Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Decorations

Here's a little tidbit from Success with Flowers ©1898 and below is a tidbit from "The School Journal" ©1898

For home decorations individual taste may be freely indulged in. Use plenty of green Cedar, Pine, Holly, or any that is obtainable. Partridge berries, branches of Holly, and Bitter-sweet berries are lovely for decorative purposes. An unused fireplace may be very effectively banked with evergreens. Place branches of them in large vases and over pictures, mirrors and doors. Always arrange them artistically, so that the effect will be entirely pleasing.
Bunches of red and white berries or everlasting flowers may be worked in with the evergreens to advantage, but be careful not to use too many of them, or they will cheapen the appearance of the decorations very unpleasantly.
A drawing-room which held a beautiful Christmas tree last year was so exquisitely decorated that it looked a veritable woodland bower, yet so simple and natural did it all appear that one could quite easily imagine all of the lovely greenery had grown just where it was.
Above the door was the motto "Merry Christmas" in scarlet letters on a white ground, with an edging all around it of Holly leaves. A rather wide band of evergreens went all around the room over the picture moulding; from each corner a rope of the evergreen was festooned to the middle of the room, and the four pieces united in the center under the chandelier. From this hung a branch of gleaming Mistletoe. Another
branch of the latter hung from the draperies which shut in a cosy little retreat in the bay window, a bright fire glowed in the fireplace, and an evergreen band formed a graceful arch around it. The high mantel was gracefully festooned to its top. Palms, Ferns, small cedar and little Arborvitaj trees were banked together in front of the Oriental portieres draping the cosy corner of the room, forming a beautiful green archway to the tempting little recess revealed within. On a small table in the corner of the room most remote from the fire was a mound of dark-green Moss, from which tall slender spikes of exquisite white and purple Hyacinths swung their delicate waxen bells and filled the room with fragrance.
True, such decorations will doubtless be much too elaborate for the majority of homes, but possibly some one may obtain a hint that can be effectively worked out in a more humble manner.
The Christinas spirit of peace and good-will should be in every heart, and it is fitting that we should decorate our homes in a manner suitable to this sacred and joyous festival.— Mary Foster Snider.

****

Our Christmas Tree.
By M. E. Stone, Providence, R. I.
We have a forest of pine trees on our board in the back of the room. A week before the Christmas vacation we choose one to be transplanted to the front blackboard. It looks very pretty. We think how green it is while other trees -are bare. We read the story of the "Discontented Pine Tree." We have a snow-storm and like to see the white snow cling to the pine branches.
What a beautiful Christmas tree it would make! Let us trim it.
What shall be put on first? Why, our Christmas star, that we have been drawing and cutting. That must be put at the very top. Now we will buy a box of candles. There are a dozen in a box. Three are red, three white, three blue and three yellow. While we are at the store, let us get some of those pretty, shiny balls to hang on our tree. Half a dozen will do; red, blue and yellow, two of each. How much are they? The candles are a cent apiece and the balls are two cents each. I have money enough to buy the candles. Who will buy the balls?
I have now real candles and balls, and our brown circular tablets we use for money. The children always call them pennies unless I tell them some other name. Usually, however, I have drawn the box of candles and of balls, and the children copied them with pegs or colored crayon on paper. We thus practiced the horizontal and vertical lines and circles of our regular drawing work. Material is also afforded for a review of nearly all the combinations of number included in the fall work. For instance, the balls are arranged by twos, that we may talk about two twos or three twos, and the candles by threes for a similar purpose. There is one star having five points, and we make three candy-bags and four cornucopias. We make real cornucopias of colored paper by lapping and pasting two adjoining sides of a square. This may have a loop of thread, worsted or ribbon at the upper corner with which to attach it to a real tree. If sewing is in the first grade work, the candy-bags can be easily made by overcasting together with bright worsted, the edges of a piece of coarse muslin, cut in the shape of an oblong by the teacher.
One of the prettiest cutting and pasting lessons can be given in making a paper chain. Give the children four inch squares of various colors and let them cut the papers into strips a quarter of an inch wide. Have these arranged on each desk in rows (vertical, horizontal or oblique, if the drawing program calls for those words and directions) so that two strips of the same color will not be near each other. Then allow the children to paste the strips by lapping one end over the other, slipping the next strip thru this ring and pasting as before, being careful to take up the strips in the order in which they were laid on the desk. This will be new to the children, if old to the teacher, and can be done by the smallest. The picture presented by a roomful of smiling children festooned with these bright chains is good for the teacher to see.
We trim the blackboard tree day by day by proxy, carrying home the real stars, bags, cornucopias and chains. The children are delighted to decorate their chandeliers, mirrors, picture-frames and even the knobs on doors or bureaus if they have no tree on which to hang their handiwork. They make more at home, show other children how, and give to the ones too small to do such work.
Santa Claus comes during the night before the last day of school, and hangs horns, drums, dolls, jumping-jacks and other toys on the tree, and puts boxes of tools and dishes, tables, chairs, beds and bicycles near it. The children appear to enjoy the presents as well as if they were real and belonged to them. Often something has been left out that some child wants very much, but if I draw it he will be well satisfied. One little boy wanted "music" this Christmas; another, a train of cars. 1 draw everything asked for, whether I know how or not. I try to
find out how afterward, to be prepared for emergencies.
After vacation, when we must have the board room for other work the children are sorry to say good-bye to the Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Houghtalings Handbook

Since it is TBT (Through Back Thursday) on the web I thought I'd post a collection of older post. I first started this blog after I came across this great book of tidbits in an antique store. Below are links to all the posts of Houghtalings Handbook I put together over the years.

Spirits of Turpentine
Bogus Butter
U.S. Postal Salaries Part 1
U.S. Postal Salaries Part 2
U.S. Postal Salaries Part 3
U.S. Postal Salaries Part 4
U.S. Postal Salaries Part 5
U.S. Postal Salaries Part 6
U.S. Postal Salaries Part7
Weights & Measures for Cooks
Simple Interest Rates 1884
Legal Holidays in the United States
Height of Principal Monuments and Towers
Relative Value of Different Foods and Stock
Maxon Dixon Line
Fictitious Names of Cities
Benjamin Franklin's Words of Wisdom
Fictitious Names of States
New York & Brooklyn Bridge
Seed Vitality 1887
Average Annual Rainfall
Average Annual Temperatures 1887
Most Northern Point Reached by Arctic Explorers
Value of Bar Iron
Salaries of United States Officials 1887
Greatest Billiard Match
Friday an Eventful Day in America
Deepest Wells in the World
Time Required for Digesting Food Part 1
Time Required for Digesting Food Part 2
Language of Flowers Part 1
Language of Flowers Part 2
Herschel's Weather Table for Foretelling Weather
Measurements
Years of Age for Animals
1887 Elections
How Southern Confederate Money Dropped
Number of Miles by Water from New York
Camphor Cure for Cholera
Tallest Man of Modern Times 1887
Origins of the Names of the Month
How to Rent a Farm
Salaries of the Offices of Indian Affairs 1887
Facts from 1880 Census
Broker's Technicalities
Sunstroke
How to Preserve Eggs
Roofing Materials
Steamboat Inspection Service
Interest
How to Measure Corn
The Nations That Eat the Most
Signs of the Tongue
Business Laws in Brief
The Ways for Business Men to Get Rich
Speed of Trotting Horses per second
Civil War Confederate Soldiers Surrendered
Civil War Colored Troops
Soldiers in Civil War
Civil War Called For Service
How to Tell if a Person is Dead or Alive
Value of Foreign Money on a Gold Bases 1887
Strength of Ice Thickness
Law of Finding
A Lady's Chance of Marrying
Printing Papers Costs
American Wars during the 19th Century up to 1887
Navy Yards
United States in 1887
Prisoner's Commutation Table
Lighthouse Keepers
World's Largest Steam Hammer
Spirits of Turpentine a Valuable Remedy
Facts About the Sea
Census Office Salaries 1887
Postage Regulations 1889 Part 1
Postage Regulations 1889 Part 2
Great Canals of the World
How to Prevent Iron from Rusting
How to Sleep
How to Kill Grease Spots Before Painting
How to Start a Balky Horse
Bible Facts from Houghtalings 1889
Memorable Events in 1800's
The Wedding Anniversaries
Cisterns
Facts for Builders
Debt in 1887

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lord of Misrule

I'm not certain if I would like one someone with this name and charge in my home today but there are some fun aspects of this English tradition I thought I'd share with you today. This info comes from "The Christmas Book" ©1845

THE LORD OF MISRULE.
"We are come over the moor and the moss;
We dance an hobby horse;
A dragon you shall see,
And a wild worm for to flee.
Still we are all bravejovial boys,
And take delight in Christmas toys."—Ploughman's Play.

Eoreign writers have expressed great astonishment at the curious customs which formerly prevailed in England in connection with Christmas, but the "Lord of Misrule" or the "Abbot of Unreason," as he was called in Scotland, seems to have astonished them more than any other. They always speak of his existence as peculiar to England, but, as Strutt correctly observes, this frolicsome monarch was known upon the continent before any acquaintance was made with him in England. His office was that of a Master and Lord of the Christmas revels. He was appointed some weeks before the arrival of the feast in order that he might be able to make proper provision in the way of jokes and sports, and from the Christmas Eve down to Twelfth Day, he was the absolute master of all in the house where he was. It rested with him to command the carol singers, the mummers, the jugglers, and players; he provided them, and produced them in such order as he thought best. So that all the sport depended upon having a good "Lord of Misrule," for the fuller of mirth he was, the more sport was made for the Christmas party.
Holingshed when speaking of Yule, calls it the time "there is "alwayes one appointed to make sport at courte, called commonly "Lord of Misrule, whose office is not unknown to such as have been "brought up in noblemen's houses and among great housekeepers, "which use liberal feasting during the Christmas.'" Stow, who is more communicative upon the nature of his office, says, "At the feast of "Christmas, there was in the king's house, wheresoever he was lodged, "a Lord of Misrule, or Master of merry disports, and the like had ye in "the house of honour or good worship, were he spiritual or temporal. "Amongst the which the mayor of London, and either of the sheriffs, "had their several Lords of Misrule, ever contending, without quarrel "or offence, who should make the rarest pastimes todelight the beholders. "These lords beginning their rule on Alhollon eve, continued the same "till the morrow after the Eeast of the Purification; commonly called "Candlemas day. In all which space there were fine and subtle disguis"ings, masks, and mummeries, with playing at cards for counters, nails, "and points, in every house, more for■ pastime than for gain."* The time named by Stow during which the sports continued, is longer than that generally- allotted, but probably not longer than was the custom in instances with which he was acquainted.
Illustrations abound in history, shewing how the games were carried on, and who were appointed to the office. In the reign of Edward VI., and in order probably to prevent him. from dwelling too much upon the recent execution of Somerset, the Christmas sports were conducted without regard to cost. A gentleman, named George Eerrars, who was a lawyer, a poet, and an historian, was appointed by the council to bear this office; "and he," says Holingshed, "being of "better calling than commonly his predecessors had been before, "received all his commissions and warrauntes by the name of master of "the kinge's pastimes; which gentleman so well supplied his office, both "of show of sundry sights, and devises of rare invention, and in act of "divers interludes, and matters of pastime, played by persons, as not only "satisfied the common sorte, but also were verie well liked and allowed "by the council, and others of skill in lyke pastimes; but best by the "young king himselfe, as appeared by his princely liberalitie in reward"ing that service." Eerrars was certainly well qualified for his task, and well supplied with the means of making sport. He complained to * "Stow's Survey," p. 37, ed. of 1842.
Sir Thomas Cawarden that the dresses provided for his assistants were not sufficient, and immediately an order was given for better provision. He provided clowns, jugglers, tumblers, men to dance the fool's dance, besides being assisted by the "Court fool '■' of the time— John Smyth. This man was newly supplied for the occasion, having a long fool's coat of yellow cloth of gold, fringed all over with white, red, and green velvet, containing 7| yards at £2 per yard, guarded with plain yellow cloth of gold, four yards at 33s. 4d. per yard; with a hood and a pair of buskins of the same figured gold containing 1\ yards at £5, and a girdle of yellow sarsenet containing one quarter 16d. The whole value of "the fools dress" being £26. 14s. 8d. Ferrars as the "Lord of Misrule" wore a robe of rich stuff made of silk and golden thread containing nine yards at 16s. a yard, guarded with embroidered cloth of gold, wrought in knots, fourteen yards at lis. 4d. a yard; having fur of red feathers, with a cape of camlet thrum. A coat of flat silver, fine with works, 5 yards at 50s. with an embroidered garb of leaves of gold and coloured silk, containing 15 yards at 20s. a yard. He wore a cap of maintenance, hose buskins, panticles of Bruges satin, a girdle of yellow sarsenet with various decorations, the cost of his dress being £52. 8s. 8d., which, considering the relative value of money, must be considered a very costly dress.
The titles assumed by the Lords of Misrule were occasionally very ridiculous. In 1607, there was a grand celebration of the Christmas festivity at St. John's College, Oxford, and the elected lord issued proclamations, in which he styled himself the most magnificent and renowned Thomas, by the favour of Fortune, Prince of Alba Fortunata, Lord of St. John's, High Eegent of the Hall, Duke of St. Giles's, Marquis of Magdalen's, Landgrave of the Grove, Count Palatine of the Cloysters, Chief Bailiff of Beaumont, High Ruler of Bbme (Rome is a piece of land, so called, near to the end of the walk called Non Ultra, on the North side of Oxon), Master of the Manor of Walton, Governor of Gloucester Green, sole Commander of all Titles, Tournaments, and Triumphs, Superintendent in all Solemnities whatever. A record of the sports and pastimes on this occasion has been preserved and printed* under the title of "A true and faithful relation of the rising and fall of "Thomas Tucker, &c," and contains a very full picture of what Christmas was in the old times.
The lawyers were very regular in their election of a Christmas lord. And they had the usual shows performed in their several Inns of Court. Their lord was up early in the morning hunting out his officers, and "pulling all the loiterers out of bed to make their early sport, but after "breakfast the fun was suspended until the evening, when it was opened "again day after day with great spirit until the holidays ended. The "Judges attended every evening, and the 'under barristers' were bound "to dance before their lordships. On one occasion, when this was "omitted, the whole bar was offended, and at Lincoln's Inn, the offenders "were by decimation put out of commons for example sake; and should * "Miscellanea Antiqua Anglicana," vol. i.
"the same omission be repeated, they were to be fined or disbarred; for "these dancings were thought necessary 'as much conducing to the "making of gentlemen more fit for their books at other times/ "*
At a Christmas celebrated in the Hall of the Middle Temple in the year 1635, the jurisdiction, privileges, and parade of this mock monarch are thus circumstantially described. "He was attended by his lord "keeper, lord treasurer, with eight white staves, a captain of his band '• of pensioners, and of his guardj and with two chaplains, who were so "seriously impressed with an idea of his regal dignity, that when they "preached before him on the preceding Sunday in the Temple Church, "on ascending the pulpit they saluted him with three low bows. He "dined both in the Hall and in his privy chamber, under a cloth of "estate. Tho poleaxes for his gentlemen pensioners were borrowed of "Lord Salisbury. Lord Holland, his temporary justice in eyre, supplied "him with venison, on demand; and the Lord Mayor and sheriffs of "London, with wine. On Twelfth Day, at going to church, he received "many petitions, which he gave to his master of requests: and, like "other kings, he had a favourite, whom with others, gentlemen of high "quality, he knighted at returning from church. His expenses, all from "his own purse, amounted to two thousand pounds." After he was deposed, the king knighted him at "Whitehall, f
But it occasionally happened that when My Lord went forth with his band of merry men, they got into trouble. An instance of this, which occurred in 1627, is recorded in one of Mede's letters to Sir Martin Stuteville. The letter is worth reprinting as an illustration of the manners of the age, and as relating to what was probably the last Lord of Misrule elected by the barristers. Mede writes, "On Saturday "the Templars chose one Mr. Palmer their Lord of Misrule, ,who, on "Twelfth-eve, rate in the night, sent out to gather up his rents at five "shillings a house in Ram-alley and Fleet street. At every door they "came they winded the Temple-horn, and if at the second blast or sum"mons they within opened not the door, then the Lord of Misrule cried "out, 'Give fire, gunner!' His gunner was a robustious Yulcan, and "the gun or petard itself was a huge overgrown smith's hammer. This "being complained of to my Lord Mayor, he said he would be with them "about eleven o'clock on Sunday night last; willing that all that ward "should attend him with their halberds, and that himself, besides those "that came out of his house, should bring the Watches along with him. "His lordship, thus attended, advanced as high as Ram-alley in martial "equipage: when forth came the Lord of Misrule, attended by his "gallants, out of the Temple-gate, with their swords, all armed in cuerpo. "A halberdier bade the Lord of Misrule come to my Lord Mayor. He "answered, No! let the Lord Mayor come to me! At length they "agreed to meet half way: and, as the interview of rival princes is never "without danger of some ill accident, so it happened in this: for first, "Mr. Palmer being quarrelled with for not pulling off his hat to my "Lord Mayor, and giving cross answers, the halberds began to fly about his ears, and he and his company to brandish their swords. At last 'being beaten to the ground, and the Lord of Misrule sore wounded, "they were fain to yield to the longer and more numerous weapon. My "Lord Mayor taking Mr. Palmer by the shoulder, led him to the "Compter, and thrust him in at the prison-gate with a kind of indigna"tion; and so, notwithstanding his hurts, he was forced to lie among the "common prisoners for two nights. On Tuesday the king's attorney "became a suitor to my Lord Mayor for their liberty; which his lord"ship granted, upon condition that they should repay the gathered rents, "and do reparations upon broken doors. Thus the game ended. Mr. "Attorney-General, being of the same house, fetched them in his own "coach, and carried them to the court, where the King himself reconciled "my Lord Mayor and them together with joining all hands; the gentle"men of the Temple being this shrovetide to present a Mask to their "majesties, over and besides the king's own great Mask, to be performed "at the Banqueting-house by an hundred actors."
The inhabitants of our cities and even villages had also their Lord of Misrule. He was elected by the common voice, and clothed at the cost of the voters. Having no particular place in which to exhibit, he chose a party of young fellows to go with him from house to house, where they sang and danced, and then moved off to others, until every large house had been visited. In this case, however, the Lord of Misrule and his party became the mummers of the season—the two ideas were confused, but as mumming was an important part of the sport, we shall consider it in the following section.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

19th Century Recipes for Fruitcake



BLACK FRUIT CAKE, NO. I.
One pound of butter, one pound of sugar, twelve eggs, one pound of flour, one pound of currants, one pound of thinly-sliced citron, three pounds of Seeded raisins cut in pieces, one pound of chopped figs, one-half cupful of any preferred liquor, two tablespoonfuls of strained lemon juice, one-half teaspoonful of salt, two teaspoonfuls of cinnamon, one~half teaspoonful of cloves, three-quarters of a teaspoonful each of mace, allspice and nutmeg.
Dredge the prepared fruit with a little of the flour and mix the spice with the remainder. Cream the butter, gradually add the sugar and cream until light, then_slowly add the liquor beating until light and creamy. Add the beaten yolks of the eggs, then the whites; cut in the flour, add the remaining ingredients. Have the pans lined with several thicknesses of paper, turn in the batter and bake slowly in a moderate oven for from three to five hours according to the thickness of the cake. Cover with paper until half baked.
BLACK FRUIT CAKE, NO. 2.
One-half pound of butter, one pound of sugar, one pint of flour, nine eggs, one and one half pounds of currants, three quarters of a pound of citron, two pounds of seeded raisins, one-quarter of a pound of blanched almonds cut into strips, one-quarter of a pound of chopped hickory nut meats, two ounces of cinnamon, one-half ounce each of nutmeg, mace and clove, one-half teaspoonful of salt, one cupful of brandy.
With regard to the points you mention we would say that a mixture of candied fruits may be used in place of a part of the fruit; they should be cut fine and should be marinated in brandy or other liquor for several hours; the kind of fruit used is a matter of individual taste; we would suggest that you make up several mixtures and then settle upon the one best liked. The same is true of liquors; various kinds of rum or a good brandy are generally used; liqueurs, such as maraschino or kirschwasser, are sometimes added as well in small quantities. Baking powder is never used in a heavy fruit cake; it makes it crumbly and spoils the soft velvety texture.
Source: Table Talk ©1899

Fruit Cake
I cannot give you a better recipe for fruit cake than you will find in my cook book. Both those recipes, like the one just given, have been used many times individually, and even under my directions in the School I have never seen a single failure.
Beat ten eggs, without separating, until very light; beat one pound of butter to a cream; warm the bowl; put in a pound of butter; cut it into blocks; then, with the back of a spoon, mash it, and then begin to beat; now add to this, gradually, one pound of granulated sugar; beat again. Have ready one and a half pounds of washed currants, one and a half pounds of raisins (stoned), three-quarters of a pound of shredded citron; mix these together and lightly flour; add to the butter and sugar first the eggs; then stir in one pound of flour, one teaspoonful of cinnamon, a half teaspoonful of ground mace, one teaspoonful of allspice, half teaspoonful of cloves, one grated nutmeg, juice and grated rind of one orange and one lemon; beat vigorously for at least five minutes. Now stir in carefully the floured fruit. Line two fruit-cake pans with greased paper (bottom and sides), pour in the mixture, and bake in a very moderate oven four hours. If you use liquor, add it to the mixture before addirg the fruit. Put one gill of brandy, and then omit the orange and lemon juice.
Source: Household News ©1894

Fruit Cake.
One pound brown sugar, one of butter* one of eggs, one of flour, two of raisins, two of currants, half pound citron, a nutmeg, tablespoon cloves, one of allspice, half pint brandy, and two tea-epoons baking-powder. After baking, while yet warm, pour over cake a half pint wine. This makes the cake delicious.—Mm Angie Skinner,
Somerset.
Excellent Fruit Cake.
One and a half pounds raisins, one and a fourth pounds currants, three-fourths pound citron, pound butter, pound sugar, one and a fourth pounds flour, ten eggs, two table-spoons lemon, two tea-spoons yeast powder; mix a fourth pound of the flour in the fruit.—Mrs. J. W. Grubbs,
Poor Man's Fruit Cake.
One and a half cups brown sugar, two of flour, one each of butter and chopped raisins, three eggs, three table-spoons sour milk, half tea-spoon soda, half cup blackberry jam. This is excellent as well as economical.—Mrs. J. S. Robinson,
Scotch Fruit Cake.
A cup butter, two of white sugar, four of sifted flour, threefourths cup sour milk, half tea-spoon soda, nine eggs beaten separately, one pound raisins, half pound currants, a fourth pound citron; cream the butter and sugar, add milk gradually, then beaten yolks of eggs, and lastly, while stirring in flour, the whites well whipped. Flavor with one tea-spoon lemon, and one of vanilla extract, and have raisins chopped a little, or, better still, seeded, and citron sliced thin. Wash and dry currants before using, and flour all fruit slightly. In putting cuke in pan, place first a thin layer of cake, then sprinkle in some of the three kinds of fruit, then a layer of cake, and so on, always finishing off with a thin layer of cake. Bake in a moderate oven for two hours. Tested by many and has never failed. — Mrs. J. H. Shearer.
Thanksgiving Fruit Cake.
Six pounds flour, three of butter, three and a half of sugar, an ounce mace, two glasses wine, two glasses brandy, four pounds raisins, half pound citron, six eggs, one pint yeast, small tea-spoon soda put in at last moment. After tea, take all the flour (except one plate for dredging raisins), a small piece butter, and a quart or more of milk, and mix like biscuit; then mix butter and sugar, and at nine o'clock in the evening, if sufficiently light, put one-third of butter and sugar into dough; at twelve add another third, and very early in the morning the remainder; about eleven o'clock, if light enough, begin kneading, and continue for an hour, adding meanwhile all the other ingredients. This will make seven loaves.— Mrs. Woodworth, Springfield.
Source: Practical Housekeeping ©1883

FRUIT CAKE. (Superior.)
Three pounds dry flour, one pound sweet butter, one pound sugar, three pounds stoned raisins, two pounds currants, three-quarters of a pound sweet almonds blanched, one pound citron, twelve eggs, one tablespoonful allspice, one teaspoonful cloves, two tablespoonfuls cinnamon, two nutmegs, one wineglass of wine, one wine-glass of brandy, one coffee cupful molasses with the spices in it; steep this gently twenty or thirty minutes, not boiling hot; beat the eggs very lightly; put the fruit in last, stirring it gradually, also a teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a tablespoonful of water; the fruit should be well floured; if necessary add flour after the fruit is in; butter a sheet of paper and lay it in the pan. Lay in some slices of citron, then a layer of the mixture, then of citron again, etc., till the pan is nearly full. Bake three or four hours, according to the thickness of the loaves, in a tolerably hot oven, and with steady heat. Let it cool in the oven gradually. Ice when cold. It improves this cake very much to add three teaspoonfuls of baking powder to the flour. A fine wedding-cake recipe.
FRUIT CAKE BY MEASURE. (Excellent.)
Two scant teacupfuls of butter, three cupfuls of dark brown sugar, six eggs, whites and yolks beaten separately, one pound of raisins, seeded, one of currants, washed and dried, and half a pound of citron cut in thin strips; also half a cupful of cooking molasses, and half a cupful of sour milk. Stir the butter and sugar to a cream, add to that half a grated nutmeg, one tablespoonful of ground cinnamon, one teaspoonful of cloves, one teaspoonful of mace, add the molasses and sour milk. Stir all well; then put in the beaten yolks of egg, a wine-glass of brandy; stir again all thoroughly, and then add four cupfuls of sifted flour, alternately with the beaten whites of egg. Now dissolve a level teaspoonful of soda, and stir in thoroughly. Mix the fruit together, and stir into it two heaping tablespoonfuls of flour; then stir it in the cake. Butter two common sized baking tins carefully, line them with letter paper well buttered, and bake in a moderate oven two hours. After it is baked, let it cool in the pan. Afterward put it into a tight can, or let it remain in the pans and cover tightly. Best recipe of all.
—mrs. S. A. Camp, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Source: White House Cook Book ©1889

Monday, December 15, 2014

Table Manners & Goops

I stumbled across this illustrated poem and thought it a fun piece to share with all of you. Although I will admit that a "goop" was a new expression for me.


You can read more about Goops with Goops and How to Be Them, a Manual of Manners by Gelett Burgess. It is available from Google Books for free online. It was originally published in 1900. Here is the link to Guttunberg's page for the book with the links to the various types of format. Link Although I have seen references to the book in publications from 1893-1898.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ten Christmas Presents

A poem that was published several times during the 19th Century was by Carolyn Wells called "Christmas Gifts" but commonly referred to as "Ten Christmas Presents."

Ten Christmas presents standing in a line;
Robert took the bicycle, then there were nine.
Nine Christmas presents ranged in order straight;
Bob took the steam engine, then there were eight.
Eight Christmas presents--and one came from Devon;
Robbie took the jackknife, then there were seven.
Seven Christmas presents direct from St. Nick's;
Bobby took the candy box, then there were six.
Six Christmas presents, one of them alive;
Rob took the puppy dog, then there were five.
Five Christmas presents yet on the floor;
Bobbin took the soldier cap, then there were four.
Four Christmas presents underneath the tree;
Bobbet took the writing desk, then there were three.
Three Christmas presents still in full view;
Robin took the checker board, then there were two.
Two Christmas presents, promising fun,
Bobbles took the picture book, then there was one.
One Christmas present--and now the list is done;
Bobbinet took the sled, and then there were none.
And the same happy child received every toy,
So many nicknames had one little boy.

Here's the illustration that was in the St. Nicholas magazine from 1898

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Central Park NYC

I love Central Park, not because I've been there more than driving past it but I love how NYC designed this park and what they wanted and planned it for. I've seen it from across the street and I've been at it at the Tavern on the Green Restaurant. However, I've never had the time to thoroughly enjoy the park, perhaps some day I will.

Here is a link to a book published in 1869 about the park titled A Description of the New York Central Park it has great illustrations and I think you will enjoy it as well.

Here's a pic of the Belvedere Castle which was known simply as the Belvedere back then.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

19th Century Christmas Books

Hi all,
As you begin or finish up your Christmas shopping for this year, I'm certain you've looked at some possible books to give as gifts. (hint, hint) Seriously though, books are a great gift idea that has been around for well over a hundred years. And the 19th Century it was quite a gift to give and receive. Here is how Christmas books were described back then "For instance, suppose you and I had to announce the important news that some writers published what are called Christmas books; that Christmas books are so called because they are published at Christmas: and that the purpose of the authors is to try and amuse people"

So, for today's tidbit I thought I'd post are some links to Christmas books that were available.

The first is a book that was published in 1866 by Charles Dickens title Christmas Books He not only wrote A Christmas Carol but several other stories as well.

The Christmas Books of Mr. M.A. Titmarsh" by William Makepeace Thackeray.

The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke is another Christmas Classic.

Then like today there were books, or in this case more like a pamphlet about Keeping Christmas for the real purpose of the reason for the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Blow is a copy of an advertisement for 1870 Beeton's Christmas Annual which means they put together a book each year for Christmas.

Pocket Books were also quite popular here's another advertisement to point this out.

Other books that were quite popular were dictionaries, almanacs, and travel books.

I hope you have fun with your historical characters going Christmas shopping this year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

19th Century Board Games Plus

Below are some images from an 1891 Youth's Companion displaying various games available at the time. Many you will already know, perhaps you have some in your game closets as well.

Basalinda (Looks to me like a very early version of battleship)

Bean Bag & Ring Toss

Fish Pond

Game of Halma
(apparently designed as a scientific game combining chess and checkers)

Jolly Marble Game

Parlor & Lawn Tennis

Royal Parchessi

Table Croquet

Tiddledy-winks, tennis, hop scotch.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Victorian Christmas Card

Here's a Victorian Christmas Card.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Electric Bell

Below is an image I found of the The Leclanché Electric Bell Outfit.

The cut illustrates the Leclanché Electric Bell Outfit complete. It consists of a large Leclanché Battry with Chemicals, fifty feet of insulated copper wire, a paper of Clamp Tacks for putting it up, one push button with porcelain knob, and an elegant nickel-plated Electric Bell mounted on a black-walnut base. It has a black-walnut cover. Any young man can easily put up this electric bell. For door-bells, for servants' call-bells, etc., there is nothing quite so handy and reliable as this outfit.
Some parties are doing quite a business by purchasing these outfits by the dozen, and putting them into houses at reasonable rates.

The ad goes on to say you can use these for burglar alarms as well with an attachment.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

1891 Pocket Cutlery

Below are five knives from 1891 advertised in Youth's Companion. They were being offered as a gift with the price of a subscription to the magazine. I left most of that information out from their advertisements. However the magazine is available on Google books if you'd like further information. What I find interesting is that pocket knives haven't changed all that much. However, some of the tools within the knives have changed, like the hook for cleaning out horse hooves. Perhaps one of your characters might be in the need of purchasing a knife. Here are some choices.

This first image is of Farmer's English Knife this knife comprises nine distinct tools, --two Blades, a Lancet, Corkscrew, Reamer, Tweezers, Pick, Screw Driver, and a Hook for cleaning a horses's hoof. It is of special service to the farmer.

The next knife is Pearl Handle Boys knife. The Boy's Own Knife is a beauty, but it's more; it's made to cut and to kep its edge. No better-cutting Knife to be had at any price. German Silver Bolster, Rivet and Shield, and best of Pearl Handle

The next knife is a Lady's Pearl Handle Knife. The cut illustrates how our Lady's knife looks. We give the plan of this knife to our manufacturer, and this is the result. Fine English steel, faultless pearl and perfect finish are embodied in the knife. For a lady nothing would be better; for a gentleman, too, will find it a most useful vest-pocket companion. Large blade, nail blade and file, glove and boot-buttoner.

The fourth knife is a Four-Blade Pearl Knife, this is a find knife, --a Wostenholm pattern. It is made only to our order, and expressly for our subscribers. By controlling this special knife ourselves we are able to offer a rare premium at a low price. The cut will show you just how the knife looks, and its exact size. It is made from the best English steel, the pearl is the first quality and the hands is brass lined. The tips are German Silver.

The last knife is the Granger's Knife. The Blades of this fine knife are the best English steel and will cut like a razor. Stag-Handle, double German Silver Bolsters, Rivets and shields are brass lined.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Christmas Carol

The classic "A Christmas Carol" has been rewritten, played and put into film more times than I can count. Dickens did a fine job on this classic. And it only seems fitting that we would include it in our tidbits about 19th Century Christmas Tidbits. It was first published in 1843. The link below to Google books is a copy printed in 1858. Here is a picture of the first publication that can be found in wikipedia.

An interesting tidbit about A Christmas Carol is that it was a novella. I love writing novellas and have often been told how amazed my readers are about the amount of story that is included in the novella. A novella challenges an author to tightly write their stories.

A Christmas Carol

Here is a page with illustrations for
A Christmas Carol in 1933.

So how are you going to enjoy A Christmas Carol this holiday season? Better yet, how are your characters going to enjoy it?