The Festival of Latest Novelties

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A Brief History

On September 24, we, well, or rather at least somebody somewhere, celebrate(s) the Festival of Latest Novelties!

Digging Deeper

As we continue our countdown toward this website’s official launch on 1 October 2013, we want to wish everyone a Happy Festival of Latest Novelties!

Humorous novelty signs

The giving of novelty gifts goes as far back as the early modern period (1500s and 1600s).  During this time period, a French mathematician and astronomer named Pierre Hérigone (1580-1643) described an unusual goblet constructed in such a way that someone drinking it could in effect spy on others while taking a drink.  This ingenious novelty item featured a 45-degree angle mirror with a stylized opening for the lens, a cup made of glass where images could be seen, and a lid bearing a magnifying lens at the top!  This fun item was only the beginning…

Over the following centuries, famous novelty items would include the Big Mouth Billy Bass, bobbleheads, Groucho glasses, and X-Ray Specs, in addition to a wealth of other items, some of which we are absolutely certain you have owned at least some of at some point in your life!

Big Mouth Billy Bass at rest

Given their pervasiveness in our culture, it is not surprising that an as yet unidentified brainiac decided to finally honor these amusing items with their own holiday.

Question for students (and subscribers): As far as we can tell, this holiday dates back to at least the early 2000s, but its “official” origins are thus far mysterious.  Perhaps you can illuminate us as to this peculiar holiday’s origins by posting in the comments section below this article.  No, you do not win a prize, but you will help contribute to our knowledge of this “important” event!

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Historical Evidence

The oldest internet references we can find to the holiday via a Google search date back to 2001.  These include this site and a host of other sites that merely mention the holiday’s name and date.

Now, if you are considering some recent novelty items to purchase as gifts for the upcoming holiday season, we recommend these top ten novelty gifts.  The author of this article can say from personal experience that you will not be disappointed with many of the ones found on that well-written list!

The featured image in this article of a fake gun that shoots out a “BANG!” flag and a cigarette lighter that shoots water has been released into the public domain by its author, Polylerus at English Wikipedia.


About Author

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.