The First "True" Plastic

In 1907, the Belgian-born American inventor Leo Baekeland invented Bakelite. Made from fossil fuels, not plants or animals or minerals, it has been described as the first synthetic plastic. Bakelite could stand up under high temperatures and it didn't conduct electricity. It was used widely for functional items like radios, telephones, and kitchenware, and for leisure like jewelry and toys.

A Very Good Sheep

The Mughal tradition of making portraits of strange or favorite animals was initiated by the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir (ruled 1605-1627) and was continued by both later Mughals and Rajput patrons. This study of a ram is from the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (ruled 1628-1658), who you may know for building the Taj Mahal.

These Engagement Rings Know How To Bring The Drama

Although it can make two separate rings, they can also be conjoined, and worn as one ring. When separated, one can see the secret message on the inside of each ring. On the diamond ring is “QUOD DEUS CONIUNXIT.” On the ruby ring is “HOMO NON SEPARET.” Translated from Latin, it means "Whom God has joined together, let no man tear asunder."

Such conjoined rings, called gimmel rings, were popular in the 1600s in Europe. This particular example is from 1631 in Germany. Traditionally, the members of a newly betrothed couple would receive one hoop each. At the wedding ceremony, the two rings would be joined.

How A Bird Became A Person

Did you know that the word "sniper" comes from World War I? Before then, specialist marksmen were called "sharpshooters." But during World War I, British officers began referring to sharpshooters as ‘snipers’, recalling in late 1700s and 1800s when officers stationed in India would go bird hunting in the hills. The tiny snipe bird being one of the hardest of targets to hit. The slang implied that with their newfangled telescopic-sighted rifles, the specialist marksmen could likely hit snipes with ease.

From 1914 the word was widely adopted by the British press, and it spread from there.

Temple of Amada

The oldest temple ever discovered in Nubia, the famous land south of ancient Egypt, was built during the 18th and 19th Dynasties (or between 1,550 and 1,189 BCE). Egyptian pharaohs made many revisions and renovations over the years. During Akhenaten's famous reign, for instance, all references to the god Amun were effaced, but then Seti I of Egypt's 19th dynasty had the name restored. Click through the image gallery to see more pictures from the temple.

The Temple of Amada is no longer in its original place on the east bank of the Nile River, because it was moved to a higher, safer spot as Lake Nasser flooded in the 1960s and 1970s.

Winnie The Pooh Was A Bad Communist

When Winnie-the-Pooh was proposed for sale in East Germany, censors found its message too neutral, insufficiently progressive, too individually-focused, and hence not representative of East German society. Here’s an extract from the print permit files of 1959:

Winnie the Pooh is exclusively about fantasy, happiness and child’s play. Certainly our children are not less imaginative in their play, but it cannot be denied that the fantasy of our children moves in another direction. Our time is not so much about a single child with his toys on his own — and if this does prevail in a child, it is not desired and does not match our didactic ideals. Thus, the value for the education of our children is minimal and it is not worthwhile spending foreign currency on it. Yet, should it be taken on in exchange for publishing one of our valuable children’s books in West Germany, a publication should not be refused.


The book did eventually get a permit and was published in 1960

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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