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The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand. Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienze, in the Palazzo Castellani

The Last Word On Nothing | Giving History the Finger

18th c instrument designed to measure the blueness of the sky called a Cyanometer. The simple device was invented in 1789 by Swiss physicist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt who used the circular array of 53 shaded sections in experiments above the skies over Geneva, Chamonix and Mont Blanc. The Cyanometer helped lead to a successful conclusion that the blueness of the sky is a measure of transparency caused by the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

Art Deco Silverplate Cocktail Recipe Disk, by Napier, American, 1935. The silverplate case holds a celluloid dial that can be rotated to show printed recipes for twenty classic cocktails. A jump bail allows the disk to be hung by a chain around a cocktail shaker or decanter.

Art Deco Napier Silverplate Cocktail Recipe Disk (item #1227535)

Anatomical model: Move the arms and open the abdomen of this 17th century collector's item.

Victorian Coffin-Thumbscrews served an obvious and important function: they would seal the lid to the coffin. But rather than being purely functional, this was a decorative feature on a coffin designed to obscure the practical task it was performing. They were attached on the edge of coffins at even intervals and typically you’d find six on a coffin. Birmingham Museums.

Reproduction of Jefferson's Wheel Cipher (created by Ronald Kirby) disassembled. Codes became an essential part of Jefferson's correspondence when he was America's minister to France (1784-1789) since European postmasters opened and read all letters passing through their command. Versions were still in use by the USArmy until the beginning of WWII.

Wheel Cipher « Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Gold and coral baby tooth ring, probably British, c. mid-19th C. Queen Victoria set a fashion for baby tooth jewelry, as she had various items of jewelry made with her own children's baby teeth, including a full bracelet of all 9 children's teeth. The tooth is surrounded by coral, often used in children's jewelry as a talismanic protection symbol.

Royal Touching Ceremony Entrance Ticket or Pass dating to the reign of Charles II, 1660-1680. It was issued by official agents of the Crown to sufferers of scrofula as a form of official entrance ticket or pass to one of Charles II’s royal healing or “touching” ceremonies. These were held in the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall throughout his reign.

Object ID: ZBA3036 Description: Lady's Short Hooded Cape belonging to Edith Mulligan. Worn during 1912 Titanic disaster in Lifeboat 12. Brown and White checked cloth. Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Lord-MacQuitty Collection

Porcinegraph: an eccentric millionaire's 1875 pork map of the United States.

16th cFrench cypher machine in the shape of a book, from the collection of the Château d'Écouen

Hear kitty … the Katzenklavier, or cat piano. Athanasius Kircher, a 17th c German Jesuit scholar, documented the Katzenklavier ("cat piano"). It has a normal keyboard in front of a line of cages, each of which has a cat trapped inside. When a key is pressed, a nail is driven into the tail of one unfortunate feline, which naturally screeches. It was designed to shock psychiatric patients into changing their behaviour, not play music. Fortunately, it was probably never built.

The 10 strangest musical instruments

Toothpick holder, unknown maker, ca. 1580, Germany, gilt bronze, Museum no. M.496-1956, Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

A Folk Art bone guillotine automata, French, c.1820. The three-stage model consists of a base, planked in bone with carved bone swags, attendant carved bone Guards and Bandsmen. Working guillotine, with movable neck clamp and movable blade released by a side lever. A loose head will fall into the waiting receptacle when the blade drops. Bonhams.

Jug honoring shoemaking trade, 1805. Northampton Museum

Coronation of Henry VIII with notes by Henry - On acceding to the throne, monarchs were crowned in a magnificent and elaborate ceremony in which the new king swore to defend the Church. Here the unmistakable hand of Henry has made several significant revisions to the oath.

Register of swan marks for the River Thames with names of owners. Late 16th century.

Register of swan marks for the River Thames with names of owners. Late 16th century. Swan upping is an annual ceremonial procedure on the River Thames whereby Mute swans are caught and marked to show their ownership by means of a series of nicks on the side of the beak.

19th Century (1880) Dutch polychrome and gilt Sleigh, the side panels in the style of Heemskerck, with fine sections showing exotic birds and foliage, Windsor House Antiques.

Rare Early Paper Shopping Bag: J.T.Holmes, (Late Dawson) Cook, Confectioners, & Public Caterer, Full-Licensed Dining & Refreshment Rooms, 7, St. Mary's Street, ...More info: twonerdyhistorygi...

Two Nerdy History Girls: A Stylish Paper Shopping Bag, c. 1850

Armour of Henry Prince of Wales for the field, tourney, tilt and barriers; it is decorated with HP monogram (for Henry, Prince of Wales), fleurs-de-lis (France and royalty), thistles (Scotland) and the Tudor rose (England and the Tudors). (Royal Collection Trust)

The most popular relish of the day! Fox's "Saratoga Chips," [made from selected sliced potatoes]...Broadside, SY 18-- no. 279. NYHS Image #84512d.

Tintignac helmet found with the Swan Helmet near Gallic shrine by archeologists in France in 2004. They date to the 3rd-4th century bc. Photo from Le Monde