Unfolding history can often reveal very strange facts and weird stories that can both fascinate and stun.
Discover weird historical facts, weird people in history, historic oddities, strange but true stories and other bizarre stuff in history from around the world that makes it more intriguing and puzzling.
History of Toilet Paper
Throughout time, toilet paper has become an essential, irreplaceable thing in our lives. Due to the fact that it is considered so common, we never wonder or ask ourselves questions about the history of toilet paper.
The history of toilet paper is maybe as ancient as that of the paper used for writing and there are, around the world, museums dedicated to this object. However, modern toilet paper was introduced back in the 1880s. Until then, people used more ecological substitutes for toilet paper such as grass, moss, coconut shells, snow, and even wool. Eskimos were using grass during summer and snow during winter days. In the tropical areas, mollusk or coconut shells worked amazing as “soft” toilet paper.
Before the toilet paper to be invented, people used different types of fabrics and things they found at hand as a great substitute. It is said that the ancient Greeks used rocks or clay, while back in Ancient Rome, people used a very effective, rather weird product made from a sponge attached to a stick and soaked into salty water. Some ancient cultures believed that only the left hand should use toilet paper and this is why it is still considered impolite to shake hands with the left one.
Who do you think it was the first people to use toilet paper? Well, it is not so difficult to guess. The first to make and use toilet paper were the Chinese in the 2nd century AD and its main purpose was intimate cleaning. A few centuries after, they rethought the concept and came up with a saving solution and a new design. A scholar of that time said that he chose the papers for toilet usage based on what it was written on them, the most important texts being “spared” of a cruel faith. In the 4th century, Chines were already producing a certain type of toilet paper.
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10 Nov, 2010
In other parts of the world the Chinese habits were considered unhygienic people preferring using water and soap. As for its usage, in the past everything was very well defined when it came to social classes. It is rather unknown the way peasants handled the situation, but those from the royal families were more that careful when it came to their intimate parts. Romans used wool soaked in rose water, while the french royalty used silk and lace.
It was back in 1857 when the toilet paper was first marketed due to the American inventor Joseph Gayetti who sold toilet paper for US$0.50 in packs of 500 with a watermark of his name. The product contained aloe as a lubricant and sold as an anti-hemorrhoid medical paper. Unfortunately, Gayetty's invention failed. However, in 1867, Edward and Clarence Scott, two brothers from Philadelphia marketed successfully toilet paper that consisted of a small roll of perforated paper. They sold their new toilet paper from a push cart, which was the beginning of the Scott Paper Company.
5 Famous Real Love Stories in History
True love is meant for everyone. There are certain couples in history that strongly influenced people's view upon this amazing feeling. Every story is unique, with a happy-end or unfortunately tragic. Here are 5 famous real love stories in history.
Napoleon and Josephine
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28 Oct, 2010
On April 21, 1795, general Bonaparte got engaged to Désirée Clary. However, in October 1795, he meets Josephine de Beauharnais, an older, wealthy woman, and fells deeply in love with her. As a consequence, in 1796, Napoleon breaks his engagement and marries Josephine, at that time widow and mother of two. After being crowned empress on December 2, 1804, Josephine increases the number of her lovers especially during Napoleon's campaigns. In 1809, Napoleon was 40 years old and realized he had no heir. As Josephine could not give him one, they split. On April 2, 1810, he marries Marie-Louise of Austria who gave him an heir one year later. However, the letters between Napoleon and Josephine stand as a witness of their love and burning passion even after they broke up.
Incredible Frauds in History
A fraud is a trickery, or a cheating intended to gain an advantage. Throughout time, there were numerous individuals who committed fraud in so many different ways. Even if the next frauds might sound too hilarious to be real, these are some of the most incredible frauds in history.
Reading Hitler's personal thoughts would be one interesting thing. Still, Hitler never had a diary. Well, it was a shock when, in 1983, it was discovered the fact that Hitler would have written over 60 diaries. These were bought by the German “Stern” magazine that has distributed over two million copies of its latest issue having the cover story: “Hitler’s Diary Discovered.” However, there was one little problem. Those diaries were forgeries. The expert who first analyzed them was totally convinced by their authenticity, but a later analysis proved that the diaries were really bad forgeries, full of flaws. Konrad Kujau and Gerd Heidemann, the two people responsible for the fraud were each sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
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19 Oct, 2010
5 Incredible Coincidences
A coincidence is a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance. Well, at least this is what the dictionary says. Whether you believe or not in coincidences, we must admit that there were various events throughout history that seem rather weird and can really make you change your mind. Here are 5 incredible coincidences.
- “Titanic” will remain in the history of cinema as a real masterpiece. However, what less people know is that other 13 movies having the same theme were made before James Cameron's amazing success. Coincidence or not, Mark Robertson wrote a book called “Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan”, in which he tells the story of a huge boat, of about 260 meters length, made in Great Britain.
Titan started its journey as a luxury floating hotel being considered unbreakable at that time. At 400 miles from “Newfoundland”, at a speed of 22.5 knots, Titan crashed into an iceberg and sinks. Most of the passengers die as the huge ship didn't have enough lifeboats. Robertson wrote the book in 1898, 14 years before the Titanic to sink, in 1912. Still, there are a few minor differences. The Titanic hit the iceberg at 400 miles from “Newfoundland” having a speed of 25 knots.
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12 Oct, 2010
- In 1838, Edgar Allan Poe wrote the book called “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym”. The book didn't enjoy a very positive critique from the public and specialists, yet it was a real source of inspiration for Melville or Verne. However, the book surprises through something else. Poe confessed that the story is based on real stories and partially this was the truth. In his book, four survivors of a shipwreck, not having anything to eat, cast lots in order to establish who is going to be killed and eaten. The youngest one loses, his name being Richard Parker, the cabin boy. Still, the real story that inspired Poe didn't happen. At least, not when Poe wrote the book. 45 years later, in 1884, a yawl called "Mignonette” founders and four persons are struggling to survive. In a very dramatic scene, they do the same thing Poe's characters did. The youngest was chosen to die and his name was ... Richard Parker.
Weird Jobs in History
Sometimes, we all have more stressful moments when we feel like our job is the worst in the world. This is rather normal as in times of crisis, pressure increases. However, if you have a decent job you should at least be happy and grateful for not being obliged to do some of these next jobs that can easily be considered as some of the weirdest in history.
We all have problems waking up in the morning, especially on Monday mornings or when having to work late. In this situation, the alarm clock seems to be rather useless. However, if there was a knocker-up to wake you, you would certainly not be late for work. This was a popular job in England and Ireland in the early days of the industrial revolution when no one had an alarm clock. A knocker-up, or “knocker-upper”, had to walk around carrying a long stick and knock on people's windows.
Well, this is no joke. A funeral clown had the main job obligation of going to funerals dressed as the dead person. Moreover, he also had to mime his gestures, walking and favorite expressions. During the funeral process, the clown ran all around the coffin together with other clowns in order to make the grieved relatives laugh. In Ancient Rome people thought that this type of ritual could comfort the spirits of the dead and bring joy to the living. There were also famous and very valuable clowns who had the opportunity to mock the emperors at their funeral. Macabre clowns were very well payed, historical sources saying that they gain even better than gladiators.
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06 Oct, 2010
Weirdest Taxes in History
Sometimes, governments tend to come up with such nonsensical taxes that people have to pay. Well, if you think you need to pay ridiculous taxes, take a look to some of the weirdest taxes in history. However, looking to our present situation, we are not too far from introducing a tax on the air we breath or on sunshine.
In 2009, the state of Illinois in the US decided to apply a tax for candies higher than the one applied to other foods. The representatives of the department that are dealing with collecting the taxes explained that if a product contains flour or it needs to be refrigerated it is not considered as being a candy and it will be taxed as the other foods. This legal explanation classifies yogurt-covered raisins as being candies, while pretzels with yogurt cream are considered as being food. Moreover, Baby Ruth bars as candy, but Twix bars as food, Milky Way Midnight bars as candy, but original Milky Way bars as food.
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04 Oct, 2010
The hat tax was adopted by the British Government between 1784 and 1811, being applied to all hat wearers. First introduced by Prime Minister Pitt the Younger, the tax was a simple method of raising money for the government according to every person's prosperity and wealth. They presumed that rich people had a very big number of expensive hats, while poor people had less hats or none. Every man’s should have a stamp sowed into its lining showing that it was a legal hat. In any hat shop or hat maker also had to have a licence in order to sell legal hats. In London this was £2, while outside London, a hat trader had to pay 5 shillings. Those who were not paying the tax received huge penalties, whether they were merchants or hat wearers. This method became so widespread that it finally led to government amendments to the legal definition of a hat in 1804.
The tax for cowardice, or scutage, was a special law applied to people who refused to fight for their king. However, cowardice was not the only reason that entered under the incidence of this special law. The rule was given under the government of Henry I (1100-1135) and at its very beginnings it was quite low, being considered more as a symbol of warning. But King John (1167-1216) raised the tax with 300% and started applying it to every knight. The tax was collected even in those years of peace, when there were no wars, which meant he transgressed a bit from its original purpose. This law partially lead to the Magna Carta. The tax was kept for about 300 years and it was replaced by other methods of raising funds from the military.
Interesting Facts about Perfumes
We all have and wear our own perfume that is a small part of our personality. It is true that perfumes always had this amazing characteristic of fascinating people, but how well do you know these magic potions? Take a look to some interesting facts about perfumes.
Did you know that the word "perfume" comes from the Latin "per fumum", which means "through smoke"? Here is a part of the amazing history of perfumes.
- The first chemist is considered to be a woman. Her name was Tapputi, a perfume maker, who was mentioned in a cuneiform writing in Mesopotamia.
- Perfumes sources coming from plant extracts, but also from animal sources. However, animal sources are not so common today. For example, sperm whale, an inflammable substance, which is the base for amber, found in the digestive system of the cachalot, was a common animal extract used in perfumes. Other aromas are obtained from beavers or bees, while musk is obtained from the glandular secretions found in a gland of the male musk deer.
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24 Sep, 2010
- Archeologists discovered that ancient civilizations produced perfumes or fragrant oils, while the oldest relics in this sense have about 4,000 years. The perfumes bottles were found in Pygros, Cyprus. Moreover, other important discoveries in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine, Rome, and Greece revealed all the aspects of the entire making process, as well as the ingredients used to make a perfume. Perfumes were first used by the aristocratic class and only after wards they became accessible to the masses.
- In Europe, and especially in France, the industry of perfumes developed under the influence of Rene, the personal perfumer of Catherine de Medici, queen of France. However, perfume recipes from 1221 belonged to monks of Santa Maria delle Vigne in Florence, Italy.
10 History Curiosities
There are small pieces of history that seem to be lost in time. These next 10 history curiosities represent an important part of our past.
- Despite the fact that it was called the Spanish Golden Age, having a bronzed skin was considered as being a big mistake those days. In order to keep their skin as porcelain, young women ate clay, even though this sometimes caused anemia or chlorosis. At the end of the 18th century, women at the Court of France, an even Marie Antoinette, were obsessed of having a white, flawless skin. Their solution consisted in applying thick layers of white powder, made from anything, from white graphite to grind bone talc, mixed with wax, whale oil or vegetable oil.
- In AD 74, Roman Emperor Vespasian reintroduced an urine tax on public toilets. When his son Titus criticized him for the disgusting nature of the tax, Vespasian told him that “pecunia non olet”, meaning “money does not smell”.
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14 Sep, 2010
- In 1938, Time magazine had chosen Adolf Hitler as “man of the year”. In the same year, the fuhrer took control over the German army, announced that he was planning to destroy Czechoslovakia, he increased his influence in Austria, and exiled 12.000 Jews from Germany. The cover depicted Hitler playing “his hymn of hate in a desecrated cathedral while victims dangle on a St. Catherine's wheel and the Nazi hierarchy looks on.”
- The shortest war in history was that between Zanzibar and United Kingdom in 1896 and it lasted approximately 45 minutes.
- The longest war in history was the one between the Netherlands and Scilly Islands with a duration of 335 years. The war started in 1651 and peace was finally declared in 1986. However, it seems that the war extended for 335 years due to the lack of a peace treaty, but without a single shot being fired.