Friday, October 30, 2009

Strange Novelties From the Jazz Age


Here are three things you will want to have for that Halloween party tomorrow night, from Popular Mechanics, October 1922 - thanks to Johnson Smith, the noted leaders in weird novelties.

1. The Mystic Skeleton - Not really very mystic, it will do the Monster Mash and the Twist while "the operator" mans the remote control from across the room. It is only 14 inches tall, though, so you'd better clear the dance floor first. Otherwise the Mystic Skeleton will get crunched up.

2. Serpent's Eggs - A dozen fake eggs that you "light with a match" and then a dozen fake snakes hatch and "twist about in a most life-like manner." They will enjoy dancing with the Mystic Skeleton. You might want to have a few fire extinguishers on hand, too - lighting eggs sounds a little tricky.


3. The Wonderful X-Ray Tube - Well, it's wonderful all right. You can see what are "apparently the bones in your fingers" through it. The Mystic Skeleton will want to try this out when it's taking a break from dancing up a storm. He might be able to see some plastic marrow - or something. Or possibly nothing at all. Which might be what you end up seeing, too, since it isn't really a Roentgen-approved scientific apparatus. But Johnson Smith promises that you will see the lead in a pencil and "the interior opening in a pipe stem" - which believe me, no one wants to see, not even a pipe cleaner.

The fourth novelty was so interesting I started doing a little extra research on it and...I'm going to post about it tomorrow. It is the perfect thing to show you on Halloween. And on that note - I'm going to leave you guessing!

13 comments:

Needless To Say said...

Wonderful that someone was willing to part with "a mystery that no one has been able to satisfactorily explain" for a thin dime! Those mysteries are a lot more expensive now.

FreshHell said...

I bet those "serpent eggs" were black snake fireworks: http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhowtoguide/a/blacksnakes.htm

Tori Lennox said...

I don't want snakes at MY Halloween party, thank you very much. Fake or otherwise. The jury's still out on the dancing skeleton....

VintageGent said...

On Independence day, I like to go to the fireworks store and when a lot of people are around, I go to the aisle with those snake things, and act like they are the best thing ever. I act like a little box that spits ashes out for 32 seconds is life changing and bottle rockets are for sissies.

Amanda said...

I want a mystic skeleton and serpeants eggs!

Lidian said...

Needless To Say - There certainly were a lot of bargain-priced mysteries back then. The good old days!

FreshHell - Thanks for the link - I'll bet you're right! I was wondering..

Tori - He would be kind of entertaining. Possibly.

VintageGent - I never knew about this because I've never been in a fireworks store in my life! We have them in Canada, though, so maybe someday I will go have a look.

Amanda - You might also like tomorrow's novelty, to go with them :)

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

This kind of stuff scares the hell out of me! Was this stuff sold to kids? Like in comic book type magazines??? omg, yikes!

Lidian said...

Tracy - This was from Popular Mechanics, which was aimed at the gentlemen - but I am sure that it was also in comic books, the ads in which are for terrifying things indeed. Yikes and a half.

The Bewildered Brit said...

I really want to know how the x-ray tube works! is it just a flashlight or something? You could see the bones in your hand that way, but not the lead in a pencil.

I'm not going to sleep until I find out.

I'm also not going to sleep because the thought of macabre and tiny dancing skeletons will probably keep me up at night. Unless we can get them to dance like John Travolta, of course.

Dave DeWall said...

I remember son of X-Ray tube, the X-Ray specs advertised on the back of my Batman comic books. I wondered if they really worked,hey,I was only eight! Funny post!

Lidian said...

Richard - I'll bet it was something like a flashlight. And now I have that image of the little skeleton dancing to the Bee Gees - what a thought.

Dave - Oh yes, the X Ray Specs! I will have to do a post about them down the road. I loved comic books when I was a 60s kid, I was only allowed to have them if I was sick in bed, lol.

Leeuna said...

I could really use that X-ray tube. It would save a lot on ER bills each time my dog knocks me down. Does it work on ribs and ankles?

Amy said...

haha those are strange but cool