads of Washington, whilst the face is full of minute eyes. Twenty-one green stamps provide the President with a suitable scarf for the neck, and all are arranged with the most minule attention to the smallest details. Even the name ‘William McKinley’ beneath the portrait is composed of minute pieces of postage label. Mr. McKinley has expressed his entire approval of the portrait, which took eighteen days of very careful work to complete.”–The Rector, Rand. S. Oswald, Wragby.



“I send you a photo, of ‘Notre Dame du Puy’ (France). The statue, which is nearly 40ft. high, is wholly made of the cannons taken at Sebastopol. Its pedestal is 35ft. high, and the whole thing is so great in its proportions that it is said the smallest finger of the child Jesus could contain a child. When this photo. was taken by Mr. Gruas his wife was ascending the statue by an inner staircase, and just as the plate was about to be exposed Mrs. Gruas thrust her head out of the statue through a small window just below the Blessed Virgin’s neck, with the result shown on this picture. Her head looks much more like a cameo-brooch than a human head, and shows well the proportions of the statue.”–A contributor of 4, Place du Poids Public, Limoges, Haute Vienne, France.



“I beg to inclose a puzzle address for your Curiosity page. Unlike the others which have appeared, this must be read from four different sides before you know all that is in it. Side No. 1 reads, ‘George Newnes, Ld., Proprietors of’; No. 2, ‘The Strand Magazine’; No. 3, ‘Southampton St., Strand, W.C.’; and No. 4, ‘Sent by Hugh G. Kerr, Newmilns.’ To read side No. 3, read from corner marked X to corner No 4. and to read side No. 4 from corner No. 3 to opposite corner. The whole communication reads: ‘George Newnes, Ld., proprietors of The Strand Magazine, Southampton St., Strand, W.C. Sent by Hugh G. Kerr, Newmilns.’ The page must be held on a level with the eyes, so as to foreshorten the letters.”–Mr. Hugh G. Kerr, 46, Brown Street, Newmilns.



“When in England just two years ago I heard that the house inhabited by Charles Darwin during his latter years had been sold. I made a pilgrimage to the place, at Down, near Farnborough, Kent. The house was indeed upside-down, being in the hands of the British workman. I took photographs of the house, and the one I now inclose. It is a heap of Darwin’s chemical apparatus, which had been removed from his laboratory and thrown to the ground before being carted away. This strange collection becomes something more than mere jars and lamps when we consider what was evolved from them at the great thinker’s hands.”–Mr. Norman Alliston, 43, East Twenty-First Street, New York.


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