Records/Categories that we no longer monitor (from the past 60 years):
1. UK/England/Scotland records: The very first edition of our book was intended for UK distribution only, so English, Scottish and UK records were sometimes included; GWR now only monitors world records to ensure that we document only the absolute superlatives.
2. Gluttony: In the 1983 edition, Edward Abraham Miller (b.1909) of Oakland, California was recognised as the world’s greatest trencherman. He consumed up to 25,000 calories per day and was undefeated in eating contests since 1922. In the 1990s, we stopped monitoring these records and now don’t accept any applications for unfettered gluttony. Note, however, that we still have consumption records but they are now based on the rate of consumption and so are limited to a short time frame (such as most ice-cream eaten in 30 seconds) or a given number/weight of an item (e.g., fastest time to eat three cream crackers).
3. Heaviest pets: In previous editions, the editors recorded heaviest animals and pets such as the fattest cat. The heaviest cat of all, for example, was Himmy, owned by Thomas Vyse (Australia), who weighed 21.3kg (46lb 15 ½ oz) when it died on 12th March 1986 at the age of 10 years 4 months. Himmy – who had to be transported in a wheelbarrow – was thankfully unchallenged until 1998, when editors and record managers decided to discontinue the category to deter people from over-feeding their pets just to appear in the book. Today, we still monitor animal weight and size by breed – such as the largest breed of horse – but not individual specimens.
4. Driving around the world at speed: High-speed circumnavigations by car were a common feature of earlier editions, but by 1996, we stopped accepted new claims, owing the danger of driving over national speed limits. We still accept claims for round-the-world driving records but only in relation to fuel economy – not speed.
5. Controversial animal sports: Unsavoury or controversial animal sports records have now been excised from the record books; indeed, careful consideration is given to any record claim involving animals. Early editions registered records in relation to, among other categories, fox hunting (the largest fox ever killed by a hunt in England was 23 ¾ lb and was achieved in Cumberland by an Ullswater Hunt in 1936), bull fighting, elephant polo and camel wrestling – none of which are accepted now.
6. Environmental challenges: Record managers are sensitive to record attempts that prove detrimental to the environment. The record for the most kongming lanterns (sky lanterns) flown simultaneously, for example, was rested due to environmental concerns. The record was 15,185 and was achieved by the Middle Way Meditation Institute (Philippines) in Miago, Iloilo, Philippines on 24th May 2013.
Records/Categories that we now have that didn’t exist in 1955:
1. Social media (tweets/selfies/etc): The most tweets per second is 143,199; the most liked person on Facebook is currently (as of 25th April 2014) the Colombian singer Shakira who had 90,938,442 "likes" (in second place was Rihanna (Barbados) with 87,042,153 |likes".) Other new topics from recent years include selfies and twerking.
2. Digital music: Revenue from the digital music industry has grown from $400 million ten years ago to an incredible $6 billion by 2013, driven largely by paid downloads but now increasingly from subscription services. The largest digital music service is iTunes, with nearly 800 million user accounts in 2014. And the fastest-selling title in iTunes is Beyoncé’s eponymous album released without any prior announcement in December 2013 – it sold a phenomenal 823,773 copies in its first three days on sale, shattering the record held by Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience (March 2013). The biggest-selling digital artist is Rihanna (Barbados). In 2011, she had sold 47.57 million digital tracks.
3. Ocean rowing: The first person to row across any ocean solo was John Fairfax (UK), who rowed the Atlantic east to west in Britannia between 20 January and 19 July 1969 – 14 years after our first edition was published. Fairfax was also the first to row the Pacific in a team with Sylvia Cook (UK) in Britannia II between 26 April 1971 and 22 April 1972. In addition, the pioneering Brit was the first to row two oceans.
4. Moon walking/space travel: It wasn’t until 1961 – more than five years after The Guinness Book of Records was first published – that Yuri Gagarin made the first manned space flight, and just eight years later that Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon. Such is the rapid advance made in technology over the past 60 years that it wasn’t possible to even make a transatlantic phone call when our first book was published; today, the entire book can be sent to the International Space Station (the largest space station) in a matter of seconds.
5. Collections: The earliest editions did not acknowledge record-worthy collections, and the first collection records as now know them were limited to just stamps, the first of which appeared in the 1960 edition; although the actual number of stamps owned by Alfred H Caspery (USA) was not recorded, the value was: $2.89 million (£1.03 million). In 1962, we began monitoring collections of cigarette cartons and cigarette cards, and currently, we have more than 400 different record collections in the database, with a further 85 pending.
6. Body modification: Tattooing and piercing didn’t make it into the record books until the 1969 edition, when Vivian “Sailor Joe” Simmons, a Canadian tattoo artist, was listed for having 4,831 different tattoos inked on his body. (It also noted that he’d died in 1965 at the age of 77.) Today, tattoo records are based on coverage, not the individual number of tattoos, and the record for most tattooed man is held by Lucky Diamond Rich (Australia, born in New Zealand); he has spent over 1,000 hours having his body modified by hundreds of tattoo artists and has covered his entire body in black ink and is now being tattooed with white designs on top of the black, and coloured designs on top of the white.
Guinness World Records 2015 is out this week.