Personally, I think everyone should be a history nerd. I have a friend who says he enjoys history classes because it’s like “storytime for grownups”. I’m inclined to agree–the story of humanity is a pretty good one. It’s full of all the elements that make a compelling narrative: war, revolution, glory, failure, heroism, etc.
Like children’s stories, we tell the story of history not only entertain, but also impart lessons and insight for the present and future. Sometimes history a cautionary tale of the terrible price of greed, violence, or prejudice. Sometimes it’s a heroic tale of bravery and virtue. Sometimes it’s a sort of creation myth–how we got here, why the world around us is the way it is.
Author and internet personality John Green says in his excellent Youtube series Crash Course that we study history to remind ourselves,
“(t)hat for tens of thousands of years, people have been making decisions that irrevocably shaped the world that we live in today. Just as today we’re making subtle, irrevocable decisions that people of the future will remember as revolutions.”
With that in mind, here are some great homages to the past from Etsy.
There may be the odd soul who has long searched for a store like Veeptopus–a store that combines their love of octopi and Vice Presidents. If you’re reading this and you fall into that category, congrats on reaching the end of your quest and kudos for knowing exactly what you want.
For the rest of us, artist Jon Crow’s homage to the second highest position in America are absurd and striking works of art. Veeptopus features hand drawn portraits of all 47 vice presidents wearing cephalopods as hats in addition to some strange works–notably one featuring William Taft riding a badger and another with a badger riding William Taft. Years in the future, these portraits will confuse alien archaeologists digging through the remains of our civilization.
The cloth likenesses of historical and fictional characters cover the storefront of Uneek Doll Design. The shop is almost more like a museum than a store, and chances are a favorite character of yours is on display. If there isn’t, though, artist/owner Debbie Ritter takes custom orders. Her handmade dolls have been featured in numerous magazines, online publications, and television shows.
Port of Prints offers a wide selection of historical and antique prints, like the above railroad map of New York. There’s sketches from DaVinci’s notebook, vintage photographs, quotes from historical figures, and more to explore in their stock.
The North Carolina shop Bros with Beards knows, like well-behaved women, clean-shaven men rarely make history. Their shirt store features over a hundred quirky vintage and historical designs, printed by hand with water-based inks. The also sell pillowcase versions of their shirts.
Sometimes history is embellished or modified by historians, but rarely to the extent seen in the halls of Alternate History. The shop is home to prints and posters that serves as windows into parallel universes. In the above alternate timeline, the Revolutionary War was fought not only between the US and England, but also between robots (US) and dragons (Britain). In another, a vintage propaganda poster warns US citizens to flee the country, which has fallen to zombie hoards. Needless to say, their whole shop is worth a browse.