" Toleration is the best religion. "
Victor Hugo

Back in the day


The British Museum Opens Its Doors

When the British Museum opened to the public in 1759, its exhibits were based largely on the collections of physician and milk chocolate inventor Sir Hans Sloane. In 1784, the museum acquired its first notable addition of antiquities, a collection of Greek and Roman artifacts belonging to the British Ambassador to Naples. Today, the museum is home to more than 13 million historical items, including the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. Why is the ownership of the latter collection in dispute?



The Portuguese Bank Note Crisis

Perpetrated by Portuguese criminal Alves dos Reis, the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis was one of the largest frauds in history. In 1924, Reis forged a contract that fooled a legitimate print company into printing illegitimate banknotes for him. By the time his scheme was revealed, Reis had introduced into circulation banknotes equivalent to nearly 1% of Portugal's gross domestic product at the time, causing widespread economic and political repercussions. How did he initially cover up his scam?

Born on a day like today



Molière was a massively popular dramatist, director, and actor in 17th-century France. His major works include Les Précieuses Ridicules, Le Misanthrope, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Molière's genius lay in his ability to expose the hypocrisies and follies of his society through satire, and he made several political enemies by poking fun at the traditions and institutions of his day. He collapsed onstage while playing the title role in which of his plays?

Last updated on Friday, 15th January 2010

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