11 Gifts For the History Buff

iStock
iStock

From ancient recipes to storied war ships, these 11 gifts will make the past come alive for your favorite history buff this holiday season.

1. USS CONSTITUTION MODEL SHIP; $400

USS Constitution Model Ship, sold by The New York Times Store

The New York Times Store

Launched in 1797, the USS Constitution became famous when it defeated the British warship HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia during the War of 1812. This fatal battle earned the vessel the nickname of "Old Ironsides," as shots appeared to rebound off its hull. The USS Constitution is still intact to this day, and is considered the oldest U.S. warship still in commission. Fans of the boat can visit it in Boston, or keep this fully assembled 30-inch wooden model on their desks.

Find It: The New York Times Store

2. BECAUSE OF THEM WE CAN SIGNATURE BACKPACK; $50

Because Of Them We Can Signature Backpack
Because of Them We Can

Help your giftee pay homage to pioneering civil rights leaders with this backpack emblazoned with the first names of figures like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, and more. It comes equipped with a laptop pouch, a mesh zip pocket, a key pouch, and a back notebook pocket.

Find It: Because of Them We Can

3. KING SOLOMON'S TABLE: A CULINARY EXPLORATION OF JEWISH COOKING FROM AROUND THE WORLD; $24

"King Solomon's Table" by Joan Nathan
Courtesy of Pantheon Books

King Solomon's Table by Joan Nathan provides more than 170 historic Jewish recipes from around the globe, ranging from classic Yemenite Chicken Soup to modern takes on dishes like shakshuka.

Find It: Amazon

4. MEAD MAKING KIT; $55

Mead Making Kit, sold by Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

Your giftee's next soiree will rival the drinking halls of Medieval Europe with this make-your-own mead kit. It includes instructions, ingredients, and basic equipment that can be reused to make multiple batches.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

5. NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL DAY BOOK; $130

Special Day Book, sold by The New York Times Store

The New York Times Store

This personalized book by the New York Times lets purchasers remember an important day in their lives by reading what the world was like during that time. It contains New York Times headlines, photographs, advertisements, and articles from any date from 1851 onwards.

Find It: The New York Times

6. DEAD FEMINISTS: HISTORIC HEROINES IN LIVING COLOR; $17

"Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color" by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring
Courtesy of Sasquatch Books

History also includes plenty of "hers." Dead Feminists by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring profiles 27 influential female figures whose actions changed the world, like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Find It: Amazon

7. PRESIDENTIAL SOAP COLLECTION; $22

This Caswell-Massey soap collection allows bathers to suds up like American leaders. It includes George Washington's Number Six soap, Eisenhower's almond cold cream hand soap, and Jockey Club men's bath soap, rumored to have been a favorite of John F. Kennedy.

Find It: Amazon

8. DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP RING; $170


Digby & Iona

War of 1812 buffs can wear history on their hands with this signet ring by Brooklyn jewelry studio Digby & Iona. It's engraved with the slogan "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP," which Captain James Lawrence of the United States frigate Chesapeake allegedly uttered with his dying breath during a bloody 1813 sea skirmish against the British frigate Shannon.

Find It: Digby & Iona

9. HISTORY OF ART T-SHIRT; $28

History of Art T-Shirt, sold by the MoMA Design Store
MoMA Design Store

This pre-shrunk T-shirt's design uses smiley faces to simplify hundreds of years of art history into a chronological timeline. Each smiley is designed in the style of various famous artists, many of whose works are featured in the MoMA's collections.

Find It: MoMA Design Store

10. AMERICAN SEAFOOD: HERITAGE, CULTURE & COOKERY FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA; $25

"American Seafood: Heritage, Culture & Cookery from Sea to Shining Sea" by Barton Seaver
Courtesy of Amazon

Your favorite history buff can explore the history of North American commercial seafood by cooking their way through Barton Seaver’s American Seafood. It lists the main characteristics of various types of fish, along with how to prep each one, while also providing an overview of their culinary legacy.

Find It: Amazon

11. PERSONALIZED PRINT OF A FAMILY HEIRLOOM; $450

A personalized print of a family heirloom typewriter by The Heirloomist
The Heirloomist

Thanks to still life photographer Shana Novak, nobody has to squabble over Grandpa's heirlooms. The New York-based shutterbug runs a business called The Heirloomist, which celebrates family history by photographing treasured relics and transforming them into large-scale works of art. Prints can be matted and framed, or delivered sans decorative casing.

Find It: The Heirloomist

These Atlases Map Out the Unique Histories of New York City, New Orleans, and San Francisco

University of California Press / Amazon
University of California Press / Amazon

When thinking of a map, your mind most likely pictures a seemingly unruly network of colorful lines showing roads and city limits. But what if a map could go beyond geography and show just what makes a particular place so unique? For over 10 years, author Rebecca Solnit has compiled three unique atlases of New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans, with each one giving readers a look at these distinct cities that goes far beyond tourist attractions and subway lines. Now, for the first time, you can buy all three atlases in a set at Barnes & Noble ($68) or Amazon ($51).

In Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, Solnit, along with artists, writers, and cartographers, created 22 colored maps of the city, with each one focusing on a different aspect of its character. For example, the "Poison/Palate" map displays the dichotomy between the artisan food shops and restaurants that exist alongside the toxic mines and chemical factories found in the Bay Area. The "Green Women" map, on the other hand, celebrates the women of the city that have fought for the environment. You can find the first of the series on Amazon for $21.

The second in the series is Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, written by Solnit and co-authored by Rebecca Snedeker, a native to New Orleans and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker (Witness: Katrina). Alongside 22 maps, this atlas features more than 20 essays written by musicians, prison activists, and many other local experts. Readers can see the aftermath of the BP spill in the “Oil and Water” map, while “A City in Time” allows viewers to see how New Orleans has been settled over a period of 300 years. Find this edition for $21 on Amazon.

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas is the last in the series, and you can find it on Amazon for $22. Written by Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, a geographer and writer, this edition has 26 maps, highlighted by “City of Women.” At first glance, it looks like a typical subway map, but when you look closer, you’ll see the stop names have been replaced by those of women who have impacted the city in some way, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Dorothy Parker. If you buy the set, you'll receive an updated fold-out poster of this popular map, which includes more recent names like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Alongside the many women that have shaped the Big Apple, readers can see a mapped-out version of the different languages spoken throughout Queens and much more.

The set also includes two other color fold-out posters of New Orleans and San Francisco and an essay by Solnit reflecting on this project.

Once you're done looking through these unique maps, check out some of the most important ones in history.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Wrap Yourself in the Sweet Smell of Bacon (or Coffee or Pine) With These Scented T-Shirts

adogslifephoto/iStock via Getty Images
adogslifephoto/iStock via Getty Images

At one point or another, you’ve probably used perfume, cologne, body spray, or another product meant to make you smell like a flower, food, or something else. But what if you could cut out the middleman and just purchase scented clothing?

Candy Couture California’s (CCC) answer to that is “You can!” The lifestyle brand offers a collection of graphic T-shirts featuring scents like bacon, coffee, pine tree, strawberry, and motor oil. If you have more traditional olfactory predilections, there are several options for you, too, including rose, lavender, and lemongrass. There’s even a signature Candy Couture California scent, which is an intoxicating blend of coconut, strawberry, and vanilla.

candy couture california bacon shirt
Candy Couture California

According to the website, CCC founder Sara Kissing came up with the idea in 2011 while working in the e-commerce fashion industry, and her personal experience with aromatherapy led her to investigate developing clothing that harnessed some of those same benefits. The T-shirts are created with scent-infused gel, which “gives off a delicate, mild smell—just enough to boost your mood.”

So you don’t have to worry about your bacon shirt making the whole office smell like a breakfast sandwich, but you yourself will definitely be able to enjoy its subtle, meaty aroma whenever you wear it. The shirts are also designed to match their scents—the chocolate shirt, for example, features chocolatey baked goods, while the coffee shirt displays steaming mugs of coffee.

candy couture california chocolate shirt
Candy Couture California

The fragrances don’t last forever, but they’ll stay strong through 15 to 20 washes before they start to fade. CCC recommends using unscented detergent so as not to conflict with the shirt’s aroma, and you can further prolong its life if you’re willing to wash it by hand.

Prices start at $79, and you can shop the full collection here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER