Curiosities (October 1901)

Reader contributed photographs on a variety of topics. I haven’t been able to decipher the writing on the wall – if anyone can figure out what it says, please leave a comment.



“This is the way in which an Atlantic gale dealt with the fishing smack Sea Fowl on the Grand Banks. For six hours the wind blew at the rate of seventy miles an hour, driving the little craft and its crew before it. The next morning she was sighted by the steamship Vedamore, and the captain asked if they wished to be taken off by his crew. Although 400 miles from the nearest land, with the main-mast broken off but a few feet from the deck, and only a small bit of canvas left for a sail, the plucky Yankee skipper hoisted his flag and said he would work his way in as best he could. The Sea Fowl came from Rockland, Me., and had been on the Banks two months catching cod. The photograph was taken from the steamship as she passed the wrecked schooner.”–Mr. E. W. Bearden, Shelbyville, Tennessee.



“I send you a unique specimen of shell-work done by my grandmother, Mrs Feek, Station Road, Burnham Market, Norfolk, when she was considerably over sixty years of age. The foundation of this ‘Album House,’ as the maker calls it, is of wood, and was made by a local carpenter from a cardboard model designed and put together entirely by the old lady. As will be seen, it is octagonal in shape, and holds sixteen photos., eight in the lower part of the house and the same number in the roof. The ornamentation of the house is, in every detail, the work of Mrs. Feek, and is composed of white crystal beads for the borders and fringes and of shells for the inner parts. The beads are all sewn on to sections of cardboard of the same shape as the sides of the house, and the shells are fastened to the cardboard with gum. All the shells employed were gathered by Mrs. Feek herself, and they are so minute that, in getting them from the beach, sand, stones, and shells had all to he gathered up together and taken home en masse, to be separated at leisure–and in the work of separation no fewer than seven sieves of different sizes were employed by Mrs. Feek–after which the shells were all oiled to bring out the colours. All these shells were so very tiny that in using them in her work the old lady had to put them into position with a pin, as they were too small to be manipulated by the fingers.”–Miss Florence Chinery, 5, Adelaide Road, Ashford, Middlesex.



“This photograph might, at first glance, represent a ‘new-styled’ flying-machine. As a matter of fact it is but a photo. of an electric tower. The camera was placed on the platform beneath and the picture taken in a vertical position. If the reader holds the picture in a horizontal position above his head the flying-machine vanishes and the picture becomes almost natural.”–Mr. E. W. Bearden, Shelbyville, Tennessee.



“Thinking the inclosed photographs might be of interest to the readers of The Strand I send them to you. The Scotchman, as he was called, was made of two whisky-cases and the straws off the bottles. It was a ladies’ event in the sports on the way home from the Cape, and caused a great deal of fun. When the target was hit the head fell down as shown in photo, number two. Some very old travellers said it was quite original.”–Mr. A. S. Pitt, 113, Brompton Road, Eastbey, Portsmouth.



“Here is a photograph of a pinnacle that never occupied  the  summit of a church tower. It is in the churchyard of St. Thomas’s, Barrowford, Lancashire. It appears that, in 1839, the church then being without pinnacle on its tower, a gentleman offered to find one if the congregation would supply the remaining three. He fulfilled his promise by furnishing one, but, the other three not being forthcoming, he had it placed in the churchyard, where it now stands with the following inscription upon its base:–

        In 1839
I should have-mounted high,
But, alas! what is man?
Poverty and discord
Have tied me to the ground,
And here I am left alone.”

–Mr. Arthur Smith, 171, Barkerhouse Road, Nelson, Lancs.



“I send you the photograph of an old oak tree, growing near Monterey, which is one of the curiosities of the district. The tree has evidently been blown down at some early date, the sand banking up to form a hill behind it, and it has continued its growth along the ground.”–Mr. A. H. Cowan, “The Knoll,” Loomis, Placer Co., California.



Road-books abound nowadays, and at first sight this might be taken for a photograph of one of the latest, but it is not. It is an old book of 1736, one of the pioneers of such literature, and was issued before bicycles were dreamed of or even the majority of the roads were made. The above view gives the now-familiar Portsmouth road. It is interesting to see what it was like nearly a hundred and seventy years ago. London appears to end at the turnpike where the ‘Dullidge’ road turns off, that is, about a mile and a half from London Bridge, and from there to Wandsworth is a hedged road with various country houses and seats sprinkled along it. An examination of these pages gives a great amount of detailed information in a simple fashion that might well be copied by the cycle guides of to-day. One sees at once if the road is open or hedged, up or down hill, the cross-roads, the rills and rivers, and the very material of which the bridges are made. The margins are filled with the history of any remarkable place on the road, and nothing could be clearer either in matter or in printing. The road begins at the bottom left-hand corner and proceeds upwards, then continues from the bottom of the second column, and so on throughout. To make this plan possible the road must be drawn fairly straight, and, as this might prove misleading, at frequent intervals come the familiar-looking wheels, with their little fleur-de-lys pointing always to the north. It is a wonder that such a simple, easy, and compact plan has not been more frequently copied.”–Mr. John Brook, c/o Mrs. Back, Swinegate, Grantham.



“This is a photo. of a shell which began to burst but ‘got tired’ and failed to finish the job. Artillerymen state that such an occurrence is almost unprecedented, and amongst the many and various curios of the South African War we have not met with such a thing before. The shell is a 15lb. shrapnel, and was fired by A Battery, Royal Australian Artillery, in February last, when repelling an attack made by Boers on Vryburg, Bechuanaland. The casing of the shell was blown off, but all the rest remained solid. The shell was picked up by a scout, and photographed for The Strand by Mr. W. Klisser, Vryburg.”



“In the photo, which I send you A stands for Staffordshire, B for Cheshire, and C for Derbyshire. By sitting on the stone X a person can be in all three counties at once. This spot has been the scene of many prize-fights, because, by moving three or four yards, the fighters could resume a fight, started in one county, in another county, under the very eyes of the sheriff of the first county holding a warrant for their arrest. The warrant was, of course, rendered useless by their movements.”–Mr. S. Bidder.



“The photo. I send you is that of a garden wall abutting on the public footpath at Bebington, near Birkenhead. The owner of the wall may be observed in the garden amongst the foliage, but I did not interview him, as it was not necessary to obtain his permission to take the photo., seeing that the matter chiselled on the stones is specially provided for the edification and amusement of the public. Your readers will make out the interpretation without using the stone in the manner suggested.”–Mr. J. J. Burnley, 100, Wallasey Road, Liscard, Cheshire.



“The young man in the accompanying photo. is not peering into the entrance to ‘Aladdin’s Cave,’ as might be supposed, he is only looking through a hole in an old trunk of a tree, which, by the way, makes an excellent and novel picture-frame.”–Mr. George Skinner, junr., 27, Medora Road, Brixton Hill.



The man in the chair defied a street railroad company and a force of policemen for ten days. He owned a drug store in Baltimore, in front of which the railroad company wished to lay tracks. He objected, and when they attempted to put down the rails he dug a hole in the centre of the roadway, placed a chair in it, and sat there. His neighbours, who sympathized with him, placed two American flags upon the chair to show their admiration. Either the druggist or one of his family occupied the chair night and day, until the railroad company paid him £200, which he claimed for his damages.”–Mr. D. Allan, Willey, Baltimore.



“I send you a photograph taken by candle-light, on an ordinary plate, with an exposure of half an hour. It was taken by the light of fifteen candles, no other light of any kind being used.”–Miss H. M. McKenzie, The Cedars, Sunderland.



” I send you a photo. of a remarkable tree, now growing in the Jardin d’Acclimatation,  Paris. A notice is affixed near stating the facts of the case. The tree is really formed from five separate and distinct young trees, which have been trained to grow together into one thick trunk, this again being trained
to open out into the shapes seen in the photograph. Nothing unusual can be noticed about the trunk, which is covered with a perfect coating of bark.”–Mr. R. H. Stevens, 40, Gannow Lane, Burnley, Lancs.



“I beg to send you a photo of King Charles I.’s rocking-horse. This old ‘curio’ is now kept at Cheshunt Great House, where I was fortunate enough to obtain the picture.”–Mr. W. E. Sutton, Prospect House, Cheshunt.



“This monster hat was recently made by Mr. J. G. Field, of Wellington Street, Luton, for exhibition purposes. It measured 7ft. 4in. across the brim and contained upwards of 300yds. of broad Jumbo plait. The crown, which was 18in. deep and measured 54in. round it, had to be trimmed and lined before the brim was sewn on. The brim itself required the services of four men to shape it, and took upwards of three hours to sew on a ‘box’ machine.”–Mr. H. Field, 83, Guilford Street, Luton, Beds.



“While I was leaning over to pick some flowers a friend of mine, unknown to me, secured a snap-shot, with the accompanying ‘freak’ result–a caricature of a bulldog, the hat forming the head and the waist the body of the animal. By holding the picture at arm’s length and covering the skirt portion the effect is more striking. Modern millinery and a camera have, in this instance, combined to produce an extraordinary picture–that of a vicious brute who owes his photographic existence to a chiffon hat, a military collar, and a shirt-waist. The picture was taken by Mr. J. E. Bourke, of this city.”–Miss Lillian Ferguson, the Examiner, San Francisco.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s