If you have ever flicked through the digital pages of ‘The Commons’ section of Flickr, you will have inevitably have stumbled over a few photographic gems you would never have otherwise known existed.
The Commons project was launched in January 2009 with the intent of increasing public access to publicly-held photographic collections. In doing this, Flickr hoped that the public would in turn contribute information and knowledge to the records — they were met with an overwhelming response.
From the beautiful, the shocking, the awe-inspiring and humbling, the photos in the collection often stop you in your tracks and make you think. On perusing the collection, here are some of the most intriguing — and bizarre — pictures to feast your eyes upon.
Old school circus tricks
In this picture we see a performer of Lloyd’s Circus cycling down a very narrow spiral.
As far back as we can remember, dogs have always had a problem with authority. In this photo we see a very royal-looking pooch that definitely has a desire for the high life.
Dated 1969, these are drawings of UFO sightings which were reported all over the world – released by the UK national archives.
1940s female engineers
A superb shot: this image reveals a woman assembling a motor for a B-25 bomber in 1942. The contrast between the iconic 1940s housewife image and weapons of war is quite striking.
This image was sent to the British Ministry of Defence. It depicts a personal view of what an alien landscape would look like.
Shellfish for dinner
This haunting photo reveals an old lady, Mary Ferguson, leaving her home to gather shellfish in Hartlepool, County Durham, England.
A big pussy cat
1936, Mr Flood who worked at Dublin zoo for many years poses with a picture with a rather cute looking tiger.
According do this newspaper cutting from the New-York Tribune in 1905, grotesque balloons all the rage with ‘fun-loving Parisians’. Scary — just look at the evil balloon pig on the right.
Old fashioned women boxing
Two women going toe-to-toe in a jolly good knees-up brawl! First one to knock the other’s hat off wins!
Skiing attire has come a long way since this photo was taken. These girls must be freezing.
Members of Franklin High School band playing their horns… on the front of a train. As you do.
When the Parcel Post service was introduced in 1913 in America, two children were sent by post — having stamps on their clothing. Posting children was quickly forbidden by all.
Masked boy holding rifle
This picture has a peculiar eeriness to it.
Not only does this bike appear to be completely amazing, it looks thoroughly impractical. A long dress can’t be the best riding attire either.
This hearty chap, William T. Burgess, swam the English channel in 1911 whilst sporting some rather fetching swimwear.
Pictured is Sam Richards, a famous Boston swimmer, who is expanding his chest. Richards was able to swim many miles at a time, resulting in widespread interest in his lung capacity.
Electricity and medicine
The first 8 images of these photos come from the Faradism experiments of Dr Gillaume Duchenne, who was considered the father of medicinal electricity.
There’s an elephant in the room
Almost like a deleted scene from Alice in Wonderland, an elephant joins the tea party. Take note of the giant cup and saucer.
Ray Steele and Popeye
Early 20th century wrestler Ray Steele poses with Popeye. Clearly someone didn’t eat their spinach.
Dog riding tricycle
It just goes to show that documenting the ridiculous, bizarre and amusing didn’t start with YouTube.
Side show poster
‘Ruth the acrobat’ must have been some sight to behold.
Side show poster #2
This contortionist pictured in 1880 would have definitely taken a liking to Ruth.
This classic image won picture of the year in 1953. The photo reveals Mayor Shackleford frozen by two microphones as 50 volts ran through his body, after they were not grounded properly. The major remained frozen until the microphones were turned off.
In 1915, a French pilot makes an emergency landing on home terrain after a failed attack on a Zeppelin. The airmen climb down the tree to escape.
…or vintage botox?
Irish Guard’s mascot
Take a close look at this photo and you’ll notice some pre-Photoshop doctoring.
What unusual sources do you draw inspiration from? What’s the most intriguing image you’ve come across on Flickr? Let us know in the comments.