Around the end of the 19th century, Melbourne, Australia, hosted one of the biggest – and certainly the most carnivalesque – bookstores in the world: Cole’s Book Arcade.
McDonald’s iconic Happy Meal came to us via a Chilean-Guatemalan restauranteur, a Missouri advertising agent, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The origins of the modern piggy bank are lost to history, but the oldest extant piggy bank comes from 12th century CE Java.
What would a country look like without banks? In 1970, all the banks in Ireland closed for half a year. In response, the Irish people set up their own exchange systems centred on (of course) pubs.
In 2008, a whole beach in northwestern Jamaica was reported stolen: five hundred truckloads of sand went missing and were never recovered.
John Nevil Maskelyne was a turn of the century stage magician who created the first levitation trick, built an automaton that could play whist, revealed the secrets of card sharks, and invented the pay toilet.
In 1930 the Swedish match magnate Ivar Kreuger negotiated a legal monopoly with Germany; it lasted for fifty three years.
The “personal carbon footprint” concept was popularised by an oil company advertising campaign to divert attention away from their own climate-unfriendly practices.
Walter E. Scott performed in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, scammed thousands of dollars with a fake gold mine, set a cross-country train speed record, and claimed to be building a castle in the midst of Death Valley.
By most modern interpretations, Islamic law forbids charging interest. So some modern banks have found ways to profitably lend money without it.
The creators of the cult children’s TV show H. R. Pufnstuf once sued McDonald’s for plagiarism – and won big.
The French artist Yves Klein sold empty space – an invisible “zone of immaterial pictorial sensibility.” Buyers paid in gold, half of which Klein would throw into the Seine River.
Eugene Debs received more than 900,000 votes in the 1920 American presidential election – while in prison for sedition.
How did people wake up in the morning before alarm clocks? They paid to get knocked up.
The fastest sailing route around the world – the Clipper route – is also the most dangerous.
The bridges depicted on the Euro banknotes were fictional… until the Dutch city Spijkenisse built them all.