Kirby's Wonderful and Scientific Museum

From 1803, Kirby’s Wonderful and Scientific Museum is a collection of curious and unusual stories from the time when medical philosophers roamed the land and the libraries, and people took mammoth teeth home after a trip to the cliffs. It’s a collection of stories and news from the earliest parts of the 19th Century, and includes stories of remarkable balloon ascensions (and their surprise at altitude problems), tales of unrequited love for a dog by a goose, and a recounting of treachery and witch accusations that was solved by a wily clergyman. The balloon story was of particular interest to me, as it established a date for the discovery of altitude problems, and as such would have coloured Steampunk stories written after that date (requiring the need for protective gear). I must thank Mr McClelland for reminding me of the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society blog, where I first read about this book – as it’s a delightful collection of some of the more peculiar pieces of ephemera of the past and even some from the present. Well worth a visit for some of the more niche findings.