1843, July 9: The Miser’s Safe

The Legend:

Blasi Hoffman [1765-1843], described as a 'rich miser' who lived in Borken, Germany, was in the habit of locking his money in a safe every night, and sleeping with the key under his pillow. Strangely, at the moment Hoffman died on July 9, 1843, the door of the safe flew open of its own accord.

False Lead

        After some very extensive digging around, I've been unable to find any historic reference of any sort to the existence of Blasi Hoffman of Borken, Germany, anywhere except in one place... a Ripley's Believe It Or Not cartoon released to newspaper syndication in the United States in May, 1973.

        For those of you who don't know, Ripley's Believe it Or Not was a popular comic strip that featured weird and 'true' facts coupled with illustrations. The strip was originally created by Robert Ripley [1890-1949] and first released to worldwide syndication in 1929; after his death the strip was continued by a group of writers and artists organized by the Ripley Entertainment company that survived Ripley.

        When Ripley was the primary creator of the strip, he was always careful to keep proof of the veracity of his wild claims... though sometimes he would stretch the truth some, or publish something reasonably unbelievable that someone else claimed was true. After Ripley's death, the Ripley Entertainment company didn't hold itself to such strict standards... and often introduced entirely false "true" facts. The story of Blasi Hoffman seems to fall squarely into this last category, as the only references to the story all point back to the 1973 cartoon, and no further back.

        So, being a story that never occurred in the first place, I'm labeling this account as a "False Lead."

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