CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.

May 24, 2015 (permalink)

This ornate capital G reminds us of Number 2's signature spherical chair in The Prisoner series.  From Loose Rein by Wanderer and illustrated by G. Bowers, 1887.

May 20, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Edward Gorey's tassel people (inset), from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1860.

Before our smartphones and RFID-chipped credit cards broadcast our every move, folks were tracked by their tattoos.  (From 1896.)

May 18, 2015 (permalink)

Even before the controversy of Google Maps' satellite imagery, some very famous addresses have been leaked to the general public.  For example, here's "The residence of Mr. Heaven," from Picnic, an Illustrated Guide to Ilfracombe and North Devon, 1890.

May 10, 2015 (permalink)

It may not be quite as exciting as the prediction of flying cars and colonies on Mars, but here's "the bull-dog of the future," from Prose and Verse by William James Linton, 1836.

May 4, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the Viewmaster, from The Story of Rapid Transit by Beckles Willson, 1903.

April 29, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the Prince song "Alphabet St.," from What was the Gunpowder Plot? by John Gerard, 1897.  (Q: Did you spot the doubled letter in the illustration?)

April 26, 2015 (permalink)

There was a time before the Internet axiom, "What has been seen cannot be unseen."  We find proof in Seen & Unseen, or Monologues of a Homeless Snail by Yone Noguchi, 1897.

April 25, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Wenceslao Moreno's "Señor Wences" act, from A History of Advertising from the Earliest Times by Henry Sampson, 1874.

April 24, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the song "The Man in the Moon (is a Lady)," in the musical Mame (1966).  From Astronomy for Amateurs by Camille Flammarion, 1904.  See our previous proof that the craters of the moon line up exactly with the Mona Lisa's facial features.

April 19, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to centralized parking, from 1920.

April 13, 2015 (permalink)

Before the dirigible was the air ship of 1608, reproduced in History of the Parish Church of Saint Michael and All Angels, Chipping Lambourn by John Footman, 1894.

April 12, 2015 (permalink)

"So much for joy."  From Family Devotions For Every Morning and Evening Throughout the Year, 1849.  This strikes Jonathan Caws-Elwitt as a precursor to Picasso and/or Saul Steinberg.

April 10, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the social media phenomenon: "He told her everything that he had already told her friends."  From Love Me For Ever by Robert Williams Buchanan, 1883.

Here's a precursor to Basil Fawlty and Polly discovering Manuel in a laundry basket (in the episode "The Kipper and the Corpse"), from The Works of Henry Fielding, illustrated by George Cruikshank, 1845.

April 9, 2015 (permalink)

Here's what looks like a precursor to the novelty mouth-shaped toilet, from The Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology of the Human Teeth, 1854.

April 7, 2015 (permalink)

We complain that today's culture is vapid, but here's "a beggarly account of empty boxes" from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

April 6, 2015 (permalink)

"People Have Been Complaining About This Longer Than You Think" dept.:

"The automatic typewriter, the telegraph, and the penny postal card have done much to cause a gradual decline in the gentle art of correspondence." —Donald Ogden Stewart, Perfect Behavior (a mock etiquette book from 1922, via Jonathan Caws-Elwitt)

April 5, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to The Flintstones, from A Lord Mayor's Diary, 1906-7 by William Purdie Treloar, 1920.

April 4, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Warholian soup can values, from World Survey by the Interchurch World Movement of North America, 1920.

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