In 1648 a Dutch water board issued a bond that paid 5% interest annually, with no maturity date. That water board still pays interest on the bond today.
The inventor of the pie chart and the bar chart was also a secret agent who helped collapse the French revolutionary government’s economy through an elaborate counterfeiting operation.
The song Happy Birthday to You is in the public domain. But that didn’t stop a music publishing company collecting two million dollars a year for its use.
In the 1950s cigarette companies tried to make their products appear healthier. One of them decided to do this by adding asbestos.
In 1941 Disney animators went on strike in an attempt to unionise. Walt Disney fought back with speeches, fists, firings, and Dumbo.
Goods carried by hand over the border from Morocco to Melilla and Ceuta are duty-free, so a cottage industry of porters carry goods worth billions of Euros across the border every year.
Is Christmas Day the twelfth day of Christmas or the first? And why does it cost US$170,298.03?
Up until 1902, every fastest car in the world was electric.
Early modern England had some creative property taxes: window, chimney, brick, and wallpaper tax. Early modern England also had some creative methods of tax avoidance: sealed windows, stolen chimneys, larger bricks, and plainer wallpaper.
The portable vacuum cleaner Dustbuster was built on the back of technology for the moon landings.
From 1913 to 1929, the hobos had their own newspaper.
In 1959, a block of glacier ice was carried – without refrigeration – from the Arctic Circle, through Europe, across the Sahara, and all the way to the Equator. It was perhaps the greatest publicity stunt in history.
Deep in the vaults of the Bank of England are banknotes, legal tender, for 100 million pounds each. These may be the most valuable banknotes in the world.
Topsy the elephant was famously electrocuted in 1903. History has not been kind to her, so let’s set the record straight. No, she was not a victim of the AC vs. DC wars. No, she was not a killer elephant. Yes, she killed one man, but in clear self defence.
In 1925, staff from Osram, General Electric, Philips, and others met in Switzerland to artificially fix the life expectancy of light bulbs worldwide. For the next 14 years, the Phoebus cartel controlled the world supply of light.