The Claude Glass Revolutionized the Way People Saw Landscapes
Imagine tourists flocking to a famous beauty spot, only to turn around and fix their eyes on its reflection in a tiny dark mirror.
“Hard Times Tokens” Were Not One Cent
The counterfeit currencies issued in response to 1837’s coin shortage were worthless—or were they?
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.
Our Long-Running Love Affair with Pigeons
Through crazes of pigeon-fancying, these birds have been reshaped into a dizzying variety of forms.
When the English Witnessed Battles in the Sky
Some claimed the battles were so fierce they could smell the gunpowder.
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.”
The Paris Morgue Provided Ghoulish Entertainment
With its huge windows framing the corpses on display, the morgue bore an uncomfortable resemblance to a department store.
When Asbestos Was a Gift Fit for a King
File under: “don’t try this at home.”
Socially Sanctioned Love Triangles of Romantic-Era Italy
Eighteenth-century Italian noblewomen had one indispensable accessory: an extramarital lover.
Superbarrio: The People’s Superhero
Defender of the poor tenants and evictor of the voracious landlords, a masked lucha libre wrestler rose from the ruins of Mexico City’s 1985 earthquake.