11 Gifts For the History Buff

iStock
iStock

From ancient recipes to storied war ships, these 11 gifts will make the past come alive for your favorite history buff this holiday season.

1. USS CONSTITUTION MODEL SHIP; $400

USS Constitution Model Ship, sold by The New York Times Store

The New York Times Store

Launched in 1797, the USS Constitution became famous when it defeated the British warship HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia during the War of 1812. This fatal battle earned the vessel the nickname of "Old Ironsides," as shots appeared to rebound off its hull. The USS Constitution is still intact to this day, and is considered the oldest U.S. warship still in commission. Fans of the boat can visit it in Boston, or keep this fully assembled 30-inch wooden model on their desks.

Find It: The New York Times Store

2. BECAUSE OF THEM WE CAN SIGNATURE BACKPACK; $50

Because Of Them We Can Signature Backpack
Because of Them We Can

Help your giftee pay homage to pioneering civil rights leaders with this backpack emblazoned with the first names of figures like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, and more. It comes equipped with a laptop pouch, a mesh zip pocket, a key pouch, and a back notebook pocket.

Find It: Because of Them We Can

3. KING SOLOMON'S TABLE: A CULINARY EXPLORATION OF JEWISH COOKING FROM AROUND THE WORLD; $24

"King Solomon's Table" by Joan Nathan
Courtesy of Pantheon Books

King Solomon's Table by Joan Nathan provides more than 170 historic Jewish recipes from around the globe, ranging from classic Yemenite Chicken Soup to modern takes on dishes like shakshuka.

Find It: Amazon

4. MEAD MAKING KIT; $55

Mead Making Kit, sold by Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

Your giftee's next soiree will rival the drinking halls of Medieval Europe with this make-your-own mead kit. It includes instructions, ingredients, and basic equipment that can be reused to make multiple batches.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

5. NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL DAY BOOK; $130

Special Day Book, sold by The New York Times Store

The New York Times Store

This personalized book by the New York Times lets purchasers remember an important day in their lives by reading what the world was like during that time. It contains New York Times headlines, photographs, advertisements, and articles from any date from 1851 onwards.

Find It: The New York Times

6. DEAD FEMINISTS: HISTORIC HEROINES IN LIVING COLOR; $17

"Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color" by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring
Courtesy of Sasquatch Books

History also includes plenty of "hers." Dead Feminists by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring profiles 27 influential female figures whose actions changed the world, like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Find It: Amazon

7. PRESIDENTIAL SOAP COLLECTION; $22

This Caswell-Massey soap collection allows bathers to suds up like American leaders. It includes George Washington's Number Six soap, Eisenhower's almond cold cream hand soap, and Jockey Club men's bath soap, rumored to have been a favorite of John F. Kennedy.

Find It: Amazon

8. DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP RING; $170


Digby & Iona

War of 1812 buffs can wear history on their hands with this signet ring by Brooklyn jewelry studio Digby & Iona. It's engraved with the slogan "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP," which Captain James Lawrence of the United States frigate Chesapeake allegedly uttered with his dying breath during a bloody 1813 sea skirmish against the British frigate Shannon.

Find It: Digby & Iona

9. HISTORY OF ART T-SHIRT; $28

History of Art T-Shirt, sold by the MoMA Design Store
MoMA Design Store

This pre-shrunk T-shirt's design uses smiley faces to simplify hundreds of years of art history into a chronological timeline. Each smiley is designed in the style of various famous artists, many of whose works are featured in the MoMA's collections.

Find It: MoMA Design Store

10. AMERICAN SEAFOOD: HERITAGE, CULTURE & COOKERY FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA; $25

"American Seafood: Heritage, Culture & Cookery from Sea to Shining Sea" by Barton Seaver
Courtesy of Amazon

Your favorite history buff can explore the history of North American commercial seafood by cooking their way through Barton Seaver’s American Seafood. It lists the main characteristics of various types of fish, along with how to prep each one, while also providing an overview of their culinary legacy.

Find It: Amazon

11. PERSONALIZED PRINT OF A FAMILY HEIRLOOM; $450

A personalized print of a family heirloom typewriter by The Heirloomist
The Heirloomist

Thanks to still life photographer Shana Novak, nobody has to squabble over Grandpa's heirlooms. The New York-based shutterbug runs a business called The Heirloomist, which celebrates family history by photographing treasured relics and transforming them into large-scale works of art. Prints can be matted and framed, or delivered sans decorative casing.

Find It: The Heirloomist

Microwave Your Food Safely With This Soft Silicone Lunch Box

ParentDiary
ParentDiary

Even if the contents of your lunch are healthy, the container you pack it in may pose a threat to your health. Heating up some plastic food storage containers can release harmful chemicals, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics warns families to avoid putting such products in the microwave or dishwasher. (And there's still some debate as to what constitutes a microwave-safe plastic.) But the All-Silicone Lunch Box, a storage product currently raising money on Kickstarter, is strong enough to stand up to a range of temperatures, allowing you to safely put it in the freezer, the microwave, and the dishwasher.

This lunch container is made from silicone instead of plastic, making it a safer choice for kids and adults. The flexible box is easy to seal, open, and wash (either by hand or in the dishwasher). And whether you're using it to store leftovers in the freezer or heat up your lunch in the office kitchen, the All-Silicone Lunch Box is designed to maintain its shape and not leech anything unsavory into your food.

After originally releasing a single-compartment box, ParentDiary has now developed a lunch box with dividers, too. The container is now available with three compartments (perfect for snacks or bento boxes), or two compartments (with each side just big enough to fit half a sandwich).

The All-Silicone Lunch Box has over a month left to reach its $4000 funding goal and has raised $1000 so far.

Pledge $12 or more on Kickstarter by May 19 to reserve your own lunch box, with shipping set for June. For more packed lunch inspiration (including some other great silicone options), check out these products.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

13 Products to Keep You Dry on Rainy Days

Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

April showers bring May flowers … plus soggy shoes, wet hair, and dripping, broken umbrellas. If you’re looking to stay dry this rainy season, consider picking up some of this gear.

1. Bogs Auburn Boot

These are a rare find: Rain boots that are both functional and cute. Bogs gave us a pair to test out, and we’ve been tempted to wear them even when it isn’t raining. The Chelsea-style ankle-high boots have a slight heel and a zipper so you don’t have to awkwardly try to stuff your feet into them. They’re 100 percent waterproof, equipped with moisture wicking technology to keep feet dry (and stink-free!), and have a slip-resistant outsole. And thanks to gel cushioning in the footbed, they’re super comfortable. (The men’s version, available for $70, is also waterproof and is available in three colors.)

Buy it on Bogs for $120 or from one of the retailers below:

2. Levi’s Women’s Faux Leather Anorak Jacket

A woman in a maroon rain jacket

Levi's, Amazon

This hooded, rubber faux leather anorak jacket comes in 11 colors; it has zipper and button closure, plus adjustable cuffs, to keep the rain out. One reviewer described the coat as “practical yet stylish.” The best part? It’s machine washable.

Buy it on Amazon from $39 or at one of the retailers below:

3. Levi’s Men’s Rubberized Parka

A man in a black faux-rubber jacket

Levi's, Amazon

Levi’s also makes a rubberized parka for men that comes in three colors.

Buy it on Amazon from $72.

4. Sharpty Inverted Umbrella

An open green Sharpty umbrella next to the same umbrella as it looks folded up

Sharpty, Amazon

This highly rated umbrella opens in reverse—so when you close it, water stays firmly inside and doesn’t get all over you or the floor—and it's designed to withstand bursts of wind up to 60 mph. Made with carbon fiber and equipped with a C-shaped handle that makes holding and storage easy, it’s available in a staggering 26 patterns/colors, ranging from plain old black to the New York City skyline. And it’s big enough to fit two people underneath.

Buy it on Amazon starting at $16.

5. Drybrella

Two Drybrella bags next to a backpack and a purse with umbrellas wrapped in Drybrellas inside

Drybrella, Amazon

These polyester pouches—which accommodate umbrellas up to 12 inches long—are lined with microfiber so you can stash wet umbrellas in your bag or backpack without getting everything else wet.

Buy it on Amazon for $10 for two or at Walmart for $9.

6. Waterproof Elastic Gardening Headwear

A woman wears a hands-free umbrella on her head

MAGIFIRE, Amazon

Perhaps you hate when the wind blows your hood off, or maybe you want a moisture-free perimeter to keep the stuff in your hands dry. We’re not here to judge, merely to provide you with a product that could help solve your problems. This 36-inch-diameter hat has an adjustable headband and folds down to 10 inches for easy stowing. Its top layer is also reflective, which means you can wear it when you’re working in the sun, too.

Buy it on Amazon for $13.

7. Columbia Men’s Watertight Cap

A waterproof black cap

Columbia, Amazon

If elaborate headwear isn’t your thing, this nylon hat—which comes in three colors—will also work.

Buy it on Amazon or at Columbia Sportswear for $25.

8. Lightspeed Outdoors Sport Shelter

A blue and gray pop-up shelter

Lightspeed Outdoors, Amazon

If you find yourself at many of rain-or-shine events, considering picking up this pop-up shelter. At nearly 9 feet wide and almost 5 feet tall, it has enough space to fit four friends, and it’s equipped with sun protection and a PU coating, so it’s appropriate for both sun and rain. And it packs down small (49 inches by 5 inches) for easy storage.

Buy it on Amazon for $80.

9. Harry Potter Crests Color Changing Umbrella

A black-and-white and a colored version of the Harry Potter umbrella

Bioworld, Amazon

This officially licensed Harry Potter umbrella features Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff house crests and changes color when wet. The company also sells a Marauder’s Map-themed umbrella as well as a Hogwarts-themed one and one decorated with magical creatures from the world of Harry Potter.

Buy it on Amazon or Walmart for $17.

10. CloudTen Helmet-Shaped Umbrella

A woman peeks out from under a CloudTen umbrella

CloudTen, Amazon

In addition to looking a bit like Darth Vader’s helmet, this umbrella’s design makes it virtually impossible to blow inside out, even in the windiest weather. It’s also a good option for city dwellers—you’re less likely to take another pedestrian’s eyes out!

Buy it at Amazon for $23.

11. Mini Umbrella

A diagram of the size of the pocket umbrella open and folded up

Fidus, Amazon

There’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain without an umbrella—so pick up one of these ultra-small (just 6.6 inches) umbrellas and carry it with you at all times.

Buy it on Amazon for $15.

12. Alex Carseon Multi-Purpose Tray

Four images of the Alex Carseon multi-purpose tray being used to store boots, gardening tools, a bucket, and cat food

Alex Carseon, Amazon

Keep muddy boots and shoes contained with this polypropylene tray, which measures 30 inches long and 15 inches wide.

Buy it on Amazon for $17.

13. Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover

An Osprey rain cover folded up

Osprey, Amazon

Available in three sizes, this cover wraps around packs and equipment to keep them dry. It's equipped with reflective elements (which is especially helpful if you're biking), a cinch attachment, a hipbelt, and harness attachments—plus, it packs down small, so you can easily fold it back into your bag when the rain clears up.

Buy it on Amazon from $30 or at one of the retailers below:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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