Nineteenth Century

Loma, A Citizen of Venus

Read it here.

"Long narrative on a cosmic germ theory of evolution. A Venusian comes to earth to educate the male fetus of an unwed mother so that the fetus will become the apostle of Venus's ideal culture. On Venus clothes are considered ugly and unsanitary, all human faculties are developed and 'balanced,' and social status is determined by a network of interpersonal relations among strangers, acquaintances, associates, brothers, sisters, lovers, and consorts -- the more of the latter three, the higher the status."

Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 23, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Eccentrics, Gonzo, Demento, Kooky, Wacky and Out-there, Science Fiction, Nineteenth Century, Pregnancy

A third leg

Back in the nineteenth century, Alexander Robinson operated a photographic studio on the Isle of Man. In 1885 he applied for a British patent (British Patent Specification 15,376) for an unusual invention — a fake third leg, which he envisioned using as a prop in his studio.

From his patent application:

a light artificial leg made to any required size, bent or straight, or with adjustable joint or joints, and to be attached to the person so as to appear to be a third leg. The end next the body is provided with straps, and a joint close to the body or soft air cushion or both so as to fit it in any required position to the body. It must be dressed with trousers, knickerockers, stocking, sock, legging, shoe or boot to correspond with the dress of the wearer, and can be fitted with spurs or not as desired. It is preferaly made of papier-mâché, cork, tin, pasteboard or inflated rubber cloth. To enable two of the legs to rest clear of the ground I prefer to let the real leg at least, or both, to rest on fine wire suspended from above.

His invention makes more sense once you know that the Isle of Man's heraldic coat of arms consists of three legs. I imagine that tourists would come to his studio to get a photograph of themselves with three legs, just like the Isle of Man.

I don't know if Robinson was ever granted a patent for this. The British patent office, unlike the American one, is not fully searchable online. More info: History of Photography journal

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 14, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Photography and Photographers, Patents, Nineteenth Century

Virtue Board Games

I never knew that "Snakes and Ladders" belonged to this category.

Read an excellent short history here.

One example, with description taken from this other site:

A frankly insane 19th century board game.

The game comes on a series of hand painted paper tiles attached to a thin cloth allowing it to be folded up and put into a drawstring case. When unfolded, it forms a spiral-shaped track on the board going from the outside and running anti-clockwise to the centre. Included are some things to use as counters and a spinner, through which a matchstick can be pushed to form a single-dimensional-rotary d4 equivalent. This is intentional by the makers as they did not want to be seen to be encouraging customers to bring a dice box into private homes. Yes, that is the stated reason as given in the rules to this game, which is described as "for the Amusement of Youth of both Sexes."

Also included are a number of tokens which are handed out to players as they play. Players start at the beginning (i.e. before space 1), roll the dice spin the spinner, which yields a value from 1 to 4 (were d4s available in 1818?), and move that number of spaces. Each space is named with either a Virtue or a Vice and every single one has an effect, usually relating to the rewards that such a virtue might bring (i.e. receiving tokens), or the comeuppance of "the dangerous paths of Vice" which do bad things to the player. Apart from "Hope" which requires the player to "wait with patience until the next turn."
So the players spin, move, and things happen to them, much like the Game of the Goose. It's quite clear from reading the rules, however, that the moral behind the game is highly flawed. Many of the Virtue spaces reward you with "tokens" yet these tokens have zero bearing on the outcome of the game. It is mentioned that the first player to land on the final space (with the whole if you overshoot you must count back rule in effect) "claims the contents of the bank and wins the game" yet there is no indication of what the tokens are for. The first player to the final space, imaginatively named "Virtue," wins regardless of how many tokens everyone has. This means that you could have systematically landed on every vice space imaginable but if you're first to land on the final space exactly, you win regardless of the number of tokens in the bank. The rules also don't specify how many tokens should go in the bank and with the preponderance of "vice" spaces that send you back often a long way, i.e. to "House of Correction" (space 1) or "Stocks" (space 9) a player skilled in fudging spinner spins could well find themselves with an infinite number of tokens. So even if you insert the house rule that the player with the most tokens wins, the player getting to the end "claims the contents of the bank" and therefore has infinity tokens and wins that way.

So what's the real moral message imparted by this game? That stopping to help and be charitable and nice is all well and good but the victory in life goes to whoever barges through the fastest or to the luckiest player. The attempt at inculcating a set of moral values into the youth of both sexes is undermined by the fact that players don't have to make any active choice; at the end of the day, whoever spins the lucky numbers gets the prize at the end of the day.

I can't help but feel that this kid of explains something about Victorian morality though I can't think what.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Feb 10, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Games, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Ethics and Morals

Rollerskate Polo

This is a Roller Polo team in the 1890s. Roller skating was big in 1870s USA, and when polo was brought in by James Gordon Bennett in 1876, the two sports quickly blended. Roller polo was played with a ball. Roller rinks were converted to 40 by 80-foot courts with a chicken-wire goal cage at each end. The one-handed sticks were 1 inch in diameter and they played 3 15-minute periods. Players wore team uniforms and goalies wore more pads. Everybody wore Roller Skates.The man at right has a skate key hanging from his belt.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Feb 03, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Sports, Nineteenth Century

Combined Suspenders and Garters


Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 30, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion, Inventions, Nineteenth Century

Cologne Drunkards

In the late nineteenth century, a brief moral panic emerged about the alleged existence of "cologne drunkards" — society women who inebriated themselves by means of sugar cubes soaked in cologne.

Seems like an expensive way to consume alcohol, but I guess it's plausible that some women really did this.

Good Health magazine - Apr 1885

Philadelphia Times - Feb 7, 1893

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 23, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants, Nineteenth Century, Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

Mammiform and Protector

In 1864, Eleanor Marshall was granted Patent No. 43,321 for her "mammiform breast-protectors." From her patent:

Be it known that I, E.M. Marshall, of Hillsdale, Columbia county, in the State of New York, have invented, made, and applied to use a new and improved article for ladies' wear, which I term a "Mammiform and Protector"...

My improved mammiform and protector is formed of wire wound upon these formers, forming two springs, AA, connected together as shown, and being as similar as possible to the natural breasts. These springs AA may be separated and used singly when desired...

My improved mammiform and protector, being thus constructed, will be found to possess the following advantages: light, flexible, and covering the natural breasts without depressing them, and serving to protect them, and yet the springs of my mammiform and protector may be pressed together or onto the natural breasts, or in any other direction, and when relieved from such pressure resume their natural position and save the wearer the relaxing and debilitating effects of pads, answering all the purposes of a protector, and always presenting a natural appearance.

With springs like that, if a woman accidentally fell forward she'd bounce right back up.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 29, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Patents, Underwear, Nineteenth Century

Lily Dale Spiritualist Camp

The entire HBO documentary appears to be free on YouTube, as embedded below.

The Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Dec 28, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Supernatural, Occult, Paranormal, North America, Nineteenth Century

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