2 Rings That Make Super Bowl Bling Look Common

Every professional athlete longs to "get a ring" by winning a championship, and earning a Super Bowl ring is certainly a rare and amazing feat. However, it's not that rare. The NFL has played 41 Super Bowls, and with over fifty people per team, that means that there are at least 2,000 or so player rings floating around out there. Plus, all manner of coaches, front-office staff, and other team employees get rings of their own, too. So while a Super Bowl ring is rare, it's got nothing on these two from European theater:

1. The Iffland-Ring

This ring boasts a rarity that even Tolkien could appreciate: there's only one. The ring originally lived on the finger of German theater icon A.W. Iffland and features his portrait studded with small diamonds. Towards the end of his life, Iffland passed the jewelry on to fellow actor Ludwig Devrient. By tradition, the bearer is the most significant living German-speaking actor, and when he dies his will specifies the next man to wear the ring.

This line of succession hasn't always been so clean, though. According to legend, Albert Basserman, who received the ring in 1911, kept picking successors who died. After he outlived his first three choices, Basserman decided to give up and donated the ring to a museum. However, when he died in 1952, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education intervened and awarded the ring to Werner Kraub. The current holder, Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, has worn the ring since 1996.

2. Hans-Reinhart-Ring

Similarly, the Hans-Reinhart-Ring is awarded to a luminary of the Swiss theater. It's not as rare as the Iffland-Ring, though, since the ring has been awarded annually since 1957 and each winner gets his or her own ring. Not surprisingly, the ring is named after Hans Reinhart, a wealthy playwright and poet who endowed the program.

Since its inception, the ring has grown to signify the top award in Swiss theater. Laureates have included operatic soprano Lisa Della Casa, the clown Dmitri, and actor and director Benno Besson. Current Iffland-Ring holder Bruno Ganz won the award in 1991, giving him the closest thing Swiss stagecraft has to Tom Brady's ring-encrusted knuckles.

Bathroom Reading: This 18th Century Toilet Was Disguised as a Book

Image courtesy of Daniel Crouch Rare Books - crouchrarebooks.com
Image courtesy of Daniel Crouch Rare Books - crouchrarebooks.com

When producers of the family sitcom Leave It to Beaver wanted to air an episode in 1957 in which the Beav and brother Wally hide their pet alligator from their parents in the toilet tank, CBS was wary. Despite the fact that all humans, fictional or not, needed a commode was irrelevant to the network: It was considered in poor taste to show one.

This bashfulness over toilets has persisted for centuries, as evidenced by a recent offering from Daniel Crouch Rare Books. The “book,” which was produced circa 1750 in France, appears to be a weighty tome meant to impress guests with the owner’s literary tastes. In reality, it’s a toilet.

The combination toilet and book 'Histoire des Pays Bas' is pictured
Image courtesy of Daniel Crouch Rare Books - crouchrarebooks.com

With the cover closed, you wouldn’t know it. Unclasp it and it folds out to a wooden stool, with a gaping hole meant to accommodate a chamber pot underneath. As Atlas Obscura noted, the publisher had a winking sense of humor about it, too. The title, Histoire des Pays Bas, translates to History of the Netherlands. Netherlands. Nether regions.

Perhaps the French weren’t advanced humorists, but they did know how to preserve some semblance of modesty. It’s possible such objects were used to obscure chamber pots while people were traveling.

If you happen to be a collector of fine lavatory antiques, the toilet book can be yours for just under $10,000. As for the Beaver: Network censors prohibited the show from depicting the toilet, but they were allowed to show the tank.

The Reason Why Button-Down Shirts Have Loops On the Back

Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy

The apparel industry has presented a number of intriguing mysteries over the years. We’ve previously covered why clothes shrink in the wash, deciphered the laundry care tags on clothes, and figured out why shorts cost as much as pants. But one enduring puzzle persists: What’s with that weird loop on the back of button-down shirts?

The loop, which is found on many dress shirts for both men and women, is a small piece of fabric that typically occupies the space between the shoulder blades, where the yoke (upper back) of the shirt meets the pleat. While it can be an excellent way to annoy someone by tugging on it, history tells us it originally had a much more pragmatic function. The loops first became popular among naval sailors, who didn’t typically have much closet or storage space available for their uniforms. To make putting away and drying their shirts easier, the loops were included so they could be hung from a hook.

The loops didn’t remain exclusive to the Navy, however. In the 1960s, clothing manufacturer GANT added what became known as a locker loop to their dress shirts so their customers—frequently Ivy League college students—could hang the shirts in their lockers without them getting wrinkled. (The loop was originally placed on the back of the collar.) Later, students repurposed the loops to communicate their relationship status. If a man’s loop was missing, it meant he was dating someone. Women adopted an apparel-related signal, too: wearing their boyfriend’s scarf to indicate they were taken.

Particularly enthusiastic partners would rip the loop off spontaneously, which became a bit of a trend in the ‘60s. At the time, women who had crushes wearing Moss brand shirts complained that their loops were so strong and secure that they couldn’t be torn off.

For people who wanted to have a loop without ruining a shirt, one mail-order company offered to send just the loops to people in the mail.

You can still find the loops on shirts today, though they don't appear to have any social significance. Should you find one that's torn, it's probably due to wear, not someone's relationship status.