Nineteenth Century

From Quacks to Quaaludes: Three Centuries of Drug Advertising

Eli Lilly Amphedroxyn (methamphetamine) advertisement, 1951. New York State Journal of Medicine, Vol. 51, No. 1. (Via the Bonkers Institute). Portuguese physician João Curvo Semedo, 1707, sporting the extravagant locks typical of his era. Image viathe Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal. In his book Polyanthea Medicinal (Lisbon, 1697), a Portuguese doctor and seller of remedios secretos (“secret remedies”) named João Curvo Semedo …

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Photochroms of the 1890s

The Photochrom photographic process was developed in Zürich, Switzerland in the 1880s by the printing firm Orell Füssli (apparently still in business as a producer of “highly secure banknotes” and “identity documents” — see link). The famous Detroit Publishing Company (née Detroit Photographic Company) purchased exclusive American rights to the process in 1897, which was …

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Early Victorian Ambrotypes

I had never heard of the ambrotype (from the Greek for “immortal impression”) photographic process until quite recently, but it seems to have been a very popular medium in the middle decades of the nineteenth century — cheaper than the more famous daguerrotype, and with a level of pictorial detail and richness of tone that …

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Photographs of Imperial India

I found these beautiful and evocative photographs of India under British rule on a remarkable website created by a consortium of research libraries called the Digital South Asia Library. The photographs themselves appear to be from the British Library’s Oriental and Indian Office Collection. I’ve added the original captions or collection titles when they’ve been …

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Image of the Week 6: "New York’s New Solar System"

As leader of the Tammany Hall political consortium at the turn of the twentieth century, Richard Croker (1843-1922) was once the most powerful man in New York City. He received bribes from numerous brothels, saloons and other businesses during an era of enormous growth for the city due to European immigration, and he oversaw criminal …

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Image of the Week 1: Bathing Machine

I love this late Victorian postcard of a woman leaving a ‘bathing machine,’ a now-forgotten wagon-like vehicle that was wheeled a discrete distance out to sea so that ladies of quality could swim without showing a scandalous amount of flesh to the general public. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. I’m also …

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