What would you be reading in 1890?

Journey to Venus the Primeval World; Its Wonderful Creations and Gigantic Monsters is an 1895 science fiction novel written by Gustavus W. Pope. The book was a sequel to Pope’s novel of the previous year, Journey to Mars.Victorian Science Fiction The Venus volume features the same hero and heroine, Lt. Frederick Hamilton, USN, and his love interest the Martian princess Suhlamia. They travel to Venus on a Martian “ethervolt” spacecraft.

The publisher promoted the book as “full of exciting adventures, hairbreadth escapes, and perilous vicissitudes, among primeval monsters and semi-human creatures, the episodes following each other in such breathless succession that the interest of the reader never flags.”

Journey to VenusModern critics have noted the book largely for its depiction of giant dinosaur-like Venusian beasts. Pope’s pair of novels on Mars and Venus (volumes in a projected Romances of the Planets series that the author never continued) were precursors of popular planetary adventure novels of the twentieth century by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Otis Adelbert Kline, and other writers.
The original edition of Journey to Venus from Arena Publishing Co. featured sixteen illustrations by “Miss Fairfax and Mrs. McAuley.” The ensuing “paper-covered” edition reduced the illustrations to three. After the 1896 bankruptcy of Arena Publishing, Journey to Venus was reprinted in 1897 by the New York firm F. T. Neely, with the reduced number of three illustrations.

source: Wikipedia

History of Fashion 1890’s

Victorian Dress - 1890Women
In the early part of the decade, women wore tight bodices with high collars and narrow sleeves, much as they had done in the previous decade. From about 1893 however, sleeves started expanding into a leg-of-mutton shape, which was tight at the lower arm and puffed out at the upper arm. Wide shoulders were fashionable and horizontal decoration on the bodice further exaggerated the line. Skirts were worn in a full-length, simple A-line. Masculine styles and tailoring were increasingly popular, and women sometimes sported a shirt collar and tie, particularly when playing golf or out walking. Hair was worn high on top of the head, in tight curls. Hats were small or wide with lots of trimming, but generally worn squarely on top of the head.

Victorian men 1890Men
The three-piece lounge suit was very popular and regularly worn from the 1890s onwards, and it became increasingly common to have creases at the front of the trousers. Frock coats were still worn, but generally by older or more conservative men. Collars were starched and high, with the tips pressed down into wings, though by the end of the century collars were more frequently turned down and worn with the modern long, knotted tie style. Hair was cut short and usually parted at the side. Heavy moustaches were common, and older men still sported beards. Some men now went clean-shaven.

Source: Victoria and Albert Museum

Scintillating Science – Hair & Nails

Scintillating ScienceIt’s a common myth that your hair and nails continue to grow after death. While this is not true, it certainly looks that way and that’s part of what frightens people. In fact, what happens is that, with no blood flow, your skin begins losing moisture after death. This lack of moisture causes your skin to shrink and pull back, which in turn reveals more of your hair (straight down to the follicle), while also exposing more of your nails. In other words, your hair and nails aren’t growing, they are simply exposed.

Quest for History – Immigrants

ImmigrantsWhy did people immigrate to the US?


Political Freedom
Religious Tolerance
Economic Opportunity – People want a better life – better job – more money
Political Refugees fear for their lives
Some want free atmosphere
Forced Immigration (Slavery)
Family Reunification
There are two types of motivation for immigration
Push(need to leave in order to survive)
Pull (attracted to new way of life)


The reason for immigration in the period from 1830-1890 is quite clear. Land remained plentiful, and fairly cheap. Jobs were abundant, and labor was scarce and relatively dear. A decline in the birthrate as well as an increase in industry and urbanization reinforced this situation.


Jews came for religious freedom
Italians and Asians came for Work
Russians came to escape persecution
America had jobs
America had religious freedom
America was hyped up in many countries as “Land of Opportunity”


Scintillating Science – Rigor Mortis

Scintillating ScienceThe state of rigor mortis, or the stiffening of the body is a well known phenomenon, and happens anywhere between 2 to 6 hours after death.

A less well-known stage is the algor mortis, or the ‘death chill’. Through this stage, the body gradually cools to room temperature at the rate of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per hour. This allows us an easy method to detect time of death if we can reach a body before it has stabilized to the surrounding temperature.

Quest for History – Zombies

ZombiesThe English word “zombie” is first recorded in 1819, in a history of Brazil by the poet Robert Southey, in the form of “zombi”. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the origin of the word as West African, and compares it to the Kongo words nzambi (god) and zumbi (fetish).

According to Great Discoveries in Archaeology, the history of zombies dates back to 8th century. The word zombie has its roots in Kongo meaning ‘spirit of a dead person.’ The Creole shifted the meaning to someone who dies and was brought back to live without speech or free will. Interestingly, Creole shaman or voodoo priests used a powder which contains tetrodoxin, which is the toxic ingredient in the California newt or orange-bellied newt as discussed in episode 204.

Women’s 19-Century Fashion

Victorian Man's outfitfrom Victoria and Albert Museum.

Women’s Dress
As the 19th century progressed women’s dress gradually revealed the actual form of the body. In the 1820s and 1830s the waistline deepened, returning to its natural position. As the natural waist returned the bodice required a tighter fit and in contrast the skirt became fuller and bell-shaped. There were several different sleeve styles but short puffed sleeves were generally worn for evening and long sleeves for day. Corsets continued to be worn. These were lightly boned and quilted, with a deep busk. Several layers of petticoats with frilled hems, sometimes of horsehair, were worn to support the full skirts. Some petticoats of the 1840s were feather-quilted. Later examples of the 1850s and 1860s were made of ‘crin’ and steel hoops. The term ‘crinoline’ is derived from the French word crin which means horsehair.

Bonnets or hats were worn outdoors and linen caps indoors. During the 1820s hair styles became very elaborate with raised top knots and the crowns of bonnets or hats were designed to accommodate them. By the middle of the century, by contrast, hairstyles had become smooth with a central parting finished with ringlets on either side of the face and a small bun at the back or simply swept back from the face to a chignon (a mass of hair arranged on a pad at the back of the head and held in place with a net or snood). Bonnets and hats continued to be worn until the 1860s when small, elegant styles appeared which simply perched on top of the head. Even smaller hats appeared in the 1870s when hairstyles rose in the form of elaborate chignons. In the 1880s and 1890s hairstyles remained `up’ but did not retain the heights or bulk of the 1870s styles. Small hats decorated with birds and feathers and artificial flowers were fashionable.

In the 1860s the skirt was very full and worn over a cage crinoline, a petticoat supported by a frame of steel hoops that held it away from the legs. A boned corset was worn over a chemise. Large shawls were sometimes worn indoors or outdoors instead of a coat or cloak.

The 1870s to 1880s introduced styles that revealed the natural silhouette. A popular style was the `princess line’ dress, which was made without a waist seam to reveal the figure. Skirts fitted tightly and required streamlined all-in-one underwear combinations. Corsets became longer and were more rigidly boned. The busk, known as the spoon busk because of its shape, extended to the stomach. Sleeves were tight. In the 1880s a bustle pad, or a tier of stiffened horsehair or fabric frills, was introduced. After 1887-1888 the bustle went out of fashion. Hair was curled on top and taken into a bun at the back. Often a ringlet was brought forward over the shoulder as a finishing touch.

By the 1880s an elite group of women began to adopt simpler and easier styles that were known as `artistic’ dress. Artistic dress was cut much more loosely than conventional attire and did not require restrictive corsetry to be worn.

During the last years of the 19th century it was fashionable for women’s hair to be arranged on the top of the head in a bun and puffed out around the face. A large-brimmed hat would be fastened on with hat pins unless a simpler, smaller hat, such as the straw boater, was required for informal dress. The skirt was floor length with a slight train. The waist remained small and a corset which either laced up or fastened with clips was generally worn. A small pad was worn at the back of the waist to support the skirt. In the 1890s the top of the sleeves were sometimes puffed into an enormous leg of mutton’ shape which required lightweight stiffening or padding. The neckline for day wear was very high featuring a stand-up collar in a lightweight fabric which was boned or wired around the edge to hold it up under the chin. Women adopted a simple and rather masculine-looking shirt, jacket and skirt for day wear.

Towards the end of the 19th century the rate at which the fashionable silhouette changed quickened. The increasing popularity of paper patterns and the growth of women’s fashion periodicals encouraged home dress-making during the second half of the 19th century. The withdrawal of the paper tax in the middle of the 19th century had stimulated the growth of publications, especially magazines aimed at women. It was during this period that magazines introduced paper patterns.

By the 20th century the pace of change in the fashionable silhouette became ever more rapid as the expanding fashion industry, in conjunction with the media, became more effective at stimulating demand for a constant flow of new styles.

Quest for History – Episode 1

Quest for HistoryThe period of time Sage and Savant find themselves in their first adventure is of particular interest as it was a tumultuous period for Eastern Europe. The Treaty of Basel (1795) ended the War of the First Coalition against France. In it, the First French Republic and Prussia had stipulated that the latter would ensure the Holy Roman Empire’s neutrality in all the latter’s territories north of the demarcation line of the river Main, including the British continental dominions of the Electorate of Hanover and the Duchies of Bremen-Verden. To this end, Hanover (including Bremen-Verden) also had to provide troops for the so-called demarcation army maintaining this state of armed neutrality.

In the course of the War of the Second Coalition against France Napoleon encouraged King Frederick William III, King of Prussia, to recapture British Hanover in early 1806. On August 6 of the same year, the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved as a result of Napoléon’s victories over Austria. King William’s title of Kurfürst (Prince-elector) of Brandenburg became meaningless and was dropped. His crest was changed and the stampery making the buttons mentioned in our first episode, were to be changed to reflect the new seal. However, much of army marching with Marshall Gebhard von Blücher were still wearing the buttons on their uniform during the battle of Auerstedt. After the battle, the Prussian army collapsed. The royal family fled to Memel, East Prussia, where they fell on the mercy of Emperor Alexander I of Russia.

Scintillating Science – Dead Bodies

Scintillating ScienceFacts you learn while working closely with cadavers: A dead body is capable of getting goosebumps.

When rigor mortis sets in the muscles contract and this causes the body to stiffen up. Just below the hair follicles lay tiny muscles that also contract. When these muscles contract, or flex, the hairs stand on edge giving the appearance that the dead person has goosebumps.

Men’s 19th-Century Fashion

Victorian Man's outfitfrom Victoria and Albert Museum.

Men’s Dress
By the early 19th century men’s fashions had also undergone a radical change. The coat still finished in long tails at the back but was cut higher in front. The waist-length square-cut waistcoat showed beneath it. The lining of the shoulders and upper chest of the coat was sometimes quilted to improve the fit. In the early 19th century some dandies wore boned corsets to give them a small waist.

Gradually men adopted long trousers rather than knee breeches. Trousers became increasingly fashionable in the first quarter of the 19th century. At first they were only worn for day and informal dress but by the 1820s they were acceptable for evening wear. Breeches continued to be worn at court.

The tall hat from the late 18th century was still worn and developed into the top hat which was worn for day and formal dress throughout the 19th century. Hair was carefully styled into a windswept look or worn short and curled.

During the second half of the 19th century men retained the white waistcoat and black tail-coat and trousers of the early 19th century for evening wear. For day wear they wore a frock coat with straight trousers, a short waistcoat and a shirt with a high stiff collar. The single- or double-breasted frock coat fitted quite closely to the torso and had a waist seam. The skirts were straight and finished at mid-thigh or below. The front of the coat was square cut. Hair was still styled but by the late 19th century it was short and cut close to the head. Many men had beards and moustaches.