Curiosities (August 1901)

The reader-contributed ‘curiosities’ which finishes most issues of The Strand Magazine, with highlights this time including a snapshot of a falling horse, a man doing a handstand on a sign, and the usual puzzles/illusions. I was surprised by the photograph of the ‘child toboggan’ — were slides really that unusual at this time? 



“I send you a photograph of no fewer than ten birds’ nests which I took at the beginning of April , built in each step of a step-ladder that was hung on the wall of a pumping engine-house yard here. The engine in question had not been at work for over a week, and in the meantime these birds had started building their nests. Three of them contained eggs when found. The birds forsook their homes as soon as the owners started using the engine again. What is most remarkable is that all the nests are built by thrushes, which birds I have never known to build together before.”–Mr. P. Phillips, 28, Oxford Street, Bletchley.



“I have pleasure in sending you herewith what is considered a unique photograph of a falling horse. This was taken by myself at the Somerset Agricultural Show held at Taunton on May 10th. The horse failed to rise sufficiently at the bank, which he struck with his chest, and the impetus caused him to turn a complete somersault, the picture showing it completely upright. The horse fell by the side of the rider, both of whom escaped unhurt.”–Mr. H. M. Cooper, 29, East Street, Taunton.

[We congratulate Mr. Cooper on the wonderful luck and no mean skill which have enabled him to secure this remarkable photograph at the psychological moment. This is probably the most curious instantaneous photograph which has appeared in the Curiosities section up to the present.]



“The man shown inside the  bottle, a picture of which I send you, was alive and well, though the bottle was an ordinary pint one. The illusion is, of course, purely a photographic one.”–Mr. C. H. Breed, Lawrenceville, New Jersey.



“Herewith a photograph of a quaint snake puzzle box, manufactured by one of the Boer prisoners of war at St. Helena. A number of the Boer prisoners of war at St. Helena, and also in Ceylon, are very clever at wood-carving, and several of them are making a considerable income by carving on pipes, which I imagine is a much more agreeable occupation than sitting behind boulders, on kopjes, under the persistent fire of the merciless rooinek. On opening the lid, by causing it to slide with the forefinger, the snake seen in the photo, suddenly emerges therefrom and inflicts a prick by means of the point of a pin cunningly fixed in its mouth.”–Master C. A. E. Cadell, Fox Hill Lodge, Upper Norwood, London, S.E.



“This is not Chinese, Japanese, or any other ‘ese.’ It is English, or rather it would be if the two lines were merged into one. Those who cannot read the sentence as it stands might copy the two separate lines, precisely as given, one line on either side of a piece of cardboard, cut exactly to size, and pasted back to back on cardboard or some such substance. A small hole should be pierced in either end of the cardboard through which a couple of pieces of very fine twine, about the length of one’s finger, should be threaded. Give the twine a rapid circular movement between the fingers and thumbs and the writing will at once be apparent. Fascinating ladies are hereby cautioned against trying the experiment in the presence of up-to-date young men, for the sentence is a command–a command, moreover, inviting prompt compliance.”–Mr. C. H. Chandler, 20, Allison Road, Harringay, N.



“Things often are not what they seem. This tree at first sight looks as if it were covered with large, luscious pears, or some equally delectable fruit. However, a closer inspection of the photograph will reveal the fact that the ‘fruit’ consists of nothing more or less than dozens of flying foxes. This particular tree is in the town of Madras, and in the evening it is a sight well worth seeing. During the day-time a large number of the flying foxes remain hanging quietly on  the tree, like huge bats (as shown in the photograph), but after sunset hundreds come from all quarters, this tree being a regular rendezvous. It is then thickly covered with the ugly creatures, and would make a most interesting photo., but, owing to darkness, this is quite out of the question.”–The Rev. H. C. B. Stone, M.A., Chaplain, Waverley House, Egmore, Madras.



“The ancient custom of planting the ‘penny-hedge’ or ‘horngarth’ was observed at Whitby on the 15th May last. In Henry II.’s time the lords of Ugglebarnby and Sneaton hunted a boar into a hermit’s chapel. It died, and the hounds were kept out by the hermit, whom the lords in their anger slew. The dying hermit decreed that as penance the lords had, at each Ascension Eve, to gather wood and carry it to the water’s edge at low tide and drive in stakes. Should the erection not withstand three tides the lands of the lords should be forfeited to the Abbot of Whitby. The ceremony is performed yearly in Whitby harbour by Mr. Isaac Hutton and Mr. John Rickinson, the latter representing the lord of the manor. The blowing of the horn, which is over 500 years old, and the custom of crying ‘Out on ye! Out on ye!’ was observed as usual. The photo. shows the hedge in course of construction.”–Mr. Henry N. Pulman, 6, York Terrace, Whitby.



“I send you a monogram invented and made by myself. It contains all the letters of the alphabet, twenty-six in all. They can be traced with patience. The letter N is the smallest (in the centre), and is the only indistinct one.”–Mr. C. W. Hooper, Keswick.



“I send you a snap-shot of my youngest brother, taken as he was descending our toboggan at a probable rate of twenty miles an hour. This sort of amusement will perhaps appear novel to most people, but is a source of much pleasure to children. It is ascended by steps at the far side, and when at the top you either sit down ‘naturally’ or upon a mat, and let yourself ‘go.’ The sun makes the wood very smooth and glassy, and with the aid of a little turpentine and beeswax rubbed in an excellent surface can be obtained.”–Mr. E. F. Guthrie, Lyndhurst, Mossley Hill, Liverpool.



“This photograph represents one of the indicators placed in the bedrooms at the Holland House, New York. The pointer is shifted to any of the ‘wants’ printed on the dial, and, on ringing a bell, a similar indicator is actuated in the office, and a servant is at once dispatched. This is a great saving in large hotels like the Holland House.”–Mr. Marcus Smith, the Cross-ways, Totteridge Green, Herts.



The effects of a “cannon game” and a “shell-out” by a 100lb. shell fired from the Boer trenches at Kampersdorp into Kimberley, a distance of four miles. This unusual performance took place on a Thurston billiard table at the Buffalo Club, Kimberley, on February 7th, 19OO.



“I have thought that this photograph of myself might be suitable for your Curiosity pages, and should be pleased to hear that such was the case. It was taken at the top of a very nasty hill near Cloughton, Scarborough, by a friend. Some people are inclined to think the board much more dangerous than the hill.”–Mr. C. E. Colling, 93, Victoria Road, Scarborough.



“I am sending you a picture of what at first looks like ordinary wire netting, but in truth it is a spider’s skin enlarged one thousand times. The apparatus shown in the second picture for enlarging such minute objects was invented by a boy of fifteen. The picture I am sending of it is, of course, not quite like it was originally, as it is impossible to photograph it while in the dark room. The spider which possessed this skin was only a very small money spider, and was about one-fiftieth the size of one of the squares on the skin. I also wish to add that this was the second picture the boy ever took, and I think it exceedingly good.”–Mr. H. B. Dresser, Malvernhurst, Malvern.




“I am at present (April 18th) in South Africa. This photo, was taken in Charlestown, Natal, Military Graveyard. Majuba rises to the left. When I developed the negative I noticed a cross and some figures on it, and these can be seen in the print. I cannot account for the occurrence. The time of day was noon; the sun was hidden by clouds. There were no shadows either from the morgue-man or the graves. How do you account for it?”–Mr. R. H. Parker, 13, North Park Road, Harrogate, Yorkshire.



“When the Great Eastern was broken up in Liverpool some few years ago I purchased the large steam whistle which I now have, and send you a photo. of it, trusting it will be of interest to your readers. The whistle is made of brass and weighs 98lb., its height measuring 33in.”–Mr. F. G. White, 23. Adelaide Street, Blackpool.


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