Ripley's and Guiness

If you're interested in strange and wonderful items from around the world, then The Trocadero in London's Piccadilly Circus is the place for you. It's the new home of Ripley's Believe It or Not! exhibition.

When Robert Ripley, a cartoonist, began his world-wide expeditions in the 1920s and 30s, he never imagined he would amass such a large collection of bizarre items.

The exhibits include a selection of animals with two heads, a portrait of Princess Diana made entirely of laundry lint, a jewel-covered Mini Cooper and a collection of genuine shrunken human heads, just to name a few.

Ripley was an eccentric figure who travelled to more than 200 countries. As a newspaper cartoonist he drew pictures of strange things he had seen, but often people didn't believe these things were real. So he financed more trips and returned with samples that proved the naysayers wrong.

The new museum will be open 365 days a year.

Interestingly, August 27th also marks the anniversary of another "authority for the curious": it was on this date in 1955 that the first edition of the Guiness Book of Records was published. The concept was hatched during a hunting party four years earlier, when the owner of the Guiness Brewery argued with another man over which bird was the fastest game bird in Europe. A book was needed to answer the question and others like it. So a fact-finding agency was commissioned to compile what became the Guiness Book of Records. It has gone on to sell more than a 100 million copies and new editions are printed every year.

Links for more information:
Ripleys Believe It Or Not Exhibition, London.

The story of Robert Ripley

Guiness World Records

The photo of the Venetian mask is courtesy of Jack Horst.

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