Wikipedia:Main Page history/2012 July 10

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Photograph of a replica of the Halifax Gibbet

The Halifax Gibbet was an early guillotine, or decapitating machine, used in the town of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. It was probably installed some time during the 16th century as an alternative to beheading by axe or sword. Halifax was once part of the Manor of Wakefield, where ancient custom and law gave the Lord of the Manor the authority to execute summarily by decapitation any thief caught with stolen goods to the value of 13½ pence or more, or who confessed to having stolen goods of at least that value. The device consisted of an axe head fitted to the base of a heavy wooden block that ran in grooves between two 15-foot (4.6 m) tall uprights, mounted on a stone base about 4 feet (1.2 m) high. A rope attached to the block ran over a pulley, allowing it to be raised, after which the rope was secured by attaching it to a pin in the base. The block carrying the axe was then released either by withdrawing the pin or by cutting the rope once the victim was in place. The date of the gibbet's installation is uncertain, so it cannot be determined with any accuracy how many were executed using the Halifax Gibbet. By 1650 public opinion considered beheading to be an overly severe punishment for petty theft; use of the gibbet was forbidden by Oliver Cromwell, and the structure was dismantled. The stone base was rediscovered and preserved in about 1840, and a non-working replica was erected on the site in 1974. (more...)

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Nickel

Electrolytically refined pure (99.9%) nodules and a 1 cm3 cube of nickel, a silvery-white lustrous transition metal with a slight golden tinge. The nodules have visible green, crystallized nickel-electrolyte salts in the pores. Native nickel is rarely found on Earth's surface, being mostly confined to the interiors of larger nickel–iron meteorites.

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