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111 votes
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Has an individual ever purchased an entire country?

In 1699, Johann Adam Andreas von Liechtenstein bought Schellenberg and in 1712 the county of Vaduz. The county was operating under feudal principles, thus perhaps might not be considered a country in ...
Radovan Garabík's user avatar
59 votes

Why did the Soviet Union have multiple airplane manufacturers?

I can't speak to the specifics of the Soviet Union, but I want to address the opening assumption of the question. Generally, Communism believed in economic central planning, with each field being ...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 55.1k
50 votes

Has an individual ever purchased an entire country?

In certain sense yes. Didius Julianus purchased the position of the Roman emperor in 193. This position was actually auctioned by Praetorian guards to the highest bidder, the Wikipedia article on ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 38.8k
46 votes

Why did the Soviet Union have multiple airplane manufacturers?

Company vs Design Bureau It's important to distinguish between a company and a design bureau. Organisations such as MiG (Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau), Yakolev (JSC A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau),...
Mark Micallef's user avatar
45 votes
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How did the American Civil War help the U.S economy recover from the Panic of 1857 given that civil wars are extremely destructive?

tl;dr Modern industrial warfare pushes the economy to 100% utilization; this cures the effect of an economic downturn (which is effectively suboptimal economic utilization). Wars in general, and the ...
MCW's user avatar
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45 votes
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Did any British working class men have the vote before 1918?

The film said this un-extraordinary working man had the vote, my calculations show it was possible he had the vote. But the 1918 act gave "working men the vote". So one of these 2 statements must be ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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45 votes
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What was the economic incentive for "redlining"?

Existing answers are missing critical points. Linking redlining to Jim Crow may be misleading because it wasn't just a Southern thing. It was practiced throughout the United States, not just in those ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 21k
43 votes
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Has there ever been anything like the oil boom we see today?

SHORT ANSWERS In terms of impact, the influx of precious metals into Spain (and then to the rest of Europe) from South America from the late 15th to the 16th century is hard to match. For a while, ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
42 votes

How and when was the modern company ownership structure invented?

The governance model for early corporations is the chartered city; a community granted town privileges and, if also free, independence from feudal obligations to local sovereigns or lords and debt of ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
37 votes
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Was the British Army a millionaire factory in the early 20th century?

Richard Meinertzhagen is known to be a serious liar. Refer to his Wikipedia article: for example, he stole numerous biological samples and presented them as his own in Europe. That said, the ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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36 votes
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Venezuelan crisis of 1902–03: Why is there a Russian flag on the cover of the prominent newspaper 'Le Petit Parisien'?

I think this is a color error (in reproduction, printing, fading, etc.) It is a 19th Century Venezuelan flag with the cluster of stars visible on the blue bar.
Aaron Brick's user avatar
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31 votes

How and when was the modern company ownership structure invented?

The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) is generally seen as the first company with stocks, shareholders and board members. It didn't have 1 director, it had 17: "De Heren ...
Jos's user avatar
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31 votes

Has an individual ever purchased an entire country?

In 1846, The East India Company annexed the Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, and Gilgit-Baltistan from the Sikhs, and then transferred it to Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu in return for an indemnity payment ...
Failed Scientist's user avatar
30 votes
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Why didn't the Black Death result in favorable results for surviving peasants in China?

Firstly, there's no reason to think it didn't. In fact, it's fairly routine for afflicted regions to receive government subsidies in Imperial China. As early as AD 218, the Book of the Later Han ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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29 votes

At the time of Sputnik, what kind of radios were common in the Soviet Union?

I suppose you are asking about real radios (wireless). They were quite bulky decorated wooden boxes. They had vacuum tubes instead of transistors. They were considered (somewhat) luxury items and not ...
Alex's user avatar
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27 votes
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What was the economic basis for West Berlin?

how did it stay competitive with West Germany, which would be free of West Berlin's particular logistical challenges? Or were they being directly subsidized by the Federal Republic and/or the western ...
knut's user avatar
  • 5,607
27 votes
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How much did a transatlantic telegram cost in 1914?

The first book google hit for "cablegram price" is The Bolsheviks: Twilight of the Romanov Dynasty by John D. Loscher which contains a discussion of the prices and comparison to today's money. If I ...
Vladimir F Героям слава's user avatar
26 votes
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Was public transportation free in the Soviet Union?

They were not free. In 1961 there was a currency reform, so the answer is about post-1961 period. A price of ride depended on the mode of transportation. For city public transport the price varied ...
Anixx's user avatar
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25 votes
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In the first half of 20th century, how was gold inspected for authenticity?

As Denis observed in the comments above, for many countries, gold would have been traded through securities in the first half of the twentieth century. In those cases the physical transfer of the gold ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
25 votes

Has there ever been anything like the oil boom we see today?

Sugar cane in the Caribbean comes to mind. The islands were sporting single purpose economies for all practical intents, much like a number of OPEC countries do. It was extremely valuable, too. In ...
Denis de Bernardy's user avatar
24 votes
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What is Charles Babbage referring to when he talks about the 'College of Laputa'?

It is clearly a reference to Gulliver's recollections of the island of Laputa as relayed to us by Swift. Their heads were all reclined, either to the right, or the left; one of their eyes turned ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
24 votes

Can it be justified that an economic contraction of 11.3% is "the largest fall for more than 300 years"?

(disclaimer: I am not an economist, but I think I have got my head around this) Two questions: is the claim correct on the basis of the data, and how plausible are those estimates? The GDP estimates ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
22 votes
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What is/was a 'cardsetting engine'?

To get a possible difficulty with translations out of the way, here is the original footnote by Marx in German. As you can see, he does not translate the names of the machines. Erst seit ungefähr ...
ccprog's user avatar
  • 5,498
21 votes
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When Adam Smith discusses "corn" to what crop does he refer?

The word corn, Wiktionary tells us, can mean: (Britain) The main cereal plant grown for its grain in a given region, such as oats in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and wheat or barley in England ...
mgkrebbs's user avatar
  • 1,557
20 votes
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If the UK received the highest amount of Marshall Aid, why was it broke?

I remember being told as a boy in the 1970's that the reason our economy and industry was in such a poor state, particularly when compared with the West German "economic miracle", was that the RAF and ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
20 votes

Are there any historical examples of successful price ceilings (aka price gouging laws)?

In Czech Republic (and AFAIK most of Europe), almost all medical drugs have had tightly controlled prices for the last couple decades. This price control in some senses does and in others does not fit ...
Martin Modrák's user avatar
19 votes
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When did books first become affordable to the general population?

"Affordable to the poor" is a slippery concept. However, books became much cheaper in the first half of the nineteenth century. Notable causes of this included steam-powered printing presses, ...
John Dallman's user avatar
  • 31.5k
18 votes

Was electricity free in the Soviet Union?

No, individuals didn't have and couldn't have electricity for free. It's clear that if there were just a limit on the maximum consumption of electricity (or water or anything else), most people would ...
Luboš Motl's user avatar
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