Publication information

Chicago Sunday Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Underwear to Protect Monarchs”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 22 September 1901
Volume number: 60
Issue number: 265
Part/Section: 6
Pagination: 39

“Underwear to Protect Monarchs.” Chicago Sunday Tribune 22 Sept. 1901 v60n265: part 6, p. 39.
full text
rulers (protection); assassination (preventative measures); anarchism (dealing with); Jan Szczepanik.
Named persons
Marie François Sadi Carnot; Edward VII; Émile-François Loubet; Jan Szczepanik [misspelled below]; Nikola Tesla; William II.
The article below is accompanied on the same page with two illustrations, one an inset illustration of Jan Szczepanik and the other bearing the caption “Testing the Bullet Proof Underclothes.”

Underwear to Protect Monarchs



     VIENNA, Sept. 12.—“An undergarment of this material,” said Dr. Szcezepanik, “would have rendered the bullet of that Buffalo Anarchist entirely harmless. A month from now all rulers and a great many public men the world over will be wearing them, that is, if we can supply the demand.”
     The Austrian Edison pointed to a woven fabric cut in the shape of a high waistcoat, and, drawn over a lay figure, possessing just as much elasticity and power of resistance as a live human body.
     “Have you got your revolver with you?”
     The correspondent protested that he never carried such a thing.
     “Pardon me,” cried the inventor, “I thought every American did.”
     He opened a drawer containing an assortment of six shooters of all calibers and makes. The correspondent selected a well-known pattern registered “seven millimeters caliber,” loaded it carefully, and took a position near the door.
     “No, no,” said Szcezepanik, “nowadays assassins come up quite closely to their intended victims.”
     “What is the proper distance?”
     “Suit yourself. Stand off six feet, or twelve, or fifteen, or two, or four. It’s all the same.”
     The correspondent fired at the lay figure reputed to be made impenetrable by the silk covering, at a distance of four paces.
     The bullet, which was of considerable size, rebounded the instant it struck, and fell upon the floor. Three more shots fired in quick succession, and well aimed, had the same negative result. The correspondent was given full liberty to investigate. He sounded the lay figure, handled, and punched it. Szcezepanik does not care at present to reveal the nature of its material. However, the writer feels certain that it has no metallic substance. It is pliable and as little resisting to the touch of one’s finger as the swelling of a woman’s arm.

Impressions of the Shots.

     On the covering there were four dark spots, the impressions of the bullets fired on to it, not into it. The material is white silk-like and about four millimeters thick. “One could make a nice winter coat out of this,” said the inventor, “if it was not so expensive, but a shield of this stuff worn under the shirt will suffice for the purposes for which it is intended—the protection of rulers and public men in general. The shield should cover all vital parts. The head could be protected by a skull cap, and the face, if necessary, by a fan or an umbrella of this material.
     “And if you want to go still further, the covers of the carriages used by the Executive, as well as the curtains and hangings of his box at the theater might be manufactured of this bullet and dagger proof material.”

Offered Himself as Target.

     So sure is Szcezepanik of the invulnerability of the cloth that he offered himself as a target to the correspondent, who declined. “There are more than a dozen men in this factory who feel as strong as I on the subject,” he said.
     “President Carnot and the unhappy Empress of Austria died by the assassin’s knife,” continued the inventor. “Indeed, at one time the European secret police gathered information to the effect that Anarchists had decided to abandon altogether revolver, shotgun, and infernal machines for the dagger. Hence, a life protector of this kind would not be perfect unless responding to all possible emergencies. There,” pointing to a drawer, “you will find an assortment of stilettos, bowies, butchers’ knives, and several other sorts of knives. Select any weapon you please and perforate my cuirass, if you can.”
     A brigand’s knife was used first, then a bowie was used, bread knife, and a shoemaker’s knife afterwards, but the point of neither penetrated the silk material by one-hundredth part of a millimeter, even though the newspaper man did the stabbing with all the force and strength at his command.
     As to the why and wherefore, Szcezepanik would only say this: “It’s all in the weaving. The method of weaving adopted paralyzes concussion by distributing the shock over the entire area of the garment. Of course the material is especially selected for the purpose.”

May Revolutionize War.

     Szcezepanik is sure that his invention will at last furnish rulers and public men with the necessary life protector—necessary as long as there are Anarchists and other lunatics in the world. As intimated, the price of the cloth is great, for the present at least, but that cuts no figure. Eventually the dagger and bullet proof material may become cheap enough to revolutionize warfare, but that is a long ways off.
     It is claimed that King Edward, Kaiser Wilhelm, the Czar, and President Loubet already possesses [sic] shields of the Szcezepanik pattern, but the inventor wouldn’t talk on this delicate point further than to say that he sent one to his Majesty of Germany on trial. He did this on his own account, but as the cuirass was not returned it is safe to assume that the Kaiser is considering the implied proposal. If he did not the cuirass, being uncalled for, would have been returned without delay, as is customary at the Berlin court.

Isn’t Like Nikola Tesla.

     Jan Szcezepanik, styled the Austrian Edison by Europe’s scientific press, is several years younger than Tesla and differs from the latter in that he devotes all his time and energy to practical experiments. Talking with Mars doesn’t interest him at all, his discovery of an essence for preserving eggs an unusually long time pleased him more than the prospect of opening communication with all the stars in the universe could possibly do.
     Three years ago he was a half starved teacher in a Galician village school, where the A B C class was intrusted to his care, as he was considered not advanced enough to teach in the higher section. Today he is the directing spirit of the immense electrical works on Pragerstrasse, owned by a stock company with a capital of 10,000,000 florins. And Szcezepanik has a controlling interest in the establishment.