As we’ve discussed elsewhere on this site, LIFE magazine for many years published a popular feature called Miscellany—“a back-of-the-magazine institution,” as one of LIFE’s editors once characterized it, that always featured a full-page photograph of . . . well, of almost anything. Merriam-Webster defines miscellany as “a mixture of various things,” and across the decades LIFE’s version routinely presented readers with photographs of inexplicable natural phenomena; animals with unusual talents, or creatures that had got themselves into some sort of terrible mess; people in bizarre or humorous situations; head-scratching optical illusions, and the like.
Here, LIFE.com offers the first edition of what will eventually become an entire series of galleries paying fond tribute to Miscellany. We start in 1952, the year that the feature launched in the magazine; subsequent entries in the series will feature our favorite pictures from other years, as well as occasional “themed” Miscellany galleries.
We hope you like it. Variety, after all, is the spice of LIFE.