Medieval book margin art, because sometime medieval monks got bored.
Medieval book margin art, because sometime medieval monks got bored.
Bizarre Japanese Folklore —- The Kappa and the Anus Ball,
In Ancient Japanese folklore a kappa is a short, small, toad-like or turtle-like creature common in small ponds, wetlands, and swamps. A playful and mischievous creature, they are often blamed for minor shenanigans such as passing gas and looking up women’s kimono’s. However they are also capable of something much more evil, the stealing of one’s soul… from the bum.
It was believed that the soul was contained in a large ball located within the anus called the shurikodama (尻子玉), translated literally as “anus ball”. In other versions the shurikodama is a magic ball that contained special powers. Whatever it’s purpose, the kappa wanted that butt ball. Often lurking in common swimming areas, a kappa would reach up into an unsuspecting swimmer and extract the shurikodama. In other versions the kappa would simply suck the shurikodama out of the body. Regardless of method, extraction of the anus ball always resulted in instant death.
So as a reminder, the next time you go swimming, watch your backside!
The Castrato Singers of Italy (warning, not for the faint of heart)
In 1600 the Catholic Church banned women from singing in churches and on stage. As a result a choir or opera was not quite the same without the higher and ethereal feminine soprano voices. Needless to say it was difficult for men to recreate women’s vocal ranges. To replace the now gone female singers, young boys were brought in to recreate the high pitches of the now gone female performers. Boys with an exceptionally high pitched and strong voice were selected to become a new type of singer called a castrato, a male adult singer with an unnaturally high pitched voice who vocal range surpassed all others. This begs the question, why were the called castrati and how did they become castrati?
When a boy was selected to become a castrato he was taken aside, dosed with opium, and whisked away to the local barber surgeon. There he was castrated. Let that sink in for a moment. They took young boys and castrated them, removing the testicles or disabling them. The purpose of this was to cease the production of testosterone, preventing the onset of puberty to preserve the boy’s young voice.
Today such an act would be criminal, sickening beyond belief, and considered an extreme act of child abuse. Three hundred years ago it was a common and accepted practice, with 4,000 boys a year being made castrati between 1720 and 1730. Once the procedure was done the child was forced into a rigorous life of singing lesson, practice, and training. By their mid teens it was expected for the average castrato to be a master singer. During the 17th - 19th century castrato singers were to superstar of their day.
By the mid 19th century the castrato began to lose popularity, being seen as strange, and a relic from a crueler and less democratic past. In 1860 Italy banned the creation of castrati. The church banned the practice ten years later. The last castrato to perform was Alessandro Moreschi (black and white photo above), who made the only known castrato recordings in 1902 and 1904 near the end of his career. He died in 1922.
Very early over and under percussion sporting gun,
Originally a flintlock converted into percussion, this odd firearm features over and under barrels, one below the other. It has double triggers and and two separate percussion locks locks. Unfortunately the listing does not specify caliber, so I don’t know if it is a rifle or fowling piece. Dated 1800.
The Fusil Mexico,
One of the strangest firearms design that I have ever seen, the Fusil Mexico was invented by Rafael Mendozza, a common Mexican gunmaker of the day. The action of the rifle was worked by twisting the barrel 90 degrees, which would eject the spent cartridge casing, them pushing the barrel forward and back would would loading and chamber a new cartridge from its five round box magazine. Releasing a switch would break the rifle down from storage and maintenance. Loading the rifle was done through a special loading port located near right hand side of the receiver. It was chambered for 8X57 Mauser and fitted with a Mauser bayonet. While certainly a unique design, it was complicated and weird compared standard Mexican Mauser bolt action rifle. They were first produced in 1918, but few were made or used.
Delvigne percussion pistol,
Made by French gunsmith Henri Gustave Delvigne in 1828, this is indeed a very odd and unique pistol. As you can see it is very heavily decorated in gothic themes and it has rubber grips. Keep in mind this was a time when rubber was a rare and mysterious substance in Europe. A percussion lock, the monster head on the back of the pistol serves as a hammer, and when cocked you can see the nipple on which a percussion cap was placed. Caliber is .35 and the bore is rifle, rare among pistols of that era.
President for an hour
On the 18th of February, 1913, a minor Mexican Army commander by the name of Victoriano Huerta successfully led a military coup against President Francisco Madero. The coup was successful and Huerta ousted President Madero, his Vice President Jose Swaurez, and the Attorney General Adolfo Valles Baca, who would all later be executed.
Huerta felt that he could not just seize the reins of power like many other military dictators before him. He felt that something needed to be done to give his rule an air of legitimacy, he did not want to be seen as a usurper but rather a legitimate President of Mexico.
According to the Mexican Constitution, the next person in line for the presidency was foreign minister, Pedero Lascuráin. Huerta had a plan to make himself President of Mexico according to the law and the constitution. On the 19th of February, 1913 Lascuráin was sworn in as President of Mexico. His first and only act as president was to appoint Huerta as interior minister, making Huerta next in line for the presidency. A short moment later, Lascuráin resigned, and Huerta was then sworn in a president. Lascuráin’s very brief presidency lasted less than an hour, perhaps somewhere around 30-45 minutes, with some estimates as low as 15 minutes. Today it is recognized as the shortest presidential term in Mexican history, the shortest presidential term in world history, and the shortest reign of any head of state.
Huerta’s trick did not work, and the Mexican people rebelled against him. He was later defeated and ousted by revolutionary leaders Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. He died in exile in 1916. Lascuráin was offered a post in Huerta’s cabinet, which he declined. He settled to a life as a simple lawyer, a wise decision since most of Huerta’s officials were later lined up against a wall and shot.
Another strange Victorian Era Cane Gun,
Made around the later half of the 1800’s this is another one of those odd and rare cane guns. The hand removes to reveal a thin dagger and four shot .22 caliber pepperbox revolver. The revolver would have needed to be rotated by hand, and was fired by pressing a small button on the handle.
Lemaire Flintlock Revolving Fowling musket,
Made by Sadam A. Lemaire in Lorraine, France around the late 1690’s, this interesting piece is a multishot flintlock fowling piece (shotgun). It has a five shot cylinder, pulling a leaver in front of the trigger guard releases the cylinder, which was rotated by hand. Each chamber has an individual flash pan that would have needed to be primed with powder for each shot. Interestingly, this firearm is also a take-down piece. The stock and barrel are removable making it easier for transport.
Unfortunately the example above is not an original piece but a reproduction. Regardless this reproduction sold at Rock Island Auctions for around $4,000.
Italian Partisan Air Rifle,
Apparently this strange air rifle was a weapon concocted by an Italian bicycle maker during World War II. In WWII Italy there were many paramilitary groups disgruntled with the German occupation of Italy and the Italian Fascist Party. The rifle was filled with air from a bicylce pump and several 11mm round bullets were inserted into a spring fed tube magazine on the left hand side. To load the user worked a bolt which fed a bullet from the magazine into the chamber. Pulling the trigger forced a strong gust of air into the chamber propelling the bullet.
While primitive compared to modern firearm technology, this unique air rifle would certainly have been deadly. It had a range of up to 100 yards and actually packed enough force to kill a person. It would have been especially useful because it was silent and lacked muzzle flash or smoke when discharged. Currently this odd air rifle is in the possession of the Beeman Precision Air Rifle Company.
A very unique and interesting 18th century flintlock, this odd musket has a reservoir of powder built into it. When the user turned a crank a small charge of powder would be deposited into the priming pan.
Sold At Auction: $2,250