Category:
Nineteenth Century

Fifty Years in the Magic Circle

Life for a Victorian magician wasn't always easy, with the audience using live ammunition.

Read the whole thing here.









Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 17, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand, Books, Nineteenth Century

Unauthorized Dwellings 17

Are the entire populations of San Francisco and Sacramento squatters? One person, John Sutter, believed so.





Article source.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 30, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Lawsuits, Unauthorized Dwellings, North America, Nineteenth Century

Polyform, Edison’s Topical Anesthetic





American inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison is legendary for his contributions to such technologies as the lightbulb, the telephone, the phonograph, and motion pictures, among many others.1In his lifetime, Edison obtained 1,093 US patents and some 1,239 patents in other countries. Little known among these efforts was his “improved anesthetic compound.”

In the summer of 1882, George F. Shrady (Founder and Editor, Medical Record 1866–1904) (1837–1907), reported that Thomas Edison invented a new anesthetic made of chloroform, ether, alcohol, and camphor and had applied for British and German patents.2The witty but misinformed editor added, “Edison may wish to use it on his stockholders until electric light was in successful operation.”

In fact, the “anesthetic” actually was an analgesic liniment that Edison had prepared in early 1878. He named it Polyform and advertised it for “neurologic pain.” Polyform was a mixture of chloroform, ether, camphor gum, alcohol, chloral hydrate, morphine, and oils of peppermint and clove. Edison believed that his compound’s various analgesics would potentiate each other and that the mixture would attack pain in a “shotgun manner.”3


More info here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 24, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Celebrities, Inventions, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Nineteenth Century

Horse Spike

In 1899, Patent No. 636,430 was granted to Franz and Konrad Hieke of Philadelphia for what they described as "cavalry equipment". It was essentially a large spike attached to the front of a horse. From their patent:

This invention relates to cavalry equipment; and it has for its object the provision of novel means for protecting the horse from the missiles of the enemy and in the provision of a cutting projection designed to injure the enemy or cause him to evade the projection by stepping to one side where an attack by the rider would be effective.



A better view:

Argos Reflector - Feb 8, 1900



I wonder if one of these was ever actually used in combat?

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 22, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Inventions, Weapons, Nineteenth Century

The Philadelphia Resurrectionists

Jefferson Medical College is still extant. Not sure if their literature highlights this incident.

Source: The Boston Weekly Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) 19 Dec 1882, Tue Page 5





Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 08, 2021 - Comments (8)
Category: Crime, Death, Education, Medicine, Cemeteries, Graveyards, Crypts, Mortuaries and Other Funereal Pursuits, Nineteenth Century

Electroplating the dead

In the late 1880s, reports began appearing in American papers about a French physician, Dr. Variot, who had perfected a method of electroplating corpses so that the dead could be "preserved in the form of bronze statuary".

I suspect these reports were a journalistic hoax. For a start, I doubt this technique would work. Also, I can't find any reference to a Dr. Variot except in connection to the electroplating story.

More info at Atlas Obscura.





Text (and above images) from the Leavenworth Standard - Feb 9, 1891:

Dr. Variot, one of the foremost practitioners in the Paris hospitals, is the author of the system, whose result has been termed "L'anthropoplastic galvanique." His mode of procedure is as follows: He places the body in a double frame, with four uprights fastened together, with square trays, and then covers the frame with a pneumatic bell. The body is perforated by a metallic wire, one end going through the roof of the skull, while the other rests in the tray at the feet. This wire not only acts as a support to the corpse but as a conductor of electricity. The uprights and other portions of the frame are carefully insulated with india rubber, gutta percha or praffine. A small thermo-electric battery furnishes the current. A metallic contact descends from the upper tray and rests lightly upon the surface of the cadaver. The surface of the feet and the palms of the hands also rest upon two contacts, and, in addition, contacts are echeloned on the uprights and frame, and can be applied or disconnected at pleasure.

Before the apparatus is plunged in a galvanic bath the body has to be rendered a perfect electric conductor. For this purpose the operator either paints the corpse with a solution of nitrate of silver or he puts a powdered preparation of the same on the surface of the skin. The caustic penetrates the surface, and the skin turns an opaque color. Afterward the nitrate of silver has to be reduced or separated from its oxide, but this presents no great difficulty. The double framework is then placed in a reservoir, from which the air is exhausted by a pump, and vapors of white phosphorus dissolved in sulphur of carbon are introduced. This is a dangerous operation, as are all operations in which dissolved phosphorus plays any part. After the phosphoric vapors have reduced the nitrate of silver the corpse becomes a grayish white, and is a perfect facsimile of a plaster of Paris statue. The metallization is then very simple, being effected by a galvanic bath in the usual way.

The French capital is greatly excited over this method of making indestructible mummies. Should it come into favor metallized bodies may soon take the place of wax figures and statuary in museums, galleries and even private residences. Not only can the last expression of the deceased be preserved, but various poses produced, and by deft manipulation the countenance of the corpse changed to express almost any emotion. The body of the warrior may be made to assume a martial attitude. The dead preacher could be electroplated in the act of exhortation. Statesmen and heroes could bequeath their remains to a sorrowing nation, and coated with gold, silver or brass preside in person over their own monuments. In fact there is no end of practical or romantic purposes to which our plated bodies might be put, from the pointing of a moral to the adornment of a tale, and even to the portrayal of some striking episode in national life.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 04, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Death, Nineteenth Century

Mozart’s Handbook of Mesmerism

Mozart practiced the stick-your-thumb-in-their-eye method of mesmerism.

Date unknown (looks like 19th century). Source: Goldberg's Diet Catalog.

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 24, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Hypnotism, Mesmerism and Mind Control, Nineteenth Century

Buckeye Beer

The revitalized company still exists today, but no mention of reinstating their "mascots," Buck and Billy.

Read the history here.





Posted By: Paul - Fri May 14, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Human Marvels, Regionalism, Advertising, Corporate Mascots, Icons and Spokesbeings, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Alcohol

Mystery Gadget 94



A clock. But part of something larger. What?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Fri May 07, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Technology, Nineteenth Century

Electric Chest Weights

Sold by the Electric Exercising Machine Company, circa 1890. It seemed to be like a nineteenth-century version of one of those Tonal machines that are always being advertised on TV, but electrified.

Although I'm curious about how it produced electricity, given that the advertisement claimed it used "no chemicals," that "its electricity is permanent," and that "it has no battery."

My guess is that it contained a dynamo which would have been spun when a user pulled on the cords, producing an electric current.

The Wellesley Prelude - May 10, 1890



Posted By: Alex - Thu May 06, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Exercise and Fitness, Advertising, Nineteenth Century

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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