Many strange things in history have been invented to make a task easier or to just have some fun. Here are three such inventions - all unusual and designed for problems of the head.
It almost goes without saying that the late 19th century was a very different period in history than today. For instance, men wore hats much more often than they do now. It was courtesy for a man to tip his hat in greeting to a woman as they met. But what would happen if the man had his hands full and couldn't tip his hat? James Boyle asked himself that question and, concerned about perceived rudeness, invented the tipping-hat in 1896. This invention was a hat that could tip automatically, without the wearer needing to touch it in any way.
The secret to Boyle's tipping-hat was its arm and ball pendulum mechanism. The mechanism was wound up and fastened to a hat of choice, secured by curved springs. To operate this invention, the wearer needed merely to make a slight nod. Then, the mechanism would shift, tipping the hat. The mechanism would then shift back around and reverse the tipping motion. James Boyle's tipping-hat may well be history's most polite invention.
In 1966, video games were a few years from popularity, so parents at that time probably still believed their child's imagination was fully intact. This could explain the invention of the toy hat. This hat was strapped to the child's head and a long streamer attached to its top. The aim of this rudimentary toy was equally as simple. The child was to spin his or her head around, thereby causing the streamer to do the same.
The toy hat's inventor most likely intended for the child to be dazzled by the colourful streamer. Unfortunately, this invention's demise may have been due to the possibility of eye injury, dizziness or headaches - three things that toy inventors should stay away from!
Hair-cutting machineHair-cutting (or burning) machine
The experience of having one's hair cut can be stressful for many. Whether it was to alleviate the stress of visiting the barber, or in the interest of saving people some money, John Boax invented this hair-cutting machine in 1951. This invention is a misnomer, because rather than cutting the hair, it shortened it with heat. Using an air exhaust system, the machine would suck the wearer's hair up through a series of holes. At this point, electric coils would burn the hair off at the desired length.
Boax wasn't without a marketing plan for his invention. He envisioned, "a set of masks of various sizes and shapes [to] be provided to suit different sizes and shapes of heads as well as to provide for different lengths of hair." However, despite all his best planning, Boax's invention did not see widespread popularity. Not only was it large and unwieldy, but it posed serious risks of burns and electric shocks!
Source and images:
Jim Murphy. Weird & Wacky Inventions. New York: Crown Publishers, 1978.