Do you follow the various Baltimore history blogs that are out there? If you don’t, you’re missing out on a lot of great historical weirdness.

Charm City History recently posted about how much lawbreakers had to pay for violating various city ordinances in 19th century Baltimore. The figures are in 2013 dollars, for comparison purposes:

  • Throwing stones in public – FINED, $27
  • Running wagons without license numbers – FINED, $27-$50
  • Improper conduct in the presence of ladies – FINED, $121
  • Throwing a nuisance in the street – FINED, $27
  • Killing or attempting to kill, or in any manner injure or molest sparrows, robins, wrens, or other small insectivorous birds in the city of Baltimore, to include their birdhouses – FINE, $85 per offense

Meanwhile, some current (yes, current!) laws & their respective fines:

  • Playing, singing, or rendering the “Star Spangled Banner” anywhere publicly in the City of Baltimore, except in its entirety in composition, separate from any other melody. Likewise, it cannot be played for dancing or as an exit march. – FINE, not more than $100 (misdemeanor)
  • Sell, give away or dispose of a “toy cartridge pistol” within the City Limits of Baltimore – FINE, $10.
  • To discharge or fire a “toy cartridge pistol” – FINE, $2.
Henry Loius Mencken and Robert Preston Harriss (slide_engeman-00

Ghosts of Baltimore just published a blog post about a drunk carriage driver, a runaway horse, and the ensuing chaos on Howard Street back in 1922. It includes this delightfully old-timey paragraph: “Patrolman Miller, who has been stationed at Howard and Saratoga streets for eight years, is a familiar figure to automobilists. About three months ago he was hurled from his semaphore box and severely injured when the trolley rope of a street car became entangled in his signals.”

And the Maryland Historical Society’s Underbelly blog posts library mysteries, many of which have been solved by the wisdom of the crowd. The most recent puzzle? A collection of newly-discovered photographs of H.L. Mencken, the Sage of Baltimore. Who took them? Where were they taken? Who else is pictured? If you’ve got a clue, let the Historical Society know.

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