What Victorian trades and professions had the weirdest names?

Velocipede, Victorian fashion, zebra clothAnyone who’s looked in a 19th century street directory while researching their family history will have seen job descriptions and business names that are frankly puzzling. A twister? A japanner? What kind of work did these people do? What were those manufacturers making? Recently I was asked to help figure out the facts behind this [more…]

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Did Queen Victoria's royal train have a dining car?

Breakfast cart for royal trainQueen Victoria travelled by train regularly. Even though she had her own royal train, luxuriously furnished, she never dined or breakfasted on the journey without stopping. The carriage she commissioned in 1869 included a small kitchen, but it was just for making tea and a few snacks prepared by a footman. There was no dining [more…]

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What was the Gallery of Practical Science, or Adelaide Gallery, in London?

adelaide gallery of practical scienceThe Gallery of Practical Science opened in 1832 in London. Its aim was to inspire an enthusiasm for science, with plenty of working models of science and technology in action. Inventor Jacob Perkins was the driving force in forming a “Society for the Illustration and Encouragement of Practical Science” which ran the National Gallery of [more…]

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Were Victorian feather fans decorated with real hummingbirds?

victorian feather fan with stuffed humming birdThey may seem horrible to us, but feather fans with a cute dead hummingbird were a Victorian fashion for more than twenty years. Stuffed and wired into shape, the bird was posed stylishly, sometimes along with feather flowers or even insects. The fans weren’t the folding type, but the kind that was sometimes called a [more…]


How did people “go to the pictures” in the 1800s?

magic-lantern-slideA night out at the movies became a popular activity during the early 1900s, as the quality of moving pictures and the range of programme material made the cinema an exciting and economical social activity. But even a hundred years earlier, people had been “going out to the pictures”. The “pictures” of the 1800s were [more…]

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Why were shawls so fashionable around 1800?

Shawls in early 19th century Francecollege essay editing service In the late 1600s shawl was not yet an English word, though it was beginning to turn up in travellers' descriptions of clothing they had seen in southern Asia. In the 1700s fine cashmere shawls from Kashmir and India arrived in Western Europe. At first they were not treated as clothing, [more…]

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How did the Victorians make feather flowers?

Victorian feather flower arrangements under glass domes (Photo by quezi.com - CC-BY)Travellers to South America in the 1800s brought flowers made from feathers home to Europe or the USA. Feather flowers were displayed in the London Great Exhibition of 1851, and over the next few years instructions for making your own appeared in various ladies' magazines. The Victorians had a taste for novelty crafts that ornamented [more…]

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