14 Comments

  1. No ones commenting on these?

    I don’t get Barney and Clyde. So things are made in china means that it’s not a stretch to believe they are part of a space station?

    So if I have things made in germany we might as well assume they are the Berlin Wall? I have things made in America I might as well assume they are the empire state building? Are we supposed to be cynically shocked at noticing most of our goods are produced in China? Still?

  2. If you believe they are parts of the Empire State Building, then I have a bridge to sell you…

    The art of upselling.

  3. “So things are made in china means that it’s not a stretch to believe they are part of a space station?”

    I think part of the humour is meant to be based on the general ignorance of people, too. It seems that all the junk in his cart is electronic in some way and so ‘It could be part of a space station, I guess.’ The lamp adds to this humorous element as it’s also electronic.

    Also, if anyone questions him, it’s got ‘Made in China’ stamped on it as most electronic stuff does. The unedited answer to the question he’s been asked is: “Sure I expect it! People are ignorant about electronics and this stuff’s got ‘Made in China’ stamped right on it!”

    As for your German and American examples, if you were selling bricks or steel beams or something related to the material that makes up these constructions and they had Made in Germany/America stamped on them for some reason, maybe people would fall for it.

    In fact, I think souvenir shops in Germany were/are selling chunks of the Berlin Wall which were/are just pieces of concrete that were/are spray painted (perhaps Kilby knows something about this). Although most likely fake, the paint acts as a Made in Germany stamp as that’s what people know of the wall…it was covered in graffiti.

  4. Just the other day, while walking through lower Manhattan, I had occasion to explain to my Texas nephew what “selling somebody the Brooklyn Bridge” meant.

  5. @ Stan – It is theoretically possible that (some of) those souvenier trinkets are made of authentic “Wall” concrete, but almost all the ones I have seen in tourist gift shops in Berlin have very non-authentic-looking paint on them.
    One must remember that the Berlin Wall wasn’t just one wall. For most of the circumference of West Berlin, the Wall was actually two walls, with a “no-man’s land” between them. The “exterior” surface (at the extreme edge of East Berlin, but facing toward West Berlin) was the only part covered in graffiti (East Berlin police could not patrol on West Berlin property, and West Berlin police did not care what anyone did to the “commie” Wall). The “interior” Wall (facing East Berlin) was pristine white, and carefully defended. Both of the sides facing into “no-man’s land” were usually unpainted raw concrete.
    After the initial breakthrough in 1989, there was a flurry of so-called “wallpecker” activity (collecting souveniers for personal and/or mercenary purposes). Over the next few years, the Wall was (industrially) dismantled with such rapidity and thoroughness that there are actually a few (isolated) sections where it is no longer 100% verifiable exactly where it ran. There are only a very few remaining “authentic” sections that have been left standing, and these are exceedingly off-limits to collectors today.
    In any case, it would have been easy (and cheap) to get hold of one of the less distinguished concrete sections as the Wall was being dismantled. After covering both sides with random paint, breaking it up would yield anywhere from 5000 to 10000 resellable fragments. The problem is that the same process also works with brand-new concrete panels, and it is virtually impossible to prove the difference.

  6. The old-fashioned variation was fragments of the One True Cross. There’s a famous quote about the sum of the fragments of the One True Cross being enough to make a significant number of complete crosses, but I don’t remember the exact quote nor the original source… although this may be a case of lots of different people making this observation in similar ways… I just don’t know, or care enough to look it up.

  7. ” There’s a famous quote about the sum of the fragments of the One True Cross being enough to make a significant number of complete crosses, but I don’t remember the exact quote nor the original source”

    Well, why shouldn’t the true cross behave the same as the loaves and fishes?

  8. “Well, why shouldn’t the true cross behave the same as the loaves and fishes?”

    You can get in real trouble suggesting that one of Jesus’ miracles is not unlike a callous scam pulled on His believers. Just sayin’.

  9. re “There’s a famous quote about the sum of the fragments of the One True Cross being enough to make a significant number of complete crosses, but I don’t remember the exact quote nor the original source…”

    One semi-example, from Twain’s THE INNOCENTS ABROAD:

    But isn’t this relic matter a little overdone? We find a piece of the
    true cross in every old church we go into, and some of the nails that
    held it together. I would not like to be positive, but I think we have
    seen as much as a keg of these nails. Then there is the crown of thorns;
    they have part of one in Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, and part of one also
    in Notre Dame. And as for bones of St. Denis, I feel certain we have
    seen enough of them to duplicate him if necessary.

  10. A proper Roman Catholic altar must have a piece of the True Cross in it, so there is a market that needs product.

    When I was a little Catholic kid, I was impressed with the quality of the construction of the Cross in all the pictures of Jesus on his journey to Calvary. Evidently the two beams were rabbetted precisely with a router, and the whole thing was sanded and finished with a hand-rubbed oil finish. Did Jesus himself make it in his carpentry shop, knowing where it would ultimately end up?

  11. @ MiB – Catholic altar stones do contain a relic, but it does not have to be a piece of the cross, it can be a primary relic from any saint. Personally, I’ve always felt that this was a little gruesome.

  12. My mom was in Germany on a trip shortly after the wall came down – or at least had started doing so and she did buy a piece of the wall. I have a piece of the beams around Louisa May Alcott’s (built in) desk purchased at Orchard House, her home, while they were replacing same and selling pieces in their gift shop.

    I think I posted once on the old site – In the movie “Going Ape” Tony Danza’s character sells pieces of the True Cross and the pieces of the Babe’s bat by mail. A friend of his asks about it as the character fills an order – as he breaks a large splinter off of his desk he explains that the left side is the the Babe’s bat and the right side is the True Cross (or vice versa as it has been some time since I saw this movie). At least he did not, I think, sell copper engraved portraits of Abraham Lincoln – at least those are worth 1 cent.

  13. More TrueCrossery and such, from BLACK ADDER, 1 series, episode 3:

    Baldrick: Moving on to relics, we’ve got shrouds, from Turin; er, wine from the
    wedding at Cana; splinters from the cross (his finger gets a sliver
    from one of the splinters); er, and, of course, there’s stuff made by
    Jesus in his days in the carpentry shoppe: got pipe racks, coffee
    tables, coatstands, bookends, crucifixes, a nice cheeseboard, fruit
    bowls, waterpoof sandals… (picks up a piece of wood that’s partly
    carved) Oh, I haven’t finished that one yet.
    Percy: But this is disgraceful, My Lord! All of these are obviously fake!
    Edmund: Hah, yes!
    Percy: But, but how will people be able to tell the difference between these
    and the real relics?
    Edmund: Well, they won’t! That’s the point!
    Percy: Well, you won’t be able to fool everyone. Look (he takes a red cloth
    from his sleeve): I have here a true relic.
    Edmund: What is it?
    Percy: (unwraps the cloth) It is a bone from the finger of Our Lord. It cost
    me 31 pieces of silver.
    Edmund: Good lord. Is it real?
    Percy: It is, My Lord. Baldrick, you stand amazed.
    Baldrick: I am — I thought they only came in boxes of ten.

  14. My understanding was that with all the pieces from the true cross, one could rebuild Noah’s ark.

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