60 Rare Vintage Photos From History
Sleeping Beauty! The famous photo of Princess Diana dozing off at an official royal engagement in 1981, the next day it was announced that she was pregnant with her first child.
When we look to history we do so in order to feel awe at the natural universe. Whether we’re looking to nature, or craning our necks up at a piece of architecture, we’re forced to think about all the people who’ve done the same things before us. In that sense it feels good to be a speck of dust on the windshield of time.
Click forward to see an entertaining collection of rare photos including Frank Zappa with his parents in his purple home, Freddie Mercury rocking a massive crowd, and the world’s oldest Yelp review written in Babylonian. We hope you’re settled in because you’re not going to want to peel your eyes away from the sights we have to show you. Go forth and explore!
Following a year plus engagement to Prince Charles, Diana of Wales and Charles were married on July 29 1981. The Princess was seen as a firebrand from their wedding, specifically because she didn’t vow to “obey” the prince when they were married. From then on she was a favorite of the dirt sheets and never truly escaped the eye of the media.
After changing her vows the next thing she did to stir the pot of the English media came on November 4 1981 when she fell asleep at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Splendors of the Gonzagas exhibition. Just writing that makes me sleepy, so you can’t hold it against her. And she had a good reason to nod off, the following day she discovered she was pregnant with her first child.
"When you seek beauty in all people and all things, you will not only find it, you will become it."
To find beauty in the people and the places where you find them is to truly become confident in yourself. It’s one thing to say that everyone is beautiful, but it’s completely another kind of life to find the good in someone regardless of who they are or what they’ve done. Once you’ve committed yourself to striving for the good in everything you’ll find that suddenly you’re doing the same for yourself, as if you’re two blades sharpening on another.
This may feel like a new age way of thinking, but ask yourself, what's wrong with believing that people are inherently good? What's wrong with finding something good in yourself?
A female octopus, known as a hen, may lay up to 100,000 eggs. She obsessively guards the eggs until they hatch and even stops eating.
One of the most fascinating aspects of cephalopod life is the way the females of the species give their lives to make sure their offspring makes it through gestation and into their first moments of life. When a female octopus lays her eggs that’s the beginning of her final stage of life. With her remaining time on Earth a mother octopus covers her eggs to protect them from predators while insuring that they receive the right amount of fresh, warm water.
While she does carries out her final mission she doesn’t eat, and she never leaves them alone. Once the eggs hatch the female octopus dies, giving her life so her children may start their own adventures.
A hummingbird built its nest on a peach.
Hummingbird nests don’t have to be a huge affair. More often than not the nests are just a little bigger than the height and width of a quarter, and they can be built anywhere from 10 to 90 feet high. Most of the times they’re built in trees or shrubs, but sometimes a humming bird decides that the best place to build a nest is on a piece of fruit. And why not? They love the sweet smell of sugar, so it makes sense that a humming bird would pick the sweetest place they can find.
Hummingbird eggs usually incubate for about 20 days, and baby hummingbirds usually stick around the next for another month before zooming out of the nest in search of delicious sugar water.
Amazing polar stratospheric clouds in Norway.
Polar stratospheric clouds, also known as nacreous clouds, look like pearl shaped rainbows in the sky. They tend to form in the stratosphere, which is technically above the area in the atmosphere where weather occurs. They’re incredibly cold, and mostly made of ice, so when the sun shines through them they refract the light around their insides to create iridescent colors.
The Washington Post notes that the formation of nacreous clouds signifies intense ozone damage because of the way that the clouds play host to various chemical reactions that can destroy the isothermal layer around the Earth. Adverse reactions never looked so good.
Frank Zappa in his Los Angeles home with his dad Francis, his mom Rosemarie, and his cat in 1970.
With his classical and jazz influenced rock music, Frank Zappa may have been the freakiest freak who ever freaked, but in many ways he was a fairly normal guy. Even though he was ensconced in the Laurel Canyon scene of the 1960s, he was hardly the party animal that many of those performers were. While they drank and did God knows what at The Troubadour and The Roxy, Zappa sequestered himself in his hilltop home where he jammed in his personal drug free zone.
It makes sense that Zappa would be a family man and keep up with his parents. After all, he had four kids of his own.
An amazing vertical view of Manhattan in 1944.
Unlike the modern sprawl of Los Angeles, every street and avenue above Houston in New York City was designed on a grid as a way to make sure that construction in the city could be both economic and easy to navigate. The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 lays out the plan for New York City, stating that the city would have 12 main North-South avenues and a series of East-West perpendicular cross streets, with Broadway being the only angled road.
One you understand the layout of the city it becomes instantly more understandable and easier to navigate. Today, New Yorkers walk the same streets that their brethren of the 19th century walked, and while many of them don’t think of the Commissioners’ Plan on a day to day basis, it’s the reason that getting around Manhattan is so easy.
An Australian green tree frog hitches a ride on top of a African spurred tortoise.
The tortoise may not care for the hare, but this one seems to be pretty chill about the whole frog situation. Frogs don’t normally hitch rides on top of tortoises, what with frogs being way faster than their shelled friends, but who can argue with letting someone else take the the burden of travel off your hands, or legs as it were.
How many times have you let your nebbish friend take the wheel on a road trip just because you were exhausted with staring down the yellow lines on the highway. This is basically like that, you know, but it animals.
An intact human nervous system dissected by two medical students in 1925, it took them over 1,500 hours to do this and there are only four of these in the world.
Of the four fully dissected human nervous systems that exist in the world, this is truly a masterpiece. While it’s a marvel of modern science it would fit just as well in a modern art museum, or hanging above a fireplace - just not in the dining room. This nervous system was dissected by M.A. Schalck and L.P. Ramsdell, medical students in Kirksville, Missouri, and they spent 1,500 hours carefully removing the nervous system from a cadaver. What were you doing in college?
This piece is on display at Still University in Kirksville and according to the director of the museum where it’s available to check out whenever you like. According Jason Haxton, the university’s museum director, “Medical students come into the museum and stare at it in amazement. Sometimes, they'll run in after a test to check their work.”
Another day at work for these lumberjacks in Oregon. (1918)
The life of a lumberjack in the early 20th century was that of a true man’s man. To be a part of a “falling crew” was to risk your life in order to help expand America. Lumberjacks all worked out out of camps deep in the woods where they’d spend all day felling a tree with axes and saws until they finally triumphed over its mighty body.
After a tree was felled it had to have its limbs removed before being turned into logs or being shipped off down river. The world of the lumberjack pretty much came to an end with the advent of machines that could do their jobs way faster, but the lumberjack will always hold a special place in the imagination of those with an adventurous spirit.
Baby otters, or pups, are born blind and they open their eyes only after forty days. They are very small when they are born, weighing only 4.6 ounces. Mothers will give birth to one litter a year.
Baby otters are a lot like baby humans, specifically because they’re born blind and spend their very early days in the care of their family. While humans open their eyes much earlier, baby otters can take up to 40 days to flit their eyelids open. In that time they’re completely at the mercy of their parents.
After they open their eyes, baby otters stick with their parents for at lest a year while they learn to walk, swim, and generally fend for themselves. Baby otters, or pups, are born throughout the year, but they’re most common in the summer months of May and June.
Carrie Fisher with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on the set of "The Blues Brothers" movie, 1980.
The Blues Brothers truly was a family affair. Fischer, who’d only been in Shampoo and a little movie called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope at the time of filming, was dating Dan Akroyd while working on the film and she told Vanity Fair that as excessive as people think the set was, it was ten times as crazy.
While on set the crew constructed a “Blues Bar” where the cast and crew would hang out after shooting. They would drink, play music, and do a bunch of drugs. Fischer said:
There was some girl who would hang out at the Blues Bar. “She cleaned the fishtank and provided mescaline. There were always these people that were enabling the party to continue.
If you've seen Blues Brothers that's not really a surprise, is it?
Diana Rigg as 'Emma Peel' in the TV series, "The Avengers." (1965-68)
Emma Peel and The Avengers were truly the epicenter of the cool mod style of the ‘60s. They carried less monarchal baggage than James Bond and his spying for the Queen, and season four and five’s Emma Peel was absolutely aces. This British icon was one of the first female spies to appear on television and she could do everything her male counterparts could, and while looking even more fab.
Most famously, Emma Peel made the cat suit a must have for swinging ‘60s spies. But she also rocked some truly psychedelic outfits when the series went from black and white to color. Has international intrigue ever been as cool again?
Ella Hattan, better known by 'La Jaguarina,' is regarded as one of the greatest swordswomen of the 19th century. "She had, for years, defeated just about every male opponent she could find, usually with broadswords on horseback." (photo from 1885)
You wouldn’t expect one of the greatest fencers known to man to come from Zanesville, Ohio, but if there’s anything that Ella Hattan teaches us it’s to expect the unexpected. Hattan spent much of the back half of the 19th century taking on all comers and defeating them, often on horseback.
In 1886 she arrived in San Francisco where she took part in a series of sword fights where she trounced every man who came her way, and earned a gold medial for her exploits. A year later she ran out of willing opponents and went on a vaudeville tour through California. Throughout her professional career she earned upwards of $1,000 per bout, which makes her one of the best paid athletes of the era.
Freddie Mercury in his element performing at Wembley in 1985.
At the apex of their career Queen truly knew how to command a stadium full of people. It just so happens that the height of the band’s career came decades into their career. By 1985 Queen had amassed a collection of hits that should make every other artist jealous. They could take the stage and run through their greatest hits without ever pausing for breath.
While Freddie Mercury may have had a troubled private life, he was truly at home on the stage, where he was allowed to cut loose and become one with the audience - the one true love of his life.
Hello World! This Nile crocodile is 'egg-cited' to make it's big entrance into the ecosystem.
Crocodiles are might predators that cower from nothing and eat pretty much everything, but they start out small. While they come from containers the size of you average chicken egg, the shell is much more dense and it weighs a little more than the average egg that you find in the store. When crocodile eggs are laid they come out clear, but they grow opaque over time, and by the time they grow completely white they’re ready to hatch.
Eggs incubate in a flat era that usually obscured by sand or weeds, and if you find a pile of crocodile eggs, watch out, the mother won’t be far away. If the babies have a hard time hatching then the mother croc rolls them around in her mouth until it cracks, then she walks the crocodile to the water where she teaches them the ins and outs of crocodile life.
Here's a shield that protected the face during extreme cold temps and snow storms in Canada, 1939.
How did it take so long for fashionistas to figure out the simplicity of cotton mask. Not only do these face masks look like a hassle to wear, but they look goofy as all get out. The Dutch name for these masks is “Plastic sneeuwstormbeschermer,” and that’s just as silly as these masks look.
There’s really no information online about what these masks are supposed to do other than sort of kind of block snow and ice, but they also look like they had the unintended side effect of keeping unwanted suitors from laying a smooch on your face during wintry months.
Here's looking at you, Kid! This baby cheetah is a charmer!
Hubba Hubba, what a good looking jungle cat. Baby cheetahs are born in litters of three to give and much like other mammals they’re born blind. Unfortunately about 50% of cheetah cubs are killed before they mature, the predators of Africa truly are cruel. When cheetah are born they’re covered in a thick mantle that acts as a deterrent from predators, and it looks like they’ve had their hair mussed with a nice glob of Palmade.
The mantle sheds over the course of their first year and a half of life, and by then they’ve reached their full size. Prior to that they go on hunts with their mother to learn how to survive.
The infamous exotic dancer and double agent, Margaretha Geertruida 'Margreet' MacLeod a.k.a. "Mata Hari" in 1906.
Mata Hari, best known as the sensual, dancing spy who worked as a double agent during World War I is one of the most discussed figures of the Great War. Not only because of her beauty, but many scholars are unsure about how big her role actually was. Following a bitter divorce the woman known as Margaretha Zelle moved to Paris in 1905 and began giving risqué performances to the gentry of the day.
After a fateful trip to The Hague in 1915, Mata Hair was introduced to Karl Kroemer, the honorary German consul of Amsterdam, who paid her 20,000 francs to work as a spy for Germany. She took the money, but not because she wanted to exchange information, she saw the payment as a remuneration for the effects that German stole from her when war broke out across Europe.
She was followed by intelligence officers from the moment she returned to Paris, and in 1916 she was arrested after being sent to spy on Germany by France. The entire thing was a set up meant to raise morale for the French people. However, Mata Hari confessed to spying for France in order to gain release from her interrogation. She was released, and for some reason she continued spying on Germany for France, unaware that a trap was being laid for her. In 1917 she was arrested again, convicted on eight counts of espionage, and put to death by firing squad. She refused to be tied to a stake for her execution and instead chose to stand of her own accord.
Japanese Samurai helmet (kabuko) shaped like an octopus from the 18th century.
Helmets worn by Japanese samurai are known as Kabuto, but they came about long before the samurai class. These helmets first hit the scene in the fifth century and it has seven distinct parts: the hachi, or dome. The then, an opening at the top of the dome. The mabizashi, or the brim. The ukebari, the cloth lining of inside the hachi. The tsunamoto, the mounting points. The Kasa jirushi no kan, which is the ring for attaching a flag. The Fukigaeshi, a type of ear protection. The shikoro, a neck guard. And the shinobi-no-o, or the chin cord.
The helmets took on amazing visuals that represented the personality of the wearer, which means that this octopus kabuto must have belonged to a sea-faring man.
Jean Harlow poses next to the huge World Heavyweight Champion Primo Carnera (nicknamed the Ambling Alp) in 1933. He had freakish strength and was genetically superior in that sense.
Primo Carnera was a mountain of a man. The “Ambling Alp” held the World Heavyweight Champtionship from June 29 1933 to June 14 1934, but he’s often looked at as an outlier in the boxing world. Which makes sense, the guy was HUGE. He was was 6’6’’ and he weighed more than 250 pounds and even though he held the belt for a year he had a somewhat controversial career.
Not only was the boxing commission not hot on Carnera for his predilection for wrestling his opponents rather than, you know, boxing them, he was also robbed of about $40,000 one night. Can you imagine having the stones to rob this guy?
Legend says that on this date (August 22, 565 A.D.) Saint Columba banished a sea monster to the depths of Loch Ness in Scotland.
Crytpid hunters and dreamers alike have long flocked to Loch Ness in Scotland to see the fabled Nessie float across the waves of the Scottish highlands. Even though the only proof of Nessie’s existence comes from a set of less than credible photos, it’s believed that she was banished below the water by Saint Columbia, an Irish missionary who helped bring the gospel to Scotland.
Supposedly, Saint Columbia saw a large beast attack someone on the shores of Loch Ness and he invoked the name of God before telling the monster to “go back with all speed.” That’s when Nessie went beneath the waves and was never seen again.
Love their reaction when these little girls see the bride and groom kiss!
Weddings, unless you’re the bride or the groom they’re usually a pain. You’ve got to get dressed up and spend and entire day making sure that your friends know that you’re happy for them. To be a kid at a wedding is so much worse. You don’t get to eat what you want, you don’t get to drink, and you have to sit still for hours at a time. Also, there’s all that gross kissing.
The idea that you too one day have get all dolled up and make out in front of your friends and family is bad enough, but to have to have it flaunted in your face is just despicable.
Teens protesting the high school dress code that banned slacks for girls in Brooklyn, 1940.
It’s hard to imagine a time when girls weren’t allowed to wear jeans or slacks, but in the 1940s there was a ban on gals wearing pants like their male counterparts based on the fashion being “dangerous.” During World War II it became fashionable for women to wear pants because women were taking on men’s jobs while their husbands were fighting in Europe and Japan.
However, after the war ended women were asked to get back into their dresses. But in 1972 a law was finally passed that said if you received Federal funds you’re prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex.
Light Up Your Life With The Iridescent Caves of New Zealand
Don’t worry about bringing a flash light when visiting New Zealand’s Waitomo Glowworm Caves. This beautiful natural wonder was officially discovered in 1887 when Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and English surveyor Fred Mace explored the cave on a handbuilt raft. As they floated through the darkness they discovered the starry night-esque cave ceilings that were dotted with the Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm that you can only find in New Zealand and Australia.
Those ropes of light that you see are the gossamer threads that the worms hang from the ceiling in order to catch insects for dinner. Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. Still, you probably don’t want to touch them.
The Lake Wanaka Tree, where the willow sits alone in the shallow waters of the lake in New Zealand.
This tree that sits all alone in Lake Wanaka in New Zealand has long been a source of wonder for locals and travelers who travel far and wide to snap a pic. The tree stands on the foothills of Mount Aspiring National Park with the southern alps directly behind it. You can swim out to the tree, but the word on the street is that the water is pretty cold.
It’s been said that the tree is one of the most photographed on the planet, so make sure you find a good angle before you snap a pic. You’ve got to be unique.
The ruggedly beautiful Na Pali Coast in Kauai.
Kauai is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and the Na Pali coast is on the Northwest part of island. Its towering cliffs, slender valleys, and life altering waterfalls have long been giving travelers all the feels, and you wouldn’t be the first person to feel reinvigorated after a trip to the Kauai’s North Shore.
The valleys of the Napali Coast are pretty much the same as when they were discovered, as the area as seen as a sacred place among locals and travelers alike. If you get a chance to go, make sure you bring a camera so you can make all of your friends jealous.
Vintage soda cans.
What’s your favorite vintage soda? Do you prefer classics like Dr. Pepper or 7-Up? Or are you an outlier who prefers Donald Duck Cola and King Kooler Jr? Regardless of your favorite soda flavor you have to admit that the designs behind these classic cans bring back swell memories of hot summer days spent playing stick ball in the street.
Except for A&W Root Beer, that’s definitely a post lawn mowing drink. While many of these sodas don’t exist anymore, there are still plenty of places to find the good ‘ol designs, you just have to do a little research first.
A young Teddy Roosevelt in North Dakota, 1884.
1884 was a rough year for Teddy Roosevelt. While he was in New York working with the state legislature in order to get a reform bill passed, he was informed that his mother, Mittie, passed away after catching typhoid fever. But that’s not the worst of it. On the same day his wife of four years died of kidney failure.
After the death of his two closest loved ones he quit the government, told his friends to never mention his mother or his wife again, and he struck out for the Dakotas. While working as a sheriff and cattle rancher he wrote a local history of the area. After a blizzard killed all of his cattle he left the Dakotas and went back to politics.
Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. The team that built this structure used over 11,000 plants to improve air quality and increase housing.
Bosco Verticale, otherwise known as the Vertical Forest is a set of residential towers designed by Boeri Studio to house some of the wealthiest people in the area. The towers were constructed to rehabilitate the area, and each building has at least 900 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 floral plants, thus helping the area absorb carbon dioxide and introduce more oxygen to the area.
The buildings took two years to complete, and in 2014 they won the International Highrise Award. If you’ve got the money you can pop over to Milan and live in your very own tree house.
Three employees of the Cleveland Trust Company being trained to defend the main vault in the company's office, 1924.
In this day and age bank employees don’t really have to worry all that much about bank robberies. But the 1920s were the heyday of stick ups, so bank tellers had to know how to defend themselves. While bank employees got themselves used to standing their ground in a shootout, J. Edgar Hoover beefed up the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to track down the growing number of bank robbers.
By the 1930s bank robbers like Dillenger, Nelson, and Floyd were all behind bars, but for a few years bank tellers had some of the most exciting jobs on the planet.
1959 Chevy Impala with matching motor boat.
The 1950s and ‘60s were the best time to be a car owner, especially if you were a car owner who liked to take to the waves. This Impala and matching motor boat may look like they’re from the space age, but they’re actually from a time in American car culture when the coolest thing to do was to beef up your ride and show off how cherry your car was.
What better way to show off you groovy car than with a matching boat? Imagine pulling up to the lake in your fresh Impala and putting another Impala in the water? It doesn’t get much better than that.
The Xiaozhai Tiankeng, also known as the Heavenly Pit, is the world's deepest sinkhole.
A two-thousand foot drop is anything but heavenly, but for some adventurers it’s one of the greatest place to explore in the whole world. The sinkhole has vertical walls, which makes it a great place to spelunker, if you’re not worried about falling a hundred miles to the bottom. Inside the sinkhole you’ll find a waterfall at the mouth as well as a limestone steps that can take you to the bottom - and with 2,800 steps you’ll want to wear your FitBit.
Beneath the sinkhole you’ll find an underground river that starts in the Tianjing fissure gorge and runs to the Migong River. As you might imagine, the animal life in the sinkhole is truly a sight to behold with creatures like the clouded leopard populating the vast expanse.
"Oh, it's a jolly holiday with Mary." Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews rehearsing for Mary Poppins.
‘Ello ‘ello ‘ello, a spoon full of behind the scenes photos help the musical go down. The filming of Mary Poppins took place over the course of five months in 1963. Prior to that stars Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews worked tirelessly to get themselves prepped to perform the almost non-stop singing and dancing that occurs in the film.
How happy do these two look to be rehearsing Mary Poppins? Do you think they realized that they were taking part in a unique piece of animation history, or did they just really like to dance?
4000 year old ancient Babylonian clay tablet is a complaint from a customer who wants a refund due to the delivery of the wrong grade of copper.
It turns out that people didn’t even need Yelp to complain back in the day. In fact, with the detail placed into this complaint over the wrong grade of copper it looks like whoever carved this really wanted to let their copper guy know how bad he screwed up. Was there a star rating involved in this review or is it just an Earth salting mic drop of a clay carving?
I guess you have to learn Babylonian to really know. The next time you’re worried about leaving a negative review just remember that whatever you write won’t be as extra as this clay tablet.
A boy proudly shows off his ray gun, 1950s
The 1950s were the heyday of outer space exploits. Whether you preferred to watch B-Grade science fiction or reruns of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, there was one thing ever present - the ray gun. There were hundreds of models of ray guns, but this model is the classic Rocket Jet by US Plastics. It was manufactured throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s and while it’s not as showy as many of the ray guns of the era, it’s definitely one of the most well recognized designs.
If you had one of these bad boys on your side then there was no Moon Man or Venusian that could stand a chance against you.
A nicely restored 1946 Nash Ambassador Suburban.
Will you look at that wood grain? Is it bringing back memories of cross country road trips and the license plate game? If not then you’re missing out. While the car was unique in its day, it’s definitely a car that’s hard to find today. Only about fifteen Nash Ambassador Surburbans still survive because they required so much upkeep. Not only did they have a habit of rusting, but they were prone to structural damage.
If you find one of these at a good price you’ve got to pick it up. While they may not be good for gas mileage, it sure would be fun to take around the block.
A Viking ax 'before and after' being restored.
Axes were so popular in the Viking community because of the ease at which they could be constructed and repaired. Not only that, but an axe can be used for nearly anything - be it a mundane task like digging or chopping, or something exciting like going to war.
Most of the time, axe heads from the 10th and 11th centuries were plain Jane in their construction, but some of them are decorated with inlays that tell stories of their village, or with a message of the gods. Just about every Viking axe head is made of iron, although they were also known to use bronze from time to time.
A woman who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945.
The atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the most devastating acts of war that have ever occurred. On August 9 a B-29 bomber dropped a an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, which killed about 40,000 people, inciting Japan’s withdrawal from World War II.
Sueko Shimohira, a woman who survived the bombing, didn’t speak about her experience in the war for quite some time. However in 2018 she began working with her granddaughter on a book about her experiences in order to help future generations understand the horrors of war. Shimohira says that in spite of the radiation present in Nagasaki she searched the the area diligently to look for her friends.
Abandoned house in Milwaukee, WI
If there were going to be a haunted house this would definitely be one. Unfortunately abandoned multi-storied houses like this one are a normal fact of life in the mid-west. If it weren’t for the harsh conditions of the winters in that area they might be a little easier to fix up. However, the harsh weather ruins the foundations and completely destroys the wood.
Still, these houses look beautiful covered in snow. If you find one of these in your neck of the woods don’t go in alone, and make sure you bring a flashlight and a camera, you never know what you're going to find.
An 8 year-old coal miner in Utah or Colorado, USA, in the early 1900's.
While this might seem like a staged photo or a halloween costume, the truth of the matter is that throughout the 19th century and the early 20th century somewhere around 2 million children were employed in industrial jobs because they were cheaper than adults. Not only that, but their small statures made it easier for them to get into small spaces that their older brothers and fathers couldn’t fit into.
After a photo expose by the National Child Labor Committee, the federal government put a stop to the hiring of children with the Keatings-Owen Child Labor Act in 1916.
An ancient forest cottage in Stradbally, Ireland.
Is there any more of a picturesque place than Ireland? If you make your way across the emerald aisle you’ll find Stradbally, a village made up of thatched cottages that are just begging for you to spend a month idling away the time in a rocking chair before going down to the pub.
The wee village has been around since the 6th century, so you can do your share of historical digging while you’re in the area, and while there’s plenty of things to do in the area you’ll want to explore the town’s Market Square before you do anything else.
Beach-goers at Palm Beach, Florida. (1905)
My my, swimsuits sure have changed in the last hundred years. In the early 20th century Victorian fashions were still all the rage, which is why women tended to wear floor length wool dresses, high collars, and bloomers even when they hit the beach. While not every Victorian beach comber was the same, they all covered up as much as possible.
Remember, this is before showing as much skin as possible was popular, so there was no need to get a tan - or show off your ankles. Men, on the other hand, were given a bit more leeway in their dress. While many of them stuck to the suit and hat it wasn’t out of the ordinary to see a fellow showing off his knees and shoulders.
Benjamin Franklin designed one of the first American coins, the Fugio Cent, that said "Mind Your Business" instead of "In God We Trust".
How great would it be if we still had coins that said “Mind Your Business?” I’d put one of those up above the door to my living room. The Fugio Cent was authorized on April 21, 1787 and Franklin obviously had a ball designing this coin. It’s believed that the coin’s use of the word “business” is meant to be taken literally, in that business owners should keep their minds on their money and their money on their mind.
Franklin’s Fugio Cent was only in circulation for a couple of years, and was shortly replaced by the penny.
Choosing Tabu perfume from a coin-operated 'Perfumatic' vending machine, 1952.
The Perfumatic was one of a machine that was every gals secret helper when she was out for a night on the town. Head out to dinner and forget to freshen up? Then hit up the Perfumatic for a spritz of Tabu, he won’t know the difference. At the time an item form the machine only cost a dime, so it wasn’t a big investment to sprtiz yourself up a bit.
The machines fell out of fashion in the following decades, but collectors still search for these babies. If a Perfumatic is in particularly good shape it’s almost as good as finding a time machine.
Cocaine toothache drops for children, 1885
Ah, the 19th century, when you could give hard drugs to children and not think anything of it. While most people think as cocaine as nose candy, it also has incredible anesthetic properties which make it a go to drug for treating tooth aches. Cocaine tooth drops would both ease your pain and put you in a great mood. Well, that is until your tooth ache came back.
At the time these tooth drops were fairly inexpensive, running you only 15 cents for an entire box. What do you think these bad boys would get you on the street?
Edmonde Guydens dances at the Moulin Rouge, 1926.
The Moulin Rogue still stands in Paris today, but its sauciest times occurred in the early 20th century, before the second World War, when the champagne flowed and everyone thought the global party was never going to end. Edmonde Guydens was one of the many infamous dancers who graced the stage of the Moulin Rouge, performing titillating dance numbers to the raucous men and women who wanted to party with the world’s sexist performers.
Moulin Rouge burned down in 1915, but it was rebuilt in 1921 and it’s been a celebrated tourist spot ever since. Just don't expect to see anything as saucy as you would have seen in the '20s today.
Edward Smith, captain of Titanic, in 1911
Born in 1850, Captain Edward J. Smith was a decorated navel officer who’s father wanted him to follow in the family business - pottery. Clay meant nothing to Smith and he soon found his life out at sea, first traversing the sea as a member of the Senator Weber as a teenager. Smith was a natural seaman and quickly shot up the ranks and he commanded his first vessel in 1875.
By 1900 Smith was captaining passenger ships, and he was even in charge of the Olympic when it suffered a crash in September 1911. Even though he managed to save that vessel, it was only a year later that he Captained the Titanic on its one and only voyage across the Atlantic.
First photo of Machu Picchu, Peru, taken when Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham first arrived at the site, 1911
Explorers had been in awe of Machu Picchu since coming across it centuries ago, but the first person to give the gift of the ancient Peruvian citadel to the rest of the world was Hiram Bingham, a Yale archaeologist on his third expedition to South America. While he was surely the first person to photograph the site, Bingham was hardly the person who “discovered” it. Scholars believe that German adventurer and businessman Augusto Berns had found his way to the site years prior to Bingham.
But it was Bingham who gets the glory because he photographed it for National Geographic and he wrote about it in the book Lost City of the Incas.
Laundry day in New York, 1900.
Before the advent of the modern washer and dryer the only way to make sue your colors were clean and your whites stayed white were to hand wash and line dry your clothes. In a major metropolitan area like New York City this could be a hassle for someone with a big family. Space was cramped, and that meant fighting for line space.
It’s likely that neighbors had to work out deals for when they could dry their clothes so as not to take up precious clothing space. The first person on the block to get a dryer must have been very popular.
Mark Twain at his desk, 1880
One of the most preeminent authors of a burgeoning America was Mark Twain, a fabulous wit who could be curmudgeonly when he wanted to. With his bibliography available to us all at one time it may seem like he was constantly churning out books, but in fact it took him quite some time to finish a piece. Twain explained his writing style:
It is my habit to keep four or five books in process or erection all the time and every summer add a few courses of bricks to two or three of them, but I cannot forecast which of the two or three it is going to be. It takes seven years to complete a book by this method but still it is a good method: gives the public a rest.
Mid-century toys for girls
If there was one thing that toys for girls in the 1950s and ‘60s were trying to do it was train them to be perfect little housewives. After all, practice makes perfect, and what better way to train someone to be a homemaker than to convince them that they’re having fun while doing it? This isn’t a treatise against the Easy Bake Oven, those things can make some killer snacks, but did we have to sell girls on using a carpet sweeper? How much fun could that have really been?
Admittedly, the sewing machine looks pretty cool. Do you think there are any of those still for sale?
Notre Dame Cathedral Tower, 1865
Notre Dame Cathedral Tower has long been a place of contemplation and religious worship, not just for Parisians, but for travelers from all over the world. After its construction was completed in 1260 the cathedral is a triumph of gothic architecture. Despite some desecration during the French Revolution, the building still stands tall today.
While there’s no hunch back haunting the spires, the cathedral does have 10 bells that still mark the hours of the day and special ceremonies. So if you’re getting a look at the city during your trip to Notre Dame make sure to cover your ears.
Galileo's drawings of the moon, 1610.
Man has long been obsessed with the moon. What is it? Is it full of cheese or custard? Is it even real? While our theories have grown wild in the 21st century, philosophers and scientists of every era did their best to discover its secrets. Many artists drew the moon before Galileo, but he was one of the first to use a telescope to get a clear image of Earth’s little tagalong.
Galileo used his stellar view of the Moon to illustrate the shadows on the rock, as well as the small spots and dark lines that carries the Moon’s surface. He was also one of the first people to realize that the Moon had crags and valleys, thus making it imperfect.
Roy Orbison on a go-kart in the 1960s.
Roy Orbison wasn’t crying when he took this go-kart on a spin, and while he was almost as blind as a bat, if there was anything he wanted, he got it. Aside from being an amazing singer-songwriter, Orbison was a classic gear-head, and he was known to follow a car he liked for blocks just to make the driver and offer on the spot.
Over the course of his life he amassed quite a collection of vintage cars and motorcycles, although it’s unclear if he also maintained a healthy amount of go-karts as well. If he did, he probably let every pretty woman in his life take them for a spin.
Winston Churchill at age 12 with his mother, 1887.
Winston Churchill lead a life of extremes. He fought in wars, and delivered bon mots with the tenacity of a comedian performing a mic drop, but when he was 12 years old all he wanted to do was be in London for the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria. He wanted to see the Queen’s Jubilee so badly that he wrote his mother and begged her to gain permission from his school to let him travel.
I am looking forward to seeing Buffalow [sic] Bill, yourself, Jack, Everest, and home. I would sooner come home for the Jubilee and have no amusement at all than stay down here and have tremendous fun.
Here's Houdini just about to be sealed in a crate and dropped into New York Harbor, 1912.
It’s rare that someone would look so at ease with the fact that they’re about to be dropped in the New York Harbor, regardless of whether or not they were in a crate, but Houdini wasn’t just anybody. Wildly enough, this stunt was put together last minute after New York City police stopped him from performing a similar stunt in the East River.
On July 7, 1912 Houdini and his crew beat feet over to Governors Island where the escape artist was nailed inside a wooden crate and tossed to sea. It took him about a minute to make his way back to the surface.
Flatiron Building, New York. (1904)
The Flatiron building stands silent like a lone golem over 175 Avenue in New York City. Because of its iconic shape the steel for its frame had to be precisely cut, and once construction began in June 1901 it only took a year for the building to be completed. Initially New Yorkers were split on the building, but 100 years later the building has come to represent the ingenuity of the American spirit.
In 2015 the Flatiron reached the most prominent moment of its existence when it was immortalized in the Lego Architecture series. Edward Steichen's painting of the building still stands as one of the most haunting portrayals of a building to ever see creation.
Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill, 1885.
It may seem odd that two men on the opposite end of the Wild West would come together the way Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull did, but these strange bedfellows were brought together in the name of commerce. Somehow, Wild Bill was able to convince Sitting Bull to perform in his Wild West Show for four months in 1885. During that time the two toured America and Europe together, growing close like many who share the road do.
Prior to Sitting Bull’s death at Standing Rock, Wild Bill was supposed to meet up with his old friend to try and end a tense situation. Unfortunately he never made it to his old friend, and Sitting Bull was hot to death by Native police on December 15, 1890.
The mind-blowing lumber harvest of the Seattle Cedar Lumber Manufacturing Company, 1919.
Now that is a lot of wood. You could probably build at least a couple of cabins out of this haul. The Seattle Cedar Lumber Manufacturing Company’s mill in Ballard, California was the largest in the area, with more than 40,000 pieces of lumber being cut daily. If you look closely you can see a man standing next to all that wood. How do you think he got down without getting a splinter?
While it’s fascinating that the company could stack their lumber so high, the company learned a lesson when their stacks caught fire in 1958, nearly burning the area to the ground.