Thursday, December 18, 2014

How to Have Beautiful Arms, 1896


"Beautiful arms are a powerful weapon in the armory of beauty; but though most women appreciate to the full the charm of this possession, the fact remains that in America undeveloped arms are the rule, and rounded, dimpled symmetry the exception. Lately, however, the gymnasium is producing charming arms. Exercise is essential to the development of the arms: exercise, that is, of the arms themselves. Gymnastic exercises that bring the muscles of these into play should be, as far as possible, encouraged in girls, as tending not only to their improvement in this particular, but as being beneficial to the general health."

Maud C. Cooke, Social Etiquette

Finally, the secret of powerful and dimpled arm perfection: go to the gymnasium and exercise the arms themselves. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Make Turnip Wine, 1796


"To make Turnip Wine. Take a good many turnips, pare, slice, and put them in a cyder-press, and press out all the juice very well; to every gallon of juice have three pounds of lump-sugar, have a vessel ready just big enough to hold the juice, put your sugar into a vessel, and also to every gallon of juice half a pint of brandy; pour in the juice, and lay something over the bung for a week, to see if it works; if it does, you must not bung it down till it has done working: then stop it close for three months, and draw it off in another vessel. When it is fine, bottle it off."
Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

When will your turnip wine taste fine? Maybe right after you've downed the last bottle of non-turnip wine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to Entertain a Lady, 1883


"On all occasions when a number of people convene together, whether indoors or out, the laws of courtesy should be obeyed. It is the duty of the gentlemen to be ever attentive to the ladies. If it be a picnic, the gentlemen will carry the luncheon, erect the swings, construct the tables, bring the water, provide the fuel for boiling the tea, etc. On the fishing excursion they will furnish the tackle, bait the hooks, row the boats, carry the fish, and furnish comfortable seats for the ladies. In gathering nuts, they will climb the trees, do the shaking, carry the nuts, and assist the ladies across the streams and over the fences."
Thomas E. Hill, Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms
Attention, gentlemen: it's not enough to hold the door for the lady. You must also be prepared to construct an alfresco playground, transport trout, and scale a nut tree at any moment. This is the law of courtesy. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Disclose Your Relationship Status, 1890


 "If a gentleman wants a wife, he wears a ring on the first finger of the left hand; if he is engaged, he wears it on the second finger; if married on the third; and on the fourth if he never intends to be married. When a lady is not engaged, she wears a hoop or diamond on her first finger; if engaged, on the second; if married, on the third; and on the fourth if she intends to die unmarried."
The Mystery of Love, Courtship, and Marriage Explained
And a diamond thumb ring is universal language for "it's complicated."

Monday, November 10, 2014

How to Grow Facial Hair, 1658

"Amongst those things that will make ones beard grow, and are easy to be had, I reckon Honey, fresh Butter without Salt, the juyce of a red Onion... Badgers grease, called Das, Bears, Lions, Grease, Bryony-roots, Beets, Radish, Pepperwort, white Lilies, Flour-de-luce: a liniment may be made of these, for the chin wet with these, first brings forth a tender down, after that a thick and long beard, which that it may not grow white too soon, must be watered rather with cold water that hath a little wine mingled with it, if we desire to adorn it." 
Levinus Lemnius, The Touchstone of Complexions
The path to bearded bliss is long, tortuous, and kind of smelly. Much like the beard itself.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to Cure a Nosebleed, 1561

Ortus Sanitatis (1499)
"Beat egges shales to pouder and syft them through a linnen cloth and blewe them into his nose: if the shales were of egges whereout yonge chickens are hatched, it were so much the better. Or els take the dounge of an asse, mixe the same wyth vinegre, and holde the same at his nose. Lykewyse doth the dounge of a Sowe or Swyne that hath eaten grasse.” 
Hieronymus Brunschwig,  A Most Excellent and Perfecte Homish Apothecarye
A handy quiz for identifying effective nosebleed remedies:
1. Did it come out of a farm animal?
2. Did a farm animal come out of it?
If you answered "yes" to one or both of these questions, go ahead and apply it to your nose.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How to Prevent Pregnancy, c. 1260

British Library Sloane MS 75, f. 87r
"A weasel placed on a scorpion bite helps greatly... if its heel is taken from it while it still lives and is placed on a woman, she will not get pregnant as long as it is there." 
Albertus Magnus, De animalibus
As if you needed another reason to keep a live weasel in your bedroom.