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Here's an interesting piece from a newspaper about the burgeoning market in Coca-Cola Fantasy items. One of the paper's readers wrote in to ask whether their Coca-Cola belt buckle designed by Tiffany Studios and showing a nude woman sitting on a crescent moon was of any value (unfortunately there's no picture of the item). The paper's reply: No, because the item is a fantasy fake:

[This] is what Coca-Cola collectors call a "fantasy," which is a piece that never existed as an old item, was not used in advertising by the Coca-Cola Co. (nor sanctioned by them), but is a modern creation meant to appeal to collectors or to mislead the unwary. There are literally tons and tons of these Coca-Cola "fantasy" items out there, lurking in flea markets and at garage sales. The variety seems to be endless, and belt buckles are one of the favorite items to be made as "fantasies," and many of them feature nude women, including one extremely tasteless and offensive example that has the representation of a nude nun of all things!

Nude Nun Coke memorabilia. I may be twisted, but for some reason that seems more interesting to me than the authentic Coke stuff.
Categories: Advertising, Food, History
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 08, 2004
Comments (31)
image The Philadelphia Print Shop has a great online collection of ancient maps that contain mythical geography. Mythical geography describes "geographic features that appear on the map but not on the earth; cities where none ever were, islands where there are but waves, lakes and rivers where there is dry land, and kingdoms of non-existent kings." (I have some more information about this topic in my Medieval Travel Lies Gallery). My favorite ancient maps in the Print Shop's collection are the ones of California as an island. Of course, it remains to be seen whether these were actually geographic myths, or astute predictions of the future. Being in San Diego, I'd love to be able to hang a map of California as an island in my living room, but since their prices range from $500 all the way up to $7000, that's not going to happen anytime soon. (via J-Walk)
Categories: History, Places
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 04, 2004
Comments (4)
image Inscription One is a stone obelisk engraved with ancient Thai script that describes the utopian kingdom of Siam. Believed to have been created in 1292, it's considered one of the great national treasures of Thailand, comparable to the American Liberty Bell or the English Magna Carta. But recently two scholars, Michael Wright and Piriya Krairiksh, have suggested that Inscription One is nothing more than a fake. They theorize that the obelisk actually dates only to 1833, the year in which it was 'rediscovered' by Prince Mongkut (who later became King Rama IV). They suggest that the Prince used it as a piece of national propaganda to promote his reformist policies. This theory isn't gaining the two scholars many friends in Thailand. 5000 outraged demonstrators recently "carried out a cursing ritual, burning chillies and salt and the names of the two men written on scraps of paper." A Thai politician has also demanded the arrest of the two men. Michael Wright, however, is shrugging all this off. He insists that he feels no ill-effects from the curse at all. (but just wait until his penis melts into his body, and then see what he says!)
Categories: History
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 02, 2004
Comments (4)
Liwwat Bocke was a German woman who moved to Ohio as a young woman during the nineteenth century. From the 1820s until the 1880s she kept a journal of her experiences... a journal that eventually spanned 1100 pages, all of which is written in a dialect of northern Germany known as Plattdeutsch. When historians discovered her journal during the 1970s they thought it was a remarkable find, sure to shed valuable light on the history of the settlement of Ohio. But now they're not so sure. Analysis of the document has revealed that it's a fake, plagiarized from other sources and containing numerous anachronisms. What no one can figure out is who created this forgery, and why they did it. As this article in The Plain Dealer notes, why would someone "go to such great effort to fake a journal about life in the 19th century and then attribute it to a German-speaking farm woman who is buried in a rural church cemetery in Auglaize County... Who would go to the trouble of hand-writing more than a thousand pages in Plattdeutsch - a low German dialect spoken mostly by older, rural people - to describe the settlement of Ohio?"
Categories: History, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 15, 2004
Comments (43)
image A remarkable photograph reveals archaeologists unearthing a massive (and when I say massive, I mean massive... we're talking a 50-foot behemoth here) skeleton at a site in Saudi Arabia. Of course, the Saudi military is keeping this all very hush, hush. The public couldn't handle knowing about such a remarkable discovery. If you get your news from The New Nation, 'Bangladesh's Independent News Source,' you might think this was an actual piece of news. But of course, it's totally false. The picture comes from a Worth1000 photoshop contest. The original, undoctored source of the image was a Cornell-sponsored dig of a mastodon in New York. Somehow the picture escaped into the alternative reality of email, accompanied by a bogus caption claiming that the picture was taken in Saudi Arabia, etc., etc. Apparently The New Nation received this email (forwarded to them from an anti-Muslim group that takes it upon itself to hoax Muslim papers) and fell for it hook, line, and sinker. The historically minded will note the long-standing popularity of Giant hoaxes, going all the way back to the 18th century where we find Commodore Byron's tales of Patagonian Giants, or the amazing popularity of giants, such as the Cardiff Giant, in the 19th century. (via Liquito and Apothecary's Drawer)
Categories: History, Photos/Videos, Science
Posted by Alex on Thu May 13, 2004
Comments (0)
image The Australian Museum has determined that a bone in its possession, that sports an arrow sticking through it, did not come from the leg of Captain James Cook. Strike all that. My mistake. The arrow is made out of bone, and this bone was long rumored to be a bone from Captain James Cook's leg. But it appears that the bone is actually from some kind of sea mammal.
Categories: History
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 29, 2004
Comments (1)
I'm a few days late noting this story, but I had to mention it anyway. One volume of the forged Hitler Diaries was recently sold at auction in Berlin, fetching around $7700. If there really was such a thing as a brick-and-mortar Museum of Hoaxes, I would have definitely put in a bid for it.
Categories: History, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Comments (0)
image BBC News has a good summary of the Shroud of Turin controversy, in light of the second face that was discovered on the backside of it. "Does this mean it is real after all? Or does it mean it's an even better hoax than was previously thought?" The answer: no one really knows. I noted in my book that the debate about the shroud rages on and likely will for the foreseeable future. The emergence of new evidence has simply made that more true than ever.
Categories: History, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 18, 2004
Comments (24)
The debate about the Vinland Map continues, and Scientific American summarizes the controversy. Everyone agrees that the parchment the map was written on is medieval, but what about the ink? That's the question.
Categories: History
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 03, 2004
Comments (0)
The Kensington Runestone, unearthed in Minnesota in 1898 and hailed as evidence of the presence of Norse explorers in ancient America, is off on a grand tour. First stop Sweden.
Categories: History
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 12, 2004
Comments (0)
The Newseum presents The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs in Stalin's Russia.
Categories: History, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 12, 2004
Comments (0)
michigan relicsIn October, 1890 James Scotford unearthed some relics while digging postholes for a fence in Montcalm County, Michigan. The relics appeared to demonstrate the prior existence of a Near Eastern culture in ancient America. They were eventually debunked as frauds, though not before attracting a lot of attention and stirring up lots of controversy. Now the relics are on display again. The Michigan Historical Museum has a special exhibit devoted to them titled 'Digging Up Controversy: The Michigan Relics.' Much of the exhibit can be viewed online. Definitely worth checking out.
Categories: History
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 01, 2004
Comments (0)
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