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

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26Victorian Pure Finders

Victorian Pure Finders

Streets of Victorian London were littered with 'brown gold.' Dog droppings during those times had a commercial value as they were used to soften raw leather. In 1830s, men known as ‘Pure Finders,’ haunted the streets where a large number of stray dogs lived and collected their 'booty' in a handled bucket. By 1850s, however, men, women and children joined the hunt for this brown gold and this competition lowered its price.


27. Many of the cookies consumed during the Victorian era were funeral cookies. These cookies were fed to mourners after dough was allowed to rise on the chest of the deceased. It was believed that the dough "absorbed" the qualities of deceased.


28. Pteridomania was a Victorian craze for ferns. To cater to the demand numerous ferneries appeared across country. Decorative arts of the period presented the fern motif on everything from christening presents to gravestones and memorials, and even custard cream biscuits.


29. Popular newspaper and magazine columns during the Victorian Era were plagued with poisonous beauty advice. Some of it included lead face paint; mercury for eye treatments; belladonna drops (from the deadly nightshade plant) for the 'dilated pupil' look. Bathing in arsenic springs was also highly recommended.


30. Collecting orchids were so popular among the Victorians that they had a name for it, "orchidelirium." During this time, collecting and discovering orchids reached extraordinarily high levels. Orchids however often died after they were collected due to the owner’s lack of knowledge about their cultivation. This craze reduced after international trade in wild orchids was banned in 1973.


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31Victorian Remittance Men

Victorian Remittance Men

During Victorian times, some wealthy families sent away a family member (typically the Black Sheep) and paid them to stay away. Known as Remittance men, they were usually sent to a colony, far away from everyone else they knew. Even some women were sent away by their families.


32. Women in Victorian London caught on fire so often (due to the flammable material in their dresses) that husbands were advised to insure their wives at Fire Insurance offices.


33. The tapeworm diet started with women in the Victorian Era. Women then found it fashionable to have pale skin, eyes that looked dilated, red cheeks and lips, and a tiny waist. In the age of corsets, they also ingested tapeworms to lose weight. Tapeworm diet is still practiced nowadays by some women, who take a pill that has a tapeworm egg inside.


34. During Victorian times, dead birds on a women’s hat was a fashion statement. These dead birds were treated with arsenic to preserve them. These items still test positive for arsenic today and museum conservators need to be careful handling them.


35. Baby farming was a late Victorian practice where people would take custody of an infant or child in exchange for payment. As it wasn't a profitable business model, some baby farmers murdered the kids shortly afterward they were brought in.


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36Pluto Lamps

Pluto Lamps

Pluto Lamps were Victorian-Era street lights that sold hot coffee and soup.


37. There is a Victorian time capsule under Cleopatra's Needle in London that contains photographs of the 12 best-looking women in England.


38. Victorian market vendors often used back slang (reversing the letters in words) to talk behind customers' backs, which gave birth to words such as 'yob.'


39. Women in Victorian England didn't usually marry as teenagers. Englishwomen's average age at marriage was 26 in the year 1800, and during that century was never lower than 22.


40. There exists a Victorian leech-powered machine which was invented to predict the weather. The Tempest Prognosticator was made up of 12 glass bottles filled with water, each with a live leech inside. The inventor referred to the leeches as his "jury of philosophical councillors" and if they climbed up the bottles and out of the water, a bell would ring to signal that a storm was coming.

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