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Category:
Nineteenth Century

A Whole Sheep in a Can


In 1948, the Continental Can Company ran a series of magazine ads presenting "uncanny" facts about the history of canning. One of these facts was the great technological achievement from 1852 of packing an entire sheep into a huge can.

The ad didn't bother to say who exactly did this, but after a bit of googling I figured out that it was the French inventor Raymond Chevallier-Appert (1801-1892). Before Chevallier-Appert, canned food kept spoiling. He figured out that it needed to be cooked at higher temperatures. Here's the rest of the story from the Stravaganza blog:

Studying the problem, [Chevallier-Appert] decided that higher degrees of heat were needed in cooking. The apparatus called the autoclave, a closed vessel in which steam under pressure gave heat much greater than boiling water, had never been used for cooking food, however, and there was danger of over-cooking, because it lacked apparatus to measure and regulate the heat. Chevallier-Appert equipped the crude autoclave with another crude device, a manometer, which had been used for measuring heat in boilers. It would measure differences of only twenty degrees. He made it an instrument of precision, capable of measuring half a degree, and patented the invention in 1852. With greater heat, and an instrument to measure and control it, the difficulties of canning were overcome to such a degree that in June, 1852, Chevallier-Appert exhibited to scientists a whole sheep that had been cooked and sealed in a huge can in his autoclave four months before.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Jul 17, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Food, Technology, Nineteenth Century

The Plot to Steal Abe Lincoln’s Corpse

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Once upon a time, some crooks thought it would be a good idea to rob the grave of Abe Lincoln and hold the corpse for ransom.

One account here.

More detailed account here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Jul 03, 2015 | Comments (1)
Category: Death, Politics, Stupid Criminals, Nineteenth Century

Insane Happiness

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Why do we never hear about such jolly madmen these days? Probably because we don't let people die from syphilis anymore.

Original article here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Jun 18, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Sexuality, Nineteenth Century, Brain Damage

Montreal Madness of 1892

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People acted weird in familiar NOTW fashion even over a century ago, as this Montreal newspaper reveals.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri May 01, 2015 | Comments (5)
Category: Emotions, Newspapers, Husbands, Wives, Nineteenth Century, Mental Health and Insanity

Seaweed Collecting


Back in the Victorian era, this was apparently a popular hobby. From Collectors Weekly:

Affluent Victorians often spent hours painstakingly collecting, drying, and mounting these underwater plants into decorative scrapbooks... Part of the appeal was what a seaweed collection said about the collector. Anyone could appreciate and collect flowers, but painstakingly obtaining, preserving, and mounting seaweed specimens demonstrated patience, artistic talent, and the refined sensibilities necessary to appreciate the more subtle beauties of nature. Queen Victoria herself made a seaweed album as a young lady.

And yes, the seaweed did smell bad. But Collectors Weekly reminds us that the Victorian era was "a more pungent time."
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat Apr 18, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Hobbies and DIY, Nineteenth Century

Town terrorized by mad cats

This sounds like it could have been the start of a horror movie. The feline version of The Birds perhaps.


Source: San Francisco Call - May 26, 1890. via WSIHN
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun Apr 05, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Cats, Nineteenth Century

The More Things Change..

...The more they stay the same. A sinkhole developed on a city street in Dublin. The reason being there was a 19th century tunnel running between what was then the building housing Parliament and a brothel. Politicians and sex scandals are timeless.
Posted By: patty | Date: Thu Apr 02, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Buildings and Other Structures, Politics, Nineteenth Century, Sex

Bile Beans

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One of the less-alluringly named nostrums. Full story here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Feb 28, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Drugs, Scams, Cons, Rip-offs, and General Larceny, Advertising, Excrement, Nineteenth Century, Diseases

The Hairy Water Tortoise of China

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I cannot figure out if this is a legitimate species, or a freak. This article seems to imply it was a common tortoise with vegetation affixed to its back.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Feb 21, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Freaks, Oddities, Quirks of Nature, Asia, Nineteenth Century

Counterfeit Ferris Wheel Certificates

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So popular and prestigious was a ride on the first Ferris Wheel, that riders were given a certificate testifying to their experience.

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Naturally enough, this soon lead to a market for counterfeits!

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Original article here. (Scroll down.)
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.