Skip to main content

The Iron Mask: Day 1

The Iron Mask: Day 1. To recap... the year was 1908. On a foggy New Year's morning. At 10.30 precisely, a man wearing an iron mask left from London's Trafalgar Square pushing a perambulator full of photos and accompanied by an 'American' minder. These were just a few of the conditions set down by 'the Wager '. But what happened after this event? Did Iron Mask get arrested for flogging his goods? Did he make it around the world in 6 years? TheBigRetort brings you some of the detail.... and the devil in it.

Having left the centre of London, the fog had lifted. The Man in the Iron Mask headed south across the River, his companion acting as Tonto to the Lone Ranger.

The streets were paved with postcards

Every street on the way was said to have been 'thronged' with excited crowds.

Several newspapers had been alerted to 'the Wager' and there was much clapping and cheering and waving.

To the man inside the helmet it was hard going - and bewildering. But the people clamoured for the postcards.

A blur of faces and monotonous sound came in and out of vision through the visor.

"We did not taste a mouthful of food, or even a drop of water, from the time we had our breakfast - 7.30- till 9.30 in the evening." The Masked Man, on his first day of 'the Wager' .

It had worked...

By the time the cavalcade of two reached Woolwich many postcards had been sold. And Harry Bensley, or rather the Man in the Iron Mask, had entered legend.


In order to get his hands on the cash he had to remain 'entirely unknown throughout the journey' and 'be allowed to sell photographs and pamphlets' and 'call at the capital and three other towns in each county in England'. (The Bexleyheath Observer, Jan 3, 1908, p5, col g.)

But fulfilling one of the three of a much larger list was about to become more difficult than imagined...

Having passed through Woolwich, the same paper informs, 'The Iron Mask' arrived at Bexleyheath with his companion. They stayed for the night at the Upton Hotel. It was Thursday, 2nd January, one day after their epic journey had commenced.

The same paper opined with remarkable prescience, "He was optimistic of being able to accomplish his self imposed (sic) task, but whether he will find it congenial in a few years time especially in traversing hot countries, remains to be known."

'Self imposed task'...?

Coming soon in TheBigRetort.... "THE TRIAL OF IRON MASK".


Popular posts from this blog

Professor Joan Ginther: Do the numbers add up?

A Texan aged 63 has won at scratch-off card games every two years since 2006. In 1993 she also won a lottery bringing her total winnings to over $20m. Which is amazingly coincidental. But what if a seemingly ordinary person somehow managed to narrow the odds and beat the system, goddamnit? An American newspaper might say slim pickin's. TheBigRetort says...

Joan Rae Ginther’s luck began in 1993, when she won $5.4 million dollars on a game known as “Lotto Texas“.

Another win thirteen years later in 2006 netted her $2m.

Curiously, every two years since that date, she has won at scratch off games, two cards having been bought at her local store.

In 1993 she won $5.4 million; the odds: 1 in 15.8 million; in 2006 she won $2 million in a scratch off game; the odds: 1 in 1,028,338; in 2008 she won $3 million in a scratch off; odds: 1 in 909,000.

Her latest win in 2010, also a scratch off, was for $10 million; odds of winning: 1 in 1,200,000.

In fact experts contend that the odds of winning four…

Linda Ann Weston shock: escaped prison first time round

Police in Philadelphia recently discovered four abused and vulnerable adults shackled together in a dank cellar where they were being held captive, with dogs for cell mates. Officers also discovered a teenage girl. Three people have been arrested. It has been widely claimed that one of the captors, Linda Ann Weston, 51, served time in prison for a similar crime. TheBigRetort… but she didn’t.

In November 1981, Bernado Ramos was reported missing by his mother.

His body was found in a closet two weeks later.

Linda Weston, 23, and Venus Weston, 21 his lover, were later charged and convicted with his captivity and murder.

Apparently Bernado had been the father of Venus’s child but refused to support it. It was his last mistake.

The Weston sisters had beat him with a broomstick and eventually starved him to death in the cupboard.

A remarkably similar modus operandi when compared with the current charges.

However, Linda Weston, now charged with abduction and enslavement in the more recen…

Harry Bensley: The Great Iron Mask Hoax

[Engraving, Copyright (c) Jim Westergard. Used with his kind permission.]
On the 1st January 1908, following a remarkable wager, a man wearing an iron mask set off on an astonishing 30,000 mile journey around the world - then disappeared. TheBigRetort... The Great Iron Mask HoaxIn previous posts I detailed the extraordinary saga of 33-year-old Harry Bensley, who accepted a bet made between an American philanthropist and an English nobleman: to push a pram around the world, with his face encased inside an iron mask, for a purse of $100,000.
Many sighting were recorded of "The Mask” at that time but then... he inexplicably vanished. TheBigRetort: where in the world did The Mask go?Almost one year after the wager made between Harry Bensley aka The Man in the Iron Mask, a publication known as “ Answers” (December 19th, 1908, pi63) received a response to this same question; it has remained buried until now.

The respondent – who remained anonymous - had a very interesting tale to tell:…