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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES

14 Thought-Provoking Gifts for History Buffs

Kat Long
Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon (watch), Cavallini & Co./Amazon (puzzle), Justin Dodd (background)
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This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

If you're looking for a gift for the person who can’t get enough history in their life, we think you'll find something on this list. From an atlas of world history to a kit for making hooch the old-fashioned way, these presents will enlighten and entertain even those who own every Theodore Roosevelt biography and Titanic exposé.

1. History of the World Map by Map; $35

DK/Smithsonian/Amazon

This stunning book from DK and the Smithsonian Institution invites armchair explorers to learn about history through geography. Each section, from the first human migration out of Africa up to the modern world, is illustrated with photographs of artifacts, timelines, and diagrams in addition to 140 handsome maps.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Library Candle; $24

Forage Candle Co./Amazon

Remind your favorite history buff of that book project they’ve been working on for many years with a library scent that doesn’t evoke mildewed parchment and anxiety. The Forage Candle Co.’s hand-poured soy wax candle features rich notes of mandarin, teak, mahogany, and amber.

Buy It: Amazon

3. Set of Nikola Tesla’s Patents Prints; $21

ArtCantHurtU/Amazon

Your giftee will need to make space on their wall for these fetching prints of some of Nikola Tesla’s patents. ArtCan’tHurtU compiled drawings for several of Tesla’s inventions, including an alternating electric current generator, electric incandescent lamp, electromagnetic motor, and more—appealing to both science enthusiasts and design connoisseurs.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Homemade Gin Kit; $50

UncommonGoods

Just in time for holiday parties, this DIY gin-making kit includes two elegant bottles, stoppers, a selection of dried herbs and spices, and mixing tools. The giftee supplies the vodka, which acts like a blank slate, to be flavored with juniper berries, coriander seeds, rosemary, rose hips, and more.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

5. Genealogy Organizer Book; $9

Genealogy FP/Amazon

Here’s a genealogy gift for the holidays that doesn’t require handing over genetic data to private corporations. This handy book includes organizational charts for tracing one’s family tree back five generations. Plus, there are fill-in family group pages and sheets to record personal memories.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Fifth Avenue Wool Throw; $199

Pendleton/Amazon

Giftees in colder climes will adore this high-quality throw by Pendleton, a woolen brand established in 1863 in Portland, Oregon, and still going strong. Its 100 percent Merino wool construction feels soft and cozy, but its natural durability means it will last for years.

Buy It: Amazon

7. Great Lakes 3D Wood Nautical Chart; $188

Woodchart/Amazon

Up to eight layers of wood are used to demonstrate the depths of each of the five Great Lakes in this unusual topographical map from Woodchart, which also depicts the major rivers and towns of the region. If these lakes don’t float your boat, 3D maps of Boston Harbor, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, Alaska’s Inside Passage, and other waterways are available.

Buy It: Amazon

8. Black Lives 1900: W.E.B. Du Bois at the Paris Exposition; $28

Redstone Press/Amazon

With colorful, hand-drawn infographics, civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois illustrated the progress and challenges of Black Americans in the South at the beginning of the 20th century. This beautiful volume pairs his maps and charts, which were displayed at the 1900 Paris Exposition, with contemporary photographs of Black people and communities.

Buy It: Amazon

9. Three Mini Notebooks; $11

Cavallini & Co./Amazon

An explorer should always have a pen and paper at the ready. Make your giftee’s travels memorable with this set of three pocket-sized notebooks, each bound with a vintage map design on the cover and blank, lined, or graph pages.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Ptolemaic Universe Watch; $43

Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

The Greek philosopher Ptolemy thought the universe revolved around the Earth, so if you need a gift for a relative who’s a tad solipsistic, this watch might be the ticket. The sun and moon adorn the hour and minute hands as they circle Earth at the center of the watch face.

Buy It: Amazon

11. Shakespearean Insults Mug; $18

Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

This 14-ounce ceramic mug includes 30 Elizabethan insults that you can feel free to use any morning pre-coffee—but you may need to reassure your gift recipient that you’re not actually calling them a “canker-blossom” or a “lump of foul deformity” when they open the box.

Buy It: Amazon

12. LEGO White House; $157

LEGO / Amazon

This LEGO set is based on the White House design by James Hoban, which was selected by George Washington on July 16, 1792. With over 500 pieces, your gift recipient can recreate their own version of this iconic building.

Buy It: Amazon

13. James Baldwin Pin Set; $16

Amazon

Brooch the subject of Black history with this clever and thought-provoking set of two pins—one of author James Baldwin’s visage; the other, one of his powerful quotes. The pins are made of brass and enamel and would look great on a lapel, hat, or backpack.

Buy it: Amazon

14. House Plants Vintage Puzzle; $21

Cavallini & Co./Amazin

If your giftee can’t keep her plants alive, it doesn’t mean she has to forgo indoor greenery. When finished, this 1000-piece puzzle by Cavallini & Co. forms a picture of a vintage guide to house plant care, featuring beautiful images of ferns, palms, succulents, and a big ol’ monstera right in the middle. It’s just thing to brighten up a winter afternoon.

Buy It: Amazon

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