Three Fearsome Things from History

I did not make the above illustration! Marksman Brian G. kindly forwarded me this article at Futility Closet, which reprints a 1910 magazine feature entitled “If Insects Were Bigger”:

What a terrible calamity, what a stupefying circumstance, if mosquitoes were the size of camels, and a herd of wild slugs the size of elephants invaded our gardens and had to be shot with rifles!

Basically, someone beat me to Wondermark by 100 years or so (and this even predates Max Ernst by a few decades). The full article is well worth a read. Thanks, Brian!

Several kind readers brought to my attention the “Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage” exhibit, showing through May 9 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Here’s a great description from an article in the CS Monitor:

William Henry Fox Talbot introduced photography to England in 1839. Due to the cumbersome equipment and time and expense required, photographs were the exclusive purview of the wealthy. In the 1850s, however, commercial cartes-de-visite with photographic portraits (the size of business cards today) became, as [curator Malcolm] Daniel says, “wildly, wildly popular – a worldwide phenomenon.” Collecting and displaying these pictures fueled a fad called “cartomania.” When Queen Victoria had her portrait made in the 1860s, 3 million to 4 million copies were made and sold. [...]

This accessibility and democratizing effect posed a problem for the “upper ten thousand” of high-society England. Wishing to re-establish the display of photographs as an elite activity, amateur artists adopted a cut-and-paste technique that required ample leisure not available to the masses. The female album creators collaged images of family, friends, and celebrities, mixing fact (photographs) and fancy (the sometimes irreverent settings they drew).

Finally, Mike H. sends along this collection of drunken mugshots from 1904. Need more be said?


  • http://immagini-di-vita.com/ Lugh

    Interesting that the “giant insect” picture was published only a few years after H. G. Wells’ “Food of the Gods.” I wonder if there is a connection there.

  • http://www.Chris-Reilly.com reilly3000

    hehehe. If insects were bigger…

    I have a 3 year old who is pretty much fearless. At dinner yesterday, a little annoying electric scooter zoomed by outside.

    “What’s that?” he asked.

    “A giant bumble bee,” my wife replied, nonchalant.

    It took about 20 minutes to calm him down. He was screaming and shaking… which I’d never seen him do before.

    I have to give it to him. If I had truly beleived a giant bumble bee was outside of my home I would have had nothing to offer but pure terror and copious defecation.

    Ahh the joys of lying to children…

  • http://www.geek-sauce.com Chris

    I often wonder what life would be like if hummingbirds drank blood. Also, I love those old drunk pictures. I’m probably related to some of those lively fellows.

  • beabee

    Huh, apparently Victorian pictures resized and moved around are inherently hilarious. That reminds me of how Scott Adams discovered, after naming his comic, that there existed another Dilbert strip during WWII!
    http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/ww2timeline/dilbert-images.html