I’ve read fiction set in the nineteenth century that references doorbells– and gets it right! (I can’t properly convey how giddy this makes me!) Picture that turnkey doorbell that makes a mechanical clattering sound inside the house.
While researching dentistry in 1890 for an accurate setting for my title, Isabella’s Calico Groom, I was quite surprised by how advanced and “modern” (by today’s standards) dentistry was. Significant advances in dentistry had occurred in the previous decades, making dentistry truly “modern” compared to patients’ previous experiences. The sheer quantity and magnitude of improvements in dentistry qualify dentists of the 1890s to claim “Modern Dentistry” in their advertisements.
Flour sifters are an important part of baking–today, and in the Victorian Era. Would you be surprised to learn the first flour sifter was patented by an American? See a timeline of Victorian-era advertisements for sifters and flour sieves, flour bins (canisters or extraordinary sizes) with built-in sieves, patents for early sifters and sieve holders, and a perspective of price. The advertising, alone, sheds light on why 19th century cooks were persuaded to purchase and use these devices.
Rotary Egg Beaters are an American Victorian invention–and came along early enough to make a significant difference to home cooks…early enough for homemade Angel’s Food Cake! So why, then, do so many recipes insist upon beating the egg whites by hand–for a full hour? Why not use the newly patented, amazingly successful invention?
If you had to guess, would you suppose that petroleum jelly (specifically, Vaseline brand) was a nineteenth century “invention”? Too late? Too early? Pick a year, any year. Then open this article. Prepare to be amazed!