The Tichborne Claimant

Lady Henriette Felicite must have been surprised to learn that her drowned son was alive and working as a butcher in Wagga Wagga, Australia. Even more strangely, he had grown fat, his black hair had turned brown, and he no longer spoke French. But she was desperate to reclaim him, and in 1865 he joined her in Paris.

It was a fruitful reunion. “Sir Roger” accepted an allowance of £1,000 a year and resumed his life, winning the support of the Tichborne family solicitor, his former companions in the 6th Dragoon Guards, and several county families and villagers.

But his fortunes fell when Lady Tichborne died and he was accused of imposture. Though more than 100 people vouched for his identity, he ultimately lost his bid for the inheritance and served 10 years in prison for perjury.

We’ll never know who he really was — but his grave is marked Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne.

Fortune Favors the Bold

On Oct. 16, 1906, small-time criminal Wilhelm Voigt became a big-time criminal … for one day.

Wearing a secondhand captain’s uniform, he appeared at the local army barracks, where he dismissed the commander. Then, with 10 grenadiers and a sergeant in tow, he took a train to Köpenick, east of Berlin, and took over city hall.

There he confiscated 4,000 marks and 37 pfennigs and ordered the town secretary and the mayor sent to Berlin on charges of crooked bookkeeping. He told the remaining soldiers to guard the building for half an hour and then left for the train station, where he changed back to civilian clothes and slipped away.

Why? Why not?

Who?

Identities assumed by virtuoso impostor Stanley Clifford Weyman (1890-1960):

  • U.S. consul representative to Morocco. Arrested for fraud.
  • Military attaché from Serbia and U.S. Navy lieutenant (so the two could use each other as references).
  • “Lt. Cmdr. Ethan Allen Weinberg, consul general for Romania.” He inspected the U.S.S. Wyoming and invited its officers to a dinner at the Astor Hotel. On being arrested, he was heard to complain that they should have waited until dessert.
  • “Royal St. Cyr,” a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Arrested on an inspection tour of the Brooklyn armory.
  • Company doctor in Lima, Peru. Threw parties until arrested.
  • State Department naval liaison officer. Introduced himself to Princess Fatima of Afghanistan and promised to arrange a meeting with the president. She gave him $10,000 for “presents” to State Department officials. Weyman got appointments with Secretary of State Evans Hughes and with Warren G. Harding. Indicted for impersonating a naval officer.
  • U.S. secretary of state. Interviewed Queen Marie of Romania for the Evening Graphic newspaper.
  • Personal physician to Pola Negri, Rudolph Valentino’s grieving lover. Established a faith-healing clinic and issued regular press releases.
  • Arrested during World War II for telling draft dodgers how to feign various medical conditions.
  • Journalist for the United Nations. Caught when he asked the State Department whether he could remain a U.S. citizen if he became the Thai delegation’s press officer.

Ironically, Weyman’s most honest act may have been his last: He was shot trying to stop a robbery in a New York hotel. “One man’s life is a boring thing,” he once said. “I lived many lives. I’m never bored.”

“How the Deal Boatmen Used to Smuggle Tea Ashore”

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17563/17563-h/17563-h.htm

“The accompanying picture is no imaginary instance, but is actually taken from an official document. The figure is supposed to represent one of these Deal boatmen, and the numerals will explain the methods of secreting the tea. (1) Indicates a cotton bag which was made to fit the crown of his hat, and herein could be carried 2 lbs. of tea. He would, of course, have his hat on as he came ashore, and probably it would be a sou’wester, so there would be nothing suspicious in that. (2) Cotton stays or a waistcoat tied round the body. This waistcoat was fitted with plenty of pockets to hold as much as possible. (3) This was a bustle for the lower part of the body and tied on with strings. (4) These were thigh-pieces also tied round and worn underneath the trousers. When all these concealments were filled the man had on his person as much as 30 lbs. of tea, so that he came ashore and smuggled with impunity. And if you multiply these 30 lbs. by several crews of these Deal boats you can guess how much loss to the Revenue the arrival of an East Indiamen in the Downs meant to the Revenue.”

— East Indian smugglers’ scheme to evade English customs officers, circa 1810. From E. Keble Chatterton, King’s Cutters and Smugglers, 1700-1855, 1912

Seeing Double

In January 2005, Canadian police officer Chris Legere pulled over an 18-year-old woman for driving 96 mph.

That afternoon he pulled over the same car doing 92 mph in the opposite direction. At first he thought it was driven by the same driver, but he was mistaken.

It was her identical twin sister.

Prohibition and the Family

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prohibition.jpg

A letter to the Seattle Bureau of Prohibition, Sept. 12, 1931:

Dear Sir:

My husband is in the habit of buying a quart of wiskey every other day from a Chinese bootlegger named Chin Waugh living at 317-16th near Alder street.

We need this money for household expenses. Will you please have his place raided? He keeps a supply planted in the garden and a smaller quantity under the back steps for quick delivery. If you make the raid at 9:30 any morning you will be sure to get the goods and Chin also as he leaves the house at 10 o’clock and may clean up before he goes.

Thanking you in advance, I remain yours truly,

Mrs. Hillyer

Source Forge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:SupperatEmmaus-Meegeren.jpg

One of these Vermeers is a forgery. Which is it?

Click for Answer

Nice Try

From Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle, 1896:

A convict at Brest put up his rectum a box of tools. Symptoms of vomiting, meteorism, etc., began, and became more violent until the seventh day, when he died.

After death, there was found in the transverse colon, a cylindric or conic box, made of sheet iron, covered with skin to protect the rectum and, doubtless, to aid expulsion. It was six inches long and five inches broad and weighed 22 ounces.

It contained a piece of gunbarrel four inches long, a mother-screw steel, a screw-driver, a saw of steel for cutting wood four inches long, another saw for cutting metal, a boring syringe, a prismatic file, a half-franc piece and four one-franc pieces tied together with thread, a piece of thread, and a piece of tallow, the latter presumably for greasing the instruments.

“On investigation it was found that these conic cases were of common use, and were always thrust up the rectum base first,” the authors explain. “In excitement this prisoner had pushed the conic end up first, thus rendering expulsion almost impossible.”