Vintage books, adverts, recipes and historical mysteries Blog

Unlucky Friday 13th, 1899

Friday 13th today, and I started wondering how long this idea of an unlucky tradition had been around. It sounds ancient, and apparently does have medieval origins in that, at least, Fridays and the...

Lobscouse and Witches, 1936

Today is the day for “Lobscouse and Witches” as I discovered from this magical-sounding 1936 article. The 11th January 1936 being a Saturday, it’s talking about Tuesday 7th January, the day after Twelfth Night....

A New Year’s Song, 1875

Happy new year! I think about half of us are hoping for a better 2017 than 2016, and I personally have my fingers crossed that there’s a kind of yin/yang effect between 2016 and...

How to Slim after Christmas, 1953

Too soon to think about the post-Christmas diet? Here’s a diet plan from 1953, taken from William Banting’s “reducing diet” from 90 years earlier. I remember people of my grandparents generation would still sometimes...

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Dinner, 1835

I was pretty pleased recently to buy a 1904 Cassell’s Public Library edition of Charles Dickens pieces for 10p – from Henry Bohn Books in Liverpool, one of my favourite shops in the world....

The Sugar Plum Christmas Book, 1978

Finding this book, this influential but long-lost item of my childhood, was no easy task. While I could remember whole poems and, especially, the cutely disturbing illustrations, the only part of the title I...

Cadbury’s “99”, 1936

Today’s post began through a fit of annoyance that literally every flavour of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream contains eggs, thereby making a trip to the cinema with my egg-allergic little girl an ice-cream...

Bad Breasts, 1872

I do love an advert for a Victorian “cure-all”. Here we have Holloway’s Ointment in an advert from 1872. It claims to cure (deep breath) – coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma, irregular action of the...

A Burglary Comedy, 1933

Do people still have “spirit guides”? They used to be pretty popular among fraudulent Victorian mediums, stage psychics and Jim Morrison in that film about The Doors. They’re usually supposed to be helpful, I...

Allergies in the Past

Allergic reactions are on the increase in all parts of the developed world – asthma, hay-fever and food allergies are all more common than they used to be, although no-one has a definitive answer...