A Delicate Matter

In 1926 an English probate court accepted a will written on an empty eggshell.

A Manchester widow had found the shell on her husband’s wardrobe. On it was written, “17-1925. Mag. Everything i possess. — J. B.”

The dead man had been dieting and used to bring eggs with him to work. His initials had been J.B., the message was in his handwriting, and he had always called his wife “Mag.” The court accepted the shell as a valid will (Hodson v. Barnes, 1926).

See also Let’s Get This Over With.

One Solution

The Professor brightened up again. ‘The Emperor started the thing,’ he said. ‘He wanted to make everybody in Outland twice as rich as he was before — just to make the new Government popular. Only there wasn’t nearly enough money in the Treasury to do it. So I suggested that he might do it by doubling the value of every coin and bank-note in Outland. It’s the simplest thing possible. I wonder nobody ever thought of it before! And you never saw such universal joy. The shops are full from morning to night. Everybody’s buying everything!’

— Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno

Birth of a Nation

American businessman Russell Arundel and his friends were drinking rum in a Nova Scotia fishing lodge in 1948 when they got blearily ambitious: They drew up a declaration of independence for tiny Outer Bald Tusket Island, renaming it Outer Baldonia:

Fishermen are endowed with the following inalienable rights: The right to lie and be believed. The right of freedom from questioning, nagging, shaving, interruption, women, taxes, politics, war, monologues, cant and inhibition. The right to applause, vanity, flattery, praise and self-inflation. The right to swear, lie, drink, gamble and be silent. The right to be noisy, boisterous, quiet, pensive, expansive and hilarious.

Baldonia’s currency, they declared, was the tunar; all citizens who caught bluefin tuna would be named princes; and exports would include empty rum and beer bottles. Women were banned — though an exception was eventually made for Arundel’s former secretary, “princess” Florence McGinnis, because “I was doing all the paperwork.”

Baldonia made a modest name for itself: It was recognized in the Washington D.C. telephone directory, and Rand McNally put it on a map. But Arundel tired of the joke and eventually sold the island to the Nova Scotia Bird Society — he’d spent only one night in the “royal palace,” he said, and found it “windy, cold, and miserable.”

History Confounded

In 1620 the Duke of Buckingham dug a hole at the center of Stonehenge.

John Aubrey, who interviewed local residents about it in 1666, reports that “something was found, but what it was Mrs. Mary Trotman … hath forgot.”

Every Minute

In the 1840s P.T. Barnum found himself a victim of his own success. His New York museum of curiosities proved so popular that it was regularly filled to capacity and could admit no more customers.

Barnum studied the problem and hired a carpenter. Soon a new door appeared in the museum with a sign reading THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS.

Those who followed it found themselves on Ann Street.