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.
Need to hide your smallpox or syphilis scars? Try fake beauty marks made of velvet, silk, or mouse fur.
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 Red Hand is the symbol of the province of Ulster, but its origins are lost in time. Possible sources include three different clans, pagans, fairies, and a soldier who chopped off his own hand.
In 1725 Professor Beringer of the University of Würzburg dug up some extraordinary fossils: they contained the name of God written in Hebrew. A book, a court case, and the ruining of several careers ensued.
Antoine Lavoisier explained how combustion uses oxygen with a very clever experiment. Later, he lost his head.
Two men were tried and one was executed for bestiality in early New Haven. The evidence: the birth of piglets that looked suspiciously like the accused.
1000 metres in a kilometre, 1000 grams in a kilogram, and 1000 minutes in a day?
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.
According to several accounts, in 1803 a tiny boat with transparent windows washed up on the shores of Japan. Inside, one woman and one big mystery.
King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden really wanted a big ship so he could dominate the Baltic. The Vasa was one of the most heavily armed ships in the world when it launched in 1628. But the same day it launched, it sank.
Within the witch panic of Medieval Europe was a strange subset of trials that accused people of being both witches and werewolves.
Princess Alexandra of Bavaria was a noted author and translator in the mid-19th century. She also firmly believed that as a young child she had swallowed a grand piano made of glass.
Elementals are a common feature of modern bestiaries, video games, and RPGs. We have the 16th century alchemist Paracelsus to thank for thinking them up.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, why would you paint anything else? The eye miniature was one of the oddest trends in late 1700s art.