In 1926, Poland sent the US a birthday card with over 5 million signatures. Polish citizen Leopold Kotnowski visited the White House to present the card for America’s 150th birthday. It has 30,000 pages full of art, photos, poems and pressed flowers.
In 1981 the Pentagon spent $6 million trying to determine whether or not burning a photograph of a Soviet missile would destroy the actual missile.
Sir Isaac Newton had a dog called “Diamond” who knocked over a candle and set fire to twenty years worth of his research.
The first Roman fire brigade was created to be very lucrative. Arriving at the scene the fire fighters did nothing while a price was negotiated. Failing to reach a deal, the structure was allowed to burn to the ground after which an offer was made to purchase it for a fraction of its value.
The forgery artist Wolfgang Beltracchi, rather than copying existing artwork, created brand new pieces in the style of famous artists. His forgeries have sold for over $45 million dollars. He signed his paintings in the famous artists’ names, came up with an elaborate backstory as to why the paintings had been hidden away so long, and even went to great lengths to use period appropriate materials. Beltracchi even forged labels from a legitimate German art dealer and stained them with coffee to make them look old and legitimate. Then he would attach them to the back of the canvases. He eventually got caught when he used a paint that contained the pigment “Titanium White”, which wasn’t available/used in the period the paintings would have been created.
In the 1980s, Frances Gabe built and patented the world’s only self-cleaning home. The patent contained 68 inventions. She died in obscurity last year at 101 years old.
In 1842 Abraham Lincoln was challenged to a duel by political rival, James Shields. Due to his towering height, Lincoln chose broadswords. When the day of the duel arrived Lincoln demonstrated his strength by chopping a nearby tree branch in half, causing Shields to back out and apologize.
Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko started smoking at the age of 9. He died after only 13 months in office, the third Soviet leader to die during Reagan’s presidency. When informed, Reagan remarked, “How am I supposed to get anyplace with the Russians if they keep dying on me?”
In Ancient Thebes there was a fairly successful band of warriors consisting entirely of 150 gay couples. They were chosen based on the idea that “you fight better when trying to impress your lover”.
Samuel Morse invented the telegraph after he received a letter of his wife’s failing health… after she’d died.