Listen: Herbert Eugene Bolton Bolton, Sir Francis Drake, Edison discussed on Aaron Mahnke's Cabinet of Curiosities
"We've all taken a joke too far. Maybe it it was a mistimed Zinger or prank gone awry. We knew it was wrong but by the time it was over it was too late. That's the problem with some jokes. They tend to take on a life of their own. Fifteen seventy eight sir. Francis Drake set sail for the Straits of Annie. In a way of reaching the Atlantic Ocean from the fabled northwest passage over at the top of North America instead he reached the shores of Northern California and began exploring I like other adventurers who might have left behind a lasting testament commit to their presence. Drake left only a small brass plate or plaque upon it had been inscribed the declaration from Drake claiming the land in the name of Queen Elizabeth. It was signed with his name and the day. T- landed the plates. Existence was noted by English diarist Francis Pretty who had detailed his travels with drake as they circumnavigated the globe over three hundred fifty years later. A chauffeur named William Caldera discovered the small brass artifact in northern California while his employer and a friend. We're hunting Caldera held onto the plate so that he could research its origins on his own but accidentally tossed it out during a routine cleaning of his employer's car. It sat on the side of the road in San Rafael for three years before another young man named barrel Shin found it and rushed it over to historian. Herbert Eugene Bolton Bolton didn't wasn't experts on Spanish American history he knew exactly what Shin possessed check the plate and its inscription against Francis pretis diary entry. It was exactly as he had described elevated at the discovery he contacted the president of the California Historical Society. Alan Pickering as well as Robert Gordon. SPROUL president of the University of California. They confirmed that Shin. Had indeed found sir. Francis Drake's long lost brass-plate Bolton together with Chicory cooled their resources to buy the plate from Shin for twenty five hundred dollars a hefty sum at the time but Shin Wasn't quite ready to part with it just yet yet. He disappeared for four days claiming he wanted to have his uncle examined the plate before he sold it Bolton panicked when he didn't hear from him and upped his bid to thirty five hundred. I heard that seemed to do the trick and not long. After Herbert Bolton was the proud owner of Sir Francis Drake's brass plate. He Ends Pickering announced their acquisition into the California Historical Society in Nineteen thirty seven before donating the plates to the University of California's Bancroft Library Bolton incredulous at his good fortune at finally fulfilled a decades long dream of finding one of the most elusive totems in history but not everyone was as enthralled with their discovery. Critics pointed pointed out a whole host of problems with the plate. For example the spelling of certain words were not historically accurate. They were to modern. Also the Queen was referred to as Queen Queen Elizabeth when the common form of title during Drake's time was Elizabeth by the grace of God queen of England France and Ireland defender of the faith. There were also the physical attributes of the brass itself. It didn't look old or aged enough. But Bolton and Chicory in were not dissuaded they had explanation nations for every supposed pointed out to them unfortunately even the president of the University Robert Sprawl who had encouraged their purchase of the plates came to doubt its origins Bolton sought out a third party to help confirm its authenticity so he solicited the services of Colin Fink a Professor at Columbia University versity who specialized in electro chemistry think tested the plate and no doubt about it. It was the real deal. The plates was authentic and that was the final word on it for over. Forty years photos of Drake's plate of brass found their way into text books and posters replicas. Were made and presented to Queen Elizabeth the second though despite the authoritative stance of Doctor Fink. Something never quite sat right with the other academics. By by the nineteen seventies technology had come so far as to allow researchers to dig even deeper into the plates chemical and physical make-up's the four hundredth anniversary of Drake's landing in California was coming up and it seemed like the perfect time to reanalyze the plate. Scientists bombarded with all kinds of x rays and gamma rays the results came back much different than Dr Finks. One clue they noticed was that the plate hadn't been hammered flat as it would have in the fifteen hundreds instead it had been rolled old out which was a much more modern technique also its edges had been precisely cut with power tools and it's chemical composition show that it was made up of too much zinc to be from the time period in shorts. It was a fake while Bolton never realized that the time was that he had been meant to find it at had been made for him members of a fraternal history organization known as eclipse Vitus or. ECB knew all about Bolton's obsession with the plate as a joke. Could they used Francis pretis description of it as a recipe to make their own. They had planted it in a popular area. Known to other California Historical Society members expecting one of them to find it and bring it to Bolton when the chauffeur lost it. The prank fizzled out until it was rediscovered. Several years later unfortunately by the time it was announced to the public it was too late for the pranksters to come forward without seriously damaging the credibility and careers of everyone involved so they simply let it go. Aw But even though the play is fake it's journey. An origin story have cemented it. As a new kind of artifact one that is part of two separate histories stories and is a testament to the lengths people will go to to confirm their obsessions. Or maybe the whole thing was just e clamps Vitus in a nutshell after they're all their motto translates into something. Pretty clear I believe it because it's absurd Where do we go when we die? Why is there an afterlife? Do our souls get left behind or is there another plane of existence for the human spirit after these physical vessels have expired. We ask ourselves these questions because for the most part we fear death more importantly we fear what we don't know about death. It's not like those who have experienced. It can can tell us what it's like. Although one man thought he could find out a Thomas. Edison is known to history as the inventor of the phonograph. The movie movie camera and the Practical Electric Lightbulb. He's often portrayed as shrewd cold business man. A man who valued proof above belief and who had no patience or philosophy velocity or existentialism. Yet he was fascinated by the afterlife particularly in how one reached it while many people believe in the concept of Heaven or hell where one soul would end up depending on how they behaved in life. Edison theorized something else entirely. He believed life was like energy in that there was a set amount of it available and it could not be created or destroyed what we consider to be a soul it was actually a bunch of microscopic consciousness that monitored what was going on on inside our bodies when they got along. They kept US alive when they argued we died and the consciousness either passed onto another host or they began to create new life in which which to inhabit and if they could be rearranged back into their original state back when they got along in the previous host that person could be resurrected to some degree for example. A deceased person's personality could find its way into another living human or a newborn baby might be someone else's second chance at a new life Edison's Edison's ideas weren't typical as I'm sure you've noticed. Even still he searched for a way to find these particles to validate that his theory was correct. Test test after test. He built prototypes of devices. He thought would detect the personalities of the dead but had no luck not even the teams of scientists he had working for him could figure it out so he did what he did best. He went to the media in the fall of Nineteen Twenty Edison announced to the world that he had been hard at work on a a new invention one that would allow him to communicate with the dead he called it. The spirit phone. Interestingly something as spiritualists talking to the dead did not artifact him on a spiritual level. He refused to acknowledge the public's interest. In the occult or seances. This was a scientific endeavour he said and one meant to a you'll proof not further muddy the waters he reached out to another inventor. Sir William Crookes in England who had allegedly taken photographs of ghosts that that he encountered Edison was inspired by the visual proof. He'd gathered that ghosts were in fact susceptible to manmade gadgets. And it wasn't long before he set to work on his spirit phone allegedly after his public announcement. Edison didn't speak about the project again nor did he show anyone what he might have been working on. Unfortunately the famous inventor died in nineteen thirty one taking the paranormal telephone with him. No one has found proof that he ever actually worked. Don such a device. Som- believed the whole thing had been a hoax to keep his name in the papers while others swear to this day that there are blueprints and even a prototype somewhere evidence of his dedication to his claims a decade after his death a seance was conducted and contact was allegedly. Made with Edison's Ghost uh was asked about the spirit bone and whether it had been real according to the entity not only was it real but the blueprints for it had been left in the possession of three of his his former assistance. Sadly though that's where the story ends as you might expect Edison's assistance have all passed away and they couldn't. It'd be reached for comment. I hope you've enjoyed today's guided tour of the cabinet of curiosities. Subscribe for free on Apple podcasts or learn more about the show by visiting curiosities PODCAST DOT COM. The show was created by me. Aaron McKie in partnership with how stuff works I make another award. Winning show called Lor which is a podcast book series and Television Show and you can learn all about it over at the world of Lor Dot Com and until next time stay curious.."