‘A new sensation’ – hair-brushing by machinery

The New and Delightful Method - Punch vol 45 p175

Among the gems released into the public domain by the British Library last December is an advertisement for Batkin & Kent, Hairdressers and Perfumers of Stafford, (or Staffford – whoever proofread it probably hoped it would disappear with the next edition of the book rather than re-emerge on the internet …

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‘A Damnable Villain’ part 2 – a free pony for your wife!

In the second part of his guest article, Robert K. Waits – author of The Medical Electricians – reveals Byron H Robb’s change of career from electro-magnetic entrepreneur to Texas rancher. Read Part 1 here.   . Even as a Farmington, Ohio, teenager in 1854, Robb was honing his skill …

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The very thing for ladies

ADvent Calendar Day 15 ‘It seemed to me that I was standing in a Temple of silence. Outside was the rush and roar of London life. Inside, all was calm and peaceful. The interior, in its blend of colours and graceful hangings, and its rich carpeting, reminds one of Oriental …

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How to grow tall

ADvent Calendar Day 11 Rochester, NY, might ring a bell for attentive followers of this calendar, as it made an appearance on Day 8 as the location of the New York Institute of Science. That it was home to another dodgy organisation is no coincidence. Thomas Adkin, the Institute’s President, …

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The Century Thermal Bath Cabinet

ADvent Calendar Day 10 The Century Thermal Bath Cabinet Company was a leading player in the vogue for portable Turkish baths for home use at the turn of the 20th century. The luxury was not without its dangers; newspapers occasionally reported cases of the alcohol stove setting light to the …

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The Dolly Dimpler

ADvent Calendar Day 6 Designed to create adorable dimples where there were none before, devices like this appeared in the 1920s. Evangeline Isabella Gilbert of Rochester, NY, filed a patent in 1921 (not granted until 1926) for a dimple-producer that involved two pointed knobs fitted to a spring bow that …

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Claxton’s Patent Ear Cap

ADvent Calendar Day 4 ‘It has often been observed by experienced elders, that since it became the fashion for babies to discard caps, protruding ears are but too common. They are very ugly, and the ear-cap just invented is a safe preventive, without the heat that made the cap objectionable.’ …

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ADvent Calendar 1: The Health Jolting Chair

  Every day until Christmas, The Quack Doctor will be showing a different historical health-related advertisement. First is this brain-refresher and household blessing – the Health Jolting Chair (1885), courtesy of the US National Library of Medicine. . .

10 Victorian products for Movember

As more than a million people across the world spend this month growing moustaches to raise awareness of – and funds for – Movember’s men’s health projects, here are a few 19th-century products to help them along the way.   1. Latreille’s Excelsior Lotion Advertised in the 1870s by John Latreille, originally …

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Bailey’s Rubber Complexion Brush

  A harmless alternative to the arsenical preparations then in vogue for improving the complexion, Bailey’s rubber brush was intended to improve the circulation, clear the pores and allow the blood to free itself of impurities. Charles J Bailey of Newton, Massachusetts, invented the product in 1887, immediately patenting it …

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