An engraved and pearl handled four barrel Reform pistol. Originates from Germany, 1920’s.
The Scold’s Bridle and the Ducking Stool,
A punishment for women who were gossipers, slanderers, opinionated, loud, or who simply talked too much. Both were popular in England, Scotland, Wales, and the English colonies during the 16th century up to the early 18th century.
Portrait of Antonio Navagero
Note the very conspicuous codpiece, which was a staple of men’s fashion in the 16th century.
Painted by Giovanni Batista Moroni in 1565.
And you thought your job was crappy —- The Royal Bum Wiper
The Groom of the stool was a position withing the English court and one of the most intimate. Simply put the Groom of the Stool’s duty was to manage the king’s doody. Derived from the word “stol” meaning chair, the Groom of the Stools job was to manage the bodily functions of the king. This was incredibly important, since at the time there was no running water or plumbing. Tasks included disposing of the waste and keeping equipment clean. Since in Tudor times nobles often wore heavy cumbersome clothing, the Groom of the Stool would occasionally be called upon to wipe the royal posterior. The Groom of the Stool would also have to keep tabs on the Kings diet and the expected times of the king’s movements, so that he would always be on hand when needed.
While it may seem a crappy job, the office was well respected and had an aura of decorum. The Groom would was one of the few people who had private access to the king and many royal secrets were shared when managing His Highness’ poopies. The Groom would also help in managing the kings finances, having private access to the kings accounts.
Henry the VIII had four Grooms throughout his reign, but in 1558 was transformed into the position of “The Lady of the Bedchamber”, a post dominated by women. The reason for this was simple, the rise of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I to power. With the accession of James I the post was revived, but under King Charles I the position was completely changed. Instead of wiping the kings posterior, the new “Groom of the Stole” became a completely administrative one, with duties including managing the kings accounts, setting fiscal policy, and managing the kings schedule. The office was finally abolished by King Edward the VII in 1901.
Fun History Fact,
According to the Dead Sea Scrolls and other contemporary sources, the Ancient Babylonian King Nabonidus’ favorite pastime was to pretend that he was a goat. This involved him ambling through the fields on all fours with other goats and eating grass.
Some things never change…
The Vought V-173 and the XF5U-1 “Flying Flapjack”,
In the 1930’s Charles Zimmerman was an aeronautical engineer with a very unorthodox idea. As anyone who knows anything about fluid dynamics can attest, drag is often the killer of speed. When it comes to aircraft the tips of the wings often create the most drag as it flies through the air. Zimmerman sought to build a “low aspect” aircraft that created as little drag as possible. His strange design, called the Vought V-173 (top 3 pictures), didn’t have normal wings like a traditional airplane. Rather the aircraft was saucer shaped, with the entire body of the airplane acting as a wing. The craft was also driven by two engines working two propellers. The propellers rotated opposite of each other, creating a vortex under the wing, supplying it lift. What result was a “flying wing” with incredibly efficient aerodynamics and lift capabilities.
The brilliant new design made its first test flight in 1942. It was then that the US Navy became interested in Zimmerman’s work. At the time, the military was in great need of a revolutionary fighter design to help fight World War II. The V-173 was only a prototype created to demonstrate proof of concept. With the help of Naval engineers, Zimmerman improved and added to the V-173 design. A strengthened, more stable frame was added as well as a stronger reinforced cockpit. Essentially everything made made stronger and heavily armored. Two Pratt and Whitney R-2000-7 engines were installed, each of which produced 1,350 horsepower. Retractable landing gear was also added. Finally there were the weapons; 6 .50 caliber machine guns or 4 20mm cannon. In addition the new fighter could carry 2 one thousand pound bombs, or rocket pods.
Called the XF5U-1 “Flying Flapjack” (bottom 3 pictures), the new fighter exceeded all expectations. However the new design had several kinks that needed to worked out, which delayed it’s introduction. Unfortunately, the Vought XF5U-1 program was not completed by the end of World War II. If the new fighter had been introduced and mass produced, it would have certainly been the deadliest fighter of the war. With a top speed of 550 mph, it was almost as fast as the deadly German Me-262 jet fighter. However, it was much more maneuverable, had thicker armor, carried more weapons, and with a range of 1,046 miles it could fly significantly farther than the Me-262 (652 miles). More importantly the XF5U-1 was tough, very tough. Engineers joked that it was so structurally solid, “it could have destroyed a wrecking ball”.
In early 1947 the US Navy canceled the Vought project. By then the project was over budget and a number of technological issues still needed worked out. Only two prototypes of the XF5U-1 were ever built, one of which currently resides at the Smithsonian Aviation Museum. After World War II the US military began to study and switch over to jet aircraft, which had far greater potential than any propeller driven airplane. A year after the cancellation of the XF5U-1, Chuck Yaeger would break the sound barrier in a rocket driven airplane. Within the next decade, highly maneuverable supersonic fighter aircraft became a staple of modern military’s. As amazing as the XF5U-1 flying flapjack was, its propeller driven propulsion was obsolete.
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La Parle Obesity Soap, circa 1903. Adjusted for inflation $2 was the equivalent of $50 today.
Medieval Justice —- The Case of the Rooster of Basel
In 1474 a rooster living in the city of Basel, Switzerland committed one of the most shocking and heinous crimes in Medieval Swiss history; it laid an egg. A rooster laying eggs is not only strange enough, but they were eggs that lacked a yoke. The people of Basel were terrified, for everyone knew that such eggs were not normal eggs, but the eggs of a cockatrice, a winged serpent creature with a roosters head which could kill and destroy with a mere glance.
To settle the matter, the rooster was put on trial to decide its fate. The trial included a prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge. The prosecutor argued that the rooster was no ordinary cock, but a minion of Satan. The defense attorney argued that the egg laying of the rooster was an odd, but natural occurrence that was no fault of the rooster.
At the end of the trial, the judge found the rooster guilty of witchcraft. The rooster was immediately burned at the stake.
An ornately engraved Apache Knuckleduster Revolver originating from France, mid to late 19th century.
Rare Jarre pinfire harmonica pistol originating from Paris, mid 19th century.
Sold at Auction: $7,475
The Shoe Fitting X-ray Machine —- The Pedoscope,
Many of us probably remember our parents buying shoes for us when we were children. One technique mom always did was to feel around the shoe to determine how much toe room was in the shoe. In 1920’s shoemakers and shoe salesmen came up with an easier, more precise method of fitting shoes.
The development of radiology and X-ray technology around the turn of the century opened up a whole new field of medical study. It also created a number of bad and dangerous devices that went out on the American market. In the 1920’s one such device was the pedoscope. The purpose of the pedoscope was to use X-ray technology to view the feet while in shoes, thus allowing shoe salesperson a more accurate way to fit shoes for their customers. The customer would simply slide his or her feet into a slot in the machine while the salesperson viewed the feet from a special viewer. Thus the salesperson could see precisely if the feet and toes had enough room within the shoe. Two other portholes allowed the feet to be viewed by the customer or a third party.
The pedoscope, and other models of “shoe X-ray fluoroscopes”, became popular by the 1940’s and 1950’s. By 1960 over 10,000 were sold to the US, while 3,000 were in the UK, 1,500 in Switzerland, and 1,000 in Canada. It was at this time that the effects of the pedoscope began to be known. X-rays are a form of dangerous radiation. That is why when a person has an X-ray taken, the radiologist makes sure the procedure is quick, and that parts of the body not being examined are not unnecessarily exposed. Continuous exposure to X-rays over time can lead to radiation burns, dermatitis, and cancer. While it was not much of a problem for a customer to use once in a while, the pedoscope proved very dangerous for shoe salesmen, who were exposed to the radiation over long periods. Several instances were found of shoe salesmen who had to have their feet amputated due to the effects of X-ray exposure.
By the 1970’s most states had passed laws banning the use of shoe X-ray machines. Today they are a rare, highly sought novelty item among antique collectors.
A flintlock axe pistol originating from Germany, mid 17th century.
Sold at Auction: £8,750 ($17,518)