#4. Lighthouse Helmets (1928, 1940)
Check out that guy's face. That's a man who's been wearing a ridiculous automated lighthouse helmet for six freaking hours, and does not care. That is a man whose stoplight you dare not run. Zooming in a little closer, we're actually not totally convinced that the Monty Python guys weren't time travelers.
But apparently the contraption was a hit, because ...
Drug dealers, if you get busted by this guy, it's your own damn fault.
This one was presumably a hazing device for new recruits or punishment for cops who used the electric glove as a joy buzzer. One thing's sure from looking at that upgrade: That is the single most effective way to break the spirit of a police officer. Also, the worst possible outfit to put your undercover cop in.
#3. "Medieval Knight" Armor (1938)
Whoever designed this armor to protect late-1930s Parisian "gas squad" officers from gun battles clearly had someone on that squad they wanted to see die in the most humiliating way possible. Just look at his "shield" -- that's nothing more than a scrap piece of sheet metal that somebody superglued a kitchen cabinet handle onto. It's only marginally more likely to stop a bullet than a tennis racquet. It looks like something we would have thrown together as kids when we and our friends played Masters of the Universe and beat the crap out of each other with our "swords." (Yardsticks. The swords were yardsticks, and goddamn, did they sting.) Only worse, because we never would have put on a sleep mask to use as a face shield.
#2. Truth Chamber (1934)
For times when the old "good cop, bad cop" routine didn't work out, a New York criminologist designed the Truth Chamber. The chamber consisted of a small room with walls covered in mirrors, so that no matter where the suspect looked, he was forced to stare at countless reflections of himself -- nothing to look at but his own guilty face, ad infinitum. A light mounted over his head allowed the interrogating officers to adjust the color of the lighting to make the suspect appear "worn and haggard" in order to help drive a confession from him (by driving him insane).
"Oh God, my face looks awful. It was I who killed the duchess!"
If a suspect didn't have a taste for human flesh going into this thing, a couple hours in there should be plenty to fully develop that craving. Presumably we don't still see a lot of these in use today because they've since put laws into effect prohibiting the forceful transformation of perfectly sane suspects into Cenobites.
#1. Tear Gas for Everyone! (1926-1932)
It appears that there was a gas-happy period in the late 1920s/early 1930s when they thought it was important for the general public to have the ability to tear gas just, like, everybody. Based on the prevalence of gadgets like these, we've reached the conclusion that every single person you passed on the street back then was hiding some kind of James Bond-like device, ready to gas you at a moment's notice.
Here's a wrist-mounted tear gas gun, with a finger ring that acts as the trigger. One flex of the wrist, and THWIP! It's just like Spider-Man's web shooters, only instead of webs, it shoots out clouds of pure misery.
And here we have a tear gas gun in the guise of an innocent fountain pen. See how nonchalantly she's gassing that dude? Two seconds ago he had a loaded revolver pointed directly at her face, and now he's crying like a little girl. Making masked gunmen her bitches is just part of her daily routine -- she's about to go grab some lunch, but not until she's good and done watching him whimper.
If we ever get that DeLorean running, remind us to never provoke the wrath of a flapper.
But what if you wanted to feel the joy of gassing a crook into submission, but weren't exactly comfortable with carrying a vat of acrid gas around with you at all times? Not to worry! Thanks to this cute little alligator ornament that breathed out tear gas like some kind of asshole dragon, or this window-mounted tear gas bomb, you could be sure that the simple act of opening a door or window could result in an explosion of swollen mucus membranes and anguish.
Like the chest-mounted Gatling gun for stick-up artists, this one is baffling for how desperate they are to hide the weapon from prospective armed robbers. They're not interested in deterring crime, but in tricking the bad guys into wandering within firing range of their booby-trapped body.
For more things the old folks got right, check out 7 Songs From Your Grandpa's Day That Would Make Eminem Blush and The 7 Creepiest Old School Robots.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Most Baffling PSA Ever: Vote Like ... Spider-Man?
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover the Lincoln sex tapes.
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