Thursday, August 31, 2017

Superior Muffins

It's been a while since I've had some recipes and I stumbled on this while searching for ways to stay cool in the summer. I hope you enjoy.

Superior Muffins. 1 quart of flour. 1 teaspoonful of salt. 1 tablespoonful of white sugar.
Rub in one heaping tablespoonful of butter and lard mixed, and one tablespoonful of Irish potato, mashed free from lumps.

Pour in three well beaten eggs and a half teacup of yeast. Make into a soft dough with warm water in winter and cold in summer. Knead well for half an hour. Set to rise where it will be milk-warm, in winter, and cool in summer. If wanted for an eight o'clock winter breakfast, make up at eight o'clock the night before. At six o'clock in the morning, make out into round balls (without kneading again), and drop into snow-ball moulds that have been well greased. Take care also to grease the hands and pass them over the tops of the muffins. Set them in a warm place for two hours and then bake.

These are the best muffins I ever ate.—Mrs. 8. T.
Source: Housekeeping in Old Virginia ©1879

PS Remember a teacup is one cup, so she's suggesting 1/2 cup of yeast.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


We are all aware but I admit I haven't seen too many bicycles in fiction. Below are some examples of bicycles being advertised in The Ladies' Home Journal ©June 1894. All of the ads below were found on a single page in the magazine. Take a look at the Hickory Bicycle ad, the wheels were made of wood, which after a moment of thought on the matter, made sense since wagon wheels were also made of wood. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Wooden Weddings

This was a new one for me, I hope you enjoy it too. It comes from Ladies' Home Journal ©1893

THE WOODEN WEDDING ""THE first milestone—after five years of * married life—when the young wife speaks of herself as "an old married woman," is called the " wooden wedding."

A cozy little dinner, to which those who were the bridesmaids and groomsmen are bidden, with a few intimate friends, is usually the favorite form of entertainment. Note-paper may be had, resembling birchbark, which is suitable for the invitations.

The dining-room may be made to look as "woodsy" as possible with roping of evergreen and verdure of any sort. The introduction of "Christmas trees" into the room adds much to the sylvan effect. They are to be had almost for the asking in summer.

A box made of twigs holding ferns makes an appropriate centrepiece for the table, and the cheapest wooden dishes lined with ferns will hold the bonbons and cakes quite acceptably. At each lady's place a little toy bucket or pail—the staves alternately of dark and light wood—will make a very pretty receptacle for the flowers. Wild flowers of all colors, those growing in the woods, are appropriate and plentiful in June. The city florists are always in communication with persons who can supply them when they are ordered. The little pails have the additional advantage that they may hold a little water, for wild flowers wither so quickly. The wire handles should be bound with ribbon and tied with bows.

The name-cards of real birch-bark should have at the top the date of the marriage and the present date, and under these the guests' names all written in dark green ink. On the reverse side of the one given to the bride her husband might write the summing up of all wifely duties, quoted from the famous game of '' oats, peas and beans ":
"Now, you're married, you must obey,
You must be true to all you say;
You must be loving, kind and good—
And help your husband chop the wood."

While the groom may be reminded of his responsibilities in the same vein, changing the first line—
"Now, you're married, this happy day,"
and the last—
"And keep your wife in kindling wood."
The candle shades may be bought very cheaply of plain white crimped paper, decorated with bits of evergreen. The colors of the flowers should be repeated in the bonbons and cakes, the green background of ferns harmonizing all shades.

The bride should wear her wedding dress. The more old-fashioned it be the more interesting.
Source: The Ladies' Home Journal ©1893

Monday, August 28, 2017

How to Keep Cool

For today's tidbit I'm sharing some of the various ways I've come across during the later part of the 19th century, to keep cool.

Another New York bookseller, who has been interviewed on the subject of keeping a store cool in summer, claims that it can be done if proper measures of precaution are taken.
"For example,*' he says, "I have a transom over my door that I leave open every night; also the top of the back window. This gives a draft of cool air during the night, and I find it cool in the morning. I also follow the trail of the sun, and in the hot days in summer see that it never gets into my store."
"All the cleaning that is done in my place of business is done between six and seven in the morning. This gets the store in trim for the day's work. In order to keep out flies the store should always be darkened and, above all, the atmosphere pure. Flies and other insects will only come when the air is bad. Care should always be taken to place everything out of the way that will attract them. If possible, do not permit any eating or cooking in your store during the hot months. If you do, then place all your stock under covers, for flies and other insects will play havoc with it."
There are electric fans and other machine devices to cool stores, but for the small city and town bookseller the above is simple and low in price.
Source: The Bookseller and Newsman ©1896

How to Keep Cool in Summer.—In summer we should eat less meat and less food than in winter. Usually our appetite is not so good in summer as it is in winter, and naturally, therefore, we take less food, and we should wear light clothing. Everything we do during the warm parts of the summer days we should do slowly and should not hurry. We should not walk much in the sun without being shaded.
How the Body is Kept Cool in Summer.—It would seem difficult to prevent the body from being overheated in summer when the air around us is so warm; and you might wonder, too, why it is that the blood of a locomotive engineer, or of a cook, who is in front of a hot fire all day long, is no warmer than that of persons who can keep cool. There are two ways in which the bodily heat is prevented from rising above 98 degrees when persons must be near furnaces and fires or are otherwise exposed to the heat.
Both methods depend upon the fact that whenever moisture or water leaves any surface it makes that surface cold; that is, it takes some of the heat of that surface with it. In India, the drinking-water is cooled by placing it in porous clay

In this way our blood does not get any warmer in summer than in winter. For in summer more moisture leaves the body than in winter. Moisture leaves the body in two ways: By the lungs and by the skin. We breathe more rapidly in summer than in winter, especially if it is very warm, and in this way, more moisture is given off to the air from the blood passing through the lungs. Then again, the expired air contains more moisture in summer.
Perspiration.—The moisture which passes off by the skin is called perspiration. This is taking place constantly through the pores, but in summer so much passes off that it collects in drops and is then called visible or sensible perspiration.
Ice-water in Summer.—There is no objection to ice-water in summer if you do not drink too much, and if you take but a little at a time. Some people get into the habit of drinking ice-water constantly. This is very unhealthy and will make them suffer. But if it be remembered to drink it slowly and only a little at a time, it will not usually do any harm.
Source: May's Anatomy, Physiology and ©1899

YOU will never look cool in summer unless you learn to arrange your hair properly—that is to say, to bid good-by to the heavy bang which is on your forehead, and which will, after a few hours, look frowzy and become uncurled. Draw part of this back and pin it down with small lace hairpins, and have the very shortest fringe possible, if, indeed, you wear one at all. If your forehead is low and broad you can say farewell to the bang, and parting your hair in the centre draw it back in the neatest way possible. Instead of the soft, full loops that retained their position during the winter, braid your back hair and pin it closely to your head. This done one's coiffure will be neat all the day long, and if you have a well-shaped head it will bring out its outlines to perfection. I do not want any girl to think that I wish her to lose her good looks, and if she doesn't look well with her hair parted then let her elect to wear it rolled off her forehead, or if she has a very high forehead then she must have a short fringe or bang, with the ends just turned to soften her face. Do not wear fancy pins or ribbons during the day. In the evening, though, it is quite proper for you to put among your locks anything that you may choose. By-the-by, it must be remembered that I am talking now to the busy girl who wants to look her best in the summer time, and who yet has not the half hours in which to rest, and who cannot wear dainty house dresses, as does the girl who has no occupation in the outside world.
Source: Ladies' Home Journal ©1893

Friday, August 25, 2017

Electric Lamps / Lights

Yesterday I posted about the early part of the 19th century and specifically the oil lamps. In addition to oil lamps there were gas lights and electric lights. Below is an outline of the history of electric lamps throughout the century.

1801 First electric arc lamp was invented in England by Sir Humphrey Davy.
1854 First true lightbulb invented by Henricg Globel of Germany
1857 Fluorescent lamp was introduced in France by A.E. Becquerel
1875 Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans patented a lightbulb.
1879 Thomas Edison improved the incandescent light
1880 Edison's patent was granted.

Practically speaking you won't have electric lamps in the homes of your characters set prior to the 1880's. Another interesting texture to oil and gas lamps is the smell, keep that in mind when writing as well. Remember to use the five senses when describing what your characters are experiencing.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


I thought I'd post a simple item on lamps but my, oh, my, there is a lot to say about lamps during the 19th century. So, as time goes by I'll be posting more on lamps. But for now, here's a taste into the world of lamps.

Encyclopedia Britannica ©1824 has this to say. The link brings you to Google books and should bring you to the page. The article starts on page 207.

At the beginning of the 19th century lamps were primarily oil lamps of some sort. Argand lamps were developed during the last quarter of the 18th century. The Argand lamp included a burner and a chimney. The reservoir was on the bottom then the wick was feed into the oil.

We have a variety of oil lamps developed with this simple system during the early part of the 19th century. As the Victorian era came into vogue the lamps became more fashionable. In other words, the more elaborate the lamp the more your wealth and good taste showed to those around you. That did not negate the need for practical lighting.

Below are two images from the 1890 Encyclopedia Britannica. The first is a reading lamp. Generally as writers we might have a tendency to think in only table top lamps. But these reading lamps could stand on the floor or be mounted to a wall. The second image is of an 1838 invention by M. Franchot called the moderator lamp. This helped to pull the oil up to the end of the wick for a brighter flame.
A further invention of the flat wick was developed in the image below. In an 1865 patent Messgrs. Hinks claimed it could have two or more flat flames.
The other key ingredient for these lamps was the oil. We've all read and heard about the whaling industry and how whale oil was the best oil for burning. Animal and Vegetable oil were the first oils used. Mineral oil began being used in the 1830's, specifically because of the invention of the moderator lamps. Another names for these lamps is "Camphine, Vesta and Paragon lamps. They light given off by these lamps were brighter and less smokey. However they produced soot-flakes which made people nervous about them being more dangerous.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

1896 Mean Temperatures for the United States

I've divided the chart below for better readability. This information comes from The standard American Encyclopedia Vol. 8 ©1897 The reason I've included this tidbit is because of the discussions regarding Global Warming. These records help us to see what the average temp for the year was in 1896.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Single Shot Pistols 1888

Below is a chapter from The Modern American Pistol and Revolver ©1888. I thought this information might be handy to several of you who are adding a touch of suspense to your novels. I love the fact that this book included great graphics. Of course, I'm a visual learner.

A Number of years ago, when gentlemen sought to vindicate their honor by duels with pistols, it was the custom to provide themselves with a pair of duelling-pistols. These were generally of large calibre, often .50 or y2 inch, generally of smooth bore and flint-lock. These and even larger calibres were made for cavalrymen in the service. Then came the percussion pistol, various styles of duelling-pistols, both smooth bore and rifled, and to-day many Southern gentlemen have in their possession a pair of these ancient arms handed down to them by their ancestors. They are used chiefly, at the present time, for decorative purposes, as their days of usefulness are past; the modern revolver has superseded them as an arm of defence, and the single-shot breech-loading pistol, possessing much greater accuracy, far more convenient to load, and more economical to use, has taken the place of the duelling-pistol for target work, stage-shooting, and exhibition work. The single-shot pistol is used almost wholly for short-range target practice, generally in-doors, at a distance of from five to fifty yards, or for small-game shooting. Therefore, it is unusual to find at the present time these pistols larger in bore than .32 calibre ; they are generally of .22 calibre. The .22 calibre is very accurate up to fifty yards. Our experiments, compared with others, lead us to believe the small calibre is fully as accurate as the larger, and beyond a doubt, with good weather conditions, the larger bore possesses no advantages over the small bore up to fifty yards in point of accuracy. The fact that the cost of the .22-calibre ammunition is so much less, is more compact, allowing a large number of cartridges to be carried about, and the knowledge that the tiny bore can be shot so many times without cleaning, makes it the favorite calibre, in single-shot pistols, for target and smallgame shooting within the distance named.

Any shooting at a distance beyond fifty yards with a pistol is almost unheard of in America; but it is believed that before long the experts who become so proficient with the pistol at this range will shoot at much longer distances, and we shall not be surprised to see matches shot up to 200 yards, and perhaps at a longer distance, as the officers in the European armies practice up to 400 paces and secure good results. When the shooting is done at long distances with a pistol, it will probably be with a single-shot arm of calibre from .32 to .40; but until then the calibres will probably be the .22 and .32.

The Stevens single-shot pistols are deservedly very popular; they are manufactured by the J. Stevens Arms and Tool Co., at Chicopee Falls, Mass. They are made in various styles, as follows:

Conlin model, 10-inch barrel, .22-cal., weight, 2^ pounds. Lord model, 10-inch barrel, .22 cal., weight, 3 pounds. Diamond model, 10-inch barrel, .22-cal., weight, 11 ounces. Also, the new 6-inch barrel, .22-cal., Target pistol.
The barrels are carefully bored and rifled and fitted into a steel frame in the Lord model, and composition of gun-metal in the Conlin and Diamond models. A spring is so arranged under the barrel that when a projecting stud on the side is pressed it releases a catch on the opposite side and the spring forces the rear part of the barrel up and the forward part down, this action acting on the shell-ejector, forcing out the shell of the exploded cartridge; the pistol is then reloaded and barrel closed. The frame permits of barrels of different calibres being fitted into one action, in the Lord or Conlin model. There are several varieties of sights for these pistols to suit the different demands. The triggers are the side-covered trigger in the smaller models, and the guard-covered trigger in the Lord model.

The Lord and Conlin models are very popular among professional and expert pistol-shots. They have been tested and found very reliable, and possess a degree of accuracy unsurpassed by any arm of its kind in the world, if properly used.

The Lord model is preferred by persons of THE STEVENS SINGLE-SHOT PISTOL (New Model.) herculean frame or possessing great strength in their arms, it weighing 3 pounds. The Conlin model is generally selected by those possessing less physical strength; both pistols have handles of sufficient length to permit of their being grasped properly.

The trigger on the Lord model is preferred by a majority of pistol-shots, and, to suit those desiring this style of a trigger in the Conlin model, the manufacturers have commenced making them in that manner, and can now supply either style of triggers.

The weight of the Lord model is in its favor, for those who can hold it secure an advantage in less liability to pull the pistol to one side or upwards when pressing the trigger, — an error one who uses a light pistol is quite liable to make. Such experts as Chevalier Ira Paine and Frank Lord, and even some of the gentler sex, who have astonished the shooting world by their seemingly impossible feats of marksmanship with the pistol, unhesitatingly select this heavy pistol, and declare it more reliable, for the reasons mentioned, than the lighter ones, and as some of the professional shooters perform hazardous feats when inaccuracies with the arm would peril the lives of those who assist them in their performances, it is likely that they have given the matter the fullest investigation. But the person desiring to select a Stevens pistol for fine work should examine both models.
and be governed by his own judgment is the matter.
The other pistols made by this company are intended for pocket-pistols; they are accurate and reliable, but being more compact, with shorter barrels and lighter, they are more difficult to shoot accurately than those fashioned after the shape of
the duelling-pistol. One quickly becomes accustomed to their use, and, if fond of pistol-shooting, they are a source of great pleasure when carried on a fishing trip or on a tramp when small-game can be shot.
A gentleman who makes an annual trip into the woods informed the writer that he never went without his Stevens pistol, and always killed considerable small-game for the table with it.
The Remington single-action pistol is a much less elegant piece of workmanship than the Stevens pistol, but there are excellent points about the arm which will be apparent to the inspector as he examines it. It possesses great strength and wearing qualities, is accurate, and, although not particularly symmetrical, it is so well-balanced and has such an excellent handle, that, when grasped, there is a feeling of firmness and steadiness which is verified when the shooter attempts to sight it on a small object. The pistol is made in .22 and .32 calibres; it has a barrel 8 inches long. The action is similar to the old-model Remington rifle. The hammer is brought to a full-cock, a breech block rolled back, which permits of the barrel, which is screwed into a solid frame, being inspected from the rear, and easy to be cleaned. All attempts to procure discharges from this arm with action improperly closed have been unsuccessful, and we can see no reason why it is not as safe as it is accurate. Its unusual strength would make it a desirable arm for long-range pistol-practice, as it would doubtless stand a much heavier charge than would ever be required for shooting at any range.

The Wesson single-shot pistol is manufactured by Frank Wesson, at Worcester, Mass. It is operated as follows: the hammer is slightly raised and held by a pin pressed in from the side; a projecting stud is pressed at the bottom of the receiver, and the barrel turned over to one side,— the shell of the exploded cartridge thrown out by the extractor. The arm is well-balanced, fitted with good sights of different styles, and accurate.

The Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Co. manufactures three styles of single-shot Deringers, one of which is illustrated. To operate this arm set the hammer at half-cock, grasp the stock in the right hand and drawing back the steel button with the forefinger, rotate the barrel toward you with the left hand. Holding the barrel thus turned aside, introduce the cartridge and then rotate it to its original position. After firing, the empty shell may be ejected by rotating the barrel as directed for loading.
The weight of the No. 2 is 10 oz., calibre .41. It is a powerful pistol, intended for a weapon of defence at short range.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Winter Gardening

Okay I know it is August and it's still in the 90's here in Florida but...winter is coming. I stumped upon this article from Harper's Bazar, Nov. 1867 and thought I'd share a little bit with all of you.

"And who can sing the songs of spring
In dull and drear December?"

We purpose to give a few easy directions to those who desire to possess at light cost and little trouble a blooming winter garden in their homes, that can be attended to in the worst weather without soiling the hands or wetting the feet.

The hyacinth must rank first in our list as being almost the easiest flower to cultivate.

Hyacinths may be grown in water, in pots, in moss, and in prepared cocoa-fibre and charcoal. The last is the best for hyacinths indoors, in the numerous choices which are used for this purpose. In order to cultivate the hyacinth in the sitting-room in prepared cocoa-fibre and charcoal, place at the bottom or the jardinet, etc., a handful or so of rough charcoal, and fill up with the preparation; plant the hyacinths thickly, associating with them snow-drops, scilla sibirica, early flowering crocus, and, if the space will admit, a few pompon hyacinths; cover the bulbs with the preparation, and neatly cover the surface with nice green carpet moss; the freshness of the moss will be prolonged by occasionally damping it with a wet sponge. Sprinkle the plants overhead with tepid water two or three times a week.

This preparation is free from impurities and possesses a gentle stimulus; the bulbs root freely into it and produce fine spikes of bloom. Another important recommendation the prepared cocoa=fibre and charcoal possesses is its retention of moisture for a long time. Unless in a very hot room two or three good waterings will be sufficient from the time of planting till the bulbs are in bloom, so that the amateur is relieved from the daily anxiety lest his favorite group of forthcoming flowers should suffer from want of water.

. . .

The article continues to point out how to grow hyacinth in water, moss and pots. If you would like to finish the article it can be found here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Chair & Chaise Carriages

Do you know the difference between a Chair and a Chaise? I'm not talking furniture, I'm talking about carriages & wagons. Well, the truth is I'm still working on the differences between the two but I have come up with a few distinctions, although the terms were often used interchangeably. Chaise is the French word for chair and some speculate that the first chair wagons were simple a chair placed on a platform with an axle and a couple of wagon wheels.

Chairs tend to be lower to the ground than a chaise. A chaise tends to have a top. A Chair is ofte for only one person. A Chaise is often made for two.

There are a variety of Chairs and Chaises throughout the 19th century. The Windsor Chair is still in my researching mode. I've run across the term but excluding all the furniture pieces has made the search for a carriage known as a Windsor Chair very difficult. I found a post from the Sun Inn in Bethlehem, PA speaking of the arrival of "August 12—A gentleman in a Windsor chair."

Of course we can add to this mix Gigs, Shays and Sulkies but that will be for another day's discussion.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

1857 Fabric Advertisement

Below is an ad from the New York Daily Tribune Nov. 30, 1857. What is curious for me is the India camel hair shawls. They sound scratchy to me but apparently they were the rage in 1857 in NYC, along with Chantilly Lace Flounces. On the other hand with the reduction of cost perhaps they were no longer the rage.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Different Buggy Topper

Below is a advertisement I found in the Hub magazine ©1895. I found it very different from other hoods for buggies. It basically looks like an umbrella. This is not the normal hood for a buggy, in all my research of Carriages & Wagons for the 19th century, I believe this is the first time I've run across such a design. I don't know how much they sold for, nor do I know how popular they became, if at all. But they would make quite the conversation piece if one strolled into town, I would have a lot of fun with this in a novel setting.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

1842 Bankruptcy

The Panic of 1837 caused financial hardships for many. By 1842 the country was beginning to rebound. For some unknown reason (to me at this time) Vermont however had many filings for bankruptcy. However, there are a few things I learned. In 1841 Congress enacted a 2nd Bankruptcy Law (formerly an 1803 bankruptcy repealed) in the wake of the panics of 1837 & 1839. In 1843 the second Bankruptcy law was repealed amid many complaints of corruption and expenses.

Ask yourself how did your characters fair during the Panics and the Bankruptcy Laws. If not your characters perhaps their parents or grandparents. Was there bitterness in the hearts of others who were unable to file for bankruptcy and lost their farms and homes? Was your character bitter? Was your character honorable? Or was your character less than honorable and did that have a cause and effect on someone else that profoundly changed your character's life.

These are some of the questions I look at when addressing issues surrounding the dates in which my characters were living. Perhaps these tidbits you will find helpful in learning more about your characters.

1842 Fall Clothing Line

Below is an Advertisement with the list of items for the Fall season. This comes from the Nov. 4, 1842 Burlington Free Press. Note the various items listed. It might help you as a writer put in an article of clothing that is perhaps a bit different than your normal description given by authors.

Monday, August 14, 2017

1842 Fall Clothing Line

Below is an Advertisement with the list of items for the Fall season. This comes from the Nov. 4, 1842 Burlington Free Press. Note the various items listed. It might help you as a writer put in an article of clothing that is perhaps a bit different than your normal description given by authors.

Friday, August 11, 2017

1842 Hat Prices

Below is a copy of an ad from the New York Daily Tribune May 3, 1842. The advertisement is listing the price of various hats. I'll type them out because they are difficult to read:
Silk Hats @ $2.25, $2.50 & $3.00 (says it is a reduction of .50 cents from the former prices)
Fur Hat $4.00 compares other hat prices in the city at $4.50 & $5.00

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mourning Clothing

This is a repost from an original post in Aug. 2011

Having loss my son a few weeks back this topic has come up a fair amount in my mind. So, I thought I'd share some mourning customs and clothing as presented as social etiquette during the 19th century. Today's tidbit comes from Collier's cyclopedia of commercial and social information ©1882

The mourning for parents ranks next to that of widows; for children by then parents, and for parents by their children, these being ol course identical in degree. It lasts in either case twelve months—six months in crape trimmings, three in plain black, and three in half-mourning. It is, however better taste to continue the plain black to the end of the year and wear half-mourning for three months longer. Materials for first six months, either Paramatta, Barathea, or any of the black corded stuffs such as Janus cord, about thirty-eight inches wide; Henrietta cord about same price and width. Such dresses would be trimmed with two deep tucks of crape, either Albert or rainproof, would be made plainly the body trimmed with .rape, and sleeves with deep crape cuffs Col lars and cuffs, to be worn during the first mourning would be made of muslin or lawn, with three or foui tiny lucks m distinction to widows' with the wide, deep hem. Pocket hand kerchiefs would be bordered with black. Black hose, silk or Balbriggan, would be worn, and black kid gloves. For out. door wear either a dolman mantle would be wom or a paletdt, either of silk or Paramatta, but in either case trimmed with crape. Crape bonnets or hats , if lor young children, all crape for bonnets, hats, silk and crape; feathers (black; could be wom, and a jet ciasp or arrow in the bonnet, but no othei kind of jewelry is admissible but jet—that is, as long as crape is worn. Black furs, such as astrachan, may be worn, or very dark sealskin or black sealskin cloth, now so fashionable, but no light furs of any sort. Silk dresses can be worn, crape trimmed aftei the first three months if preferred, and if expense be no obiect the lawn-tucked collars and cuffs would be worn with them. At the end of the six months crape can be put aside, and plain black, such as cashmere, worn, trimmed with silk if liked, but not satin, for that is not a mourning material, and is therefore never worn by those who strictly attend to mourning etiquette. With plain black, black gloves and hose would of course be worn, and jet, no gold or silver jewelry for at least nine months after the com mencement of mourning , then, if the time expires in the twelve months, gray gloves might be worn, and gray ribbons, lace or plain linen collar and cuffs take the place of ihe lawn or muslin, and gray feathers might lighten the hat or bonnet or reversible black and gray strings.

Many persons think it is in better taste not to commence half-mourning until after the expiration of a year, extent in the case of young children, who are rarely kept in mourning beyond the twelve months.

A wife would wear just the same mourning for her husband'9 relations as for her own ; thus, if her husband's mother died, the would wear mourning as deep as if for her own mother.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Silly Goose and Other Expressions

The term "you silly goose" has been around for a long time. Recently one of my historical writer buds was asked to verify the use of this expression to a copy editor. The copy editor thought it was too modern of an expression. To the copy editor's credit, it would have been my first thought too because it is an expression we still use. However, it turns out that the use of this expression was used before 1826 and all the way through the 19th century. Below is a list I sent my friend with the proof of the expression based on the copyrights of the works.
1826 The london literary gazette and journal of belles letters, arts... pg.70 (And another publication same year, same story)
1846 A Dictionary of the English & German, and the German and English... Vol. 2 pg 407
1866 Saturday Reader Vol 2 pg 53
1869 Once a Week pg 131

I'm sharing this with all of you to point out that when researching and writing historicals we might use an expression that is historically correct but might not be thought of as historical. To check on expression type the expression in quotes and search libraries like google books. Narrow the search by selecting free books and 19th century (If that is the time period you are writing in.) and see if the expression you wish to use was used then.

Another point to remember: Editor's still might ask you to change the expression because they feel it might jar the reader out of the story even though you know you are historically accurate. In which case, you change the expression. I try to write expressions that are unique to the character, their surroundings and their personality. Sometimes I've come up with more powerful expressions for my characters. Other times, a common expression is the way to go because the reader zooms right past and doesn't require additional musing over your word choice. In the end work it out with your editor and be true to your story and characters.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

1869 Advertising

Below is an Lord & Taylor ad from the New York Tribue, Apr. 21, 1869. What I find useful from this is the pricing of the various clothing items in this newspaper ad. It starts with the Black silk dress for $2.50 worth $3.50. A point to remember is that 1869 is one of the recovery years from the Civil War.

Here's the Ad:

Monday, August 7, 2017

1855 Portable Oven

Yup that's what the advertisement in the Oct. 12, 1855 Burlington Free Press says. It was made by Blodgett & Sweets and advertised to be useful for hotels, steamers and private families. It was made with galvanized steel and was to cook with less fuel.

Below is the ad with a picture of the item:

Friday, August 4, 2017

House Movers

Here's a different occupation that folks don't often think about, a house mover. They literally moved a house from it's foundation, moved it to another location and set it on it's new foundation.

Below is an advertisement from the Omaha Daily Bee, Feb. 12, 1886 advertising a house moving company.

Below are some illustrations of various types of buildings being moved from the Salt Lake Herald June 13, 1897

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Boston Symphony Orchestra

As many of you know I was born and raised in Massachusetts, in fact, my family heritage on my father's side always lived in Massachusetts until recent years. So, the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops were a part of our lives. I've never had the pleasure of attending a Boston Symphony or Pops concert in person but I'd love to one day.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is the topic of today's tidbit. Their first season was 1881-1882. A series of 20 concerts were played on Saturday evenings and you could purchase season tickets or individual ones. My writer's imagination kicked into high gear picturing my characters attending a concert, meeting at a concert, stumbling into trouble at a concert and on and on my imagination goes. You can read about this historical season At the BSO's website. On their site they also include programs from the season. It's a great resource. I can imagine many cities having similar orchestras.

Let your writer imagination run wild. Post some of your suggestions in the comments section.

Point of Reference: The Boston Symphony was not the first to give concert series in Boston. An example is the Harvard Symphony that started giving concerts in Boston in 1865.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sesame Oil

The Egyptians uses Sesame long before others. During the 19th century I haven't found many food recipes that involved sesame seed oil. Below are a few excerpts with some information on sesame oil and it's uses during the 19th century. Also note that sesame seeds were primarily grown in India and the Middle East. It would be extremely rare for someone in America to have sesame seeds in America.

Sesame oil, almond oil, earth-nut oil, and rape oil arc better fitted for the preparation of machine oils, and the last named, being the cheapest, is more used than all the others. Source: Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry Vol. 2 pg 481 ©1883

Was often mixed with Olive oil. Various sources

By Thomas Haben, Pharmaceutical Chemist.
The literature relating to sesame oil is very meagre, and in "Pharmacographia" alone do we find anything like a satisfactory description of the article and its uses. The learned authors of that work state that the oil "might be employed without disadvantage for all the purposes for which olive oil is used," and it is with the view of indicating the reliability or otherwiso of this opinion, that I have, acting on the suggestion contained in the "Blue List," undertaken the preparation of this report.
Sesame oil differs little in its physical characters from either olive or almond oils. It has not the tinge of green which all but the finest specimens of the former possess, and is of a rather more decided shade of yellow than the latter, but generally speaking the difference in colour is not very marked. The odour of a fine specimen of sesame oil is very slight, while the tasto is at first sweetish and bland with a peculiar after-flavour. Olive oil becomes grainy through the deposit of a crystalline fatty body at 5° C, but the olein does not solidify till about -5° C. Sesame oil congeals at-5° C, and almond oil is liquid till -20° C. is reached. The difference in the congealing points is doubtless due to the percentage of olein, of which almond oil " consists almost wholly" (" Pharmacographia "); sesame oil contains 76 per cent, {ibid.), and olive oil 72 per cent. (Braconnot). According to the best authorities, however, the percentage of olein varies according to circumstances; and, in like manner, different samples of the same oil differ in density, as is evident from the fact that hardly two authors agree in giving the same specific gravity for any one oil.
Source: Year-Book of Pharmacy comprising Abstracts of Papers pg 540 ©1883

Three varieties of sesame seed are cultivated in India—the white-seeded (Suffed-iil), the red or parti-coloured (Kala-til), and the black variety (Tillee); it is the latter which affords the greater proportion of the Gingelly oil of commerce. At the commencement of 1861, white seed was worth in the London markets 65s.; black and brown, 58s. and 60s. per quarter.
A second sort of sesame oil, sometimes called "rape," is obtained from the red-seeded variety.
Black sesame is sown in March, and ripens in May. Red sesame is not sown till June.
Sesamum seed has of late been exported largely to France, where it is said to be employed for mixing with olive oil. Source:House of Commons Papers Vol. 35 pg59 ©1877

Below is a clip from the Omaha Daily Bee, Feb 12, 1886. In the article the dairymen were trying to fight the increase of oleo margarine.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Clip Boards of the 19th Century called Letter-Clips

A question a while back on a historical writer's loop was searching for when clipboards were in use during the 19th century. Thanks to Carla for her links to the email loop with the answers that gave me further direction in answering this question.
Here are Carla's references:
An Attorney General's report 1880 lists the item.
The Writer Vol. 1-2 referencing a letter-clip with a description of the board.

I found some earlier references:
Below is an image of a letter clip in 1842 from The Practical Mechanice & Engineer's Magazine Vol. 1 Page 32.
The same image is in another magazine a year earlier 1841.

Referenced in the Household documents of an estate.
Referenced in a Patent book as similar to a letter-clip.
A Practical Dictionary with a description of the item.
The New Letter-Clip