History Extra logo
The official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed

8 weird and wonderful pictures from the past

Hitler playing with a deer, Ronald Reagan posing as a model for a sculpture class, and Ku Klux Klan members taking a spin on a ferris wheel, are among the unusual images featured in a book of historical oddities...

This article was first published in October 2014

Published: August 25, 2015 at 10:30 am
Try 6 issues for only £9.99 when you subscribe to BBC History Magazine or BBC History Revealed

A collection of strange yet enlightening photos, Retronaut: The Photographic Time-Machine promises to challenge what we think we know about the past. The book pulls together the most curious images to feature on the popular Retronaut blog, which is run by former museum archivist Chris Wild.


Highlights include the famously dour Queen Victoria smiling, munchkins enjoying a cigarette break on the set of the Wizard of Oz, and Kim Jong II in a bumper car.

Here we reveal eight of the most weird and wonderful images to feature in the book, which is published by National Geographic and on sale now:

1901: Annie Taylor was the first person in history to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel – and survive. (Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

1940s: Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, playing with a roe deer. (Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

c1941: Waterproof Makeup – aquatic performers apply lipstick underwater. (J Baylor Roberts/National Geographic Creative)

1940: Ronald Reagan, future US president, poses as a model for a sculpture class. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

1966: Splashdown Training – If you have ever fallen out of Earth’s atmosphere in a cramped metal container at massive acceleration and landed with impact in the ocean, you’ll know that getting out of the door is not entirely straightforward. Apollo 1 astronauts Edward H White, Roger B Chaffee, and Virgil I Grissom practise this manoeuvre in a swimming pool at Ellington Field Air Force Base near Houston, Texas. Tragically, it was never required – all three were killed in a fire in their command module during a launch rehearsal. (NASA)

c1972: Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham at Yale. “She was in my face from the start,” said the former US president. “He was the first man I’d met who wasn’t afraid of me,” said the former secretary of state. (Clinton Family Historical Collection, courtesy William J Clinton Presidential Library)

1930: Stalin making faces at his bodyguard. (AKG images/RIA Novosti)

Retronaut: The Photographic Time-Machine (National Geographic) is on sale now. Click here to find out more.


To read more weird and wonderful history, click here.


Sponsored content