Show & Tell: Wanted Posters from 19th Century Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Archives via Flickr // Public Domain

Held by the Nova Scotia Archives, this scrapbook of over 225 wanted posters and pieces of related material, dating between roughly 1868 and 1888, gives us a snapshot of the way the international pursuit of criminals, missing persons, and stolen property functioned during the Victorian era. Police chiefs, detective agencies, and other interested parties sent fliers, letters, and lists of stolen goods to the Halifax Police Department during those decades; the material they collected came from Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Because the city was a gateway for criminals looking to escape from the United States and Canada to the Continent, and vice versa, the Halifax chief of police was kept busy pursuing criminals from other places. In one example of the reach of international fugitives, the Davies Detective Agency, of New York, offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of Oscar Walter (Ossip Ivanovich Walter), a forger all the way from Russia who was “supposed to be now in the American Continent.” 

Some of the advertisements sent to Halifax were for goods, not for people, like one that warned law enforcement to be on the lookout for a large number of “Movements of Gold Watch Cases,” or this long list of “Watches and Jewellry” stolen from a father and son who had left their goods unattended in a hotel room.

Many of the fliers contain photographs, though often these were out of date, which meant law enforcement needed to include updates about criminals' appearances. An 1877 ad for Baltzar Henry Frithjoff Stalhammar (“generally known as Henry Stalhammar”) included a decade-old photograph of the criminal, and noted “Stalhammar may probably now wear his hair cut quite close to the head.” 

The constraints imposed on law enforcement officers who had to rely on text rather than photography or fingerprinting (not widely used until the 20th century) resulted in some remarkably creative and evocative personal descriptions. Missing Missourian W.B. Jones, thought to be the victim of foul play or “laboring under some hallucination,” is described as having 

small, dark hazel eyes and rather keen and searching, decayed teeth and snaggy, long prominent nose, redder than face, cancer wart on temple near the hair [think right side], rather stoop shouldered, has a shoving walk, leaning the upper body forward, crooks his knees in stepping as if weak in knees … Is a stock man, and has the appearance of a hard-fisted farmer.

The diversity of interested parties sending bills, lists, and posters to Halifax shows how ad hoc law enforcement operated in an era when policing was just undergoing standardization in the United States, Canada, and Europe. One “Wanted” poster was sent by the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, offering a reward for the arrest of Henry Keesing, who “was charged with a felonious assault upon a little girl named Alice Walker, aged nine years.” 

Nova Scotia Archives via Flickr // Public Domain

Nova Scotia Archives via Flickr // Public Domain

Nova Scotia Archives via Flickr // Public Domain

Nova Scotia Archives via Flickr // Public Domain 

Nova Scotia Archives via Flickr // Public Domain

Header image: Nova Scotia Archives via Flickr // Public Domain

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Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed
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Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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