Ian Macky says: "Published in 1935, the Secret Museum is a mystery book. It has no author or credits, no copyright, no date, no page numbers, no index. Published by 'Manhattan House' and sold by 'Metro Publications,' both of New York, its 'Five Volumes in One' was pure hype: it had never been released in any other form."
Three million cheers to Macky for not only scanning all 564 pages of this treasure of a book, but for cleaning up the images, transcribing the text, and adding thumbnail galleries and a copy of a 1942 magazine ad.
Cannibals. Fakirs. Equilibrists. Crime and punishment. Rituals. Slaves, cults and customs. Warriors and weapons. Musicians and mendicants. Dance, dress, undress and body modification. Structures, conveyances, beasts, and more breasts than you can shake a stick at! This is The Secret Museum of Mankind.Link
Advertised as "World's Greatest Collection of Strange & Secret Photographs" and marketed mainly to overheated adolescents (see the 1942 ad in Keen, left), it consists of nothing but photos and captions with no further exposition. This was not a book published to educate (despite appearing on some public library's shelves), but to titillate (literally)-- it's emphasis was on the female form ("Female Beauty Round the World") and fashion, and it featured as many National-Geographic-style native breasts as possible. But anything lurid, weird, or just plain unusual is fair game. This was a book to gawk at by flashlight under the bedcovers.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.
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