Curiosities (September 1901)

A large collection of reader-provided ‘Curiosities’ this month. The ‘feat of strength’ — real or doctored?



Messrs. Alfred Field and Henry Sharp, both newspaper correspondents, of New South Wales, send the accompanying picture of a remarkable railway accident. They also send the following description: “This peculiar accident occurred on the Western line of railway from Sydney to Bourke, in New South Wales. A train of forty empty coal-waggons was going down the first grade or road on its journey to Lithgo, but on reaching the point where it stops to back down the middle road the brakes got out of order, causing the train to keep up its speed and dashing the engine against the stop-blocks, which, by the way, were powerfully built. Not content with wrecking these the engine dashed over the roads until it stopped, as seen in the photo., with a bogie and leading wheels hanging in mid-air, 3,000ft. above the gulley below.”–Photo. by Austin Cockerton.



Corporal H. Redfern, 22nd Co. Imperial Yeomanry, Herbert Hospital, Woolwich, has had a strange experience. He writes: “The photograph I send you is that of a helmet which I discovered in a case of helmets that were sent out to South Africa to one of the Yeomanry depots. On the case being opened the helmet of which I send you the photograph was found to have a swarm of bees in it. They had evidently got into the case and swarmed in the helmet. All the bees were living and I kept them in the helmet for a few days, when they took their departure, leaving the cakes in the helmet as can be seen in the picture.”



“We all have heard that a handsome woman should be bien gantee and bien chaussee, and here is one who is apparently well collared. But the face is not that of a woman after all. The photograph is that of a male student of the University of California, made up with long hair and all but hidden from view entirely by an enormous collar with a huge bow of ribbon encircling it in the middle. The photograph was taken by Backus, of San Francisco, in the grounds of the University of California, at Berkeley, on Charter Day, when the students of American Universities hold processions and indulge in pranks and antics of all sorts.”–Mr. Arthur Inkersley, of San Francisco.



“Herewith a photo. of my character in the Watford Wheelers’ Carnival, held on Oct. 10th, 1900. The character represents, as you see, a scarecrow; it is mounted on a tricycle, but this is hidden from view by the miniature field. Although I am not in view I can assure you I was inside this suit (if I may call it such) when this photo. was taken, as well as when I was judged in competition. So that nothing should be out of keeping with the character, I used turnips for my lanterns. These I cut out as you can see by the photo. and placed a candle inside, and when these were lighted they proved a great success. I entered in the comic class as ‘Have you ever seen this in a field?’ and with this character I gained the first prize valued £1 10s. I think you will agree with me that even for a cycle carnival it is indeed a curiosity.”–Mr. Arthur Linley, Lower Derby Road, Watford, Herts.



“I took this photo. at Casablanca, in Morocco. It shows a case in which are two of the wives of a Moorish swell. In the background on the upper deck is another case containing a third wife. As soon as they were swung on board a huge screen was placed around them so that no man might look on them, so I think I am very lucky in obtaining this photo., which I hope to find in your splendid selection of ‘Curiosities.’ P.S.–Their consignment note ran thus: ‘Two cases of women.'”–Mr. E. W. Jenkins, Foydeane, Boscombe, Hants.



Here is a little robin redbreast that was fond of Cerebos, hence his predilection for a tin of that product, in which he has built his little nest. Some time ago the proprietors of Cerebos Salt advertised for a list of the best uses to which empty tins could be put, but, needless to add, birds’ nesting-places were not among the suggestions sent in.



“Some time ago I began to build card towers. I send you the photograph of one fifteen stories high, taken by my brother. My friends think it is rather an unusual feat. I made a tower seventeen stories high, but unfortunately the negative is a very bad one.”–Miss Victoria Maitland, 50, Norfolk Square, Hyde Park, W.



Mr. John H. Coath, photographer, Liskeard, who took this charming photo., writes: “Dr. Seecombe, of St. Austell, the owner of dog and canary, says the dog is a thoroughbred collie, Tregarne Prince, registered at Kennel Club; the canary a Norwich. The canary used to sit on the back of a chair and sing. One day it flew off the chair on to the dog’s back. Dr. Seecombe, who had trained the dog to hold a piece of sugar on its nose, thought he would try the canary, and after a while he succeeded, and now the dog’s nose is a favourite place with the canary. The dog is very pleased to have it there, and will sit or lie any length of time and will keep perfectly quiet. Two or three have tried to photograph this interesting pair, but without success. I exposed four plates on them, all of which gave good results.”



“I beg to submit to you for ‘Curiosities’ a photograph of a collection of huntsmen’s buttons, from Queen Victoria’s hounds downwards, which should be most interesting, especially to sportsmen. The collection is in the possession of Mr. H. R. Kay, of Hope Cottage, Patching, near Worthing, who owns a pack of foxhounds. I ought to mention that this collection is, as far as I can discover, absolutely unique.”–Mr. G. Johns, 67, Upper Westbourne Villas, Hove.



“I herewith forward you for your ‘Curiosities’ the ‘balance-sheet’ of a new game played by two persons with a typewriter. The first presses the key for a certain letter, the other then follows, and so on alternately until a breakdown occurs. It is fascinating, simple, and instructive, and proficiency in it can be acquired after a very brief period.”–Mr. Joseph O’Donoghue, Dingle, Co. Kerry.



“I am sending you the photograph of a ‘white starling’ which was shot on this place on May 30th, by the keeper. It is rather smaller than the ordinary starling and pute white, with a yellow bill. The bird was stuffed by Quatermaine, of Stratford-on-Avon. I believe the bird is a great rarity; the oldest inhabitants of the neighbourhood do not remember ever seeing one before.”–Miss Maye Bruce, Norton Hall, Campden, Gloucestershire.



“I am sending you a photo. of something I made in my leisure time during the three last winters’ evenings. It is a piece of ornamental needlework by one of the sterner sex, and much admired by my friends. I thought it might also interest your readers. The design was worked upon a fine perforated cardboard with various coloured filoselle silks, in what the ladies are pleased to call ‘ cross’ and ‘tenth stitch.’ The card contains 367 1/2 square inches, with 420 holes to the square inch, giving a total of 154,350 holes, nearly all of which are filled, and many of the holes had to be used more than twice over. To assist me in my self-imposed and tedious task my wife used to read aloud to me whilst I was working at it, and we managed thus to spend many long and happy evenings together, and to get through a good many volumes ere I completed my task.”–Mr. Walter Field, St. Helens, near Hastings, Sussex.



“The accompanying photo. illustrates a device hit upon by an Irish police-sergeant in days when alarum clocks were less common, and a good deal more expensive, than now. The sergeant found it very hard to wake in time for ‘guard ‘ duty, and on more than one occasion nearly got into trouble through oversleeping. He experimented with a certain make of candle until he found what length was consumed per hour, and in a short time was able to mark off the hour spaces on each candle. When retiring he tied a thread around a candle at a mark which represented the time at which he wished to awaken. From the thread was suspended a small metal box partly filled with shot, which hung over a tin-ware basin. When the candle burned to the thread the box clattered into the basin, and the rattle of the shot and box combined to make a noise which aroused the sergeant to his duties.”–Mr. T. J. O’Callaghan, 16, Sunday’s Well, Cork.



“I send you a photograph which I hope may interest your readers of ‘Curiosities.’ It is that of a lighthouse-keeper through the lenses, and shows him, of course, greatly distorted.”–Mr. Dudley H. Magnus, Geldholt Hall, Stonebridge Park, N.W.



“Some months ago you published in the ‘Curiosity’ pages of your Strand Magazine a photo. of a post-card with the address and correspondence written in shorthand, and I inclose herewith post-card written in backhand which I forwarded and which was delivered in due course to a friend of mine. The post-card can easily be read by holding it before a looking-glass.”–Mr. Harry Alden, 1, Brick Street, Bury.



“I send this photograph of one of the strongest men in the Army, for some time sergeant-instructor at Woolwich. His name is Sergeant Hawthorne. The gun he has on his shoulder, and which has just been fired from there, weighs 400lb., with a bore of 2.5in., it being identically the same kind of gun as supplied to the mountain batteries. Considering the recoil and the weight of the gun, surely this is a marvellous feat of strength.”–Mr. C. A. Cameron, R.M. Academy, Woolwich.



“Here is something unique in the line of monuments. It is the upper stone of a pair of French burr millstones, which serves to mark the grave of a miller of the old school in the cemetery at Georgetown, Ohio. The conception is barbaric and yet eloquent. This old millstone–the hole in its centre, through which the grain formerly flowed, filled with plaster; its sides chipped and seamed and worn; a reminder of the days when millers knew not the roar of mighty machinery or the worries of a fluctuating grain market, but went their daily round as calmly and easily as their millstones–tells of the life of the man whose grave it marks far more eloquently than these verses which some local poet has chiselled on the back:–

(“A Millstone Taken from His Mill.”)

Beneath this stone a miller lies
Who left the world before the rise
Of modern ways of making flour,
And hence passed many a happy hour.
He was not forced to speculate,
Nor on Chicago’s movement wait;
He did not care for foreign trade,
But sold his neighbours all he made.
Cables and telegrams were rare–
The markets did not make him swear.
Small was his mill; his profits round;
Clear was his head, his slumbers sound;
He envied none, was envied not,
And died contented with his lot.”

–Mr. Chas. W. Kimball, Parsons, Kansas.


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