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The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions: The Curious World of the Demoulin Brothers and Their Fraternal Lodge Prank Machi nes - from Human ... Goats to ElectricCarpets and SmokingC Paperback – November 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
In the days before computers, people gathered in lodges and groups to communicate and enjoy life: there were old time fraternities and gatherings where men could make fools of themselves and of each other with the machines the DeMoulin Brothers invented and marketed. This book, cleverly printed on newsprint-like stock for flavor, contains many zany prankster machines complete with line drawings illustrating how the machines worked to get one up on the victim. But Suits doesn't stop there. She also includes news clippings and articles form journals about the good and evil of these fraternal organizations and the men who joined them and championed them. Secret societies that depended on entertaining the members in a fun filled camaraderie as well as doing some rather off color deeds best left undiscussed.
As one first approaches this book it seems like just something to put on the coffee table to entertain guests with little glimpses form a different Americana. But spend time reading the Introduction and Forward and the many notes and articles scattered throughout this book and find there is much to learn about that weird period in our history from 1896 to 1930. There are many surprises here, a lot of laughs, and some odd thoughts for musing. Grady Harp, November 11
Last year (2010) saw the publication of CATALOG 439 edited by Charles Schneider and published by Fantagraphic Books. That book was mostly a reprinting of Catalog 439, the most famous of the DeMoulin Brothers catalogs. Now there is THE EXTRAORDINARY CATALOG OF PECULIAR INVENTIONS by Julia Suits. Unlike CATALOG 439, this book isn't a reprinting of one particular DeMoulin catalog. Instead it is a hodge-podge of selected items from several different DeMoulin catalogs, photos from the period, essays about lodges and lodge initiation devices, and random quotes. The subtitle of the book is "The Curious World of the DeMoulin Brothers and Their Fraternal Lodge Pranks Machines--from Human Centipedes and Revolving Goats to Electric Carpets and Smoking Camels" and several of the devices invented and manufactured by the DeMoulins are featured within. However, the book itself is more like an overview of lodge life in the early 1900s.Read more ›
The book provides a richly textured description of one aspect of lodge activities - the initiation of new members. Such initiations were a vehicle for "male bonding", but were also a source of amusement for existing members. The DeMoulin Brothers made a business of providing suggestions for bizarre rituals as well as the props for carrying them out.
The props themselves were quite literally shocking. Electricity was just coming into common use and was employed in many devices to "liven up" the rituals. DeMoulin sold everything from greased poles to fake sawmills to gunpowder loaded spanking paddles.
They also provided equipment and supplies for day to day lodge operations - ceremonial uniforms, robes, masks, headdresses, and even ballot boxes with a supply of white and black balls for voting on new membership applications. This is a fascinating look at male Americana in the days before Monday Night Football.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very cool book. My 16 year old loves to read, loves history, and has always been interested in the Masons and what- not. He loved this, it was a great gift.Published 8 months ago by Jack White's guacamole recipe
Fantastic book! Who knew so many strange things had ever been invented!Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
must have for fans of the absurd. who knew those Victorians were so weird.Published 18 months ago by Chance A. Dunlap
This book provides a window into a world that I never knew existed, and am now fascinated by! Author Julia Suits (also the creator of Twitter account Tweets of Old) is a careful... Read morePublished on January 29, 2012 by Leslie McCollom
I came across the nefarious Demoulins while researching lodge hijinks for my "Big Secrets" books. Up until now, the electric carpet, the goat, the spanking shovel, etc. Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by William Poundstone
This book is AMAZING ! I had no idea what a strange, eye-opening, hilarious lens into the past it would be. Read morePublished on December 16, 2011 by Leila
I currently live in the town where DeMoulin Brothers was based and I bought the book simply to obtain some background history about the town. Read morePublished on December 15, 2011 by rrneumann
You may open this book intending to skim it, but it reaches up, grabs you by the collar and drags you in, all the way back to...the 20th century! Read morePublished on December 11, 2011 by A. Foxpath
Everyone has an eccentric Uncle Fred or a brilliant but slightly loopy Aunt Clara (think Bewitched).. Read morePublished on December 8, 2011 by Matthew S. Lindholm