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In 1929, Robert Ripley was receiving nearly 3,000 letters a day. As Neal Thompson writes in A Curious Man: The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe it or Not!” Ripley (Crown Archetype, $26), one fan sent

an envelope with a drawing of a bird in place of an address. It took a magnifying glass to reveal the words “Robert Ripley” repeated thousands of times in the shape of the bird. Others sent letters addressed in Confederate Army code, in Boy Scout semaphore, or simply addressed to “the damnedest liar in the world.”

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