Category:
Nineteenth Century

Unlikely Reasons for Murder No. 18


Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 15, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Europe, United Kingdom, Nineteenth Century

Tooth Cap

The Southwark Heritage art museum has a nineteenth-century tooth cap in its collection. It offers this description:

This cap belonged to a street "dentist" or tooth puller. It is made of brown velvet and felt, and decorated with approximately 88 decayed human teeth, once belonging to his patients. The teeth have been drilled and attached with twine. Wearing a cap like this was supposed to imply the "magician" aspect of the dentists work. As teeth pulling was painful and risky and done without anaesthetic, people needed to have some faith in the "dentist", even if it was only the evidence, worn on the cap, that he had successfully plied his trade.



If the cap looks like something you'd like to own, the website toothantique.com claims to be selling them. Newly made tooth caps, not nineteenth-century originals. They're asking only $100. For that price they say you get a cap "Decorated With 40 Real Human Teeth, Drilled And Attached With Twine."

Are they really selling these caps? I'm somewhat doubtful. The picture of their product is the same picture that's on the Southwark Heritage site. But I'm not curious enough to spend $100 to find out what would arrive in the mail.

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 31, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Headgear, Nineteenth Century, Teeth

Presidential Songs and Slogans

In this election year, we could do with some innovative songs and slogans--but I doubt if we'll get any that compare to these historical ones.

Taken from THE BOOK OF POLITICAL LISTS.











Posted By: Paul - Mon May 20, 2024 - Comments (5)
Category: Music, Politics, Proverbs, Maxims, Sayings, Folk Wisdom and Quotations, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century

Helmbold’s Extract of Buchu

Read all about the herb buchu and its medicinal merchandising here.

One of the most (in)famous protagonists was Henry T. Helmbold (1826–1892), who started his patent medicine business in 1846 as a retail druggist with “Helmbold’s Extract Buchu—cures diabetes, gravel, brick-dust deposits, irritations of the bladder and diseases arising from exposure or imprudence, etc.” and other medicines. He opened his first store in Philadelphia in 1850, the largest and best-known in New York in 1862. By 1865 Helmbold’s buchu was the bestselling patent medicine on the US market. For this, he spent enormous amounts of money on advertising, mostly in newspapers: ∼US$ 500,000 (about 10 million US$ today) each for the years 1869–71. For the distribution of his products, Helmbold had his own 4c postage stamp (Figure 4) (The Historian, 1912; Young, 1961).




The Hottentot ad is for Helmsbold's product. It has three more pages, viewable here.


Posted By: Paul - Fri May 10, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Africa, Nineteenth Century

Eclectric Oil

Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil was widely sold as a cure-all in the second half of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. This was even though, as Wikipedia notes, it "mostly contained common ingredients such as turpentine and camphor oil."

Some of the things it supposedly cured included rheumatism, lame backs, sore throats, coughs and colds, throat and lung disease, and asthma. It could even cure "chicken flesh wounds" (see ad below).

Wikipedia notes that the name Eclectric Oil was "likely a portmanteau of the words 'eclectic' and 'electric', alluding to the then-popular belief that electricity had curative powers." Of course, the oil was not electric in any way.


image source: wellcome collection



Canadian Poultry Review - Apr 1926

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 07, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Nineteenth Century

The Princess Who Was Murdered by a Moth

The story goes that Princess Caravella of Italy was found dead in her bed, shot through the heart. Her husband was accused of her murder, but during the trial a police investigator convinced the jury that the Princess had actually been killed by a moth that singed its wings on a candle in her room, then fell onto a pistol lying on her bedside table, thereby causing the weapon to fire, shooting her through the heart.

I doubt any part of this story is true. After all, I can't find any historical references to a "Princess Caravella" other than the ones about her strange death. But the story was printed repeatedly in newspapers during the first half of the twentieth, always presented as an odd but true tale.

The earliest account of the story I can find dates to 1895, where it was credited to the New York World. I assume a reporter for the New York World made it up.

Chicago Chronicle - Dec 29, 1895


Here's a slightly shorter version of the story from 1937.

Tunkhannock New Age - Feb 18, 1937


I can't find the story in papers after the 1940s, but it did continue to pop up in books about odd trivia and weird deaths. For instance, below is a version that appeared in the 1985 weird-news book Own Goals by Graham Jones. Note that Jones identified Princess Caravella only as an "Italian wife," making the story seem more contemporary.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 14, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Insects and Spiders, Nineteenth Century

Mystery Gadget 109

What's it for?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu Mar 07, 2024 - Comments (3)
Category: Technology, Nineteenth Century

Forehand Guns

The choice of dog killers and stagecoach robbers.

Recreation magazine - Aug 1899



Recreation magazine - Dec 1899

Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 28, 2024 - Comments (5)
Category: Advertising, Weapons, Nineteenth Century

Cancer Cured with soothing balmy oils



McClure's Magazine - Apr 1898

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 23, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, 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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