Exploring the Victorian Age: 40 Insightful Facts About a Transformative Period

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1Victorian Tear Bottles

Victorian Tear Bottles

During Victorian times, bottles were used to collect tears which had a special stopper that allowed the tears to evaporate. Disappearance of tears from the bottle officially marked the end of the mourning period.

2. During Victorian times, death portraiture became increasingly popular in England. Families used to take one last photo with their dead children before they were buried. Due the long exposure time that the early photographic equipment required, the dead were often seen more sharply than the slightly blurred living, because of their lack of movement.

3. As moustaches flourished during the Victorian era, men found it hard to sip tea without staining their moustaches. Special moustache cups were thus invented and it spread to markets all over the Europe. It had a special ledge inside it, which protected a tea drinker’s mustache from getting dunked in the tea.

4. During the Victorian Era, "female hysteria" was a catchall term for many feelings of malaise, including when a woman was horny. Doctors "treated" the ailment by masturbating the women until they reached "hysterical paroxysm," or as we call it today, an orgasm.

5. During the Victorian Era, doctors often prescribed men to grow beards to keep themselves healthy and filter out the coal-heavy London air. This solution though may have actually made their problems worse by trapping pollutants in their beards.

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6Mrs. Beeton's Household Book

Mrs. Beeton's Household Book

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was published in 1861. It is an extensive guide to running a household in Victorian Britain. It recommends boiling pasta for an hour and 45 minutes and states that potatoes are "suspicious; a great many are narcotic, and many are deleterious."

7. Victorian era saw many innovative water contraptions which were designed to cure all kinds of ailments and this fad even had its own alt-medicine magazines like the “Water-Cure Journal.” One such innovation was the rocking bathtub, which could be sloshed back and forth to recreate the feeling of the ocean in one’s home.

8. One of the most popular street foods sold during the Victorian English winters were baked potatoes, which were used both as food and as hand warmers. London street vendors alone sold 10 tons of potatoes every day from cans and small metal boxes on four legs which were fueled by charcoal.

9. During the Victorian Era, photographs required nearly half a minute of exposure. Therefore mothers who wanted a portrait of their children, had to disguise themselves as chairs, couches, and curtains to hold them still.

10. During Victorian times, ice cream was sold in small quantities called a 'penny lick,' wherein a small amount of ice cream was placed onto a licking glass. The customer would then lick clean the glass and return it. It was banned due to concerns about spreading diseases, particularly cholera and tuberculosis, as the glass was not washed between customers.

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11Victorian Chatelaine

Victorian Chatelaine

Many Victorian women used to wear utility belts in which they kept all their handy tools. It was called a chatelaine and was the women’s equivalent of a Swiss army knife.

12. London officials during the Victorian era were frantically looking for a solution for what to do with all their dead. That’s when architect Thomas Wilson proposed the Metropolitan Sepulchre. It was supposed to be a 94-story "Death Pyramid." It would have dominated London’s skyline and housed up to 5 million bodies. The project however never materialized for obvious reasons.

13. Tuberculosis was so romanticized during the Victorian era that fashion trends emerged to highlight and emulate the symptoms of the disease. This fashion movement is referred to as "Consumptive Chic."

14. It was common for 19th-century Victorian men to fashion clippings of their lover's pubic hair into jewelry and wear them as hat ornaments or souvenirs.

15. Kaleidoscopes saw such a craze in Victorian England that people were too distracted and obsessed with them, similar to today's smartphones.

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16Victorian Fasting Girls

Victorian Fasting Girls

A number of girls during the Victorian era claimed to survive without any food or nourishment. Many regarded their supposed abilities as miraculous and supernatural. As they became a curiosity, many rushed to put them on display. One doctors ascribed the phenomenon to fraud and hysteria.

17. Victims of most overdoses in Victorian London were kids. In 1854, 75% of opium overdoses occurred in children under the age of 5. This was due to the fact that children’s medicines of the time often contained alcohol and opiates to ‘soothe’ them. Many included opiates even for seemingly mundane complaints such as colic and wind.

18. ‘Hot Cockles’ was a very popular party game from Medieval to Victorian times, where you would bury your face in a friend's lap and guess who spanked you.

19. Agnes Marshall was a Victorian female entrepreneur who revolutionized the way people consumed ice cream. She is often regarded as the inventor of the modern ice cream cone. Marshall's patented ice cream machine remains faster and more reliable than many modern electric ice cream machines. She was also the first person to have suggested the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze ice cream.

20. Many people in Victorian London reported sightings of "Spring-heeled Jack." They described him to be a monster with claws and a cape, who could spit fire and jump more than 9 feet in the air. He reportedly often accosted and frightened women into seizure and catatonic states. His most notable sighting was reported in 1877 when a group of soldiers in Aldershot Garrison encountered him and opened fire. He is said to have slapped one soldier and jumped away.

21Victorian Hangover Rope

Victorian Hangover Rope

The term "hangover" originates from the Victorian-era practice of sleeping over a rope, which was a popular way to sleep among the homeless. People living on the streets could catch a night of sleep in dormitories in one of three ways; paying a penny to sit-up, two pence to ‘hang-over’ an outstretched rope, or 4 or 5pennies to lie down.

22. During Victorian times drinking alcohol was considered safer than drinking water. Due to rotten meat, infected vegetables, and raw sewage getting into well water amongst other disgusting food and drinks, meant even pregnant women, seriously ill people, and kids relied on beer, not water.

23. Crinoline was a large wire cage that was worn around the waist by women of the Victorian Era. It created a large hoop that was considered stylish at that time. Because of its cumbersome nature, many women died because of this fad as it often knocked over lamps or candles that ignited its flammable fabric.

24. During the Victorian Era, wearing makeup was associated with low morals. Therefore British women often resorted to pinching their cheeks and biting their lips, to make them appear red instead.

25. During the Victorian era, the 7 Sutherland sisters toured America to show off their long, Rapunzel-like hair. They had 37 feet of hair between them. They were also businesswomen, who ran a hair product business. By 1890, they had sold 2.5 million bottles of hair tonic, raking in above $3 million.

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