Fascinating Historical Photos That Prove Humans Have Always Been A Little Strange

Humanity’s peculiarities are seemingly endless — and we’ve been hunting through the archives to prove the point. After hours of burning the midnight oil, we’ve managed to whittle hundreds of historical photos down to a selection that we think best capture the essential weirdness of Homo sapiens. Read on and marvel at just how strange we humans can be...

1. Michelin Men of music

The Michelin Man has to be one of the best-known brand mascots of all time. These ten costumed fellows are the members of an actual orchestra, and they’re engaged in a bit of promotion. Strangely they were publicizing a new radio show launched in 1924, the Michelin Hour. So their audience wouldn’t have been able to see those magnificent outfits. Go figure.

2. The three masketeers

It's hard to imagine a world where laying out to catch a tan didn't exist, but before 1923, bronzing your skin for aesthetic reasons wasn't a thing. And who do we have to thank for the invention of bronzing in the name of beauty? None other than the queen of fashion — Coco Chanel. She may not have meant to invent tanning, but pictures of her after a trip to the French Riviera sent people into a frenzy! Tanning to get that trademark Coco glow was firmly in place by the 1950s when this snap was taken, but protecting your face was still a must.

3. The final straw

Over in rural Ireland, the sight of these eerie masked men would have been far from unsettling. The Irish tradition of straw boys, although rarely practiced anymore, centered around one of the most joyful celebrations out there — weddings. The masked revelers would first steal hay to form their unusual headwear, before crashing the nuptials. Once accepted into the celebration, they'd dance with the bride and groom and entertain wedding-goers with songs, music, and jokes. 

4. Birdman

French daredevil and former paratrooper Leo Valentin earned his “Birdman” nickname by attempting to fly with a rudimentary set of wings tied to his back. Sadly, his ill-considered project came to an abrupt end in 1956, as did his life. A 100,000-strong crowd at an airshow in Liverpool, England, watched in horror as he leapt from a plane and crashed to the ground.