1837 Merchant's Exchange Hard Times Token

“Hard Times Tokens” Were Not One Cent

The counterfeit currencies issued in response to 1837’s coin shortage were worthless—or were they?
Drawing of the funeral procession of Elizabeth I of England

Her Majesty’s Kidnappers

In the 17th century, Nathaniel Giles had the right to conscript young singers into the British royal children’s choir. He and a business partner went a step further.
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus

Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Christmas War of the Sexes

In the late nineteenth century, bachelor Santa got married. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Claus contributed uncompensated labor to the Claus household.
Mario hat Odysseus

Statues

The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Yellow Jacobins

Our Long-Running Love Affair with Pigeons

Through crazes of pigeon-fancying, these birds have been reshaped into a dizzying variety of forms.
Two pages from a baby book from the 1920s

The Long-Lost Ritual of Baby Books

Mothers used to documented their infant children's milestones—first steps, first smile—in specially made books. They're amazing historical documents.
Aurora Borealis by Frederic Edwin Church overlaid with The Battle of Culloden by David Morier

When the English Witnessed Battles in the Sky

Some claimed the battles were so fierce they could smell the gunpowder.
Stacked products in open fridge

Food and Class: What’s in the Fridge?

A recent New York Times quiz got us thinking about refrigerators, food, diet, and assumptions about class. Here are 11 stories on the subject.
Scribes from Meketre's Model Granary ca. 1981–1975 B.C.

How to Fight with Friends in Ancient Egypt

A scholar finds that some ancient Egyptians who were literate wrote annoyed letters to friends.
The New Perfume by John William Godward, 1914

When Royals Perfumed Themselves with the Excretions of Musk Deer and Civet Cats

In the era of Louis XV, it was fashionable to drench oneself in “animal scents.”