Victorian Americans adored novelty parties, with new fashions cropping up regularly. In the 1890s, amateur photography soared in popularity. With more and more professional and amateur photographers around, more people had cabinet card photos of themselves… which led to the fun of parlor guessing games. But Victorian photograph parties were so much more!
It’s no surprise in today’s environment that women (and men) can choose any color hair they desire, piercings and tattoos at will, and permanent makeup (tattooed eyeliner and lip-liner). I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn today’s plastic surgeons offer dimple surgery to create the desirable feature Mother Nature forgot to grant. What shocked me was the inventive Victorian who figured out how to artificially bring about dimples.
The necessary (a.k.a. outhouse) had many Victorian Era-appropriate euphemisms: Quincy, small room, washroom…and was replaced with modern indoor plumbing both very early (1820’s at the White House) and very late (1950’s) in rural America. What did homeowners do when the necessary filled up? (ewww!) When was toilet paper invented? Why did outhouses have more than one seat?
My husband’s brother inherited a piece of antique Victorian-era furniture originally belonging to his great-grandfather. The piece has stood in the living room of my brother- and sister-in-law for many years since Grandma (the original owner’s daughter-in-law) passed away. I’ve admired the piece but didn’t recognize it was more than a glass-fronted cabinet–a writing desk!–until I saw an historic advertisement for a nearly identical piece in a nineteenth century newspaper advertisement.
This article contains newspaper advertisements with engravings, images of current antique combination desk bookcases, and our family heirloom piece. Victorian prices are compared with the modern dollar (accounting for inflation).