Kite Carriages or Charvolants

The Kite-Carriage or Charvolant
The Kite-Carriage or Charvolant

George Pocock was an English schoolteacher who became interested in kites and began experimenting with them. His interest gradually progressed to him using kites to lift small items and then light loads. By the 1820s, Pocock was experimenting with kites that could lift people. This resulted in Pocock rigging a chair in 1824 that lifted his daughter into the air, and, later that same year, his son also ascended in a chair above a cliff outside of Bristol.

Having concluded that kites were capable of lifting humans, Pocock then turned his attention to using kites to pull loads. He began attaching a small number of kites to carriages and, in 1826, patented the “Charvolant.”  The Charvolant consisted of two kites on a single line that was 1,500 to 1,800 feet long and was capable of pulling a carriage with several passengers at a fairly fast speed. Thus, the kite carriage was born. Continue reading

A Georgian Farting Club

Jonathan Swift, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Jonathan Swift, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Georgians had numerous clubs. One of the more ridiculous clubs was a club known as the “Farting Club.” One person said of it, “of all the fantastical Clubs that ever took Pains to make themselves stink in the Nostrils of the Public, [there was no other club that]…ever came up to this windy Society.” Perhaps the club started because of Jonathan Swift. Swift was a master of satire and author of Gulliver’s Travel, who in 1722 also published a pamphlet titled “The Benefit of Farting Explain’d.” In the pamphlet Swift said the fart was “a great Promoter of Mirth.” But whatever brought about the Farting Club, it met weekly “to poison the neighbouring Air with their unsavory Crepitations.” Continue reading

Regency Traveling Tips

Regency traveling tips
Mail Coach Leaving Piccadilly With Travelers by George Scarf, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Traveling in the British Isles or on the European Continent was something done regularly by Regency people. To make traveling as comfortable as possible, one Regency writer gathered a variety of tips, and, here they are in their entirety:

Tips for Traveling in the British Isles 

  • Where persons travel for pleasure, or when they are not compelled by business to travel fast, sixty miles in winter, and seventy in summer, is distance enough to go. Continue reading

Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks

Mrs. Salmon's Waxworks, Public Domain
Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks, Public Domain

Before the famous Madame Tussaud’s there was Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks that was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Salmon. Mrs. Salmon made and sold toys — Dutch, English, and French — and was said to be highly eccentric, even sleeping in a burial shroud. Mrs. Salmon’s also had modelling skills and used them to create life-sized dolls that resembled living people. Her waxworks became an instant hit and were publicized in the Tatler of 1710 and mentioned several times in the Spectator.

Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks’ were also distinguished by the sign of a salmon. Addison noted, “It would have been ridiculous for the ingenious Mrs. Salmon to have lived at the sign of the Trout, for which reason she erected before her house the figure of fish that is her namesake.” Mrs. Salmon, who later became Mrs. Steers, ran the business until she died in 1760, at which time a man named Clark purchased the business and when he died it went to his widow. Continue reading

How Regency People Passed Their Time

Regency Gamblers, Regency people
Regency Gamblers, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Regency people filled their free time with a variety of public and private amusements. Such amusements offered Regency people a mild form of exercise or allowed them to restore themselves after mental or physical exhaustion, as well as diffuse and share knowledge. In addition, in some instances, these activities provided jobs to individuals who might otherwise not be able to earn a living.

Among the public activities Regency people regularly enjoyed were games and tournaments, games of chance, lectures, rural festivals, and theatrical representations. Continue reading

Irish Dueling Code or the Irish Code Duello

Irish Code duello
Example of a Firearm Duel of the 1700s, Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Firearm duels became popular in the eighteenth century and even more so after the adoption of what became known as the Irish Code Duello. The Irish Code Duello was a set of rules adopted at the Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777 by gentlemen from the counties of Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon. These rules were deemed so important it was said that ignorance of the rules could not be pleaded and that all gentlemen needed to “keep a copy always in their pistol-cases.”

The Irish Code Duello consisted of 25 rules. Here they are in their entirety: Continue reading

Snuff Accessories

Man Taking Snuff in the 1800s, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Man Taking Snuff in the 1800s, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Snuff, a pulverized form of tobacco, became popular from the mid 1600s to the mid 1800s and was more popular than smoking. It was enjoyed by all classes and by both sexes, despite certain critics claiming it “deformed the nose, stained the skin, [and] tainted the breath.” The popularity of snuff resulted in a highly lucrative business not only for tobacco growers but also for manufacturers of snuff accessories. That was because snuff takers needed a variety of snuff accessories to accommodate their snuffing habit. This wide variety of snuff accessories was something the English Elizabethan dramatist and pamphleteer, Thomas Dekker, termed “artillery.” Users artillery included such things as snuff-boxes, snuff jar or bottles, snuff mills, snuff rasps, and snuff spoons. Continue reading

Georgian Whist Players

Two-Penny Whist by James Gillray c. 1795, Georgian Whist
Two-Penny Whist by James Gillray c. 1795. Courtesy Lewis Walpole Library.

In the Georgian era when supper parties were all the rage, whist was often the card game of choice for after dinner entertainment. It was a social activity that, although tactical and strategic, had simple rules, and everyone played it, including royalty. Whist, sometimes referred to as rubber (which meant winning three games), was loved by many Georgians and that resulted in the famous Victorian philosopher, historian, and satirical writer, Thomas Carlyle, reminiscing about their love for the game. Carlyle remarked that for them “there could not be a more rational way of passing the evening.”[1] Continue reading

Georgian and Regency Whist

Whist Token (Front and Back) from the 19th Century, Courtesy of British Museum
Whist Token (Front and Back) from the 19th Century, Courtesy of British Museum

Whist was a tactical and strategic card game that involved taking tricks. It was played during the eighteenth and nineteenth century with a French deck, which is the standard 52-card deck. Two partners sat opposite one another and the game was played with four players. The object of the game was to take the most tricks and to accomplish that, players followed simple rules.

Changes to the game of whist occurred around the 1840s, but prior to this time, Edward Hoyle was considered the expert on the game of whist. So, Hoyle provided whist rules for Georgian and Regency Era people. Based on Hoyle’s book, I have provided the most frequent whist terms, dealing and shuffling rules, playing rules, and winning and scoring rules. Continue reading

How Georgians Trapped Foxes

Georgians Trapped Foxes: Common Fox (top) and Blue Fox (bottom)
Common Fox (top) and Blue Fox (bottom), Author’s Collection

The cunning fox has had a long history in England, and everyone from squires to dukes to kings have hunted the omnivorous animal. In fact, it was practically a standard amusement for the landed gentry to be yelling, “Tally-ho!” as they hunted the fox with its pointed, slightly upturned snout, upright triangular ears, and long bushy tail. But hunting on horseback with hounds was not the only way to capture a fox. There were also several other innovative ways that Georgians trapped foxed. Among some of the more popular trapping methods were those accomplished on foot with the use of guns, nets, or steel traps. Continue reading