Tag Archives: Dark Roasted Blend

Optical Illusions Update

“QUANTUM SHOT” #228(rev)
Link – article by Stefan Van den Bergh & Avi Abrams

Your eyes see one thing, your mind believes another!

Welcome our guest writer Stefan Van den Bergh, who runs the “Planet Perplex” website. He writes: “I’ve been fascinated by illusions and everything like it for as long as I remember. Over the years I’ve made several sites about them, and built an extensive collection.” We start with surreal photographs by Philippe Ramette, which turn everything upside down, gravity be damned:


(image credit: Philippe Ramette)

The objects in these pictures DO NOT MOVE!

Akiyoshi Kitaoka is a famous creator of moving illusions. That is, they seem to move but they actually they are entirely static:

Warning : these illusions are so strong that sensitive observers might feel sick. You will understand when you see them full-screen.

The first example is probably the most famous of them all and a favorite in poster stores: Rotating Snakes! –

When looking at this picture, you might want to check if the screen of your device is still flat. Maybe it actually IS rippling?! –

These “rotating” ladybugs are rather simple but extremely convincing. It’s hard to believe this is not an animation:

The last “not-quite-moving” picture is also a classic, pretty well-known but too good to leave it out. Stare at the black dot and move your head back and forth from the screen. The wheels will start turning …

And these objects are moving, indeed – but in a strange way

This little animation is fast becoming very popular – and no wonder: when you first look at the spinning girl, her rotation seems to be clockwise. But when you start to concentrate on her shadow, suddenly her rotation switches to counter-clockwise! It may take some time, but the moment it happens, you are going to be genuinely surprised… (first seen here)

This ferris wheel animation is similar to the one above. Look at the left side of the wheel, and it will rotate to the left. Look at the right and it will rotate there. If you play around with it, you can make it turn wherever you want. Try it!

Unique Stereo Pictures can be created using a simple animation effect. This pool animation has only two frames, but looks convincingly three-dimensional.

See more “stereo pictures” here.

Just a point of view

Have a look at this photograph of Neuchatel, Switzerland. How long would it have taken Felice Varini to put the red lines there ? Five minutes, with a pencil and a ruler ? –


(image credit: Felice Varini)

I don’t know exactly but it would have been much, much longer. You see, the red lines are actually painted on the buildings. He just took buckets of red paint and got into town, as you will see below. This illusion only works from one exact point of view.


(image credit: Felice Varini)

Here are some more examples of his work (there are dozens more at his site) –


(image credit: Felice Varini)

Another superb example of Varini’s 3-D work is the Cardiff’s Harbor, where the whole site became a “canvas” for Felice Varini’s shapes, which could be discovered only from a specific viewpoint…

3-D Transformations

Shigeo Fukuda is another great point-of-view artist, the true “Master of Transformations”. See for example his “Underground Piano”. It looks like a large pile of junk from most angles, but when it is seen in a mirror at a particular angle, it resolves into an image of a piano:


(image via)

Here is the “Encore” sculpture, which morphs into various musicians, depending on your point-of-view:


(image via Growabrain)

Shadow Sculptures: Blurry Mind Games

Again, by Shigeo Fukuda – watch this video to see the shadows transform a pile of junk.

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Strange Deep-Sea Diving Suits

“QUANTUM SHOT” #829
Link – article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

Under Pressure – and Enjoying It

This time, we thought we’d take an in-depth look at diving suits, those strange looking costumes that many of us have seen before, on TV, in movies or maybe even in real life. The diving suits known as standard diving dress had a metallic helmet, made of brass, bronze or copper, an airline or hose supplying air from the surface, a canvas diving suit, weighted boots and were equipped with a knife, just in case. The suits had other lead weights too, usually fitted on the chest or back, to help the diver descend to the required depth. These types of suits aren’t used that often these days, but although they are the diving suits that most people are familiar with, they weren’t the first ones to be developed.


(image credit: Musée Fédéric Dumas Sanary sur Mer)

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This diving suit (see below) was designed way back in 1715 by Pierre Remy de Beauve. The suit’s iron corset protected the diver’s chest from excessive water pressure and a leather jacket was supposed to make the whole thing waterproof. Two pipes linked the helmet to the surface, from where air was pumped using bellows. The suit also featured weighted shoes, to assist the diver with his submarine explorations:


(images credit: Musée Fédéric Dumas Sanary sur Mer)

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For this suit from 1797, the air would have been pumped down through the weighted air tubes from a turret on the surface. The diver also didn’t wear the weighted boots that became a standard feature of later suits, but appears to have carried a few weights with him, just to keep him from floating back to the surface too early. Still, let’s hope he didn’t step on anything sharp in those bare feet:


(image credit: Avi Abrams)

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Here’s a good selection (left) of some of the early designs, showing something of the evolution of the diving suit. However, at the bottom of the picture, the unsuspecting diver on the left could perhaps be facing an imminent attack from his more robotic counterpart, approaching from the other side. This suit on the right dates from the 1870s and was probably the latest fashion in its day for the professional deep-sea explorer. It certainly seems to have attracted the attention of the two people in the background:


(images via)

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This is the front cover illustration of The Illustrated London News from February 6, 1873 and shows divers preparing to descend to a recently wrecked ship called the Northfleet. The rather bizarre diving suit on the right is from the 1870s too. I can only assume, that the designers assumed, in their wisdom, that there’d be so much for the diver to see under the waves that he wouldn’t know where to look first, hence the helmet’s multiple viewing windows. Either that or this isn’t diving attire at all, but rather a spacesuit, rescued from the wreck of a craft flown by an alien species with multiple eyeballs:


(images via 1, 2)

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In 1906, de Pluvy created one of the very first atmospheric diving suits. He claimed to have completed a number of dives to depths of up to 100 meters. The joints were apparently made of leather and rubber, but the suit does seem to have worked, even it does resemble a robot from a 1950s science fiction movie. This one on the right is also from the early 1900s and seems to be the famous William Walker, who heroically saved Winchester Cathedral from collapsing in 1905 – read the full story here.


(images credit: Historical Diving Society, Italy, via; right image: via)

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Here’s American silent movie comedian Buster Keaton (1895-1966), wearing a diving suit for a scene from The Navigator, released in 1924. Keaton even wears his distinctive hat on top of the helmet, just in case he didn’t stand out enough from the other members of the cast.

The Neufeldt-Kuhnke diving suit from 1923 (right) could withstand pressure at depths of 160 meters. The suit’s breathing apparatus was operated in a closed circuit and the diver even had a telephone to stay connected with the surface. Makes you wonder though how he’d make or answer calls with those claws and I wonder where he kept the phone itself? –


(images via 1, 2)

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In 1935, J. Peress’ dive suit, Tritonia, (left) explored the wreck of the Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-Boat off the coast of Ireland in 1915. Peress’ chief diver was Jim Jarrett, who descended to 95 meters. The suit he used was a forerunner of the JIM suit, which was named after him (see later in article). The two divers on the right look to be either preparing for, or maybe recovering from, an undersea mission of their own.


(images via 1, 2)

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U.S. Navy divers wore the Mark V suit from 1918 right up to the mid 1980s. This suit allowed divers to work at much greater depths than before and was mostly used for deep sea and salvage diving missions. The rubberized-canvas suits protected the diver from cold, contaminated water and when they were working in hazardous environments:


(images credit: Maritime Exchange Museum, Carl Purcell)

Navy diver George W. McCullough (left) waits to start his dive wearing a Mark V suit. The wrist cuffs and a rubber seal at the neck made everything watertight, and in case you were wondering, wool undergarments layered beneath the suit kept the diver warm and cozy while he was busy beneath the waves. The helmet on the right dates from the 1940s:


(image credit: Naval Undersea Museum, Greatest Collectibles)

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Cool Recent Developments

Atmospheric Diving Suits (ADS) were first used in the oil industry then later developed by the Navy for submarine rescue missions. The pressure inside ADS is the same as it is on the surface. This allows divers wearing ADS to work at extreme depths without having to decompress on their return to dry land. The JIM atmospheric diving suit is named after Jim Jarrett, the chief diver of the suit’s designer, J. Peress. The JIM was developed in the late 1960s and was basically a one-person submarine. Divers no longer had to experience freezing water, complex gas mixtures, and potential decompression sickness. They could breath normal air, return to the surface quickly and even dress casually inside the suit, with most divers choosing to wear a thick wool sweater.

The JIM was first used in 1974 by the oil industry in the Canary Islands. In 1976, divers used the JIM at an oil well in the Arctic, working for six hours at a depth of 275 meters. In 1979, Sylvia Earle set a world record in the JIM. She descended to 381 meters and walked around on the sea floor for two and a half hours, a record that has never been bettered, so far. The JIMs were still in use during the 1980s, before being surpassed by the WASP suit.


(images credit: Naval Undersea Museum, 2)

The WASP one atmosphere diving system from Oceaneering (left) allows divers to work for long periods at depths of 700 meters. The manned suit is used to inspect and repair facilities located in deep ocean environments. One of the most recent developments in deep sea diving was Nuytco Research’s launch of the Exosuit (right), designed to be the next generation of atmospheric diving suits:


(image credit: Oceaneering, Nuytco Research Ltd.)

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Deep Diving Media Circus


(left: scuba diver with an umbrella, Paris, 1949 via)

Imagine if you saw this guy (left image below) emerging from the waves, while you were quietly relaxing on the beach? He almost looks like he’s taking a call too, presumably on his shell phone. And who says those old bulky, cumbersome diving suits were uncomfortable? Here on the right is one of the people involved in the making of Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1952, taking an underwater nap during a break in filming. I wonder if this could be referred to as relaxing on the seabed? –


(image credit: left: Peter Harris; right: Peter Stockpole for LIFE Magazine, see it bigger)

At the International Exposition of Surrealism in 1938 (left), the always guaranteed to be outlandish Salvador Dali decided to appear dressed a little differently to his fellow artists. Can you guess which one he is? Decades later, perhaps in homage to that earlier surreal diving suit incident, this chauffeur wearing a diver’s helmet (right) is on display at the Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg Florida. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure if I’d feel too safe with this guy driving me around:


(images credit: Donald Pittenger, 2)

Tintin, a heroic Belgian reporter (left) who has had many exciting adventures, first appeared in print in 1929. Tintin was created by Georges Remi (1907-1983), who wrote under the pen name Herge. This modern figurine is based on the Tintin story Red Rackham’s Treasure. With his faithful dog Snowy at his side, Tintin prepares to dive down to explore the wreck of The Unicorn. The August 1933 issue of Modern Mechanix and Inventions also featured undersea treasure hunting, with the hero’s very striking red gear guaranteed to make him stand out amongst the other residents of the ocean floor.


(images credit: Big Bad Toy Store, Modern Mechanix 1933 cover)

Ever wondered how to meet girls and get dates? According to these pictures, all you need is a trendy diving suit and the rest will follow, although the initial kiss may present something of a challenge. On the right, this was actually part of a campaign by the British Lifeboat Institution to raise funds for important sea rescue missions. Still, the suit certainly attracted attention from young ladies, as shown here on the streets of London. Maybe there’s something to that diving suit dating idea after all? –


(right image credit: Modern Mechanix)

Diver Dan’s adventures were shown on children’s television in the early 60s. This is the DVD cover (left) from a few years ago, bringing Dan to a whole new audience. I don’t think Dan ever conducted his exciting nautical adventures on a bicycle (right). Still, who knows, it might have been his preferred mode of transportation to travel to the set every day?


(right image credit: Rob Jan)

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Diving deeper as it gets… weirder

Maybe these types of designs will be the wave of the future for the well-dressed diver? Characters in the BioShock video game series wear these formidable-looking suits:


(images via)

This one on the left also looks somewhat futuristic, but is in fact on display at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. And finally, how about this inflatable diving suit? Not sure I want to consider what kind of gas might be used to inflate the suit though:


(image credit: Glenn D, 2)

Article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.

CONTINUE TO “AMAZING SUBMARINE CONCEPTS” ->

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The Golden Age of Cigar Box Art

“QUANTUM SHOT” #828
Link – article by Simon Rose

Elaborate Vintage Cigar Box Labels: A Plethora of Themes and Visual Curiosities

The collecting of cigar boxes is, like the collecting of stamps and coins, a specialized field of interest. Peculiar Postage, which previously appeared here on Dark Roasted Blend, was not intended as a detailed study of stamps, merely a look at some of the more curious examples. Similarly, the following article examines just a small selection of some of the most striking cigar box artwork from years gone by.


(images in this article, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy Cigar Box Labels; used by permission)

Originally, cigars were sold to customers in bundles covered with pigs’ bladders, if you can believe it…

This hardly seems guaranteed to drive sales, but you’ll be relieved to know that vanilla was used to make this pork packaging smell a little sweeter. Large chests that could hold around 1,000 stogies were next introduced, but by the 1830s, cigars were being packaged in sealed cedar boxes.

Cedar apparently stops the cigars from drying out and matures the tobacco as well, but either way it sounds like a distinct improvement on the bacon bladders. Between 1800 and 1960, wood was used to create around 80% of cigar boxes. The most common variety, called “nailed wood”, comprises six pieces of wood nailed together and holds 50 cigars.


(images in this article are courtesy Cigar Box Labels, used by permission)

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the industry had grown so much that it became necessary to distinguish one cigar brand from another. Labels began to appear featuring colourful illustrations, so that cigar manufacturers could set themselves apart from their competitors and attract more customers.

As with any industry’s advertising, fashions and themes came and went. Famous people, politicians, mythological figures, pretty girls, children, patriotic figures and themes, animals, humour and more, were all used over the years to decorate cigar boxes. Here at Dark Roasted Blend, we spotlight just a tiny fraction of the multitude of labels produced during the golden age of cigar box art.

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The old gentleman on the right (see below) certainly appears to be enjoying his cigar. Old Nick himself on the left might be trying to promote a devilishly good brand, but could just as easily serve as an advertisement for the evils of tobacco. Still, I guess he’d never have any trouble finding a light for his cigar when he’s relaxing at home, especially with all those flames around him in the underworld:

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Animals of various kinds were often used in cigar box art. Camels were quite closely associated with some tobacco products and here’s one happily racing across the desert in Egypt. No doubt located very far from the desert, we find this rather aristocratic looking frog on this label from 1901. He certainly appears to be very content, or at least as content as a frog can look, on his comfy leaf by the pond:

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More animals here, with the hippo perhaps proclaiming his love and support for Zeko stogies with a defiant roar. These cigars were made in Cleveland, where hippos would have rarely been spotted back then, unless you were visiting the zoo or if maybe there was a circus in town. Not convinced of hippo expertise when it comes to cigars, the woman on the right seems to be getting advice on tobacco products straight from the horse’s mouth:

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Fidel Castro is of course always cited as one of the most famous cigar smokers. However, he apparently did quit some years ago, showing leadership in an effort to persuade his fellow countrymen to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Intriguingly, the picture on the left promotes Cuban cigars using another Castro, who I guess could be distant ancestor of the famous president. On the right, the union being celebrated by Uncle Sam and his friends concerns the events in Cuba at the time of the Spanish American War in 1898. This friendliness seems in marked contrast to relations between the U.S. and Cuba in more recent decades.

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The Cuban Cavalier (left) would no doubt never have contemplated followed the country’s flag into battle without having a supply of cigars close at hand. On the right, the picture is a recreation of a painting of the pioneers responsible for the first Trans-Atlantic cable, at their meeting in New York in 1854:

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Over a century separates the images depicted here. The Council of War on the left shows George Washington and his fellow revolutionaries prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The right picture honours army and navy commanders in the Spanish-American War in 1898:

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Also related to the Spanish-American War, on the left we see President William McKinley (1843 to 1901), who after the war turned the United States into a colonial power. Perhaps to celebrate the birth of this new empire, Uncle Sam is shown (right) showering the world in cigars. Fitting in many ways, since cigars used to be handed out by the proud father to male friends and relatives to celebrate the birth of a child. Hard to believe nowadays that all that smoking used to take place in hospitals in close proximity to new born babies and their recovering mothers. How times have changed:

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In another celebration of history, George Washington (1732 to 1799) is featured on this label, along with Native Americans and a scene depicting the general crossing the Delaware in 1776 during the Revolutionary War. On the right, the label portrays the early days of the U.S. mail service using the expanding nation’s burgeoning railroads, when items could be delivered from Delaware to just about anywhere else in the country, at what was then probably considered to be lightning speed:

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Here we have two people who died almost a century apart and who both had significant impacts on history. On the left, we have Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 to 1791) one of the world’s most renowned composers, who influenced countess other musicans both during his lifetime and after his untimely death at the age of 35. On the right is Otto von Bismarck (1815 to 1898), who united Germany into a powerful Empire in 1871 and dramatically changed the European balance of power. His career also had a lasting legacy, well into the following century and is still being felt today. Not sure how fond Mozart was of cigars, but apparently Bismarck used to smoke up to 14 a day. That’s quite a formidable contribution to the tobacco industry, when you think about it. No wonder someone thought it was appropriate to honor him by putting his picture on the lid of the box:

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This label (left) features Oliver Cromwell (1599 to 1658), depicted as a man of the people after his success in the English Civil War and the execution of King Charles I. However, since under his regime the Puritans clamped own on the revelry of such things as Christmas, I’m not sure if he’d have been in favour of cigars at all. On the right is Sir Walter Scott (1771 to 1832), the Scottish novelist and poet who was very popular in his time for such novels as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. Scott can still be seen regularly today, since his portrait is featured on Scottish banknotes:

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Mr. Riley doesn’t exactly look ecstatic, but perhaps he could turn on the charm when needed for his customers, since they all evidently thought so highly of him. William Gladstone (1809 to 1898) was one of the best known of Britain’s Prime Ministers in the reign of Queen Victoria. Not sure how he felt about cigars, but he was very religious and introduced restrictions on the sale of alcohol and the licensing of pubs and bars, so he may not have spoken as highly of Mr. Riley, had the two men been acquainted with each other.

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With Rip Van Winkle offering a toast and hoping that we all will live long and prosper, you’d almost expect him to be giving that famous Mr. Spock Vulcan hand signal. Mr. Van Winkle, of course, fell asleep and awoke many years later, becoming a time traveler of sorts. The prophet (right) made a living by seeing the future as well, while staying firmly in the present as he doubtless consulted his crystal ball, books, star charts and other divination tools.

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The man on the left certainly seems to be enjoying his cigar and could even be attempting to send smoke signals. The Buccaneer doesn’t look too happy at all. Perhaps he’s waiting for his stogie supply to be delivered by those ships in the background? –

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He appears to be very satisfied (left) with his luxurious smoke, don’t you think? On the right, at first glance this seems like quite an odd name for a cigar brand. After all, if the woman on the left has received a letter and her friend is offering her condolences, you’d expect them to be wearing sadder expressions, wouldn’t you? However, who knows what’s written in that letter. Maybe she’s just heard that an exploding Prime cigar killed the husband she loathed? –

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Here’s another happy gentleman, although there’s no indication of what people around him thought to the aroma of his “fine fragrant cigar.” Not sure if the fellow on the right was an actual judge or otherwise employed in the legal profession, but he looks prosperous enough:

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The Bull Frog label (left) is another fine example of the wonderful illustrations that so often graced cigar boxes. I’m not sure how big a factor it would have been in the sales of the cigars, but you have to admire the quality of the artwork. Another famous historical figure, Buffalo Bill (1846 to 1917) appears on the left picture, possibly in an attempt to make cigars appear manly and heroic? –

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This German label (left) wishes ‘Good Hunting’ to the man presumably having a relaxing smoke, before heading out to find some deer in the woods. The right image commemorates Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838 to 1917) the aviation pioneer, although I don’t think he would have sanctioned cigar smoking on board the airship. A stray spark could have been disastrous, due to the inflammable fuel. Then again, maybe that’s what happened to the Hindenburg? –


(images credit: Cerebro.com)

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Another German label (left), this time promoting good health, may seem somewhat inappropriate, considering the smoking and drinking that’s going on, although the frothing beer does looks tempting. On the other hand, the brand name of the cigars on the right seems highly appropriate, since a pile of white ash is always the end result:

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Today, it seems surprising, to put it mildly, that children were often used to advertise cigars in years gone by, as shown in these two examples. The dangers of smoking were not fully understood back then or at least not as publicized as they are now. Still, the boy in the right picture certainly doesn’t look old enough to be smoking, as he accepts a light from a girl who looks to be scarcely older than him.

The left image features an angelic ideal of childhood, in order to somehow boost sales of Yankee Boy cigars. In stark contrast, the picture on the right maybe portrays a more realistic portrayal of American youth at the time, or at least as far as the criminal world was concerned. This streetwise kids gang is masterminding the robbery of a cigar store, bizarrely using an angry goat as a secret weapon.

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This is an interesting one on the left. As handy as it would be to have a reliable light for your stogie, it’s tough to imagine how you could actually do that while holding the cigar and the rapidly burning match in the same hand simultaneously. Maybe this person is about to light someone else’s cigar? On the right, we have yet another child appearing in a cigar promotion, but at least this time she just looks curious as to what grandpa is up to, rather than smoking the cigar herself.


(images credit: Cerebro.com)

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Whale-Back (left) refers to an ocean going vessel, rather than an aquatic mammal, but the manufacturers were still hoping to appeal to potential customers by stressing the whale of a time you’d have with this particular cigar. I wonder if this particular brand was bigger than all the competitors too? On the right, this picture doesn’t describe some strange culinary creation, but a boat or ship serving the German city of Hamburg:

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And finally, these two labels are both very curious. On the left, we have a monk eating oysters, washed down with red wine and accompanied by a smoldering cigar. The right image is very strange too and after a first glance at the title, you might assume that the woman is attending college after a funeral. However, on closer inspection we can see that she’s waving the flag for the football team and presumably is frequently left alone, like a golf widow, I suppose:


(unless otherwise noted, images in this article are courtesy Cigar Box Labels, used by permission)

Article by Simon Rose for Dark Roasted Blend.

CONTINUE TO “PECULIAR POSTAGE: UNUSUAL STAMPS”! ->

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