Curious History: “The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions” or Vintage Ideas for Fraternities to Haze their Pledges, 1896-1930
The contraptions listed were designed to perform some kind of devilish prank or practical joke: the human centipede or nite mare, an exploding spanking machine, electric branding iron, the devil’s slide, invisible paddle machine, a pledge altar, and the “surprise” chair.
Various editions of this prank supply catalog were printed from 1896 to 1930, mailed from their source in Illinois to fraternal lodges and fraternities around the country. Fraternities or lodges would then use these contraptions to use on their pledges as a test to their loyalty to the fraternity. Think of it as vintage ideas for fraternities to haze their pledges.